Charcoal Starter

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A device, a chemical substance, or a small block of material that serves to ignite charcoal briquettes or lumps of charcoal so they become hot coals for grilling food. Four common types of starters are: 1) metal charcoal holders; 2) electric starter coils; 3) combustible starter fluids; or 4) compressed wood, parafin and paper starters.

The metal briquette holder or chimney starter consists of a large, hollow, upright cylinder used to ignite charcoal evenly. The cylinder is separated by a wire partition that holds the charcoal above a section where crumpled paper is placed. A single crumpled newspaper is placed below the wire partition, while charcoal is placed on the top. The paper on the bottom is lit and within 15 to 30 minutes the charcoal is glowing orange-red. With this type, it is usually best to only use only one to two pages of newsprint rather than compacting as much paper as possible into the bottom section.

A second type of starter is the coil starter consisting of a metal coil that is formed into a circular shape. It is placed into the center pyramid of charcoal. Attach this starter to a heavy duty extension cord and within 10 to 15 minutes the coals should be red hot, at which point the starter is then removed and must be placed in a safe place until the coil cools to a point that it is not dangerous to touch.

Combustible fluids are often used as a charcoal starter. The commercially produced fluids can be sprayed or spread onto the briquettes, allowing the fluid to soak into the charcoal. Then, a long handled match or a flame igniter can be used to safely ignite the slow burning fluid. Typically, this fluid ignites slowly and will not flare up like more flamable solutions, unless the fluid is spread too heavily.

The fourth type of starter may be available in many different shapes and sizes for use in a variety of starting situations. The compressed wood or paper starters are the most common and are generally made from a blend wax mixed with sawdust and wood chips or shredded paper or tightly rolled paper. They may appear to look like compressed materials and they are lit with a match after being placed among and within a stack of charcoal briquettes or wood. This type of starter is also often used to start fires in fireplaces or for use at campfires. Similarly, paraffin chips is another Charcoal Starter option which consists mainly of wax which may have a minor amount of other items mixed into the paraffin wax.

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