How to Use Electric Charcoal Starter: 2022 Quick Guide

How to Use Electric Charcoal Starter?

One excellent choice for a charcoal starter is the electric charcoal starter, also known as a charcoal iron. This is an excellent choice, as the charcoal chimney, because it does not require the use of nasty chemicals to get your coal going quickly! These are relatively inexpensive and really get your charcoal going fast.

Advantages of the Electric Charcoal Starter

  • Quick – These get your charcoal going quickly, usually in under 10 minutes.
  • Inexpensive and Re-usable – You can get a charcoal iron at most places grill equipment are sold for inexpensive and they last a long time.
  • Nothing else needed – Unlike the charcoal chimney, you don’t need matches or newspaper to get your charcoal started with an electric starter. All you need is an available power outlet.
  • Healthy, No Chemicals! – You already know I hate nasty chemicals in my charcoal. Besides smelling bad they are unhealthy. A charcoal iron avoids adding any chemicals to your food.


To be honest, I don’t see any significant disadvantages to a charcoal iron. The only possible one is that you need a power outlet in the general vicinity of your barbecue. Therefore, if you are grilling at a park or campsite, an electric starter may not be the best choice.

How to Use Electric Charcoal Starter

1. First, make a small pile of charcoal briquettes or pieces in your barbecue. Lay them out fairly flat on your charcoal grate.

2. Next, lay your electric starter across this layer of charcoal.

electric charcoal starter

3. Now pile up more charcoal on top of and around the iron.

4. Now plug in your charcoal starter. Most of them have a very short cord so you will probably need an extension cord.

5. Leave the starter plugged in until you start to see the charcoal around it starting to turn wine and develop some ash. You should also see that the center of the pile around the hot iron is starting to glow red, as pictured below. This usually takes as little as 8 minutes but can take up to 15 minutes depending on your iron, charcoal, etc.

charcoal starter

6. At this point unplug your charcoal iron and then carefully remove it from the pile. Safety Note: Be careful to only grab the iron by its plastic handle or the base of the cord! Any metal parts are extremely hot and will sear your skin in milliseconds! This is very important.

7. Hang or rest the iron somewhere safe where you won’t bump into it and where it is not adjacent to any flammable materials. Let it cool completely before handling and storing. I would not advise using water to cool the electric charcoal starter as it is an electrical device!

8. Your coals are just about ready. You can leave them a few more minutes so that more will get going nice and hot before spreading them out and using your grill. If you don’t have enough charcoal simply pile some more on top of the charcoal which was started and give it a few minutes to ignite those before spreading out your hot coals.

That’s it! Happy Grilling with Your Electric Charcoal Starter!

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