No matter what you’re planning to grill, chances are the first line of your recipe instructs you to light and prepare your coals. Nothing good happens on a grill without heat and getting your coals nice and hot is Grilling 101. While there are a variety of options for starting your coals from dousing them with lighter fluid (not recommended!) or using an electric fire starter, one of the most efficient and cost-effect solutions is a chimney starter. Today I’m taking a look at Weber’s Rapidfire Chimney Starter.
Size: 12″ x 7.5″W x 7.5″D
What I Loved
- Coals get super-hot, super-fast.
- It doubles as an intensely hot second burner for hot and fast searing by placing a small grill grate on top and grilling on it directly.
- Provides a means of getting rid of all your old s that you would normally have to shred.
- It’s very inexpensive.
What Could Be Improved
- A taller version would allow for a more direct pour of the coals into the pit, greatly reducing sparks and coals dropping anywhere but the grill.
- There really isn’t much else that needs to be “improved” the chimney works well and just as it’s designed. My issues with this tool are not that the quality or design is bad, but the need for a safe place to set it down after use. It’s extremely hot so setting it on a wood or composite deck is a no-no for sure. I recommend a stone paver or some other fire resistant surface.
Who It’s For
The charcoal chimney is for anyone who owns a charcoal grill, though using it may be intimidating for the charcoal newbie.
This product does what it says it does: get your charcoal hot and in a hurry. It’s also inexpensive and lasts a long time. I think I have had my current chimney for 6 or 7 years at this point.
The downside is the safety concerns, the amount of ash that comes from the paper used to start the coals (though eliminated if you use one of Weber’s starter cubes), and where to put it when you’re done dumping the coals into the grill. The “safety” concerns are not overly worrisome, but if you have a composite deck you can count on a few sparks every now and then hitting the surface and melting tiny divots on the surface. You can see what I’m talking about in the photo above.
Next, starting the coals is done by ball up newspaper or any old papers you would normally shred and burning them under the coals to get them started. That paper leaves behind an incredible amount of ash. A chemical infused starter cube could be used to reduce the ash but that chemical flavor is distinguishable for most so I don’t recommend it. Others may not have issue with it.
Finally, once you transfer the hot coals into your grill you need to place this extremely hot chimney on a non-flammable surface. That’s not always an option for me so I use a piece of leftover flagstone from an old landscaping project. All this said, for the money this isn’t a bad option, just plan for the issues I’ve outlined above and stay safe!