Charcoal grills are generally considered superior to their gas counterparts when it comes to even heat and great flavor. But they also have a few drawbacks — namely the time and effort required to cook with them. Gas grills start right up and are ready to cook on in just a few minutes, but charcoal briquettes typically take a bit longer, and generally require a bit more attention to prepare properly.
Bison –a BBQ-loving company from Warwick, NY– doesn’t like this compromise. They want charcoal cooking to be as fast and hassle-free as gas, so they invented a contraption that makes it possible. Introducing the Airlighter.
This thing is basically a barbecue lighter on steroids. If you can imagine what the bastard child of a blowtorch and a hair dryer would look like, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what the Airlighter is.
Here’s how it works. You start by loading a small amount of lighter fluid (butane) into the fuel camber. Then, just pull the trigger and the Airlighter will spit out a tightly-directed 4-inch flame that burns at roughly 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit. This instantly ignites both charcoal and wood, and once everything’s lit, the flame cuts out and powerful fans take over to deliver oxygen to the fire, helping it spread quickly and burn more intensely.
According to Bison, This patent-pending technology ignites coal in under 10 seconds, accelerates the fire to high heat in under a minute, and gets your charcoal ready to cook on in around 5-6 minutes. Plus, because it only uses a tiny amount of butane, you don’t get all those unwanted chemical flavors that happen when you douse your briquettes in ligher fluid.
In all fairness though, this definitely isn’t the first contraption of its kind. Some of you grilling geeks may have noticed that Bison’s Airlighter is basically the same idea as the Looftlighter — a similar contraption from Sweden that doesn’t use any fuel at all. Instead, it plugs into a wall outlet and uses electricity to heat a small coil. This means it doesn’t require any butane to operate, but it also means you’ve got a limited reach. Bison’s device might not be completely fuel-free, but it’s definitely the most portable product of its kind.
You can order one online through Bison’s website for around 100 bucks. That’s a bit steep for a grilling gadget, but just think how much you’ll save on lighter fluid!
Hungry for more grilling gear? Check out our list of the best grilling gadgets to find the motherload.