Charcoal Starters: The Electric Starter

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Electric charcoal starter

While electric charcoal starters work, they aren't a effective as a simple charcoal chimney.

This electric charcoal starter features an electric coil similar to the coils on a hotplate. Pour a pile of charcoal in your grill and jam the coil into it and plug it in. As the coals ignite, remove the coil, and mix the unlit and lit coals together with a fireplace shovel. Make sure you place the hot coil on something that is not flammable until it cools.

It's an OK firestarter, and unlike the Looftlighter, you can walk away while it is doing its thing (though our lead writer Clint Cantwell cautions that the cord can easily melt if you let the flames grow too high).

I do, however, have a few quibbles with it: You need access to an outlet, you don't want to be using it in the rain, it ignites only the coals it is in contact with so you need to stir them around to get them all lit, and then you need to move them to where you want them. Chimneys are faster, get the coals hotter faster with less fuss, and you can dump them right where you want them. Also, you don't have the convenient measuring tool that the chimney is.

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