How To Make Charcoal Chimney At Home (5 Easy Methods)

A charcoal chimney is a favorite accessory for grilling enthusiasts because it’s ideal for preparing your charcoal fast and efficiently. Otherwise, if you hate using chemicals on your grilling, no alternatives can beat charcoal chimneys.

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But what if you can’t grill without a chimney and suddenly you have to make it? How do you handle the situation? 

No fear. You don’t need to buy chimneys or carry one because it’s possible to make your chimney easily at any place. Find many alternatives to do so.

Here I found three great methods to make a charcoal chimney at home. You’ll find some of them are used more than one time, and others can be completed within a short process and time. 

So keep reading further and find out which can become your favorite trick. 

How To Make Your Charcoal Chimney with Aluminum Foil Pouch

If you’re looking for an exciting and quick method to make charcoal chimneys, it’ll be great. Plus, you won’t need many tools. I always love that because I can get ready to grill with it anywhere without hesitation. 

So let’s begin the process – 

  • Take 2 or 3 large sheets of aluminum foil,  place one on top of the others similarly. Then you’ll need to take two more foil sheets. 
  • Place them on top of the previous one. But make sure to place them vertically “t” in shape.
  • Give the foils a bag-like shape by pulling the four ends of the foil upwards. It seems to be a cylinder-shaped charcoal chimney. 
  • Grab a rubber band to wrap up the foil paper so that it can keep remaining in its cylinder shape.
  • Then add charcoal that you can fill within it. But friends, get slow here. Don’t rush. You should keep your cylinder shape so add the charcoal slowly.
  • Take a knife or anything sharp to make holes around your foil pouch. Do it at the bottom and keep your top open so that air can pass well. 
  • Once your foil bag is ready, keep it at the bottom of your grill—light fire on the holes. 

When the charcoal becomes prepared, use a long tong to open up the bag and leave it onto your grill—no hassle to handle it like a hot chimney. 

Pros of this method

  • Easy to get aluminum foil
  • Not many tools are necessary. 
  • The simple, safe and faster process to make the charcoal chimney. 

Cons of this method

  • Aluminum foil can produce a tiny amount of aluminum in your food. 
Also Read: How To Light A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid Or Chimney?

How To Make Charcoal Chimney Using Orange Juice or Milk Carton

Orange juice or milk cartons are available everywhere in shops. So if you’re out home, don’t bother with the chimney. Just buy an orange juice, drink up, and yes, turn it into your chimney smoker in a few minutes.

  • Take the empty carton and cut the upper part. Try to avoid heavy plastic-made cartons.
  • Remove the residual juice or milk with tissue paper or cloth. Do it softly so that your carton doesn’t tear off.
  • Find a church-key opener or any knife to make triangle vent holes at the carton’s bottom. It is to ensure the charcoal gets enough air inside to be lit. 
  • Grab some old newspaper paper or crumpled paper and place them on the bottom of your can. 
  • Fill up the carton with charcoal and keep it down on your grill. 
  • Light fire on the carton’s holes below and let the firelight charcoal. You can use a long-handle fire torch to maintain your safety.
  • Wait until the carton burns up and falls apart. If the charcoal is scattered, adjust them. And once you see them turn to white, your grilling is ready to begin.


  • Cheap method
  • Easy and fast procedure
  • Comparatively safe than other ways


  • Paper cartons may burn out so fast that the charcoal can’t get enough time to light.
Also Read: How To Extinguish Charcoal Grill (Easy and Simple Way)

Make Charcoal Chimney Using Tin Can or Coffee Can

Here is our first DIY. The most significant advantage of this way is you can easily find a tin can on your kitchen cupboard. 

I always have to buy tin milk cans for my daughter. So usually I prefer to use these large milk cans. You otherwise use a coffee can also.

Step-1: Use a turning type can opener to remove the can’s upper and bottom end to get a basic form of charcoal chimney.

Step-2: Make a triangular hole series at the bottom side using a church-key. Remember, these vent holes will allow ventilation through the can. So make sure the holes are separated by 2 inches to do their job correctly.

Step-3: Now drill eight pairs of holes around the can for threading the wire mesh. It would be best if you drilled them 3 inches above the bottom. Ensure that the holes of each pair keep a ¾” distance. 

It’s time to make a wire mesh. For this, you’ll need 2 wire coat hangers. Let’s follow the instructions below to do it in the right way. 

  • With needle-nose pliers, straighten the coat hangers. 
  • You’ll need 12 pieces of wire. So cut the hangers into 12 pieces, and each piece should be 8 inches.
  • Insert the one end of the wire through the hole on one side and out through the opposite hole.
  • Next, insert the wire’s hook end on the other hole of the pair. But wait, don’t cut your hand as the edge of the wire is sharp, so don’t forget to use grilling hand gloves.
  • Now bend the wire inside the can with the help of a plier. Ensure the bend is slightly tight so that it prevents the wire from coming out of the hole.
  • Using the same process, insert all of the pieces of wires and bend them.

And lastly, you need to make a handle to hold the chimney. So for this, drill two sets of holes for handles on the chimney. One group will be near the wire mesh, and the other will be on the upper side.

Drill them vertically so that the wire handles can be bent strongly. According to the same way of mesh making, make the handles as well.


  • No costs
  • Ideal for several uses
  • Materials are readily available in the home


  • It needs some time and effort.
  • Not suitable for a large barbecue

Don’t have any coat hangers? What should you do then? No need to worry. I also have an alternative option for you with your tin can. Check this out.

  • Remove the top of your tin can with an opener. 
  • Afterward, use a church key to make holes around the can’s bottom part. You need to poke five or six holes. Ensure that there is 3″ space between the holes.
  • Now put your tin in the bottom of the grill. And find some newspaper to stuff them inside the tin’s base. 
  • Add some charcoal to fill the can on top of the newspaper. Light the newspaper to make fire and heat the charcoal. 
  • When the coals get ready, use a long tong to lift the can. 
Also Read: How To Season A Charcoal Grill (Easy 9 Steps)

How To Make A Long-Lasting Charcoal Chimney at Home

Well, still not satisfied with these three ways I described? If you want a more durable chimney, then check out the process of making this long-lasting charcoal chimney at home. 

Step-1: Take a piece of long tin and cut it in 12″ by 27″. The edges of the tin are much sharpened so use a pair of hand gloves if you need them.

Step-2: Using a spade bit of 1 inch, Drill a 2 row of vent holes. One series should be 2.25″ above from the bottom and spaced in 1″.  

And the other series should be 3.25″ above from the bottom side and separated by 2″. Make sure to keep the hole size for 1″, not make it too big.

Step-3: Once you drill, the holes will leave with sharp edges. So you can use a grinder to remove the left sharp pieces of tin and make the holes smoother. 

Step-4: Now you roll the tin in the size you want. But I prefer to choose a 7″/9″ diameter. Because earlier, I took a smaller size of 5″, which resulted in a smaller size for me.

Step-5: Now mark six holes and drill it for rivets. You need to make six holes on one side of overlap and the other six on the opposite side. 

Make sure that there is even space between the holes. Now Put the rivets on the holes using a rivet gun. And you’re done to form the basic shape of the chimney.

Step-6: Take two pieces of “L” shaped brackets and a bit of wood. Generally, brackets have holes where you’ll put the screws. 

Now mark on the wood piece according to bracket holes. Plus, you should mark on your chimney as well where you’ll attach the handle.

Afterward, drill the holes of the wood piece and chimney. Ensure you’re wearing a safety glass so that any wood particles can’t enter your eyes from the wood.

Place the wood into the brackets and Attach the wood piece and bracket with the chimney. Use screws and ensure they are perfectly done and remain tight. 

Step-7: Take a dowel and place it into the end of the brackets. Drill the dowel on both sides and then screw it up. This dowel will make your handle more durable as it prevents the wood from splitting.

Step-8: Okay, your chimney is done. And this is time to make your screen hold the charcoal. Take some coat hangers and straighten them. 

Step-9: Draw a circle the size of the diameter of your chimney. I was taken 7″ for the chimney, so I  drew a 7-inch circle. Now bend a circle with your hanger around the circle you drew.  

Put the wires in strip hooks wrapping the one side of the circle. And similarly, do it on the other side. Following the same process, weave the wear on the opposite side.

Step-10: Once your screen is done, test whether it fits inside your chimney.  If your screen is well fitted, now decide where you’ll put this screen. If you consider my suggestion, then put it above 5″ from the bottom.

Step-11: Now pre-drilled three holes on both sides around the chimney.  To support your screen, stick a hanger on both sides through the outer holes and bend their ends. Now place the screen over the stick hangers.

Step 12: Stick the one more hanger over the screen through the center hole and get it into opposite holes. It will make your screen sit firmly in place.


  • Long-lasting for years
  • No chance to burn yourself
  • The wooden handle keeps it safe from the hot can.
  • Ideal for large barbecue as it can hold much charcoal


  • It’s a long process, so if you’re in a hurry, that may not suit you.
Also Read: How To Keep Charcoal Grill Hot For Hours While Cooking

Follow This Hassle-free And Costless Tick to Light Your Charcoal

After reading for a long time, what do you think? Finding something more simple? So no more mass up with your charcoal chimney. Because I brought a fabulous alternative to light your charcoal, this is Tumbleweeds which Royal Oak makes.

  • Take a basket which you can put on your grill. 
  • Next, make a base layer with charcoal as much as you need. 
  • Keep the Tumbleweed in the middle of your basket.
  • Put some more charcoal around the Tumbleweeds. 
  • Now light the Tumbleweeds. 
  • Remember one thing that one Tumbleweed takes 8-10 minutes to burn up. 
  • So you can add some more until your charcoal turns gray.


  • No need to maintaining a hot charcoal chimney
  • The complete process can be done on your grill.
  • It eliminates the need for hand gloves and extra cautiousness.


  • Not suitable for long-term grilling or adding more charcoal in the middle of cooking.
Also Read: How To Use a Charcoal Grill Vents Easily And Effectively

Mistakes People Make When Making A Charcoal Chimney At Home

In general, it’s common to make mistakes when you’re trying to make a charcoal chimney for the first time. That’s why I figured out some mistakes so that you can avoid them next time. And enjoy a delightful grilling experience. 

  • Not make vent holes exactly to get proper air flows inside the chimney starter. 
  • The edges of the holes are usually so sharp that people often cut themself. So try a pair of pliers to hammer them. It will make the holes’ edges smooth.
  • Not to mark holes with a pencil before drilling holes. It leads to drilling in imperfect positions and wrong measurement.
  • Not to use a large tin can or carton if you’re going for a large barbecue. 
  • I was using paper cartons. It can burn fast before all the charcoal becomes lit. So try to check the material of your carton. 
  • Not to fire in each hole. Because of this, some charcoal may remain unlit. 

Homemade Charcoal Chimney VS Buying a Charcoal Chimney

Well, you may wonder what will be best for you. Make a homemade charcoal chimney or buy a charcoal chimney. 

When I was just starting my grilling journey, I preferred to buy Charcoal chimneys as a beginner. And I suggest you do so if you’re new to this experience. 

Commercial charcoal chimneys come in ready form, so you don’t need to bother making them. Otherwise, they are constructed strongly. 

So that they last long for years. Even if they’re not very costly, you can buy them at an affordable price under $20. 

Besides, if you purchase a chimney starter, it will be less risky and safe to use. And you don’t need to get in a hassle to make it. 

On the other side, if you’re looking for some more cheap options, then a homemade charcoal chimney will be great. 

Moreover, you can’t carry commercial chimneys everywhere with you. But you can make it with some available tools anywhere. 

On top, you can recycle waste in making the homemade chimney. That’s good for our environment and resources. 

So whether you buy or use a homemade chimney depends on your choice and situation. I can show you the way, but you’re the decision-maker to select your most suitable option.

How Do You Start Your Homemade Charcoal Chimney Starter

You already know how much I love to do grilling experiments. I have tried out all the methods I shared with you. I am also looking to find out some other successful DIY hacks. 

But if you ask me how you start your homemade charcoal chimney, here is the whole process for you.

  • Take some newspaper and crumple it much like a tennis ball. 
  • Pour one teaspoon of vegetable oil onto the paper and give it some time to absorb it. The oil will help to let your paper burn for a more extended period.
  • Tuck it into the bottom of your homemade charcoal chimney. If your chimney is made with paper cartons, work smoothly.
  • Now fill your chimney with charcoal and place it on top of the underneath grill grate if you’re using aluminum foil or milk cartons. And let them dispose of the grill.
  • Now light the newspaper with a long match in each hole of your chimney. No matter if it’s a tin can or carton, assure to light every hole.

If you’re using a tin can wait for 15 to 20 minutes until your charcoal becomes properly lit, hot, and prepared for grilling. Then empty the can, pouring the charcoal on your grill.

And you’re done to start your grilling. 

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