The Best Charcoal Starters in 2024

Charcoal grills are a great pastime and can even provide better-tasting food when utilized properly. But we all know starting those charcoals can be a pesky business. That’s why you need to get the charcoal starters for those upcoming spring and summer grilling sessions.

We’ve analyzed models in the market in terms of their size, ease of use, safety, and effectiveness to provide you with a list of the top ten chimney charcoal starters. Let’s jump right in!

Best Charcoal Starters

1. Weber 7429 Rapid Fire Chimney Starter

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The first model in review is a large charcoal starter chimney from Weber. The Weber 7429 Rapid Fire Chimney Starter is the most well-built model on the market, and that’s no surprise coming from the grill experts at Weber. The unit is easy to handle and even easier to use.

Consumers have nothing but high praise for this charcoal starter from Weber. It’s noted as being very sturdy, easy to use, and allowing for great airflow to the charcoal.

Features

  • 7.5″ diameter chimney for the charcoals
  • Specialized cone-shaped grate
  • Ergonomic handle for easy handling
  • Durable construction for longevity
  • Utilizes Weber Lighter Cubes
  • Dimensions: 13″ x 7.5″ x 12″
  • Weight: 4.6 ounces

Pros

  • Comfortable handling thanks to the ergonomic handle ensures ease of use and, ultimately, the safety of use
  • Constructed from durable, long-lasting metals that ensure a long life for the unit

Cons

  • A few consumers note issues with the handle getting hot

2. Kingsford Grilling BB0466 Deluxe BBQ Chimney Starter

Landing at the second spot in the charcoal chimney starter reviews is the Kingsford Grilling BB0466 Deluxe BBQ Chimney Starter. This unit is your classic chimney charcoal starter with a heat-shielded handle and lighting access holes on the bottom to ignite your kindling, whatever that may be.

Consumers are head over heels for this Kingsford Grilling charcoal chimney. It’s noted as being perfect for small to medium-sized charcoal grills and does exactly what it should, how it should.

Features

  • Roughly 7-in-diameter charcoal chimney
  • Ergonomic handle for easy handling
  • Durable, rust-resistant zinc steel construction
  • Engineered with a heat shield and stay-cool handle
  • Dimensions: 10.75 x 6.8 x 11.25 in.
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs

Pros

  • The handle is designed to stay cool so that safety of use is practically guaranteed
  • The zinc steel construction ensures the chimney will last you quite a while

Cons

  • N/A

3. Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter

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This next Weber model is more of a mini charcoal chimney. It’s still wide at its chimney opening but this Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter is designed for charcoal grills on the smaller end. It’s equipped with a heat shield and ergonomic handle for simple and safe handling.

Consumers love the size of this compact Weber charcoal chimney starter, stating that it’s extremely easy to handle and fits the perfect amount of briquettes for small grills.

Features

  • 8″ diameter chimney for the charcoals
  • Specialized cone-shaped grate
  • Ergonomic handle for easy handling
  • Durable metal construction
  • Utilizes Weber Lighter Cubes
  • Fits perfectly on Smokey Joe and Jumbo Joe charcoal grills
  • Dimensions: 8″ x 5.75″ x 10.4″

Pros

  • The unit is compactly designed for use with smaller grills
  • There is a heat shield in front of the handle to protect it from excessive heat

Cons

  • N/A

4. Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter

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This next model is less of a chimney model but it’s the electric charcoal lighter you’ll find. This model plugs into an outlet and is one of the safer charcoal starters thanks to its lack of flames. This unit utilizes a metal loop that heats up and is placed on the charcoals to get them started.

This Char-Broil charcoal starter is a hit among consumers specifically because of its ability to function in windy conditions. Additionally, some call it “easy, quick, and effective.

Features

  • Generates 550 watts at 120 volts for lighting briquette piles
  • Works without any matches or lighter fluid
  • Heats coals in just minutes
  • Dimensions: 17.5 x 4.5 x 2 in.
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces

Pros

  • Requires no lighting of starter cubes or matches, etc. to heat the charcoals
  • The unit is highly safe to use thanks to its lack of flame output

Cons

  • Some consumers claim that the unit doesn’t necessarily heat coal piles in only a few minutes

5. JJGeorge Grill Torch Charcoal Starter

This next model will interest the pyros among us. The JJGeorge Grill Torch Charcoal Starter is a great BBQ fire starter but isn’t a chimney. This model utilizes propane or MAP gas cylinders and a torch handle to directly light the charcoals and effectively start the charcoal quicker than most models.

Aside from its simplistic nature, consumers love the customer support from JJGeorge. Consumers also note that it’s the fastest way to get your charcoals going.

Features

  • Lights charcoal in 45-60 seconds
  • Completely cord-free
  • Up to 100 charcoal starts on a single 14-ounce cylinder of propane or MAP gas
  • Minimal sparking when lighting the charcoal piles
  • Dimensions: 21″ x 2″ x 4″
  • Weight: 15.2 ounces

Pros

  • Minimal charcoal sparking thanks to a lack of air blowing from the torch that many models have
  • You can light the charcoals from roughly 20″ away thanks to the torch’s extended arm design

Cons

  • The flame is, of course, only able to light small sections of the charcoal piles at once because of its targeted flame output

6. BBQ Dragon Charcoal Starter and Grill Lighter

This next charcoal grill chimney is more of a fan than a lighter itself. The BBQ Dragon Charcoal Starter and Grill Lighter is an adjustable air-bellowing device that keeps a constant airflow on the charcoals for expeditious charcoal lighting.

This unit is also massively versatile and capable of being used in many fire-starting activities.

Consumers are slightly disjointed in their reviews of this BBQ Dragon unit. While some find it useful and efficient at starting their charcoal, others claim the system burns the bottom charcoals too much before lighting the entire pile.

Features

  • A Heavy-duty, spring-loaded clip mechanism holds the starter to the grill
  • Ready to barbecue within 10 minutes
  • Constructed from stainless steel
  • A long, adjustable neck allows for targeted fanning wherever you need it
  • Variable speed motor for controlling the amount of airflow
  • Battery operated and cordless; runs on 4 x AA batteries, can be charged with a micro-USB cable if using rechargeable batteries
  • Dimensions: 8″ x 3″ x 15″
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs

Pros

  • Allows for targeted bellowing of charcoals thanks to the highly adjustable, flexible neck
  • The unit is highly versatile in almost any cooking, or fire-starting situation, such as camping
  • The unit is compatible with rechargeable batteries and can be charged with a micro-USB charger to save you time and cost on batteries

Cons

  • The fan itself does nothing to light the charcoal, it simply fans them to encourage charcoal burning after being lit

7. GrillPro 39470 Chimney Charcoal Starter

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This next barbecue coal fire starter can hold over two pounds of charcoal briquettes. The GrillPro 39470 Chimney Charcoal Starter is one of the larger capacity chimneys on the list is constructed from durable metal and is also engineered with a heat-shielded handle.

Consumers are pretty blown away with this unit when they first use it. One such consumer even questions why they were using lighter fluid all this time! Consumers love it and claim it works as advertised.

Features

  • Holds over 2 pounds of charcoal
  • Charcoal is ready to go in just 10 minutes
  • Durable metal construction
  • Engineered with a heat shield to keep the handle as cool as possible
  • Dimensions: 6.5″ x 11″ x 10.6″
  • Weight: 1.73 lbs

Pros

  • Constructed with a heat shield to keep your hand safe while using the charcoal chimney
  • The unit is purported to hold up to 4 pounds of charcoal when its capacity is maximized

Cons

  • N/A

8. Beau Jardin Charcoal Chimney Starter

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The Beau Jardin Charcoal Chimney Starter is another compact charcoal chimney. It’s perfect for small to medium grills, but don’t let it fool you. This chimney can hold up to four pounds of charcoals simultaneously and have you ready to go in under 20 minutes.

Aside from the few consumers who report receiving incomplete units, the Beau Jardin chimney is mostly satisfactory for consumers. It’s noted as safe to use thanks to the heat shield and it’s also claimed that it’s very efficient.

Features

  • Roughly 7-in-diameter charcoal chimney
  • Holds about 4 pounds of charcoal briquettes at once
  • Charcoals are ready and red-hot in about 15 to 20 minutes
  • Durable, galvanized steel construction; zinc plating makes the unit rust-resistant
  • Engineered with a heat shield nylon handle to prevent heat transfer to the handle
  • Dimensions: 11 x 7 x 7 in.
  • Weight: 2.16 lbs

Pros

  • Holds four ponds of charcoal briquettes, which is among the highest capacity specifications of any charcoal chimney on the market
  • The unit is rust-resistant thanks to its zinc plating, which translates into a much longer life for the chimney

Cons

  • A small group of consumers notes that the unit has been delivered without all of its parts

9. Oklahoma Joe’s 9848125R04 Half-Time Charcoal Starter XL

The Oklahoma Joe’s 9848125R04 Half-Time Charcoal Starter XL is the only wide-mouthed grill chimney on the list. The wider chimney design allows for the charcoals to heat more evenly, reducing the worry that your bottom charcoals will burn out and ash before the top layers are prepared.

Most consumers are happy with this Oklahoma Joe’s chimney charcoal starter, aside from the few who note that the handle melted. Many note that they’ve been using this unit for years and don’t expect to need a new one for quite some time.

Features

  • Roughly 12″ diameter charcoal chimney
  • Holds about 100 individual briquettes at one time; suitable for lump charcoal
  • Prepares the charcoal in about half the time that it takes standard chimneys to prepare
  • Heavy-duty, stainless steel construction
  • Innovative handle design ensures it’s cool to the touch
  • Dimensions: 12″ x 15.4″ x 7.8″
  • Weight: 3.1 lbs

Pros

  • The unit heats the coal more evenly thanks to its wider base, preventing uneven charcoal prepping
  • Stainless steel construction allows the chimney to last for years

Cons

  • Despite its cool-to-the-touch engineering, some consumers claim their handle has melted with use

10. HOMENOTE Rapid Charcoal Chimney Starter

The final barbecue chimney in review is the HOMENOTE Rapid Charcoal Chimney Starter. This is the only model on our list that comes with included accessories such as starter cubes, a portable air blower, and heat-resistant mitts.

However, some consumers have reservations about the heat resistance of the mitts. It’s also the only wooden-handled model in review.

Consumers, as with many of the similarly designed chimneys, find this HOMENOTE model to be an efficient manner in which to start their charcoal. For many consumers, it’s exactly what they were expecting.

Features

  • Roughly 7″ diameter charcoal chimney
  • Includes multiple accessories: starter cubes, portable air blower, and heat-resistant mitts
  • Durable, steel construction and rust-resistant zinc plating
  • The wooden handle design prevents melting or scalding; also protected by a heat shield
  • The starter cubes are made from 100% all-natural, non-toxic wood
  • Dimensions: 12.2″ x 7.1″ x 7.1″
  • Weight: 3.8 lbs

Pros

  • The unit comes with multiple accessories for efficient and safe use of the charcoal starter chimney, something no other model can claim
  • The starter cubes are all-natural, ensuring the safety of use for your charcoals that will cook your food

Cons

  • Some claim the mitts aren’t that heat-resistant and can be dangerous because of false assumptions about safety

FAQ

The following is a list of FAQs regarding charcoal chimney starters:
How do charcoal chimney sizes effect the charcoal?
Depending on the height and width of the charcoal chimney, the charcoals will burn or ignite more or less evenly throughout. For instance, the Oklahoma Joe's model allows for all of the charcoal to get a relatively even burn so that you're not worrying about your bottom charcoals ash-ing up before the top is ready. In comparison, the taller, thinner chimneys tend to burn the bottom layers with much more intensity before the top layers can get going, meaning that your charcoals may start unevenly and will be prepared less uniformly.
Which model of charcoal starter is the most efficient at evenly burning/starting charcoals?
The most efficient charcoal starter model is likely the torch style from JJGeorge. This torch-style starter allows you to ignite and get your charcoals started in a flash, but of course, you have to move the torch around the charcoals until they're all started. In that regard, they're less efficient even though they ignite the charcoals faster. The Oklahoma Joe's wide-mouthed model is most likely the best model for evenly burning/starting your charcoal as it's the model best suited to provide flames to the entirety of the charcoal supply.
Why does zinc plating elongate the lifespan of chimney charcoal starters?
Any model that lists zinc plating or a zinc component in steel construction is a winning model. This is because of zinc's ability to block out oxygen and water from reaching the steel surface. Therefore, any model with zinc components is the least likely to take on rust and degradation over time, thus, improving its lifespan immensely.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Weber 7429 Rapid Fire Chimney Starter is the best model on the market, hands down. However, not everyone needs this size or necessarily wants this style.

For those looking for a different style, we suggest the JJGeorge torch as it’s the best model outside of the chimney style for starting your charcoals. For those looking for the evenest charcoal starting for larger grill models, we recommend Oklahoma Joe’s model because of its wide-mouthed design.

No matter the model you’re interested in, be sure that it will cover your bases when you go to buy a charcoal chimney starter for your grill. Stop using lighter fluids and risk your health! Get your chimney charcoal starter today!

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