The Weber Chimney Starter is a great way to quickly start your charcoal without stinky lighter fluid, toxic chemicals, a blow torch, costly starter sticks, or other incendiary magic.
Basically, a few sheets of newspaper at the bottom of the chimney creates a small fire which, through the magic of science, gets your coals rocket engine hot in just a few minutes. Faster, cleaner, and cheaper than other methods, it’s one of my favorite tools. So how does this thing work? In this article I’ll not only tell you how well it works, but how it works.
The Weber Chimney Starter’s design and operation is deceptively simple. The bottom of the chimney has a series of concentric metal rings that form a funnel shaped area. This area is designed to hold a couple of sheets of wadded up newspaper, which will be used to get things going. On top of that you fill up the chimney with whatever fuel your using. I’ve used mine to start briquettes, natural lump charcoal, and mesquite chunks to great success. Then simply light the newspaper through one of the little vent holes in the bottom of the starter. Within about 3 minutes you’ll start to see the flames peaking up through the top of your charcoal or wood chunks.
When things are really blazing and the top most layer has fully caught, you’re ready to transfer your charcoal to the grill. Just use the little swing arm handle to empty your flaming charcoal into your grill. The handle has a heat-resistant plastic handle to keep it from getting too hot, but I still feel more comfortable using my welding gloves when dumping the charcoal into the grill.
So how does this simple device work Mr. Wizard? Its operation is based on the natural tendency of air to move from high to low pressures, a principal known as the chimney effect. The hot air from the burning newspaper rises naturally, producing air movement upwards through the chimney. As it rises up though the constrained space of the chimney the air speed accelerates, lowering the pressure inside the chimney. This is called the Venturi effect as you may remember from high school physics. This decrease in pressure in turn further accelerates the movement of area, pulling hot air up through the fuel while simultaneously sucking in fresh air through the chimneys bottom vents. This rapidly rising heat stack, combined with a continuous supply of new oxygen creates, in essence, a miniature blast furnace.
- Designed to quickly produce hot coals for cooking
- 7.5 in. in diameter, 12 in. high
- Specialized cone-shaped grate