To eat that mouthwatering grilled food, you need to fire up the grill first and igniting it is not an easy task. Charcoal takes time to get ignited and can be a frustrating process. Some people use starting fluid, mineral spirits, gasoline, or kerosene to make their work easy but it is not recommended at all as they all soak into the coals and emit an oder that also flavor the food. So, what is the best alternative option? A Grill Starter, without any doubt.
A grill starter works great regardless of the type of charcoal you use for grilling. If you use briquettes, you should wait until the heavy smoke subsides and the white ash covers them before grilling. But if you use lump charcoal, you should wait around 15 minutes because they will not ash over.
Safety is also essential while grilling because we know how many sleeves have caught fire while trying to ignite the coals using lighter fluid and a cigarette lighter. Your best bet here would be a high-quality grill starter to keep your grill clean and yourself safe.
Types of Charcoal Starters
Hot Air Blower
As the name suggests, hot air blowers blow super high-temperature air that can help ignite your charcoal quickly. The biggest upside of a hot air blower as compared to other types of charcoal starters is speed. The hot air produced by a hot air blower can reach up to 1256°. So, if you are looking for a hot air blower, you want to go for the one that has a high-temperature threshold to ensure quick ignition even in cold weather.
A hot coil starter is also a type of electric charcoal starter like the one above. However, the difference is that it uses a hot coil attached to a handle to light your coals. All you need to do is plug it in and put in your bed of charcoal, and that’s it! It will heat up and spark your grill. However, hot coil grill starters take more time to start a grill, compared to other types.
If you are interested in buying a hot coil charcoal grill starter, then you should look for the one that has a high wattage coil (about 600 watts) and a heat-resistant handle.
Also, while both hot air blower and hot coil starters require an outlet, you should consider cord length as well.
Charcoal Chimney Starter
Are you more of a traditional person who doesn’t want to deal with all these electric grill starters? A charcoal chimney starter is a great option! It is a device that has a plate (or grate) with many holes placed horizontally. All you need to do is put lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes on the top, and some scrunched up newspaper in the bottom. Then light the newspaper through the holes on the bottom of the chimney.
In normal conditions, it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to ignite the charcoal.
Here are the best charcoal grill starters available in the market:
Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter has a hot coil that generates 550 watts at 120 volts to heat your charcoal in as fast as 5 minutes. The coil is made of metal – means you don’t have to worry about it getting shattered.
The Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter is 17.5 inches long, making it easy for you to fire the bed of charcoals while keeping your hand at a safe distance. The device weighs 11.2 ounces only, allowing you to carry it anywhere you want. With this device at hand, you won’t have to use matches/lighter and deal with that weird lighter fluid taste in your food.
Ivation Premium 500W Electric Charcoal Starter is designed to provide more heating power but in lesser time. The device is super easy to use- just plugin and then it will ignite charcoal in no time. Aside from these, this electric charcoal starter also features a game-changer double-ring design that makes it possible for the heat to have closer contact with more coals; thus, producing more heat. Its design is worthy to highlight as well. Ivation Premium 500W Electric Charcoal Starter has a longer handle which provess to be a great advantage for you to keep away from heat.
Kamado Joe KJ-ES Electric Starter also has a hot coil to ignite your charcoal. But this one’s different in terms of design as it is angled to make it safer for you to handle it when extremely hot. It generates 600 watts at 110 volts, heating the charcoal in just minutes. It measures 15 inches long and weighs 1.39 pounds.
It comes with quite a long cord (6ft long), which is long enough for any patio barbeque. You don’t need to use any cumbersome extension cord when you have Kamado Joe KJ-ES Electric Starter on hand.
Finally, let’s talk about the best Chimney Starter, The Webner 7416 Rapdifire. This device is a combination of great functionality and style at an affordable cost. It features stainless steel construction and can hold up to 2 pounds of charcoal. All you need to do is ignite the charcoals from the bottom using scrunched up newspaper, and that’s it! Your charcoal will be ready within 10 minutes.
If you live in a windier region and fail to ignite your charcoal most of the time due to high wind speeds, then don’t worry because, with Webner 7416 Rapidfire, you can ignite your charcoal even faster in heavier wind. However, some users have complained about its body that it is a bit thin as compared to other high-quality chimney starters and doesn’t have as many air holes like the other options.
BBQ Dragon Chimney of Insanity Charcoal Starter provides you with an easy-to-operate design that allows you to heat your charcoal in as little as three minutes. It is equipped with an innovative 90-degree elbow on one side to increase the airflow and light coal faster than ever. The side vent also doubles up as a space to add more fuel or lighter material without opening the chimney from the top.
With its stay-cool nylon handle and full-length heat shield for protection, you don’t have to worry about warping or burning yourself due to high temperature. Not only you can light your charcoal but also use BBQ Dragon Chimney of Insanity as a forced air cooking stove. However, its high price and small capacity might be a bit of a disappointment to some. But if you have enough budget to get a high-quality charcoal grill starter, you will love this one.
The Bison BA001 Airlighter 520 is a cordless electric grill starter that combines amazing technology, features, and function. Its patented flame+blower ignites charcoal quickly and easily. Also, its portable and cordless design enables you to start a grill without worrying about the length of the cord. Everything is interesting about this device, but one thing that outstands it from other grill starters is that it is rechargeable (USB) and can start up to 30 fires on a single full charge.
Due to its high-temperature heat output, it can easily ignite even the most stubborn of charcoal briquettes. If you are lighting your grill in low light, you can turn on its handy LED light and use its bottle opener to open a chilled bottle of Pepsi for yourself when you start feeling the heat from charcoal.
In short, if you are looking for a charcoal grill starter that is both functional and portable, then Bison BA001 is the way to go.
Big Green Egg Electric Starter features a contoured heating coil, amazing durable handle, and minimal design. Its heating coil is made of stainless steel that will last long without breaking. It boasts a 600-watt heating element that is perfect for starting your charcoal quickly. If you own a Big Green Egg Grill, then you will surely love this excellent electric charcoal starter.
However, one big letdown of this fire starter is its short 3-inch power cord. But it isn’t a big issue as you can solve it using any old extension cord. Overall, the Big Green Egg Electric Starter is a well-made product that provides its users with both exceptional functionality and durability.
A grill starter is an essential accessory if you don’t want to spend extra time igniting your charcoal. It doesn’t just save your precious time but also provides you safety, so you don’t burn yourself accidentally while igniting the charcoal. All the charcoal grill starters that we have recommended above in the list are top-notch and perform incredibly. You can get the one that fits your budget and requirements. Happy Grilling!