Starting a charcoal fire does not have to be a painful experience. The use of a charcoal chimney starter will make this a lot easier.
What is a Charcoal Chimney Starter
A charcoal chimney starter is a cylinder container that you place charcoal inside. There is a bottom plate set a few inches from the bottom to allow air to cycle through. There are sometimes also holes on the side of the cylinder to help air flow even better.
There is also usually a utility handle on the side of the chimney starter to hold it. Underneath the bottom plate there are usually larger openings for you to stick a flame source to help light the charcoal.
Using a Charcoal Chimney Starter
Using a charcoal chimney starter is easy. Load the chimney with the desired amount of charcoal that you will need while cooking. Crinkle up some paper and insert it into the bottom of the chimney through the larger openings. Using a match or a lighter, light the paper that was crinkled up and put underneath the chimney.
When will the charcoal be ready
Once the charcoal is lit it will take about 15 mins to get up to full heat. You can usually tell when it is ready as they will loose their black color.
Depending on what you are cooking you may need to start additional batches of charcoal. The length of time that charcoal lasts often depends on the temperature outside as well as the elevation. However in general you can usually plan on getting a good 40-45 mins of heat from your charcoals (plus the 15 mins for them to heat up).
If you do need to cook your meal for longer then 40-45 mins then you will want to do another batch of charcoal. the recommendation is to start the second batch of charcoal about 40-45 mins after the first batch has been lit. This means the first batch went through 15 mins of prep, about 20-25 mins of cooking time and still has about 15-20 mins of cooking power left in it. By doing this your second batch of charcoal can heat up while your first batch finishes up and will be at full heat when the first batch is done.