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What's your favorite method to lite your charcoal?

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  • My overall favorite way is a pair of propane weed burners. I put hose clamps where I want the necks to rest on the KK edge, and trap the heads in the charcoal basket handles. This is especially effective for lighting the charcoal underneath a cast iron smoke pot.
  • I have the gas burner assembly, despite fairly universal advice that this is a poor idea. The trouble is that it lights from the bottom, leading to an intense fire that burns out too quickly. Fogo for example sells giant lump as one option; big pieces work well e.g. for pizza (tonight's menu).
  • I'm a huge fan of 99% isopropyl alcohol; I buy it in gallon jugs. That's routinely how I light a Solo Stove for quick grilling e.g. of salsa vegetables: A few wood chunks, more lump charcoal, pour on too much iso (oops) and light with a long match. Enjoy the sonic boom as the area birds decide to migrate!

However one lights a fire, it needs oxygen more than additional flame, once it has started. Dennis used to use a hairdryer. I've convinced him and others to switch to a battery-powered leaf blower. The Ego leaf blower is too powerful for this application. If one already has joined the Milkwaukee battery cinematic universe, the Milwaukee leaf blower is perfect for fires, though anemic for other uses.

Edited by Syzygies
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2 hours ago, David Chang said:

and i use this specific firestack duo chimney

I used to use chimneys, dating to before my ceramic cooker days. I'd buy a basic one and remove both the handle and the inside floor, so it was basically a cylinder with holes. I'd set it down on the charcoal grates, add paper and/or wax starters then charcoal, and light it in place. When the fire had developed I'd lift up with channel lock plyers, freeing the charcoal.

The two advantages of a chimney are restricted airflow and additional height. Dennis is clear that our fireboxes are designed to restrict airflow (focus airflow on the charcoal) without help.

I like to "design" my fire, so I want to set the charcoal in place before lighting it. This is crucial lighting extruded lump under a smoke pot for low & slow, and a mere personality quirk for hot fires. Pouring the chimney jumbles the fire. Lifting it out with channel lock plyers is less disruptive. Nevertheless, I had to adopt the weed burner approach for low & slow fires, and somehow they took over for everything (with the gas burner assembly being an experimental alternative). I don't know what happened to my modified chimney.

Edited by Syzygies
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So, after a year of using my weed burner to light the lump I've made a change. I now use a XL sized chimney to start the lump. Once it's glowing hot I pour it over the unlit lump in the KK. Let it take off fir a bit and then set my damper. I didn't like the lump popping and flying back in my face. Not to mention the heat, smoke, and gas from the lump. I find the chimney to be a much easier solution. 

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