Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Auto Bellows

This idea sucks then blows. But that's a good thing.
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This is a product which preferably is incorporated during the manufacture of fireplaces and BBQ's but could also be designed as an aftermarket attachment. Essentially, it is a bellows for starting charcoal or wood fires which requires no manual action or auxiliary power source.

The Auto Bellows is comprised of 2 chambers - 1 "hot" and 1 "cold. The hot chamber envelops the heat chamber of said fireplace or bbq and contains a bit of water or other volatile which expands when heated. This expansion drives a piston which compresses air in the cold chamber through a one-way valve. When the hot chamber cools it would recharge with air from the atmosphere through an internal feeding one-way check valve which would allow a compression spring to put the piston back in position.

At the end of every heating cycle you would be left with a tank of compressed air in the cold chamber. The next time you wish to ignite a new fire in the now cold fireplace or bbq you take a metal wand on a flexible hose leading from the cold tank and use that to fan the coals of your kindling or charcoal briquettes to begin the charging cycle again for next time. If you don't want the flexibility of a wand there could just be an air nozzle fixed into the appropriate position in the firebox.

AusCan531, Jun 25 2012

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       I love the unneccesary over-complication, but a simple length of stovepipe with a grate 2" from the bottom is the second- best way to start charcoal and woodstove kindling. They sell them in stores, calling them charcoal chimneys, but hippie-descended hillbillies like [The Alterother] just make their own.
Alterother, Jun 25 2012
  

       But you're overlooking the lucrative hillbilly-descended hippie market. Or are they interested in different types of pipes?   

       My contraption actually drives the air into the base of the flame rather than just relying upon draw where you need a bit of heat to make it function.
AusCan531, Jun 25 2012
  

       That's why the charcoal chimney is only the penultimate method for lighting charcoal. The best, of course, is the oxy-fuel cutting torch, which drives the flame into the base of the air (and into anything else you point it toward).   

       I still like your idea. It meets every halfbaked standard I can think of without straining myself.
Alterother, Jun 25 2012
  

       // The best, of course, is the oxy-fuel cutting torch //   

       We beg to correct you.   

       The finest method of BBQ ignition yet tested is the M14 thermite grenade. Compact, discreet, yet capable of lighing a pile of charcoal that's been doused in water and still melting though the grille underneath, it is without equal in the world of the culinarily impatient.
8th of 7, Jun 25 2012
  

       Why not skip the charcoal and simply ignite the meat with it, if you're in such a hurry?
Alterother, Jun 25 2012
  

       8th of 7 next time your testing BBQ ignition systems, can I tag along??
dev45, Jun 28 2012
  

       If you're having trouble getting the barbecue up to speed, just use a petrol-powered leaf blower. You'll have a massive conflagration in no time flat.
UnaBubba, Jun 28 2012
  

       I think a petrol-powered leaf blower is more of an 'outside' toy rather than something to bring into the house to get the woodstove or fireplace going. Unless your missus is more understanding than mine.
AusCan531, Jun 28 2012
  
      
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