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Lighting a few coals

BoilerBBQ

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The first couple of times I used the minion method, I lit a few pieces of charcoal using my chimney upside down with a couple of pieces of newspaper. It worked just fine, but the last 2 smokes I’ve done, I can’t get it to light. The newspaper either falls down the chimney and is too far from the charcoal or it just burns up before the charcoal takes off. Any tips? Last night, I tried every combination of right side up, upside down, newspaper above or below the basket inside the chimney. I have the standard Weber chimney. Is the smaller one needed if only lighting a few (8-12) pieces?
 

SonnyE

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I see you live in North Carolina.
I have to wonder if your charcoal might have drawn moisture from humidity.
I'd suggest you set it out in a paper bag, in the sun for a few hours to dry it out.
I actually do that with my pellets, heating them in my AMNPS in my MES before doing a smoking run.
The dryer pellets burn consistently.

Another suggestion would be to use a propane torch to get the brickettes burning. I routinely use my propane torch head when starting charcoal or my AMNPS.
 

BoilerBBQ

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Thanks for the suggestions Sonny and Holly. I opened a new bag of charcoal on the 2nd or 3rd attempt, so I doubt it was bad charcoal. I lit a full chimney from the same bag today without any issues.
I like the heat gun idea, but I don’t have any outlets on the back of my house, so anything electric won’t work until I build a deck and run electric out back. I’ll have to look into a small torch. Lighting a small pile in the WSM sounds much easier.
 

one eyed jack

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The first couple of times I used the minion method, I lit a few pieces of charcoal using my chimney upside down with a couple of pieces of newspaper. It worked just fine, but the last 2 smokes I’ve done, I can’t get it to light. The newspaper either falls down the chimney and is too far from the charcoal or it just burns up before the charcoal takes off. Any tips? Last night, I tried every combination of right side up, upside down, newspaper above or below the basket inside the chimney. I have the standard Weber chimney. Is the smaller one needed if only lighting a few (8-12) pieces?
I use the smaller Weber Chimney far more often than the full size. I use Weber starter cubes, and can light as few as 6 to 8 briquettes. (Chimney right side up). This picture is of more than 8 briquettes but the method will work with as few as 6.



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I like Holly's idea and will give that a try, soon. I have access to a commercial duty heat gun that gets mighty hot, quick.

In my Char Griller Akorn; I use large cotton balls soaked in alcohol, but this method is too slow for a kettle style smoker.
It works great for a smoker that heats fast with a small fire.


In my WSM I light a half full small chimney and dump it into a tin can, with both ends cut out, then pull the can out.



 
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SonnyE

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Suit yourselves, but my propane torch head, screwed on a green canister, will light sand on fire in the desert.
No cord needed.
Squeeze the trigger, instant fire.
 

BoilerBBQ

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Suit yourselves, but my propane torch head, screwed on a green canister, will light sand on fire in the desert.
No cord needed.
Squeeze the trigger, instant fire.
What torch head do you use? I keep seeing reviews that they stop working after only a couple of uses. Even the manual light ones have issues.
 

one eyed jack

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Suit yourselves, but my propane torch head, screwed on a green canister, will light sand on fire in the desert.
No cord needed.
Squeeze the trigger, instant fire.
I can see the mushroom cloud right now. LOL

I start my charcoal chimney and go back in the kitchen to complete chow preparations. Not interested in watching a torch light the charcoal, (and holding and aiming the torch), and not interested in rushing the smoking process.

It's a laid back operation, for me, and there is always plenty to do in the preparation of the event, but; to each his own.
 

one eyed jack

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What torch head do you use? I keep seeing reviews that they stop working after only a couple of uses. Even the manual light ones have issues.
I do use a torch to light pellets in my smoker tubes, and have used the same "self igniting" one for 3 or 4 years.
 

SonnyE

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What torch head do you use? I keep seeing reviews that they stop working after only a couple of uses. Even the manual light ones have issues.
I got me this one because I use it for a lot more than the BBQ.
It replaced an old Craftsman that finally gave up after ~20 years.
And I do not baby my tools, nor do I buy cheap ones. Mine last.
YMMV
 

mosparky

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On the subject of those auto ignite torch heads, mine died after a few years and was seldom used. You cannot buy the piezo device for them. After searching the web, I found a you tube on how to replace it with one from a piezo type cigarette lighter. Two bucks and 15 mins later I was back in business and had a spare lighter to boot.
Something to bare in mind should yours eventually fail. Sure cheaper than a new torch head.
 

SonnyE

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On the subject of those auto ignite torch heads, mine died after a few years and was seldom used. You cannot buy the piezo device for them. After searching the web, I found a you tube on how to replace it with one from a piezo type cigarette lighter. Two bucks and 15 mins later I was back in business and had a spare lighter to boot.
Something to bare in mind should yours eventually fail. Sure cheaper than a new torch head.
Possibly have a link? Sounds interesting.
Don't know if it would fix the Craftsman, but can't hurt to try.
 

SmokinAl

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If you have a side burner on your gas grill they work well, also a propane burner will work too.
Al
 

gmc2003

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I stopped using paper a while ago, now I use the Weber cubes.

Chris
 

kelbro

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Weber cubes. They are about a dime for each cube and it only takes two cubes.
 

mosparky

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I don't think this is the exact vid but it covers all the same stuff. It is for the TS4000 and may be similar to yours.
 

hillbilly jim

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I got me this one because I use it for a lot more than the BBQ.
It replaced an old Craftsman that finally gave up after ~20 years.
And I do not baby my tools, nor do I buy cheap ones. Mine last.
YMMV
I also have a 'Burnie'. That's a nice torch! Lot of folks don't want to drop that many coins on a torch, but with a 'Burnie', you get what you pay for.
 

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