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Old 03-27-2011, 09:48 PM   #1
El Scorcho
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Join Date: 03-22-11
Location: Rockford, MN
Default Charcoal Chimney for beginners

Okay, I posted last week about buying my first grill/smoker (CG Outlaw). I'm a complete rookie when it comes to cooking with charcoal. Please excuse all the extremely basic questions, lol.

I know, or think I know, how to start it. Crumple news paper in the bottom, fill with charcoal, light newspaper. Sounds simple.

I read that you do not want to light it on concrete because if there is moisture in the concrete an "explosion" could occur sending hot coals flying and putting a crater in the concrete. I'll actually be using the CG on my deck so I won't be placing it on deck of course.

I guess my question is basically, where do I set it when I light it? I guess, just right on the grill? I don't have the sfb so when I get to the point of wanting to do long smokes and need to start up another chimney while something is cooking, then what do I do?

Any other suggestions or tips regarding charcoal chimneys is much appreciated!
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:51 PM   #2
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If you are smoking you will probably want to use the minion method and with that you will only need to light just a few coals in the start.

I always just light it on the charcoal grate of my weber.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:53 PM   #3
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Got a gas grill w/ side burner? Put the chimney on the side burner and light the side burner. 5 mins and you have lit coals. After started, put the chimney on the gas grill grate to prevent any sparks from going anywhere you might not want them to.
Best of luck!
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:53 PM   #4
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You've got the starting process right..

and I agree on not setting it on concrete.. I did that first hand and came within several feet of watching chimney and hot coals fly up in the air and all over the driveway and adjacent lawn... It could have been really bad for me.

I usually set it on the grate.. sometimes I rest it on an unused Weber Smokey Joe that's real small.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:56 PM   #5
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I have an extra little smoker I use as my lighter one. I put the chimney on the grate of it and start it up.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:57 PM   #6
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I just set mine on the grate. Speaking of Chimneys I just picked up a new Weber chimney and man is it a lot easier to work with than my old one and a lot faster too! The old one would go out sometimes and require relighting. 2 sheets of newspaper and 15-20 minutes and I am ready to go now.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:58 PM   #7
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I start my chimneys on a 12" cinder block. It works pretty well. One other thing, don't crumple the newspaper too tightly. Remember, oxygen, fuel, and heat are need for a fire. Tightly crumpled paper reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the fire.
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:00 PM   #8
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I also like to drizzle a little oil on the paper before I crumble it. It makes it burn longer and less likely to have embers flying around.
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:18 PM   #9
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Location: Culver City, CA

I've always had a paver around to set mine on. Now I use the charcoal grate from whichever cooker I'm not using. For longer cooks/adding more charcoal, if you're using lump or hardwood briqs you can just add them to the fire - it'll take a little fiddling to get the right amount & the right time to put them in, etc. down but you'll get there with some practice.

There is also the minion method which involves placing lit coals on top of unlit coals, which is standard for vertical smokers like wsm's and bge's. It can be done in a cooker like yours I'm sure but I've never tried. I would say that you could pile the unlit coals on one side (by the intake vent) and put the lit coals on the side of the pile thats away from the intake vent - if you do it the other way the draft will spread the fire too quickly. Once again, it'll take some fooling around, but that's what its all about.

I've rambled enough but I'll just say "weedburner" & be done.
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:31 PM   #10
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Whatever setup you have, the chimney needs plenty of room for air beneath it for it to work.

I have two methods I've used on my offset smoker:

1.) Set it on the grate on the smoker side.

2.) Set it on the grate supports on the firebox side.

Both methods have worked well for me.

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Old 03-27-2011, 10:39 PM   #11
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My mom's first BBQ related present to me was one of those little cheapo Wal-Mart grills they have during the summer for like 15 bucks or whatever it is.
I use that for my fire starting/tools now. Chimney sits up there, my fire tending tongs go on the top rack. Welding gloves go with the tongs. Works nice, keeps my prep table clean, good air flow for the coals. I do it like that just to keep the newspaper out of my grates. Real windy around here from time to time, I don't like burnt newspaper clippings flying around when/if I open up my smoker.
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:51 PM   #12
El Scorcho
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Perhaps there's a reason to keep my rusted out cheapo sunbeam gasser, just to use for lighting my chimney, lol.
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Old 03-28-2011, 02:14 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by gtr View Post
I've rambled enough but I'll just say "weedburner" & be done.
That's the best answer!
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:18 AM   #14
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With the weed burner do you just skip the chimney all together? just torch the top of the charcoal basket?
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:24 AM   #15
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Watch Craigs List or Freecycle for a free or cheap Weber Smokey Joe and use that for lighting the chimney.
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