Charcoal Chimney Gadget

If you want to grill outside, put away the preformed briquettes, get out the mesquite, and load up the charcoal chimney starter. It’s the napalm-free way of lighting a fire, and while spectacular lighter fluid flame-ups can be thrilling, that synthetic flavor will permeate your food.

Operating” the chimney is easy: Some newspaper goes in the bottom (putting in the paper towel with which you oiled down the grill surface doesn’t hurt, either), the mesquite goes in the top, you light the paper through the grates, and soon physics does its magic. Air sweeps up the chimney, sucking the fire through the charcoal.

Charcoal Chimney

Do watch when you dump the mesquite, though. First, the sparks that fly are pretty and make up for the lighter fluid pyrotechnics. Second, the chimney is mighty hot, so use a hot pad and put it down where it won’t do harm. Turns out a hot one can even explode concrete. (Do not try that at home.)

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