The Steven Raichlen charcoal chimney starter is made from steel, powder coated in black with a chromed steel handle. The grip on the handle is black plastic. It measures around 7” x 12” x 12”, and has a capacity of seven pounds. The body is square in section and has perforations for air flow. There is an additional folding handle for extra control when pouring out the coals.
Charcoal starter cans are designed to help you start grilling faster by getting the fire started more rapidly. The idea is you fill the device with charcoal, stuff newspaper or fire-lighters underneath and light them up. The shape keeps the charcoal tightly packed and so the fire builds much quickly, around twenty minutes in this case.
The extra handle of this charcoal lighter helps control the chimney when you’re pouring out the coals. The handles do get warm, and it’s probably best to be wearing oven mitts anyway. The capacity is enough for a small grill, or you can use the coals to start a larger one, although this will take longer.
The manufacturer claims the square design makes the coals easier to pour out. Personally, I don’t have any problem tipping the charcoal out of a round one, and besides, the handle is on the flat side. This means pouring the hot charcoal out with one corner forces your wrist into an uncomfortable angle, not a good thing when you’re holding seven pounds of burning charcoal.
I was surprised how fast this bbq charcoal starter went from brand new to looking like it was several years old in only one use. It was blackened and stained, the paint was tarnished and it warped slightly out of shape. Materially it stayed solid, but this rapid deterioration doesn’t bode well for the longevity of this product.
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