A chimney starter is a simple and effective device for lighting charcoal. It avoids the smell, risk, and expense of lighter fluid, and gives you a warm, toasty fire to boot.

The starter is basically a metal cylinder. The ends of the cylinder are removed, and one end is replaced by a grate. Charcoal is poured into the open end, and pieces of newspaper (or old bills) are crumpled, stuffed into the grate, and lit. The heat from the burning paper causes the charcoal to catch, and once the flames reach the top, you're ready to go! Dump it into the grill (use welding gloves to hold the thing, which by now is glowing hot metal) and you're ready to cook!

Chimney starters are available at wherever you buy charcoal. You can spend anywhere from $5 - $15 on one, or make your own with a coffee can. Store-bought versions typically have such niceties as handles and heat shields so your gloves won't catch fire while holding the thing.

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