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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.

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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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