I started using a chimney starter about a month and a half ago. I bought the starter at Wal-Mart. The first couple of times I used the starter I used Wal-Mart brand instant-lite charcoal, since I already had it around and I didn't want it to go to waste. It wasn't until after my second use of this type of charcoal that I noticed that the chimney starter instructions say not to use lighter fluid, or charcaol with lighter fluid in it, with the starter. Maybe it was because of the lighter fluid in the charcoal, but the stater really lit up beautifully, and the coals got nice & hot.
However, I haven't had the same success with regular (without the lighter fluid in it) charcoal bricquettes (Wal-Mart brand) in the chimney starter. The coals don't get red or ashy at all after 40 minutes and multiple sheets of newspaper. I don't see any flame coming up in the uppper chamber. I don't think the newspaper is flaming up sufficiently.
What could be the problem? Could it be humidity in the newspaper? Should I only use "fresh" newspaper? The bag the charcoal came is resealable, and I did seal it; there are also no visible tears in the bag. I keep the bag of charcoal indoors & sheltered, away from humidity.
I've got guests coming next weekend and I want to get this resolved by them so I can impress them with my grilling!