Every time I get the SUV ready to hit the road for a day at the park, or maybe a weekend camping trip, I fill it to the roof! I thought going from a car to an SUV would give me a lot of extra space, and it does. The problem is, I’m just filling it with more stuff! If there is a travel version of any of the “essentials” I take with me, I want to know about it, because space is at a premium. Does this sound familiar?
Well, it’s the Char-Broil Half-Time Charcoal Starter to the rescue! This thing is the sawed-off shotgun of fireplace starters. Like the big guys, it lights briquettes much faster than traditional methods. Unlike them, it’s compact and great for portable grills or those waiting for you on poles in the park.
Char-Broil is a respected name in grilling and has been making barbecues since 1948. So yes, they know what charcoal cooking is all about.
This little wonder isn’t just a scale model of a real fireplace; it’s 8 inches in diameter, so you’ll have no trouble loading briquettes or charcoal. It has more vents than any other model on the market, which should make it easy to light, despite its small size. (It’s about as tall as it is wide, not counting the handle).
As you’ve probably figured out, I prefer my fireplaces without paint or unnecessary ornamentation. The Half-Time has a Char-Broil logo cutout near the top, but I like it, so I don’t bother with it. The cylinder is made of aluminized steel, so it is durable and rust resistant.
The handle is plastic and has a nice molded grip with a place for each finger. When carrying a bucket of hot charcoal, a good grip is essential!
As with all small fireplaces, this bucket probably won’t work for you if you’re using a full-size stove. This pint-sized bucket is strictly for camping, tail-gating and compact grills.
A video on the manufacturer’s website shows that the Half-Time lights up completely in about 15 minutes. This unit is a great choice for those times when you don’t need a full load of charcoal, or when you’re trying to pack light for grilling away from the garden.