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7 best chimney starters you can use for your barbecue

For most of us, a barbecue just isn’t a barbecue unless it’s charcoal. The biggest problem we face though, is the amount of time it takes to get charcoal started without the use of fire starter fluid and so sadly some of us do resort to using gas grills. None of us particularly like the idea of starting our charcoal barbecue with chemicals and so a charcoal starter(otherwise known as a charcoal chimney or chimney starter) is the perfect solution and the perfect alternative to fire starter fluid or firelighters. A charcoal chimney starter should be safe to use and quick to set our briquettes to a nice white glow. The method in which the hot embers are transferred must be safe, secure, and practical so based on these criteria I have reviewed the best charcoal chimneys for you and collated the info into a table for comparison to help you make a choice.

Comparison table: Best chimney starters to get a bbq going easily (November 2020 Updated Review)

ProductWhat We ThinkRatingPrice

SIMPA® Large Chimney Charcoal Coal Starter BBQ Coal Fire Fast Lighter Grill Quick Start Galvanised Steel Camping Fire Ignition Lighter Coal Fuel Burner Lighting Kit Square 27cm (H) x 22cm (W)

  • Perfect burning charcoal or briquettes in approx
  • Screwed on main handle
  • Environmentally friendly and economical
  • Secure to use and lightweight thanks to second folding handle
  • SIMPA Square Chimney Starter

4.8/5 from 15 reviews

Weber Chimney Starter

  • Designed for all owners of kettle charcoal grill
  • Ensures quick and reliable lighting of charcoal
  • Has two handles to provide optimal control when pouring hot briquettes
  • Cylindrical canister holds enough charcoal to fill your kettle barbecue
  • Cone-shaped bottom ensures that briquettes light quickly

4.7/5 from 510 reviews

Bruzzzler Chimney Starter, Charcoal Starter, Fire Starter, Coal Lighter, with Plastic Safety Handle and Second Folding Handle, Barbecue Coal Chimney Starter, Chimney Barbecue, 31 x 19.5 x 30.5 cm

  • Perfectly glowing charcoal or briquettes are ready in approximately 20 minutes
  • Environmentally friendly and economical
  • Heavy-duty steel construction and heat-insulated thermoplastic handle make for long-lasting use
  • With the bbq chimney starter
  • Safe and easy to use

4.6/5 from 114 reviews

Parkland® Charcoal Chimney Grill Barbecue BBQ Charcoal Briquettes Charcoal Quick Starter Galvanised Steel Camping Barbecue Lighting Kit with Heat Shield Safety Handle and Thermoplastic Handle (17")

  • A quick and easy way to light your BBQ
  • Heats coals to optimal cooking temperature in 10-20 minutes
  • Allows food to cook without noxious fumes that emit from lighter fluid...
  • Makes a great gift for anyone who enjoys cooking on a charcoal grill...
  • Dimensions: 30.5cm (H) x 30cm (W) x 19cm (D)

4.5/5 from 51 reviews

AMOS Charcoal Chimney Grill Barbecue BBQ Charcoal Briquettes Charcoal Quick Starter Galvanised Steel Camping Barbecue Lighting Kit with Heat Shield Safety Handle and Thermoplastic Handle

  • The easiest, quickest and cleanest way to Charcoal for your barbecue to light...
  • Hot coals for cooking in just 10 – 20 minutes; no to wait for you willing to slow heat; no need for...
  • Superior air circulation for evenly burning charcoal
  • Durable and heavy duty galvanised steel blade
  • Suitable for use with all types of charcoal and briquettes; instructions included with detailed step-by-step kg ignition instructions &...

4.5/5 from 128 reviews

Charcoal is the most commonly available fuel for your barbecue grill. However, burning up your cooker or barbecue can be a tedious task if you are using charcoal as the fuel. It does take quite a considerable amount of time for the flames to appear. Here is where the chimney starter comes to the fore in helping you jump-start the burning process. When it comes to using charcoal as a source of combustion, the chimney starter is an effective add-on. A chimney starter, also known as a charcoal chimney, is a gadget that is used to set fire to either charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal depending on the form of charcoal fuel used. For those who are just starting to learn about grilling or barbecuing using charcoal, I will give some idea about what is a chimney starter. As the name indicates, it helps to start or boost (when you need to cook the food for a long time) the fire inside a grill or BBQ smoker. It accentuates the regular flame that usually comes out while burning charcoal, thus helping in achieving higher temperatures and complete the combustion process in a shorter span of time.

A typical chimney starter is a cylindrical gadget that usually has three sections – a grate, portion below the grate which is the source of fire, and the portion above the grate where you put the charcoal. In most of the chimney starters, the grate will be conical in shape to make the burning process fast. Let me remind you that you may see chimney starters that are not cylindrical as well, but they are not so popular. The chimney starter can be easily brought into operation by placing a burning piece of paper underneath the grate. The ensuing flames rise through the grate and cause the charcoal to burn. Ideally, it would not take more than twenty minutes to get this up and running. Depending on the temperature that you require you can use either charcoal briquette or lump charcoal. For higher temperatures in excess of 500 F, use charcoal lumps. Actually, using charcoal lumps you can achieve temperatures as high as 700 F. Else, for regular temperatures less than 500 F, briquettes would be more than sufficient.

The regular mode of operation would be to just start the fire below the grate and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes till the flames come out from the top through the charcoal. You need to wait till the charcoal briquettes turn grey before pouring them into the cooker. All the chimney starter manufacturers add an insulated handle for the starter so that customer’s hands are safe from burning, I’d still recommend to wear barbecue gloves though. You can use gloves if you are still not sure about that. When you buy a chimney starter make sure the handle is made of metal insulated with heat resistant material. I do not have to explain why you should avoid wooden handles.

Let us take a look at some of the basics before starting the shopping. For any product or tools you buy for your cooker the size is important. Here, by size, I meant the amount of charcoal briquettes you can burn up in one go. Larger grills need more charcoal to start cooking. The more the ventilation the faster the charcoal burning process will be. So look for a starter that has enough ventilation in the bottom and sides. Unpainted models will be the best choice. One can understand that the surface of the chimney starter will be very hot and only high-temperature specialist paints can withhold that much heat.

Without wasting much time let us start with some of the best chimney starters in the market today. You can buy one that satisfies your needs.

Weber Chimney starter (Model: 7416)

Weber Chimney Starter
4.7 out of 5 stars ( 510 customer reviews )

Those who have already done some purchase for their barbecue or grill, the name Weber will be a familiar one. They have been doing business in this field for a very long time enough to have the needed expertise in this field. Weber designs their products according to the needs of the customer keeping their safety in mind. Their 7416 model chimney starter is not different.Weber is different from other models because it has more ventilation at the bottom where you start the flame. The rectangular openings at the bottom of the cylinder make it easier for the user to lit up the paper. The handle has two parts one is for holding the chimney and the other is to help in pouring the burning charcoal into the cooker. The dimensions are 19 x 19 x 30.5 centimetres (LxDxH) and is ideal for the kettle barbecue. Being said that this can also be used to start the fire in a much larger grill. Topping up with charcoal is easier since the chimney will be very hot because the material used to make is aluminium. So the interesting facts about the Weber chimney starter are:

  • More ventilation
  • Two handles to control pouring the burned briquettes
  • Heats up faster
  • Easy to light up just using pieces of newspapers
  • Topping up is faster than the first burning

GFTIME chimney starter

This 30 centimetre tall chimney starter is one of the best chimney starters available online. Like the Weber chimney starter, this also has a two-piece design for the handle to make the pouring easy and safe. The chimney starter is made of stainless steel. The ventilation at the bottom part of this product very similar to Weber’s chimney starter which helps in faster heating up. To get the flames going on you need good ventilation.The package from the GFTIME includes a grille with the chimney starter. The grill makes the chimney starter pack a mini barbecue grill that can be carried around with you. When you are out for a trip this grill will help you a lot in enjoying the trip. Since this product is made of stainless steel the question of rusting is out which gives it durability. Customers love this product because of the following reasons:

  • 30 centimetres high
  • Can load up the grills faster
  • The grille makes this product a mini barbecue grill
  • Portability

This charcoal starter from Bruzzzler weighing around 1Kg is something nice and cheaper than some other models, a very tidy useful barbecue accessory indeed. The maximum time needed by this starter is 20 minutes and it is pretty faster if you do not use one chimney starter to start the fire. The openings below the grate are round in shape which makes it easy to use a long lighter to start the fire. There is a disadvantage with this round shaped openings at the bottom. The space between each opening reduces the ventilation which in turn slows down the burning process a little.The second handle of the charcoal starter makes the pouring of charcoal easy and safe. The dimensions are 31 x 19.5 x 30.5 (LxDxH). The starter is made of steel and hence it is corrosion resistant. The starter cylinder is unpainted so it is easy to clean also. Since the grate is cone-shaped the charcoal ignites evenly and you just have to pour it directly into your cooker. The peculiarities of this chimney starter are:

  • Steel is the material used
  • Durable and corrosion free
  • Two handle design
  • Can easily start the fire
Before the invention of the chimney starter, people used firelighters or petroleum derived fuel to light up the grill or the smoker. But this used to give an awful taste to the meat sometimes and is not safe for your health. But chimney starters like the one from AMOS helped the cooking easier and healthier. The charcoal briquettes and lump charcoals do not make the food unpalatable.
The safety guard, the metal handle and the thermoplastic handle make this chimney starter a safe option for the beginners. The galvanised steel used to make this chimney is strong and durable. You can put 2.8 Kg of charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal at a time which is enough for most of the barbecues. The AMOS chimney starter gives a product that has the below features.

  • Strong and sturdy
  • Does not put a hole in your pocket
  • Meets all the safety standards
  • Dimensions are 30.5 x 30 x 19 centimetres (HxWxD)
  • Thermoplastic handle with safety guard

Next in the list is a very simple version of other chimney starters. This is a good gift for those who are starting to learn charcoal grilling since it is easy to operate. The chimney is made of galvanised steel and hence it is durable. This has openings only below the grate and are round in shape. The grate is also different from other conventional models. The grate is flat and has big holes on it instead of grill structure. Because of the unique structure, it may take some time to heat up the charcoal. The handle also is different from other models. This does not come with a second handle however the heat shield and thermoplastic handle are present. The reasons why I included this product in this list are:

  • It costs less than 10 pounds
  • Easy to use and clean
  • The ventilation holes are bigger
  • Dimensions are 30.5 x 30 x 19 centimetres (HxWxD)

The last on the list has a very unique design. Till now we were discussing chimney starters that are in cylindrical shape. This charcoal chimney starter is square in shape. You have to assemble the chimney before you can use it. The assembling is easy and needs no tools. The grate, chimney and the grill come separately. Just like with the GFTIME chimney starter you will get a grille with this pack which makes it a mini barbecue grill.The handle design also is different but you do get a second handle that makes the charcoal pouring safe and easy. The starter is made of galvanised steel. You do not have to worry about barbecue when you go out camping. The large chimney starter from SIMPA is the best choice if you camp often. Collapsing and assembling the chimney is easy and does not take much space in your car. Points to be noted before you buy this chimney starter.

  • It is portable
  • Does not take much space to store
  • Comes with extra grill for barbecuing
  • Square in shape
  • Easy and safe to use
  • Takes up to 20 minutes to heat up

These are the best and unique products in the chimney starter category. Hope this helped you in making a decision. Happy shopping! I would also recommend taking a look at wood smoker chips and warming racks, they accompany a charcoal barbecue perfectly.