How To Use A Charcoal Chimney Starter Without Newspaper

How To Use A Charcoal Chimney Starter Without Newspaper

Going to light up your charcoal chimney, but don’t have newspaper? Looking for any alternative to newspaper?  If the answer of these questions is yes, you’re in the right place. 

As a professional chef, I know that two or three pieces of newspaper can dramatically help to light up charcoal chimney starters. But do you know what I generally use when I have lack of newspaper? If not, don’t worry! I’m going to write about them. 

6 Alternatives To Newspaper To Light Up A Charcoal Chimney Starter: 

These are the common alternatives to newspaper to light up a charcoal chimney starter if you have lack of newspaper. 

  1. Oiled soaked napkins.
  2. Store bought chimney starter.
  3. Egg carton cardboard.
  4. Other cardboards. 
  5.  Empty tissue rolls.
  6. And dryer lint.

In today’s article, I’m now going to write down about them one by one. So keep reading this article from top to bottom. 

Here’s How To Use A Charcoal Chimney Without Newspaper 

Based on the availability of them to you, you can use anyone to light up your charcoal chimney starter. Needless to say, I do the same. 

Oiled Napkin 

The oiled soaked napkin can be used as an alternative to the newspaper. And it doesn’t contain any kind of harmful chemical. Newspaper ink contains a bit of chemical but oiled soaked napkins are a healthier option. 

Any kind of cooking oil can be used that is available. Oil soaked napkins take exactly the same time that a newspaper takes to start a fire.  

Some people use newspapers and oiled soak napkins together because newspaper burns quickly and produces a bit of smoke and then oiled soaked napkins help to quickly start the charcoal heat up for cooking. If there is no newspaper available only oiled napkins can be used; it acts the same way. 


Cardboard is another alternative as a starter but it does not act the same way as newspapers do. It takes 21 minutes to burn about a 6 pack carrier of cardboard. 

Unfortunately, Cardboard has some issues too. Due to using cardboard as a fire starter, it starts lots of smoke and ash from it. One can use it if there are no options but beware of those smokes that create from it. 

Overall, hard cardboard can be used but it is not the best option.

Empty Tissue Rolls

One of the best options is using empty tissue rolls. It’s available in every household. Instead of throwing out empty tissue rolls as garbage, you can reuse it into a charcoal chimney starter. 

It will cost zero money so it saves money too. 4 empty tissue rolls were torn into 5 pieces each and then we put the pieces on the charcoal. It takes 20 minutes to start the fire and heat the charcoal. It’s the same time as the newspaper takes.

Dryer Lint

The wool-like texture that is found in a cloth dryer after any cloth is dried using it, is known as dryer lint. 

Usually, we all throw it away thinking it’s of no use. But actually keeping this lint aside would help you in cooking your food. It’s perfect for starting a fire because it helps to ignite more easily compared to others. 

But it can’t burn on its own. Any kind of oil needs to be oil into the lint so that it would keep burning until your food is grilled.

Egg Cardboard Carton

Another best alternative option is using egg cardboard cartons. We usually takes three egg cardboard and cutted it into 6 pieces each. Then with some oil put the pieces into the charcoal chimney. After a few minutes smoke came out of it and it started to fire.

 It also takes 20 minutes to heat the charcoal. The happy news is that it produces less smoke. After completely buring the cardboard, you will notice that it has produced less ash. It also works the same as newspaper burn.

So it is a suitable and safe option to use empty tissue roll cardboard or egg cardboard cartons. Because both of them work alternatives to newspapers.

Store Bought Starter

Don’t have cardboard, tissue rolls, or dryer lint? No issue! You can use store bought starter. There are two options for you. One is cube fire starter and another is oak tumbleweed fire starter. 

Store Bought StarterPerformance
Cube Fire StarterIt works very fast
Oak tumbleweed fire starterIt takes little time to start working. 

But cube fire ashes down faster comparatively than the oak tumbleweed. So if you want to buy store bought fire starter instead of using homemade starters both options are usable as a good chimney starter.

Which Works The Best Among All Alternatives Of Newspapers ?

It goes without saying that these 6 options work very well as an alternative to newspaper. But do you know which one is the best among them? Look at the chart. 

ItemsKey Point
Oiled soaked napkinThis works better if you use a paper towel before soaking in oil.
Empty tissue rolls Empty tissue rolls generate smoke but burn smoothly.
Egg carton cardboard Egg cartons are like tissue rolls because they help to burn smoothly.
Dryer lintDried dryer lint works like an oil soaked napkin.
Hard cardboard Hard cardboard is very difficult to use.
Store bought starter Store bought works very effectively.

Are There Any Disadvantages Of Store-Bought Fire Starters? 

Although store-bought fire starters work very well, they have few limitations too. 

These are: 

  • Cost Money: First of all, store-bought fire starters cost money. On the other hand, you will never have to spend any money if you use any homemade fire starter. So have it in your mind. 
  • Not Eco-friendly: Do you know, whatever Oak tumbleweed or cube fire starters, these two store-bought fire starters contain paraffin wax which produces toxins? Yes, It is! They’re not eco-friendly.

Overall, I highly recommend you not to use any store-bought fire starters unless you have no alternative ways of them.  

8 Steps To Use A Charcoal Chimney Without Newspaper 

Whenever you’re going to use any alternatives to newspapers, make sure that you have gone through these 8 steps. 

  1. From the grill, you need to remove your cooking grate at first. Because it will hold your chimney starter.
  2. On the charcoal grate, place any of the alternatives without the newspaper. If you choose cardboard or normal paper, try to stuff it inside. Stuffing the base helps the starter to start a fire easily.
  3. Take your charcoal and fill up to the top as much as you like. And then place the chimney starter you wish to use on the above.
  4. After that, light your chimney starter using what you have.
  5. In 10-20 minutes, you will see the coal will start to burn eventually and smoke will come out of charcoal.
  6. Before replacing it with the cooking grate, you need to put in charcoal.
  7. Cover your grill with a lid so the smoke can’t get out. It helps to heat your charcoal chimney more effectively.
  8. After that preheat your grill according to the template that you want. It doesn’t take more than 6 to 12 minutes.


  • If possible, use any kind of vegetable oil after you place your starter. It helps the starter to start fire quickly.
  • Never stuff too much fuel into the chimney. Stuffing too many fuel items into the chimney stater can cause you not to light up the charcoal in less time than you expect. 

Final Verdict:

In a nutshell, you can use any of these 6 alternatives to the newspaper to light up a charcoal chimney starter today. Any of them can work very well for you.  However, I want to know if you have any other alternatives to newspapers. Please, comment below if you wish

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Raymond Brown

This is Raymond Brown. I have created this website to share kitchen hacks and to teach easy recipes. You can use these kitchen hacks to improve your cooking skill. By profession, I am a Michelin chef from California. From my teenage years, I had a keen interest in cooking. I took a diploma in Culinary Arts to start my career as a professional chef.

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