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Starting the fire below the grate

kilokilo Posts: 77
edited 1:18AM in EggHead Forum
I have read several places about starting the fire using a starter cube or square below the grate when you are cooking at higher temp. I am missing something with this because I tryed it and with both vents open it never drew enough flame to get the charcoal started. Is there more ideas on how to make this work? I like the idea of this instead of just getting the coals going on top.


  • Kilo, bet dollars to donuts you're using the original ceramic grate aren't you? Even with it this will work, but not as well as a "holely" metal grate. Just make sure the starter cube is positioned under a hole.

  • kilokilo Posts: 77
    I have read about this new metal grate. Is it the way to go? Will it help for faster start ups? Thanks for your help!!

  • SundownSundown Posts: 2,959
    Fire loves to travel up. The fire will race up through the lump and give you a hotter fire quicker. I'm too lazy to bend over that far. So, I start from the top for everything.
    Starting the lump on the top makes it work to burn and it travels slowly giving us a lo temp 20 hour+ cook without refuling. I can do the same thing starting from the top. In 20 minutes I'll have a 600º fire for my steaks. I recon it all boils down to personal preference.

  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    Kilo,[p]kat is right. The Webber starter cubes work best since they put out a nice tall flame, along with the metal grate. I use to get good results even with the ceramic grate, but removing the ash out of the lump is important too. [p]The idea is that you let physics work for you - more heat is above a fire than is below it so starting the bottom lump makes that on top start quicker as the heat rises up through it. It's not a good idea if you are going for a 20+ hr cook with an extra full load of lump. I works best for 350° or more fires and does start it quicker. Make sure your ceramic grate holes are clear, since there aren't that many of them.[p]Tim[p]Tim
  • kilo,
    you betcha the metal grate is the way to go. Either order a BGE product, or just measure the diameter of your grate (since you haven't said what size egg you have) and go get a cast iron floor drain from any good hardware store with a plumbing line. Some folks use Lodge brand trivets, but they don't hold up as well. Someone may come along shortly and tell you how to fabricate your own from a piece of expanded metal as it is called.

  • ChuckChuck Posts: 812
    Tim M,[p]I have had great success lighting from under the ash grate for 20 plus hour cooks as well as the high temp ones. I always fire up this way and find that I get high temps fast and have never had my fire go out in the middle of the night on the long cooks even when holding 200-220* temps. My theory is that the ash falls through the grate instead of on the unburnt coals and makes it easier to spread slowly to fresh lump. When I had the ceramic grate I did make sure that the ash holes where clean before turning in for the night. Anyhow, this is what works for me, what works for others is the right way for them. [p]Have a great day.[p]Chuck <>< [p]
  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    Chuck,[p]You've inspired me! Next time, I will try an under the grate lite for a long cook. I have done all of mine from the top and many go out over night and many don't. I'll try it under the grate next time. Your theory has merit.[p]Anyone else do it this way?? Speak up. [p]Tim
  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    <p />kat,

  • BordelloBordello Posts: 5,926
    Tim M,
    I have tried it under the grate a few time and it took forever to get the lump going. It may very well be that I did not think about the flame being lined up with one of the holes in the grate. Will have to try again. (am still using the ceramic grate)
    New Bob

  • WooDoggiesWooDoggies Posts: 2,390
    Hey Tim,[p]Starting the fire from the bottom works for me.
    Instead of starting the fire for long cooks under the grate I start the fire on top of the grate a la the Char~Woody Method... and there probably isn't much difference between the two.
    Char~Woody suggests building a small mounded fire on top of the grate (I use a pile of lump about the size of a softball), letting it get really red hot, then pouring the fresh lump on top of that small fire and adjusting from there. I've never had a fire go out using that method and there is always a lot of lump leftover.[p]I'll be doing two 9 lb Dizzy Dusted butts tomorrow night doing it just that way.... can't wait.
    I'm with Qfan, I love this time of year..... the chilly night air tinged with the scent of pork, hickory and the cracking of beers.[p]WD

  • kilo,
    The metal grate ROCKS! It brings the egg up to temp much faster for hi temp cooks, and is less prone to getting to many holes plugged up to continue a cook (has lots more holes look at Tim's pic)
    If you want to go to afterburner real quick place on weber starter cube on the metal grate next to a hole. Pile the lump all around, and light. Place a few more pieces almost over the flame, close the lid. Come back in 10 minutes and you will be over 500*

  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,399
    Yowza, WD.
    I am with you on the top of the grate thing. Reminds me of my hobby...building campfires. Get that firestarter rippin, than kinda carefully stack the pieces of lump around it, and lay a few over as not to smother the flame. Just lettin that flame lick around the lump 'til you get a nice group of orange coals. Then you have the equivalent of 15 or 20 little glowing-lump firestarters to get the rest of the charcoal goin. Not only does it work great, but it allows you to play wiff fire for a while...which is an intriguing little fun job.[p]Yeah, we got some nice chilly air tonight, but I wouldn't call it crisp. More like soggy with the clear and present smell of the gulf of mexico. Now, when we go camping next weekend up at 4000 feet in West-by-god-Virginny....that gonna be some crisp air my friend.[p]Man, I am tired. Sweet dreams.
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
  • ChuckChuck Posts: 812
    WooDoggies,[p]I do use the Char-Woody way of the small pile of lump on top of the grate but I light it from under the grate. Then add a layer of lump, smoking chips or chunks and more lump to the level needed. I agree it works great and gives you a lot of smoke. Good luck with the 2 nine pounders. I'm off to Canada for a few days and will be doing a small butt when I return on Sunday.[p]Chuck <><

  • nikkignikkig Posts: 514
    Nature Boy,
    Where in this wet soggy state will you be? If it's near us in Vienna, you should stop in and say hi![p]~nikki

  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,399
    <p />Mornin, nikki,
    Yeah, the whole east coast is kinda soggy now, but as dry as it has been, I expect the ground is soaking that stuff up...sorta like I been doing with the beer that comes close to me.[p]The invitation is much appeciated, but you are about 6 counties west of where we are headed! We will be in the NE section of Randolph county, a couple finger widths on the map south of the tip of the Maryland panhandle....up on the Allegheny plateau. A place called Dolly Sods. Cool place. Reword that...cold place![p]If you feel like making the drive, come on up to the top and hang out with us. We'll be Qing just like we do at home.[p]Cheers!
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
  • nikkignikkig Posts: 514
    Nature Boy,
    Looks beautiful. Rick and I keep saying we are going to start taking WV vacations to see the different parts of the state, but it never seems to happen. Have a great time, and try to stay dry and warm.[p]~nikki

  • WooDoggiesWooDoggies Posts: 2,390
    Nature Dude,[p]I'll have to admit that one reason I like bbqing so much is that it helps to feed my fascination with fire... heck, I was born with a box of Ohio Blue Tips in my hand and have a few stories from my childhood that would turn your hair white. :~)
    Now, I have learned to focus on small and contained fires that give me something good to eat in the end. Speaking of... can't wait to cook some ribs at 4,000 ft with you and your dad. My old pup is gonna love the chilly air and the bones taboot.
    Cheers, mang.

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