Those who prefer a gas grill have always had an edge on the charcoal sect: speed. Pushing an igniter button, then cranking a dial to fire up the burners takes all of a few seconds. Lighting lumps of coal will never happen that fast, it's physics. But the Airlighter is one grilling gadget that evens the playing field a bit. Without a squeeze of lighter fluid or a match it gets a pile of coal glowing hot, then ashy gray in about seven minutes – a marked improvement from the 20 it normally takes a chimney starter.
To test it, we piled some jagged hardwood charcoal in the center of the grill then pushed the thumb switch to direct a 4-in-long, 2,600-degree blue flame at the bottom of the pile. After a few seconds, we saw some wisps of smoke and coal that was glowing red. We pulled the switch down and an internal fan activated to stoke the fire. After a few minutes the core lit the rest of the pile.
The rechargeable fan has 30 minutes of runtime a scant 2 ounce can of butane is enough to light 100 fires. Every time times we started our kettle grill over a long, barbecue-filled weekend the Airlighter nailed it. It's not push-button start fast, but it's a big improvement over the popular chimney method. And the built in bottle top remover should give you some idea how to pass whatever idle time there is. [$100; thebisoncompany.com]