Not having snow and cold weather isn’t the only benefit of living on the West Coast (Southern California in particular); there’s also the ability to barbecue all year round. But just because the potential to do so is there doesn’t mean that doing a BBQ right is a given: most casual users committing any number of errors in getting the charcoal in the grill properly heated. So, to paraphrase Mighty Mouse, here comes the BBQ Dragon to save the day — and to ensure the quick creation of a bed of coals that will do any BBQ’er proud.
The BBQ Dragon is stainless steel where it counts: the blower fan unit which is its active part is connected by a flexible gooseneck to a large heat-resistant plastic clamp. Using the clamp, and then adjusting the gooseneck lets the fan be moved into any position desired above the grill. The fan can then be turned on using an adjustable knob that varies the speed and which is found on the clamp. However the BBQ Dragon works best once it is placed in the optimal position, and to find this it’s necessary to actually use it.
The blower runs off of 4 “AA” batteries and should last for quite a few sessions, however there’s nothing difficult about using fresh batteries each time: the back end of the blower unscrews to find the battery compartment. The BBQ Dragon also has a micro-USB socket that will accept a conventional USB cable for charging up rechargeable batteries, should they be used. The company provides a USB power adapter, a thin USB cable and a car lighter adapter for doing this — all in a bright red color.
I counted out and arranged a bed of coals in my medium sized round grill in the backyard (the grill in the picture below is for illustration use only). I had already saturated them with fluid and so stepped to the other side and applied a match. The fire started up and I waited about 2 minutes, then clamped the BBQ BBQ Dragon to the side closest to me and bent the gooseneck so that the blower was aimed at an angle — not straight down. I rotated the knob to start the fan and immediately saw some sparks flying. Since I had read the one-page manual, I knew this to be the results of the blower being improperly positioned and so moved it a bit until the sparks ceased — both the blower (the metal fan housing) and the handle of the clamp stay cool to the touch, although long years of BBQing have me always wearing a heat-resistant glove (you can find any number of these on Amazon or in a hardware store). I could have also adjusted the air speed down but decided against it. The coals took about 7 minutes to reach the state of heat that I aim for, so I took the BBQ Dragon off from the grill and turned it off.
The next day I counted out the same number of coals, applied fluid to them in the grill and set it on fire. This time it took well over 15 minutes for the coals to reach the same heat state as they had earlier — I would estimate more than double the time it had with the BBQ Dragon. That might not sound like much, but when there’s food to cook and hungry people staring holes in your back, every minute counts.
The Dragon is not restricted to just being used on BBQ grills, although certainly that’s an excellent use for it. It can speed up the fire of a wood stove or get a campfire moving along more quickly. I think it might be a bit difficult to position its use for an average in-home fireplace, but certainly an outdoor fire pit wouldn’t prove any obstacle. It will also work well on ceramic grills and with charcoal chimneys, but these require different positioning — which is duly provided in the manual.
Bottom line: The BBQ Dragon Fire Supercharger makes use of an abundant free resource — oxygen — to speed up any fire big time. And if time is money and a charcoal grill is on hand, then $49.99 is a small price to pay to get those coals ready for the food quick.
Adjustable blower speed, Insulated gripping clamp
Blower on high drains battery power
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.