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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 ¼ 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)

crewdawg52
01-23-2008, 10:34 AM
Dont you think a squirt of lighter fluid would be easier! :confused: :p In reality, I just use newspaper to light my chimmny. No oil etc. Just another way of putting ignition to charcoal.

SmokyOkie
01-23-2008, 10:56 AM
Thanks for the pix Rob, good discussion as well.I like the oil idea though I've never done it. I usually have a few pieces of half burnt lump left from the previous cook and put them in the chimney before the new lump. I've never had ignition problems with that method, but I have had problems with fresh briquettes. The oil would be a help there for sure.

Also, the design on the Weber chimney works better than others because of the cone shaped grate. (as I see you know)

Geoff, Personally, I quit using starter fluid about 2 years ago and will never use it again except in emergencies. I've learned to hate the smell of it, and I've gotten to where I can taste it on food no matter how long the fire's been burning (may be all in my head, but...)

TX Sandman
01-23-2008, 11:21 AM
In reality, I just use newspaper to light my chimmny. No oil etc. Just another way of putting ignition to charcoal.

Yep, most folks I know use newspaper to light their chimneys. I got no problems with how anyone lights their coals, it's what works for them. One complaint I've heard from folks about newspaper, though, is the amount of ash left when it burns down. The paper towels seem to leave less ash, but that's my opinion only. I just know since I started using the oil, the coals light first time, every time.


I usually have a few pieces of half burnt lump left from the previous cook and put them in the chimney before the new lump. I've never had ignition problems with that method, but I have had problems with fresh briquettes. The oil would be a help there for sure.

I find lump tends to light quicker and easier than briques. One tip I heard about chimneys is to place a few pieces of lump in the bottom, then add your briques. I've started using lump since these pics, and noticed a few differences. One, the lump is ready quicker. Two, the lump sparks like mad. (My son though it was a private fireworks show.:)) And three, the grate on my chimney was bright red after the last time with lump. Never seen that with briques. No real differences in the process, though.

One more tip here if someone decides to use oil / towels. I've been placing towels and oil in a ziplock so they're ready to go. Take a ziplock, separate towels and crumple them into the bag, add oil and let sit. The oil wicks into the towel and they're ready to go, a little tacky but they burn great. (I don't remember who suggested that to me, but thanks.)

SmokyOkie
01-23-2008, 11:35 AM
One more tip here if someone decides to use oil / towels. I've been placing towels and oil in a ziplock so they're ready to go. Take a ziplock, separate towels and crumple them into the bag, add oil and let sit. The oil wicks into the towel and they're ready to go, a little tacky but they burn great. (I don't remember who suggested that to me, but thanks.)


Good idea. I keep can of commercial cooking spray out on the deck to lube and protect Lucille (my stickburner). I bet I could just shoot a spray on the towels.

If your lump sparks like fireworks, you must be using Kngsfrd. It's awful stuff. I use Ozark Oak and it doesn't hardly spark @ all. If you can't get it in Tejas, Some of the Best Choice is Ozark Oak, also, Hasty Bake brand is Ozark Oak.

If you want to do some research on lump, this is a great site http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm

I started using lump a little over a year ago, and I'll never go back.

TX Sandman
01-23-2008, 11:44 AM
If your lump sparks like fireworks, you must be using Kngsfrd. It's awful stuff. I use Ozark Oak and it doesn't hardly spark @ all. ... I started using lump a little over a year ago, and I'll never go back.

How'd you know?!? Actually, it worked fine for me, and I've heard other lump users complain of sparks, so I didn't think much of it. I've got some Royal Oak ready to go, just need to get cookin'. Haven't seen Ozark Oak out there, but it may be in a specialty store.

I've had good results with lump, but overcooked a few items doing direct cooks. I'll probably keep both lump and briques on hand and let the meal decide what I need to use.

SmokyOkie
01-23-2008, 11:58 AM
Lump does burn hotter, so I just use less for the same amount of heat. For direct cooks I use about 30% less. It also smothers more easily when you're done hence more re-usable coal.

I never use the Minion method, but I would imagine that briquettes would be easier to quantify.

I also use Old Mexico Mesquite lump. It sparks a little more than Ozark Oak, but nowhere near as much as Kngsfrd.

I had a pallet shipped in from the Rio Valley @ $1.75 a 6.6# bag. @ that price, I use it a bag at a time to heat up Lucille.

crewdawg52
01-23-2008, 12:08 PM
Geoff, Personally, I quit using starter fluid about 2 years ago and will never use it again except in emergencies. I've learned to hate the smell of it, and I've gotten to where I can taste it on food no matter how long the fire's been burning (may be all in my head, but...)

That was a joke Okie.........

SmokyOkie
01-23-2008, 12:24 PM
bl@bl@bl@bl@

peculiarmike
01-24-2008, 03:28 PM
Lump does burn hotter, so I just use less for the same amount of heat. For direct cooks I use about 30% less. It also smothers more easily when you're done hence more re-usable coal.

I never use the Minion method, but I would imagine that briquettes would be easier to quantify.

I also use Old Mexico Mesquite lump. It sparks a little more than Ozark Oak, but nowhere near as much as Kngsfrd.

I had a pallet shipped in from the Rio Valley @ $1.75 a 6.6# bag. @ that price, I use it a bag at a time to heat up Lucille.

That Old Mexico Mesquite lump burns hotter than any charcoal of any type I've ever seen. Period! I'd like to have a pallet.

SmokyOkie
01-24-2008, 04:07 PM
I'll be ordering some more soon. If you want, I'll split a load w/ you but you'll have to come to Tulsa to get it. I could ship yours on to you but the freight costs more than the coal.

BA_LoKo
01-24-2008, 04:52 PM
How many bags are on a pallet? That's an outstanding price. I'd be interested in the bags that won't fit into Mikes' truck. c@

SmokyOkie
01-24-2008, 05:44 PM
I can order as much as we want. The $1.75/bag is cheap enough but as I recall, the freight was about $2.00/bag. Still all in all not a bad price if you're lookin' for some mesquite lump.

During the ice storm while the power was out I couldn't get at my firewood as there were trees in the way so I burnt the Old Mexico ccoal in the wood stove. It took 3 bags a day to keep the whole house warm. that's a fair amount of BTUs for a bag of c'coal.

TX Sandman
01-26-2008, 11:21 PM
One more tip here if someone decides to use oil / towels. I've been placing towels and oil in a ziplock so they're ready to go. Take a ziplock, separate towels and crumple them into the bag, add oil and let sit. The oil wicks into the towel and they're ready to go, a little tacky but they burn great. (I don't remember who suggested that to me, but thanks.)

Got a quick pick of my starters, just for a reference. Just a ziplock bag with oil and towels in it. Pull out a couple, uncrumple to get some air through them, then use as normal.

http://img135.imageshack.us/img135/2775/dsc01025ww7.th.jpg (http://img135.imageshack.us/my.php?image=dsc01025ww7.jpg)