Fireplaces look cool, and they are an extreme cooking platform for those who like to cook on the edge! However, the reason they exist is for quick charcoal lighting. A good fireplace will light your charcoal in 10-20 minutes. My oven takes that long to heat up, and I know which one I prefer to cook on!
There are a lot of grilling accessories and products out there, but Char-Griller is the best. They’ve been making outdoor grills and smokers for a long time and pride themselves on offering quality products for the grilling enthusiast, not for those who want to transform their backyard. The quality and practicality they advocate on their website is reflected in this chimney starter.
This Char-Griller product is made of zinc-plated steel and appears to be free of paint or decoration, which is a good thing! Ventilation holes abound on this unit, ensuring good oxygen availability for the fire. The ignition section is also well ventilated, so igniting your base material will be no problem.
The handle is nice and wide and is made of ABS plastic. Between the plastic and the built-in heat shield, you won’t have to worry about accidental burns, as long as you don’t touch the fireplace itself!
Char-grill wants to sell you a system, like any smart retailer, so their chimney is designed to fit precisely into the AKORN center fuel loading opening. If you have one, that’s great! If you don’t have one, you can simply enjoy the capacity of a 7.75″ diameter chimney. (It is 12″ tall, by the way).
There is a unique feature on this model that I have not found on other units. In front of the handle is a release lever for the bottom of the chimney. Much like a railroad coal hopper, this chimney can be unloaded from the bottom. This eliminates the lack of control one might feel when unloading a few pounds of burning charcoal from the top. With a little care, you should be able to place the briquettes in the formation that best suits you and your stove.
Of course, any time you introduce moving parts into an appliance, you exponentially increase the chance of failure. I think it’s a great feature, but I worry about how long it will last and the possible consequences of unexpectedly dropping a load of smoking charcoal.
Try as I might, I can’t find much to complain about with this chimney, except that it’s designed to work optimally with a grate system that not everyone has. The bottom hatch should be a nice feature for non-char-grillers, though. Recommended for all charcoal cookers!