View Full Version : Basic Chimney How-To (with pics)

TX Sandman
01-21-2008, 02:44 PM
For anyone who has never used a chimney to light charcoal, I thought I'd give y'all a step-by-step of how I do it. For the record, it's not really warm enough for shorts 'round here. These pics are from last summer. I just hadn't written this up 'til now.

My supplies: 1 chimney, coals for the chimney (I used Sam's Choice briques here), 2 paper towels, and cooking oil. There's also a fire extinguisher off-screen, but within easy reach. I'm using 2 bricks here for easy viewing. This is much safer if done on the grill, but if you need to add lit coals to a burning grill, this shows a way to do it. You can use dedicated firestarters, rather than towels and oil. This is just a way to use common items around a house.
http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/1007/dsc00431dl1.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00431dl1.jpg)

First, put a little oil, about 1 tablespoon, on each towel and rub them together to saturate the paper with the oil. Then, loosely crumple the towels and place them on the bricks. Please notice the bricks are slightly separated. This helps with lighting the paper and airflow through the chimney. If you're doing this on the grill, place the towels directly on the grate. You'll have great airflow.
http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/8024/dsc00432qa9.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00432qa9.jpg) http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/7149/dsc00433gu5.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00433gu5.jpg)

Place the chimney over the towels. In the close-up, you can see a minor mod I made to my chimney. I've heard the grates sometimes fall out as the chimneys get worn, so I added split rings to the grate to hold it in. I don't remember who suggested that mod to me, but thanks.
http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/7113/dsc00434wt9.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00434wt9.jpg) http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/4757/dsc00435uq2.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00435uq2.jpg)

And now, after making sure all valuables are put away and the coast is clear, light the paper towels. I use a long lighter to keep my hands away from the flames. You wouldn't think so, but the oil burns very well, and there's very little ash once it all burns down. From here, just let everything burn until the top coals start turning gray with ash. I usually dump the chimney when the top coals are about half-ashed over, usually 15-20 minutes. Just seems to work for me.
http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/2337/dsc00440nx8.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00440nx8.jpg) http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/1942/dsc00441rv6.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00441rv6.jpg) http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/6550/dsc00442id3.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00442id3.jpg)

Remember what I said about making sure the coast was clear? And how this is safer if done in a grill? This is why. A nice stiff breeze decided to play havoc with my little picture session. Thank goodness the only one stupid enough to be near the chimney was yours truly.
http://img468.imageshack.us/img468/4417/dsc00444fu3.th.jpg (http://img468.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00444fu3.jpg)

Finally, how 'bout a just plain cool pic? This one is from an overnight smoke. I was lighting about a chimney for a Minion method burn and decided to snap a pic of the "chimney of fire". Another advertisement for fire safety, eh?
http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/6702/dsc00451ph8.th.jpg (http://img256.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc00451ph8.jpg)