If you’re in the market for a great charcoal starter, there is no reason to look any further than the Weber charcoal chimney.
The Weber brand chimney is my favorite and it lasts longer than the cheaper models. A Weber chimney holds about about 80 briquets. For a Weber kettle, I put about half a chimney of unlit coals in the grill and put about half a chimney of fully lit coals on top to get to 225°F. To get to 325°F, 3/4 to a full chimney should do it, though it all depends on the air temp, humidity, brand of charcoal, and other variables. You must do dry runs to calibrate your grill.
There is something else cool about the chimney. You can cook on it! It makes a better wok fire than anything in your kitchen. Just sit your wok on top and stir fry away. It gets incredibly hot. Or you can put a grate on it and cook thin foods right on top of the chimney, a technique I call the Afterburner Method. Use a chimney. Get repeatable heat every time and save your eyebrows.
It is galvanized and that scares some people since galvaized steel contains zinc. According to Prof. Blonder, “zinc is both an essential mineral (this means your body needs it) but, at high doses, a neurotoxin. The US recommended daily allowance is around 10 mg/day. People ingest 100 mg a day as a supplement without apparent damage. The vapor pressure of zinc rises almost exponentially with temperature, but at 450°F it is pretty low and you are unlikely to inhale or consume enough zinc-laden smoke or food to exceed the 100 mg level.”
Weber Stephen Company 7429 Rapid Fire Chimney Starter
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Meathead, BBQ Hall of Famer - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.