If You Own a Charcoal Grill, You Need an Electric Starter

This genius grilling tool gets you cooking in just 10 minutes.

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April 29, 2021

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Charcoal grills are a staple of serious grillers everywhere. The problem with mastering the art of grilling can sometimes be getting started — and we mean just lighting the grill. There are a few ways to start a charcoal grill: lighter fluid (risky), a chimney (complicated), or an electric starter. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a total novice, an electric starter is by far one of the simplest and foolproof ways to start a charcoal grill. Here's why you need to invest in one before summer's over.

Photo by: T.K. Brady

T.K. Brady

It's So Easy to Use

These starters are about as simple as placing them in the coals and turning them on. And, even better, many are ready to go right out of the box. Most electric starters contain directions that read something like this:

  1. Arrange your coals into a pyramid shape.
  2. Place the tip of the starter in your coals and turn it on. (It'll sound like a hair dryer.)
  3. You'll see sparks as the coals begin to light. Pull the starter a few inches back and keep heating until all the coals are lit.
  4. Once the fire starts fully (usually around 10 minutes or less), pull the starter away and turn it off.
  5. Spread your coals when they're ready and add the grate to get cooking.

Follow the directions on your electric starter for the safest and most effective lighting. If you've relied on a chimney method for lighting your grill, give an electric starter a try and see how much faster you get to grilling your meats.

It's Reusable

Unlike lighter fluid that you need to continue to purchase throughout the summer, this electric fire starter can be used for the whole season and years to come. Make sure to keep the starter in a safe place (probably indoors) where it won't risk being damaged by weather or be jostled around. Plus, if you rely on a chimney method, this keeps you from having to stock up on fire starters all summer.

It's Free of Chemicals

Lighter fluid can leave your food with a bad taste, and worse, if you accidentally get some lighter fluid on your food, you're risking making someone sick. An electric starter doesn't rely on anything other than heat to start your charcoal grill, resulting in a classic smoky taste that you expect from your barbecued food.

It's a Safer Option

With an electric starter, there's no lighter fluid, which can present a risk of serious flames when you add fire to it. If you don't follow lighter fluid instructions exactly, you're turning your backyard into a danger zone. An electric starter simply requires an outlet and maybe an extension cord. Plug it in, turn it on near your charcoal and wait for the heat to light your charcoal.

One more reason to invest? You could use it year-round. Many companies claim their starters can be used to light fireplace logs, too. Just be sure you adhere to the instructions before you start using it.

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