Charcoal Chimney!

For my birthday (26 – getting on now), Gemma‘s mum was kind enough to buy me a wonderful bit of apparatus that I’ve been hankering after for a while: a charcoal chimney (or to give it its proper name, a Rapid Fire Chimney Starter. It’s glorious:

Charcoal. In a chimney. See what they did there?

You all know that I’ve been using instant lighting stuff for a while. But it’s expensive, and it feels like cheating. I don’t like cheating (one could argue the same about this, but hey).

The idea is pretty simple – charcoal briquettes (or lumpwood stuff) in the top – a varying amount depending on the size of your barbecue, and loosely screwed up newspaper underneath a metal cone-shaped frame in the bottom. The paper burns, the chimney acts like a chimney (!) and therefore the charcoal burns too. In about 15 minutes the charcoal is ready to pour onto the grate.

Genius! But it does have a few issues, which I’ll get to grips with:

  • Where do I put it? After making charcoal super hot, it is also super hot. Can’t put it on the grass, nor on the patio in case the dog gets near it. Luckily I’ve got a raised ledge covered in slate chips, which did the job.
  • If your charcoal dies too early (which, for an whole-evening barbecue like MattFest, it might), you need to get some more on the go. It’s not really practical to do that in the barbecue, so you’ve got to light the chimney again, with more charcoal, somewhere else. Difficult with aforementioned dog on the loose and looking for burger bits. We managed, though, and this won’t usually be a problem.
  • Using crumpled newspaper is either not great, or I’m not doing it right. It has to be loosely crumpled, but I’m finding it goes out too quickly. The box does also recommend using firelighters in place of newspaper, which, according to Stu, works well.

The main benefit, of course, is that it saves a lot on fuel. And it looks so freakin’ cool!