Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Aug 30, 2008 11:38 AM

Do I really need a chimney starter?

I just bought a Weber outdoor charcoal kettle grill thinking I would try my hand at grilling on very rare occasions. It's a very basic and small sized model with just the bowl and dome. Question is, do I really need a chimney starter, or can I manage fine by lighting the coals in the bowl of the grill with lighter fluid and newspaper underneath? My tendency is to think I can do the latter, and a chimney starter is not really necessary...what do you think?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Unless you want your occasional forays into grilling to end up tasting like petroleum byproducts, I'd suggest skipping the lighter fluid and getting the chimney starter.

    Or, try the Weber FireStarter Cubes ( ).

    Or, get yourself a propane torch and have some real fun starting the charcoal ( ). The upside to that expensive option is you can use it to make a crème brûlée, or replace some old copper plumbing around the house!

    1. I have the regular and the small Weber and have never needed the chimney. I do usually only start with a few briquets, use starter fluid, get them going and add more as needed.

        1. You don't need a chimney, but it's really helpful because it gets oxygen flowing over the coals more efficiently than anything else. (Well, almost anything else; if you have access to liquid oxygen you can have the grill ready to go REAL quick. )

          Lighter fluid also works, but make sure to let it burn off completely before you get food anywhere near the grill. Give it at least 10-15 minutes. Avoid the match-light briquettes; they are permeated with petro-nasties. In fact, avoid briquettes altogether and use lump charcoal.

          1. I have a weber kettle and a WSM and I find the chimney starter to be indispensable. I would never go back to using lighter fluid.

            1 Reply
            1. re: flourgirl

              I agree that you do not need a chimney starter. I went several years without one. I'm not a big gadget person, but realized it makes so much sense. No lighter fluid, and it gets the charcoal burning much faster and completely since there are air holes in the chimney. Simply stuff bottom w/ newspaper, pile on charcoal (I use good quality hardwood; left the briquets long, long ago), light the newspaper and you're good to go. Generally sooner than expected, and I have to dump the charcoal out of the chimney and add more charcoal so it keeps burning until I'm ready to grill.