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Questions a Bunch about Charcoal?

Anthony Up NorthAnthony Up North Posts: 205
edited 5:48AM in EggHead Forum
I've been patiently reading the archives. Certainly a gold mine of info from all the eggsperts. I've learned that if the airholes in the fire grate are plugged - air-flow is reduced and the fire will not light as fast nor will it be as hot? (Seems like common sense when you think about it - which I did not) [p]If that's the case, here are a bunch of questions about the problems I've run into so far:
1. Left-over charcoal and ash plug grate holes. What to do? How to unplug without breaking up the charcoal inside even more? Does entire mess have to be removed before adding new lump?[p]2. With new charcoal - what if pieces are small and fall in grate holes before light? How to prevent that? Sorting coal by size seems such a pain and a mess![p]3. Having my BGE only about a month (Boy do I love it) - I'm on my second bag of coal. First Bag was BGE lump. Second bag is Tru Valu Hardward lump. Second bag seems to have fewer large chunks and many small ones that fall in the grate holes. Do cheaper brands have more small pieces than more expensive BGE lump, or is this my imagination? Or a coincidence?[p]4. BGE lump is mainly hickory. Tru Value is "Oak, Hickory and other hardwoods. Since hickory is more dense than Oak, will the difference in BTU be noticeable in cooking on the BGE? Or not to worry about such small differences???[p]Your help will be much appreciated.[p]Anthony


  • Anthony Up North,[p]Glad to see you're enjoying the egg. The easiest way I've found to maintain an unclogged grate is to stir the left over lump with a stick before adding new lump. I stir the remnants until all the small pieces have dropped through. It is easier if you are using the cast iron trivet that has been mentioned on the board. (Tim M has a picture on his site.) The holes are bigger and more numerous. Small pieces are less likely to clog it.[p]As for the lump itself, buy a few bags at a time. The top is always gonna have the biggest pieces. I take the best pieces and them for when I'm doing Lo n Slo Ribs or Pulled Pork. The smaller pieces are fine for everyday cooking.

  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    Irish Smoker, I find that basically what your saying is very true. I use a 1/4 in aluminum rod with a 3 inch right angle bent on on end. I can use either end for stirring the coals. Since I am a center fire start advocate, I will place a piece of fire starter in the center on the "diamond Mesh" and once its burning steadily, I will place larger chunks on and around the flame. Open the lower vent and top vent and close the dome. Soon you will have a "core" of red hot coals in the center. Once that is in place, I can dump all sizes of charcoal on top..replace my grill after laying my smoking woods, and cook away..Hot and heavy or low and slow.
    Basically to answer Anthonys question, I would concurr with you and add that the venders charcoal is subject to much handling and if its packed to high in the warehouse the lower pallets may tend to get crushed..Or even road conditions in shipping have a lot to do with end sales quality.
    If one has a problem consistantly with a brand, then change up to a different one. I found Ozark Oak to be one of the best for size. True Value here is good most of the time. I tested the new charcoal from Wal-Mart and it too is good for size and burn.

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