A bit of frugal bodging

February 8, 2009

So I barbequed a chicken (bought on special, naturally) yesterday. For some time, I’ve been thinking I should make a charcoal lighter.

A charcoal lighter is a metal cylinder with a grate and draught holes at the bottom and a handle. You pack it with charcoal (or briquettes), and light some crumpled paper underneath. The whole lot soon goes, and when the charcoal has a light ash covering you tip it into the barbeque. This has several advantages over building a fire directly in the barbeque grate:

  • no lighter fluid required
  • you can add more fuel for something long and slow-cooking without smoky flames from fresh fuel tainting the food
  • all the fuel ignites pretty evenly, leading to hotter/more even/less wasteful fire (boyscout method fires always have unburnt fuel on the outside when the middle is ready)

You can actually buy these things, and they go for $40 or $50.

Or you can do what I did, and take an old tin, and a coat hanger, and make one yourself.

I didn’t actually follow the instructions here, which I googled up after the event, but they’re pretty much what I did.

I think it took about 20 minutes all up, about half of which was hunting for my Leatherman. The result is not pretty, but it does the job just fine. I don’t think I could drive out to the hardware shop and buy one that quickly, never mind make one.

Add your own moral tale below.


One comment

  1. Thank’s for linking to my tutorial. The charcoal Chimney that I made lasted two years before it finally succumbed to the elements last summer.

    I really like this site, I think the subject matter is very timely and much needed. I will be adding it to my bookmarks.

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