What is a chimney? Do I need to use one?
It's actually a metal cylinder used to start charcoal for a grill. It's usually about 12" tall and about 8" in diameter, with a handle on it. It is hollow with small holes or slots around the bottom half. A wire mesh or grate toward the bottom will hold the charcoal briquettes in place inside.
It's pretty easy to use, too. Just crumple up some newspaper and put in the middle of your grill's grate. Then place it right on top of the grate with the newspaper under it. Fill it from the top with charcoal.
Squirt some lighter fluid over the briquettes (or not) and wait a minute or two. Carefully light the newspaper and let the briquettes burn for 15 to 20 minutes.
If you use starter fluid, it will burn away (some people don't like to use it). The charcoal is stacked up nice and vertical so it burns evenly. When white ash has formed over the charcoal, empty it onto the grate and your fire is ready to go.
You can also read more about it in my article What is this chimney starter thing?-- And do I have to use one?
The big advantage I see in using one is that it gets all the briquettes burning evenly. Since it is set up for good air flow, the fire is ready fairly quickly, too.
I have also had very good luck with starting fires for many years without one, though. I just pile my briquettes as high as I can get them before lighting. Because heat rises, more of the briquettes get lit this way.
Use a it... or don't use a it?
You don't really have to use one, if you don't want to. It is just a tool that's meant to make starting a fire easier. It's like choosing between a match or a lighter. Use whichever one you want. There are no Chimney Police out there.
Keep those questions coming. Simply Contact Me right here through the website. And don't be shy about making comments or suggestions. Hey, even make corrections, point out a mistake, or offer a different opinion. We're all friends here.