LIke our parents before us, we've used a charcoal chimney for almost as long as we can remember. It was a staple around our home and has continued to have a place in our outdoor cooking routine even after we had left the nest.
Don't think that just because you live in an apartment or don't have a full size charcoal grill that you don't need one, it's a must for anyone cooking over coals and gets your fire ready faster and more efficiently. They usually retail between $15-$25 and will last the average backyard or balcony cook 10 years or more (if it's not left out in the rain). It's basically a metal cylinder with a grate inside to allow for airflow.
You simply place a few sheets of newspaper under the chimney, below the grate and unlit charcoal into the cylinder above the grate, until it reaches the top. Light the newspaper (in a few places through the holes on the bottom of the chimney) and it will ignite the charcoal all the way to the top. Your coals are ready when they are at least 50% charred, but usually 10-20 minutes will do the trick, just enough time to get things ready for the grill! The chimney helps it burn hotter faster, which means you'll have delicious food in your tummy sooner!
Here's a video we found on YouTube that demonstrates this process beautifulyl!
Make sure to keep an eye on your fire for the first few minutes to ensure that the coals did catch the fire and that you can see embers down inside. Please don't stick your snout down next to the coals as they will be quite hot, even if they don't look it yet! Once you've dumped your coals into your grill, allow it to cool before storing. Your chimney can be used while sitting on your grill grates, on concrete or asphalt or any other heat safe surface you have available to you. Make sure it's out of reach of children and pets that might be passing by!
If you aren't into buying one off the shelf, we did find a few tutorials on making your own out of a coffee can and wire hangers. We're personally in the mindset that it looks like more pain than it's worth, but if you're a die hard diy-er, then it might be right up your alley!