This Charcoal Companion chimney starter is made from zinc coated steel, measures around 11” x 11” x 7”, and has a capacity of around five pounds of charcoal. The handle is made from hardwood, and there’s an extra heat shield between the handle and the body. There’s a series holes around the bottom for air flow.
Charcoal Companions version of a chimney lighter is smaller than some on the market, holding a maximum of around five pounds of charcoal. This is enough for a small grill, but can also help light a larger one.
As soon as I picked up this chimney charcoal starter I had concerns about the handle. It’s made from hardwood, but its attachment to the rest of the handle just doesn’t feel solid enough. When moving red hot coals around, you need to rely on the handle to stay firm, not worry about it falling off.
I also found the paint came straight off when I first used this chimney charcoal lighter, leaving bare metal exposed to the elements, which of course will cause it to rust.
But the main problem is with lighting the fire. Put too much paper in the bottom and there’s no air flow. Put too little in and it will go out before the charcoal is lit. Put the correct amount in and it does work, but isn’t as fast as the claimed fifteen minutes. The problem is air flow. Drilling a few extra holes around the lower end will make the bbq charcoal starter work much better, but that’s something the manufacturer should have done.
What we have here is a chimney bbq starter designed by someone who’s never seen one before, and doesn’t know how they work. When it comes to lighting and moving hot coals around, safety is key, so even if you can get this model lit, I would recommend it with reservations.
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