Last updated: August 9, 2021

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A lighting chimney (also known as a barbecue starter or charcoal lighter) is a useful accessory at any barbecue event. Whether it is planned or hunger comes spontaneously, with a lighting chimney you can save a lot of time with the classic charcoal barbecue. With the lighting chimney, the charcoal is ready for use after only 15 to 30 minutes and glows evenly. There are now many different variations and features that we have tested for you. The fireplace is not only a gadget with which you can make a good impression on your guests, it is also a safe alternative to the very dangerous methylated spirits. We hope you enjoy reading and that we can help you further.




The most important facts in a nutshell

  • Ignition stoves are for quickly heating up charcoal and/or briquettes. When things have to go quickly, such a barbecue gadget is very practical, because your coal should be ready for the barbecue within 10 to 20 minutes.
  • The most common materials are stainless steel, steel and galvanised sheet steel. In this order also usually decreasing with the quality. In addition, the various models differ in terms of the features they come with. These include safety handle, folding handle and heat shield.
  • For the casual griller, a cheaper model made of sheet steel is quite sufficient, as all models fulfil their purpose. Professionals, on the other hand, should be prepared to invest a little more, as frequent use takes its toll on the material and cheaper models give up the ghost more quickly. Pay attention to the weight. As a rule, a heavy fireplace is made thicker, which means that the material is more resistant and therefore lasts longer.

The Best Chimney Starter: Our Picks

Our fireplace guide should help you find the perfect product for you. We tested fireplaces made of different materials such as stainless steel and sheet steel. We also tested all possible features of the fireplace. In the course of the article, you will come across the advantages and disadvantages that will make your purchase easier.

The best foldable fireplace

The Denmay fireplace measures 27 x 35 x 21.5 cm and can be folded to a size of 14 x 21.5 x 27 cm. This product can heat 3.2 kilograms of charcoal which should normally be ready to grill in 10 to 20 minutes.

The product is made of galvanised steel and promises a long service life thanks to good workmanship. In addition, a heat shield and a handle made of heat-repellent plastic ensure optimal safety. Handling is also made easier by another folding handle. Editor's verdict: If you want to get as much as possible for your money, you should buy this. Functionality and design have been perfectly combined here and as soon as the barbecue is over, simply fold up the fireplace and stow it away.

The best fireplace with wooden handle

The Wagner fireplace is simple, inexpensive and keeps its promises. With a size of 28.4 x 18.6 x 18 cm and made of stainless steel, it is a high-quality model. The handle made of sturdy wood refines the otherwise simple design.

The integrated heat shield ensures sufficient safety and easy handling when pouring in the charcoal. To light it, simply use crumpled paper and fill the charcoal into the top. Editor's verdict: A good lighting chimney at a fair price. A simple design and a product that keeps its promises. This model is well suited for hobby grillers. [/kb_productlist]

Ignition stoves: Buying and evaluation criteria

There are many aspects you should consider when buying a fireplace. To make your purchase decision easier, we have listed the most important information you should consider when buying a fireplace in this section. The most important information is:

In the following, we explain in detail what is important in the various aspects.

Dimensions (height, width, length)

The size of a fireplace is quite important. It determines the amount of charcoal you can heat up at once.

Just check how much charcoal your barbecue usually needs and compare it in the product info with the volume of the respective model.

If the fireplace is too small, you may end up with too few embers. If it is too large, the charcoal will take much longer to reach the right temperature. So what do you need to consider? The most common models available have a diameter of 15 to 20 cm and are 27 to 34 cm high. If the size of the fireplace is within this range, you can be sure that the right dimensions will not be a problem.

Weight

The weight of the fireplace varies depending on the material. Most models on the market have a fire column made of stainless steel, steel or sheet steel. The handles come in materials like wood or heat-resistant plastic.

If you have a heavy model, it is usually thicker and therefore better made, regardless of the material.

The weight of the fireplaces ranges from 800 grams to 1.5 kilograms empty weight. The life of the product increases, of course, if high-quality material is used. However, this does not mean that other models are simply bad. More detailed information can be found below.

Volume

The volume varies with the size of the fireplace and should be adapted to the size of the barbecue. If you have a large barbecue, you should buy a rather large fireplace to have enough charcoal. If your barbecue is rather small, a smaller model will suffice. The standard dimensions of fireplaces allow an average volume of 4.5 to 7 litres. This quantity should be sufficient for conventional barbecues. To be on the safe side, you can buy a slightly larger fireplace. If it has too much charcoal for your barbecue when completely filled, simply fill it with less charcoal next time.

Material of the fireplace

Many fireplaces are made of thin material to reduce the weight. This has the disadvantage that thin material gives way more quickly with the large temperature differences. This means that the life of the product is reduced.

We recommend fireplaces made of stainless steel.

As mentioned briefly above, the highest quality material from which fireplaces are made is stainless steel. Other variants are, for example, steel and sheet steel. If you want to be on the safe side, choose a model made of stainless steel and make sure that it is not too thin. However, you should also take this into account with fireplaces made of other materials if a long service life of the product is important to you. However, products made of steel and sheet steel do not have to be inferior. If the fireplaces are not too thin, they are also completely sufficient for hobby barbecuers. They are also a little cheaper and well suited for a first test. Once you are convinced of the principle of a fireplace, you can reconsider whether you want to invest in another model.

Handle on the fireplace

The most common models come with a wooden handle or a heat-resistant plastic handle to prevent the heat from being transferred to the handle. Since both wood and heat-resistant plastic do not get hot quickly, you can't go wrong with either. Additional versions come with folding or safety handles. These are handles that can be folded out to make it easier to dump the charcoal. Such a device is definitely recommended, as the radiating heat and only one handle can otherwise make tipping much more difficult.

For your safety, we recommend that you always use gloves to hold the handle.

Heat shield

A heat shield on the handle is essential. It is a shield located between the handle and the firing column. The shield serves to keep the heat away from the handle, as otherwise the handle can quickly become very hot despite the heat-resistant material. However, as the fireplace is exposed to very high temperatures, the handle can still get very hot. Even if there is a heat shield. So be careful and use a glove when you want to tip out the coal.

Ignition stoves: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following, we would like to answer frequently asked questions on the topic of fireplaces. We have selected a few questions for you and answered them directly. Afterwards, you should know everything there is to know about fireplaces.

What is a fireplace and for whom is it suitable?

A fireplace or charcoal lighter / barbecue starter is a container that works like a chimney. The heat generated at the bottom of the fireplace heats up the charcoal inside the container very quickly.

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Perfectly evenly glowing charcoal is easily achieved in 10 to 20 minutes with a lighting chimney! For pouring in, get a fireplace with a heat shield and safety handle. Also use gloves. (Image source: Andrew Kosobokov / unsplash)

Basically, this BBQ gadget is used to heat up the charcoal faster so that you can start grilling promptly.

What types of kindling are there and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

We have created a table for you according to material to give you a brief overview.
Material service life price range
Stainless steel long high price range
Steel medium Medium price range
Sheet steel short Low price range

In addition to material, durability and price range, you should also pay attention to safety and handling. Other features such as a folding handle, heat shield and safety handle have become standard for the majority of fireplaces. If a fireplace has these features, it is usually a little more expensive. However, we do not recommend doing without them. Here is an overview of the advantages of these features:

Feature Advantage Explanation
Folding handle Better handling Fold-out handle that allows the ash to be tipped out with two hands for better handling
Heat shield More safety The heat shield protects the handle and thus the user's hand from heat and therefore protects from burns
Safety handle More safety Heat-repellent material on the handle protects against burns

Best not to skimp on these useful features.

How do I use a fireplace?

  1. Fill the fireplace with coal or briquettes
  2. Take the lighting cubes or paper and place them in the lower part of the fireplace
  3. As soon as the lighting cubes or paper are burning, you can place the fireplace on a fireproof base
  4. Wait until the charcoal is covered with a fine white layer all the way to the top
  5. Take gloves, put them on and hold the chimney by the handle
  6. Carefully pour the charcoal into the grill tray
  7. The barbecue can begin

What does a fireplace cost?

We have put together this table to give you a rough overview of the prices:
Type Price
Stainless steel 25 to 40 euros
Steel 7 to 25 euros
Sheet steel 3 to 10 Euro

Here, it can vary depending on the features and processing of the products, regardless of the material.

What alternatives are there to a fireplace?

Besides the fireplace, there are other ways to get your charcoal to glow faster:

  • Electric heating rod: A rod that you plug into the socket and place in the grill tray. Then pour the charcoal over it. The rod now becomes extremely hot and makes the charcoal glow more quickly.
  • Chemical barbecue lighters: In short, these are small white cubes that you light with a lighter and then place between the coals. The cubes get hot quickly and transfer this heat to the charcoal just as quickly

At this point we would like to advise you once again not to use petrol, alcohol or methylated spirits, as this method harbours dangers such as flash flames and explosions.

How do I clean a fireplace?

First, wait until the barbecue has cooled down so that you don't burn yourself. After that, it is best to use a grill brush to remove the coarse particles. Then you can take a sponge and go over the fireplace with water and cleaning agent to make it shine again.

Conclusion

The lighting chimney is a must for every barbecue fan. It saves a lot of time when barbecuing and the charcoal glows as evenly as it should. So it's not a question of whether you need a fireplace, but which one you want to buy to ensure that your food is cooked evenly. Casual grillers will choose a cheaper model, as sheet steel is more durable. Hobby grillers can choose between the stainless steel product and the steel product, and professionals best choose the stainless steel product. We now wish everyone a good appetite and a lovely barbecue evening! Image source: ccaetano / 123rf

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