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FiAir Review

Posted by Brandon On September - 29 - 2013Comments Off

When it comes to tailgate grilling most of us fall into 2 camps: Charcoal or Gas.  If you’re in the “Gas” group you probably appreciate the convenience and speed that you gain from that fuel source.  Our friends in the “Charcoal” group are prepared to forgo the ease of use you might get from gas, if it means that they’re able to get the smoky goodness that only burning wood products can produce.   Whichever side you find yourself on, you probably wouldn’t mind a little help with making things go more smoothly.  Unfortunately the bulk of the new grilling products seem to be aimed at gas-grillers, but every once in a while we’ll see a new product for the charcoal crowd.  The FiAir is one of those products.fiair-logo

(Disclaimer: We did receive a sample of the FiAir for free. The fact this sample was provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)

Quite possibly the biggest hurdle to using a charcoal grill is getting the stuff lit.  There are several options, but I would imagine that the two most widely used options in the tailgating world are going to be lighter fluid or a chimney.  Lighter fluid or those match light briquettes are probably the simplest option, but the smell of the lighter fluid can impact the quality of your food if used improperly, and using too much can cause a very large flame that burns quite large.  Chimney starters are great options in that they can light a large amount of coals without the need for accelerants.  Furthermore the coals are all contained and any flames outside of the chimney are going to be more contained.  But chimneys can take a good while to get going, especially if you pack them full.  That’s where the FiAir comes into play.

We all remember that the 3 ingredients for fire are Fuel, Oxygen (Air), and Ignition.  Just like a clean air filter in your car, the introduction of more air and thus more oxygen will lead to a hotter more intense fire.  The concept of adding more air to a fire is not new.  The earliest examples of this can be found way back in the ancient world, when ancient blacksmiths would stoke their fire with bellows made of leather to allow them to forge their ancient tongs and spatulas. All kidding aside, the FiAir works in much the same way, it uses a battery powered fan to direct a stream of air into a fire.  The claim is a hotter burning, and thus quicker lighting fire.  How quick? They say you can get your coals lit in half the time, which is what we’re going to test.fiair battery door open (480x343)

The FiAir is incredibly simple to operate.  Load 3 AAA batteries into the end, lock on the cap, and press the button.  What you get is a nice steady stream of air.  Not to mention that the nozzle is designed to direct the air where you want it.  From there you aim it at the fire and you should get a hotter burn.  Sounds easy enough, but how does it work?

To test the efficacy of this product it seemed quite prudent to light a chimney using just ambient air, and then to do the same test but adding air to the mix with the FiAir.  The chimney I’m using for this test is the Weber RapidFire Compact Chimney which is roughly half the size of their full size model.  This was done to save on fuel and test time.  Each run of the test consisted of 40 Kingsford “Blue Bag” Charcoal Briquettes, and a wad of paper crumpled under the chimney.  The chimney that will be stoked with the FiAir will be given roughly 3 minutes of burn time before the FiAir will be used to make sure that the lowest coals are sufficiently lit and that the paper has had a chance to burn off a little.  Each test will be conducted in the Weber Smokey Joe Gold model.

fiair-right-shadowThe control run produced white ash on the top most briquettes in roughly 22 minutes.  This may seem fast, but remember we are using a smaller chimney for this test so it’ll naturally be quicker than the standard chimney.  I should mention that the top most briquettes were not completely covered in white ash, but they had some which led me to know they were burning.

The FiAir stoked chimney produced white ash on the top most briquettes in about 17.5 minutes.  Remember that we gave this chimney 3 minutes of initial burn time so the final times could be viewed as (Time – 3 minutes).  It was difficult to measure how “lit” the coals were scientifically, so I based it on appearance.   I did take some pictures just before dumping the coals to show that the 2 test chimneys looked similar.  If anything the FiAir stoked coals were slightly farther along, so you might be able to assume that the coals were ready closer to 17 minutes, so roughly a savings of 5 minutes.  Those 5 minutes translated into pre-heating time mean you are cooking when the next guy is just dumping his coals.  Furthermore if you have a very large grill, looking at you with the 55 gallon drum made into a grill, and you need to light a lot of coals it would undoubtedly aid in accomplishing that faster.

For what it’s worth I decided to try the FiAir on another chimney, and using the product more aggressively I was able to get what I consider a lit chimney at 15.5 minutes.  I was unable to cut my light time in half, but I was able to get them lit in roughly 32% of the time it took without the FiAir.  Photos of all my test runs are below:

How else might the FiAir benefit your grilling?  Well for starters you can raise the heat of your grill pretty easily, and quite quickly. But it’s more than that.  Using the product on lit coals I dumped into the grill, I was able to achieve what I felt to be a very complete combustion of the charcoal, even getting some bluish flame from it. Complete combustion is a crucial element when talking about charcoal grilled foods.  Off flavors can be associated with coals that are not burning well.  And while it is possible that the observed flame may have been a result of binders in the coal burning off, I do believe that the fire was far and away hotter than it would be without the introduction of additional air.  This increase in heat would be perfect for searing applications when you neat a raging hot fire to get a nice brown crust, such as steaks or burgers.  On that 2nd test of FiAir I used the product, quite successfully, to raise the temp of the coals in the grill for searing steaks.

While the obvious time and temperature gains make this product seem like a no-brainer there are several other considerations that need to be made.  Firstly the hotter the fire burns, the more fuel that will be consumed and additional coals may be needed for longer cooks. Secondly the extreme temperatures may necessitate the use of heavy grill gloves, or at least very long tools, to prevent any burns to the hands and wrists.  It is important to remember the FiAir is not a toy, it is a tool.  I do not want to hear about someone getting seriously burned and rushed to the ER because they got carried away with a fire.  I don’t want you to read that as this product is dangerous, it just needs to be used responsibly to be used safely.  Blowing air can cause a fire to act somewhat unpredictably so do not overuse this product or use it in confined spaces. The other aspect of the FiAir that may turn some tailgaters off is that you actually have to be around the fire to use it.  I mentioned above how you could save time, but if you used that chimney time to set up your tailgate site or to prep food, you may find that you aren’t coming out much better.

When used properly I would definitely recommend the FiAir to tailgaters and grillers who use or want to use charcoal, or in other words, it is “Tailgate Approved.”  Despite not reproducing the results they claimed, the time savings make it a more practical option for those who don’t have a lot of extra time to wait for the coals to be ready.  The ability to boost the heat of your fire is also desirable for some direct grill applications, and the price point is seems more than fair at $29.99.  To find out more or to order the FiAir you can visit www.FiAir.net.

Vote Nathan for Kingsford Tailgater of the Year

Posted by Dave On September - 27 - 20133 COMMENTS

Do you remember a few weeks ago when Brandon posted an announcement about the Kingsford “Tailgater of the Year” Contest? If you do, you recall it was a contest where the grand prize winner could get a custom eight foot carved statue of their own likeness and four tickets to a college football game during Championship Week.

We were informed by one of our readers, Nathan L, that he is one of the finalists. Here’s the photo he submitted:

Tebowing for Kingsfrod

Nathan “Tebowing” For the Kingsford Tailgater of the Year award

If you want to help out a fellow TailgatingIdeas.com reader win this contest, you can help by voting for him. Cast your vote for Nathan at: grilling.com/tailgate

Best of luck Nathan. We hope you win. If you win, any chance Brandon or I get to be one of the people that goes to the college bowl game with you? You know we’ll bring the fun tailgating toys…

Spin Chill Kickstarter Campaign

Posted by Dave On September - 26 - 2013Comments Off

Chill Bit in Ice chest
Nowadays if you want your small business to get off the ground, forging a Kickstarter campaign is the preferred method to get some much needed funding. It seems as though going to the bank and asking for a business loan is passe compared to crowd sourcing and using the power of social media. Small companies that have a product that would be great for tailgating are no different.

Last month we reviewed a tailgating gadget called the Chill Bit made by a company called Spin Chill. If you didn’t read the review, it is an attachment that fits one end onto the top of a can or a bottle, the other end into your cordless drill chuck and spins it in ice for about a minute to get it ice cold. We liked it so much that we decided to offer the Chill Bit in our online tailgating gear store.

Now comes the next innovation from Spin Chill called the Beerouette. The Beerouette is the same concept of the Chill Bit but automates the process into a handy little tool that can fit into your pocket. Check out their Kickstarter campaign video below for more info.

Spin Chill is looking for an investment of $10,000 to get their company and products off the ground and it looks like they will get there. As of this evening, Spin Chill had 266 backers who have pledged $8,586 of the $10,000 goal. There are still 20 days to go before this campaign ends so if you want to be in on the ground floor, now is the time to get involved before it gets fully funded.

The Spin Chill Kickstarter campaign can be found here.

Tailgating 601 for Post Graduates

Posted by Dave On September - 26 - 2013Comments Off

Last year around this time we put together a helpful guide called Tailgating 101 for college freshmen. It was our way of helping those incoming Freshman that had been prepping all summer for college football tailgating but may have needed need a few pointers. In the interest of fairness we have decided to put together a helpful guide for those recently graduated tailgaters that have been tailgating at the their alma mater for a few years. The recently graduated college student who still comes back to their old college town on football Saturdays needs a few pointers too on how to tailgate properly. You’d be surprised how tailgating after you have graduated will change compared to when you were an undergrad.

You may ask, “Why does a recent Post-Grad need tailgating tips? They have been tailgating college football for at least four years.” The simple answer is once you have moved out of the fraternity or sorority house, the way you tailgate needs to change too. Even though you may think being removed from living on campus by two or three years affords you the opportunity to still tailgate like an undergrad, you are mistaken. Follow these simple guidelines so you can avoid the embarrassment of the Post-Graduate tailgating faux pas.

Undergrads tailgating

Don’t Dress Like an Undergrad – I don’t care what the tradition was for game day on your campus. Dressing as though you are going to be wedged into the student section doesn’t cut it anymore. Wearing that cape or the mismatched socks or the bow tie complete with sports jacket in 90 degree heat may have worked when you were a freshman or a sophomore but now, not so much. Plus, you think dressing like all the undergrads will help you stand out and separate yourself from the crowd? Jeans and your school’s logo polo shirt will be just fine and you won’t look like Wooderson from the movie Dazed and Confused trying to scam on girls who were Homecoming court runners up in high school this time last year.

Keg Stand while tailgating

Resist the Rituals – No matter what your undergrad traditions were, you may have to back away slowly and find some new ones. Keg stands when you are 21 are not only acceptable behavior but expected. Keg stands when you are 28 and have an entry level job you need to make it into on time on Monday? Not so much. Look on the bright side. New rituals and traditions can be more fun to start. We’re not saying you have to abandon playing beer pong while tailgating. You might have to retire the old table you have that was made out of 2x4s and plywood for a more portable and lightweight version. Fitting that heavy and bulky thing into a two door sedan is probably getting old.

Old guy returns to frat house

Avoid Lingering at the old Haunts – We get it that every time you step foot in the old fraternity house you are greeted with cheers and chants and immediate requests to recount numerous stories. Everyone needs a little ego boost every now and then but it is time to stop relying on the old stories and memories to carry you through. Pop into your old frat house to say hi, or make a donation to the chapter fund but don’t make it an all day affair. Make an appearance but go grab your parking space on south campus and set up your own tailgate party.

College fake ID

Don’t sit in the Student Section – You may still look young enough to be a college student but that doesn’t mean you have to still sit in the student section. Don’t turn the ticket taker at the gate of the student section into one of those state fair carnies that has to guess your age. Your male pattern baldness and hint of crow’s feet are a dead give away you are trying to pull one over. Just be thankful the student ID photo you took seven years ago worked as long as it did.

Beer Box Helmet Guy

Don’t be “That Guy” – We get it that you were the one to always scream “War Eagle” or “Roll Tide” or start the UCLA eight clap when it was time to get everyone fired up to head into the game. Try not to be that guy that screams these same cheers while everyone is filing out of the stadium and making their way across the parking lots either. Most people upon leaving the game are hot, sweaty, dehydrated and a touch hungover and your incessant yelling is not helping the situation. It might actually get your ass kicked because most tailgaters will blow off an undergrad doing it, upon graduation it just makes you look like a douche canoe.

Indiana football tailgating

Post-Game Tailgate like a real Post-Grad – One of the best parts about tailgating is the post-game tailgate. After the game is over you don’t want to sit in hours of traffic waiting for the two main roads leading into the dinky college town siphons out over 100,000 people. Fire up the grill and cook those hamburgers or brats that you have kept cold in your cooler while you were inside for the game. You are in no rush to get anywhere. The college kids still in school are in a panic to figure out what bar they want to hit before it gets too crowded with post-game revelers. Let them have that headache. You brought your own gear and can break out the folding chairs and relax and waive to all the other fans that are sitting in traffic pulling their hair out because they have moved 20 feet in the past half hour.

Drunk guys passed out and shamed on couch

Avoid crashing on someone’s couch – We know it is tempting to hit the bars after the game and party like you just got your first fake ID. We get it. Seeing how we understand it is from a position of experience. You may think you can party and stay out all night until last call but that means you will be needing a place to crash because you will be in no condition to drive home. That usually translates into the bad decision of crashing on someone’s couch or even worse, the couch in the front room of the frat house. It’s a given, at the very least, you will become the world’s largest canvas for Sharpies and Magic Markers. Unless you enjoy waking up to find you will be going to work on Monday with phallic symbols on your forehead and one eyebrow shaved off, resist this temptation. The big difference is that when we learned this valuable lesson it was in the days before camera phones and the ability to post to Instagram and Facebook within seconds. It’s 2013, You are not so lucky and the Internet isn’t going away anytime soon.

Mid-Week Eye Candy Wrapper #128: Leanna Decker Edition

Posted by Dave On September - 25 - 2013Comments Off

Three weeks of NFL football is already in the books and hopefully all of you tailgaters have been making up for the lost time during the summer when you weren’t tailgating. In this week’s edition of the Mid-Week Eye Candy Wrapper we wanted to feature Leanna Decker. Leanna Decker is a bikini and lingerie model and also is Playboy’s Cyber Girl of the Year 2012. She posed for a number of photos wearing NFL gear but the reason why we chose this particular one was to give a shout out to our two writers who are Philly tailgaters. Hats off to you Rob and Chris and all the other great staff writers we have here at TailgatingIdeas.com. Links follow the eye candy…

Leanna Decker Eagles Shirt

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TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

To learn more about TailgatingIdeas.com and our team of writers, reviewers, cartoonists and contributors, please visit the About Us page.

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