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How to start grill for smoking temps

yzziyzzi Posts: 1,793
edited February 2012 in Root
My wife got me a large BGE for valentine's day and am loving it so far. I'm a really big rib lover but I've always had a crappy grill, so I've had to adapt my rib making to be done low and slow in the oven, foiled with my homemade rub, and then finish off the last 30-45 minutes on the grill with my spicy guava bbq sauce made from scratch. Now I've got the right grill to do the job well, but there's certainly a learning curve involved. I've grilled half a dozen times already (everything turned out fantastic), and I've tried to play around with controlling and maintaining the temperature. How to you guys go about lighting your grill to maintain ~250 degrees for hours? I know you fill up the box with lump all the way, but do you let the lump heat up for a while and then bring the temp down or do you just light a little lump initially for a bit until it's stabilized? Also, what is the general rule of thumb for how much bottom vent to have open and how much top vent to have open to get those long low cook?

Trying to soak up all the wisdom you all have to offer on this forum. I hope to contribute my favorite recipes soon.

Dunedin, FL


  • Welcome to your new hobby....I mean obsession!

    For low and low cooking, I start with a full load of lump and then light a small amount of lump in 3 places....let that burn with the vents wide open for a few minutes a then start shutting everything down to 250 (bottom and top each cracked less than 1/4"). I'll watch it closely as I don't want to overshoot. If you get too much lump burning initially, it will be very hard to control a low temp.
  • Here is what i do, works perfectly for me

    -fill with lump and wood chunk mixture
    -use bge electric charcoal lighter
    - one a small fire is going i pull the lighter
    -plate plate setter, drip pan and grate back on
    - let rise to 225 and close dampers to about 2 finger width at bottom and adjust wheel as needed
    - let stabilize for 20-30 minutes
    - Add meat
    - Walk away and come back when done
  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 6,900
    I can only speak to my method, but it works well for me. I use starter cubes- any will work- and get the fire going in two spots with lump filled to top of fire ring. Daisy wheel holes open and bottom vent completely open. I leave lid open until cubes are gone and fire lit. Then close dome and watch temp. After a while you will figure out where vents need to be to achieve your temp. I usually stabilize the egg a little higher than my target temp of 250 and let it burn off VOCs. You will notice the platesetter soaks up some heat so have it in there when you close dome to stabilize. If you put in later on, the cold meat and plate setter will lower temp and then you have to play with vents to get it right. Sooooo, shoot a little higher and put platesetter in when close dome. Once stabilized and smoke burning clean, raise dome and platesetter and drop your smoking chips on fire, lower platesetter, and then put meat on. Hopefully the combination of lid being open, and cool meat will not lower egg below target temp. Then watch temp rise back up. I usually have bottom vent open a sliver and daisy wheel shut with only the holes open to achieve 250 dome. I have had it go for 18 hours like that with leftover lump. Just my two cents. One of a million ways to do it I am sure.
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • I use the golf club I purchased from tasty licks. I have seen some videos on Loof Lighter also at Tasty Licks.


    It look good also.

    Located in Western North Carolina
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,720
    Learn to ease into the temperature you want, approximately. Don't worry too much about getting just the right temperature. For lo-n-slo, 10F plus or minus is just fine.

    For lo-n-slo, don't light too much lump. I light 3 small spots, either with a weedburner, or half starter cubes, 60 degrees apart. Bottom vent wide open, and daisy all off. When the dome temp approaches 200F, I shut the bottom vent half way, and put the daisy on, w. petals open. At 225F, I close the bottom to 1/4", and the daisy petals most of the way. The temperature usually stops increasing around 250. It is not unusual to have the bottom vent down to 1/8". Later in the cook, the vents may only be open a crack.

    Do put all of the gear, platesett, adjustable rig, whatever, at the start.

    Once the temp is stable at 250F, let the fire burn till all the billowy smoke goes away. This can take anywhere from 15 min to 45. Depends on quality of lump, humidity, how much smoke wood, etc.

    Once there are just wisps of smoke, put the meat on. This will make the dome temperature drop, but it should return to 250 in about 1/2 hour. (Be sure a big hunk of meat isn't pressing into the thermometer probe.) There is a chance that a big mass of meat will change the airflow enough that the temperature actually does drop. If it hasn't recovered after 45 min, start tapping the bottom vent open by 1/8". If the temp rises beyonf your target, say 265 instead of 250, don't worry. That just cuts a little time off the cooking period. If it continues to rise, tap the vents back to where they were before putting the meat on.

    It is not unusual for temperature to climb a little as the meat cooks. I usually check ribs at about 2 hours to see if the temp is going up to far. For me, that 300F.

    Good luck.

    It may sound fussy, but once you get the hang of it, takes almost no thought at all. Even letting the temperature run up to 700 can be corrected if caught quickly enough.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    do whatever works.  i light in one spot, napkin and oil.  if you want, you can set vents for 250 and walk away, and the egg will dial in itself.  i wouldn't do it with wax starters, because they need airflow, otherwise they snuff out and smolder forever.  that smoke is HORRIBLE tasting. 

    but if you light most any other way, you can light it, look at it for thirty seconds to make sure it's going to catch, and then shut the dome and dial in.

    it will slow and stop when it hits your temp, or close to it.

    what's good about this is never coming back to find you are at 700
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,720
    what's good about this is never coming back to find you are at 700
    Yes, but it is good to go to 700 and know how to get it back.

    Case in point.

    Last Saturday I prepped one of my Eggs, with the notion of starting a pork picnic at 5 a.m. the next day, and cook hot to be ready at the end of the day. Its a long story, with the bottom vent frozen shut, then frozen wide open, then the fire billowing out heavy smoke for 45 minutes with the vents where it should have had a 350 F fire, and only getting a dome of 200. Finally opened all the way, and waited till the smoke cleared. 700, and burning clean. Shut down to where I expected 350, landed at 300, and put the meat on.

    Whatever was going on, nothing I expected to happen worked out. Dome too cold, fire endlessly smoky. So I could equally recommend starting a fire and let it rip. Or maybe 500. Might take less time to cool than it does to let it burn clean at a lower temperature.

    But when I was new to this, a blue jet out the top kind of freaked me.
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 15,398

    I always light mine in one spot around bottom dead center usually with half a starter cube or oil soaked napkin.  For low&slows (loading lump up into the fire ring) I build up the lump around the center then light.  Once a few pieces of lump are going I build the center up to the level of the rest of the lump.  When around a soft-ball sized fire is going I load the platesetter, shut the dome and adjust the vents for the approximate temp (usually 250*F on the dome +/-).  Works for me and as you can see there are many ways to get the BGE going-fuel, air and a heat source and away it goes.

    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.
  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,793
    Way late on a thank you, but I've not been able to comment on any threads until today due to some problems with my account. Anyways, I've taken some good tips from you guys and have gotten a lot better at maintaining the temp since this post.
    Dunedin, FL
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