Build Your Own Chimney Starter

What You'll Need
A # 10 coffee can
A can opener
A grill or a charcoal table
A pair of tongs
Charcoal briquettes
Matches or lighter
A tin coffee can (# 10)
2 wire coat hangers
A church key
A pair of diagonal cutters
A drill with a 1/8 drill bit

The charcoal chimney is a great tool for starting up a charcoal grill with ease. Eating out while camping is fun and usually the cooking is done on a charcoal grill or Dutch oven. With a chimney starter on hand, you can escape the tedious process of getting the charcoal ready for the grill. The best part of using charcoal chimneys is that you can make them at home and there is no need to use any lighter fluid! So you save on time and money with no aftertaste of lighter fluid. 

1. Cylindrical Starter 

Step 1: Using a can opener, cut away the bottom of the empty coffee can to get a cylinder. 

Step 2: For ventilation, place 3 to 4 briquettes on the working surface, say, a charcoal table or grill. Place the cylinder on top of the briquettes. 

Step 3: Make tight balls of about 3 sheets of newspaper. Put them down at the bottom of the cylinder. Put about 25 briquettes on top of the newspaper balls. 

Step 4: From the bottom of the cylinder, light the newspapers with a lighter, so that the pieces of charcoal eventually start to burn. Leave the briquettes in the chimney until they start to ash over (20 minutes or so). In case the pieces of charcoal do not get lit the first time, repeat the process with fresh newspapers and the same pieces of charcoal. 

Step 5: When most of the charcoal pieces are ashen, lift away the hot cylinder using tongs. If you are using the charcoal pieces for grilling, spread the hot coals on the grill, as is usually done. If you are using them for a Dutch oven, use the tongs to place the briquettes on the top and under the oven. The heat produced thus is adequate at least for half an hour of cooking. You can start the next batch of coals, in case you need heat for a longer period of time. 

2. Ventilated Starter 

Step 1: Remove both ends of a coffee can using a can opener. 

Step 2: On one end of the can, make a set of triangular holes with a gap of 2 inches in between, using a church key. Make at least six pairs of holes, about 3 inches away from the triangular holes. 

Step 3: Cut the coat hangers into six pieces using diagonal cutters. The length of the pieces should be about 2” more than the diameter of the can. 

Step 4: Make a hook on one end of every piece of wire using the pliers. Thread the straight ends through the holes to the corresponding holes and create a tight mesh-like effect. Bend the extra length of the wire ends, so that they stay in place. 

Step 5: Fill the chimney with charcoal. Keep loosely wadded papers under it. Light the paper with the lighter. Allow the paper to burn until the coals get ashen white.