Welcome to my Lodge Charcoal Chimney Starter Review.
For years I saw chimney starters at the store I worked at but didn’t understand what they were all about or why so many people bought them.
We had a propane grill and didn’t use charcoal any longer. Even though I missed the smokey flavor charcoal brought, the convenience of propane had finally won me over.
However, many people haven’t caved. They still prefer charcoal grills or using briquettes in outdoor Dutch oven cooking. If you are one of them and don’t yet have a charcoal chimney starter, I’m convinced you will want one.
So, let’s find out more.
Lodge Charcoal Chimney Starter Review
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Price: See Amazon
Material: Rust-resistant galvanized steel
Handle: Wooden for heat-resistance
Dimensions: 11.2L x 6.38W x 12H inches
Weight: 2.21 lbs.
Use: Outdoors only
Made in: Cambodia
Great for: Camp cooking, BBQ, and preparing hot coals in approximately 10 minutes
What is a Charcoal Chimney Starter?
A charcoal chimney starter is a metal cylinder container for holding charcoal briquettes. It has vents for airflow and an extended handle with a heat shield to keep your hand from burning when you pick it up. And you’ll probably want a heavy-duty glove for added protection. A charcoal chimney removes a lot of the hassle of preparing briquettes for cooking outdoors without using lighter fluid. You’ll only need some paper and a lighter. And it only takes about 10-15 minutes.
A Little About Lodge
Lodge Cast Iron is a family-owned business in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
Joseph Lodge founded this company in 1896 and originally called it Blacklock Foundry.
However, after the building burned down in 1910, Joseph rebuilt and renamed the company Lodge Cast Iron.
Over the years, Lodge survived several economic downturns and even thrived when other foundries were closing down.
And as business continued to grow, they built another foundry. The new foundry enabled Lodge to increase its manufacturing production by seventy-five percent.
Lodge makes cast iron and carbon steel cookware, though cast iron remains their primary production.
They offer a large variety of cast iron, including classic, enamel, chef, and Blacklock.
Additionally, Lodge carries bakeware, and several series, all of which are cast iron.
They also have many accessories and a line of cast iron grilling cookware.
Lodge continues to be a leading manufacturer worldwide and makes close to 2 million cast iron pans every month.
Answering Your Questions
Can I use this with a gas grill to get a smoky flavor?
No, I don’t recommend doing this. First of all, you probably won’t be able to close the grill lid because the chimney will be too tall, and secondly, it has a wooden handle.
How many briquettes does the chimney starter hold?
I’m guessing about sixty.
Can I use lump coal instead of briquettes?
Yes, but make sure the lump coal pieces aren’t smaller than a briquette because the grate won’t hold anything smaller. Lump coal may also burn hotter; therefore, you risk melting or warping the charcoal starter.
Will it rust?
It’s made of rust-resistant galvanized steel. But it’s not rust-proof and will eventually rust. However, it will still work unless it has rusted all the way through. How long it takes depends on how often you use your starter and if you keep it out of the elements when not using it.
How well does it work for Dutch oven cooking?
It works great for Dutch oven cooking. It will easily make enough briquettes to put underneath the oven and on the lid. You can pour out however many you need for the bottom and then pour more on the cover. Or dump and use tongs.
Do coals heat evenly?
The bottom coals will be ready and ashier before the top ones, but overall, they will be more even than using lighter fluid. I recommend you check them after ten minutes because you don’t want the ones at the bottom to fall through.
Can you place the starter on concrete to heat the briquettes?
No, I don’t recommend it. It’s better to heat the charcoal chimney on a grill or other heat-proof flat surface. the intense heat can crack the concrete.
How is the handle attached to the body?
Are there any safety concerns?
The only one I can think of is the handle. It’s wood, but some of the metal is exposed, so you could potentially burn your hand if you’re not wearing protection, such as a glove or oven mitt or using a towel.
What accessories will be helpful?
Mainly gloves but also tongs if cooking in a Dutch oven
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What Others Are Saying
Charcoal chimney starters, in general, are relatively popular for outdoor cooking. And even though the Lodge brand is on the more expensive side, it still got pretty high reviews with how easy it is to use. People also liked:
- How quick it got the charcoal ready
- No lighter fluid needed
- It only needs paper and a lighter
- The size and shape
- How well it worked for Dutch oven cooking
- It’s durable (it lasted seven years using it several times/week)
- It’s a game-changer for grilling
- How much easier and quicker it was
- The perfect size for a standard grill
- It makes the right amount of coals to cook six burgers and some hotdogs on the grill
- It would make an excellent gift for someone who cooks outdoors
There weren’t too many complaints and mostly centered around four things:
- Too expensive
- Poor construction or came damaged
- It rusted too quickly
- Charcoal sometimes fell through the bottom
What Do I Think?
The large hardware store I worked at sold charcoal chimney starters. We sold many of them, but I didn’t know much about them.
Now my son-in-law has one and loves it. He says it makes charcoal grilling so much easier. However, he has a different brand from Lodge.
All that to say, Lodge is one of many brands to choose from, and most of the other ones cost less.
I know Lodge is a reputable company, so I’m sure they make a good product. It may even be better than other brands. But I’m not sure because I haven’t ever used one or compared the Lodge charcoal chimney starter with other ones.
What I do know is I would get a chimney starter if I used charcoal for outdoor cooking. But we use propane.
However, a few people who had used other brands commented on how much faster Lodge’s was. So, I would consider that.
I’m not crazy about the price, though. Not enough people made a case for it being that much better to make it worth the higher cost.
So, I’m kind of on the fence as to whether I would get the Lodge brand if I were to buy one.
However, I would recommend the Lodge Charcoal Chimney Starter if you want to get coals ready more effectively, and the cost doesn’t matter as much to you.
How to Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter
- Fill the chimney with briquettes of your choice.
- Add newspaper, paper towel, or kindling to the bottom area.
- Set the chimney on a fire-proof surface such as your grill or outdoor cooking table.
- Light the paper or kindling.
- It will take 10-15 minutes, depending on the charcoal you use.
- You’ll see smoke and a glow and feel the heat radiating from the chimney as it prepares the charcoal.
- When the coals at the top are grayish, they are ready.
- Dump the charcoal in the grill, firepit, or on a Dutch oven or cooking table using a heavy-duty glove.
- Set the chimney aside to cool down. Once cool, you can rinse if desired.
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You can also watch the Lodge video to see it demonstrated.
- High reviews on how easy the charcoal chimney is to use
- High reviews on how quick the charcoal is ready
- Reputable company
- No lighter fluid needed
- Wooden handle to protect from heat
- Only need paper, a lighter, and briquettes
- Good airflow
- Works well with charcoal grills and Dutch oven cooking
- Makes an excellent gift for the one who cooks outdoors
- Limited lifetime warranty
- You can return the item to Amazon in its original condition for a full refund or replacement within 30 days of receipt
- Higher price
- Charcoal can fall through the bottom grate if a piece gets too small
- Does rust after a while
- Some recessed metal exposed on the handle
Thank you for reading my Lodge Charcoal Chimney Starter Review.
A chimney starter is a fantastic product for anyone who uses charcoal in their outdoor cooking.
Although Lodge’s is more expensive than other brands, it also might work a little more quickly.
It’s a good size for a standard grill or Dutch oven cooking and is rust-resistant galvanized steel. And it has a wooden handle which helps protect against the heat. However, it’s still a good idea to wear some gloves.
The most significant issues are that it will eventually rust, and the grate is a little too big. Sometimes the charcoal can fall through, so you have to pay attention and be careful that the hot briquette doesn’t land somewhere that will cause damage.
Despite the higher price, I recommend the Lodge Charcoal Chimney Starter for outdoor cooking.