Homemade Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter

DIY charcoal grill starter

To make a DIY charcoal chimney starter for your grill:

  1. Cut the top off a paper juice or milk carton.
  2. Cut ventilation flaps at the bottom on each side.
  3. Crumple up several sheets of newspaper in the carton.
  4. Fill the carton with charcoal.
  5. Light the carton at the bottom.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: If you enjoy cooking with charcoal, and who doesn’t, you know the challenge is getting the charcoal to start quickly. Now you can buy a chimney starter, which is a metal fixture that holds the charcoal, but you can also make one out of an old orange juice carton.

Just take the carton, cut the top off with a utility knife, and then cut ventilation flaps on each side—just little V-shaped flaps on each side. Then take a couple—maybe half a sheet of newspaper—make sure it’s nice and dry, tear it up, and stuff it in the carton. And then add some charcoal. This is only half a gallon, but it holds quite a bit of charcoal.

Now all you need to do is light the carton on the bottom. So you use a little camp starter, and because this is wax, it starts pretty quickly. You see smoke’s coming out the top already. Now once that starts burning, the fire will rise up through there and within 10 or 15 minutes without using any charcoal lighting fluid you’ll have a nice hot fire.

Now that I’ve got the fire started, where’s Danny with those steaks?


  1. Make sure to spray the newspaper with Pam..it slows down the burning of the paper allowing time for the charcoal to catch fire..tip from the cooking show Good Eats..


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