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How to Start

FishbucketFishbucket Posts: 18
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
Hi and Thanks in advance...

What is the most efficient way to start a smoke of lets say 6 hours. Amount of lump charcoal ? placement of wood chips ? Does one start the lump from the top or the bottom ? Are the smoking chips placed though out ? Am I only trying to get enough of the fuel source lit to maintain a 225 temp? If for example I'm waiting for the temp of my egg to stabilize it would only seem logical to me to add the wood chips once the temp has been achieved. And here's a really dumb bonus question. Will coals cook from top to bottom as well as from bottom to top depending upon where the fire is started ?

Thanks for any tips.

Frank

Comments

  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,045
    I always fill up the BGE to the top of the firebox no matter how long a cook I am planning. The charcoal goes out and is saved for next time once the vents are closed.

    I don't use wood chips - they burn up too fast. I only use chunks and mix them in with the charcoal.

    I start my charcoal using 91% alcohol purchased at Walmart. I use a pencil to poke a tiny hole in the seal and then squirt a little alcohol in 4 places in a circle about 4 inches in from the outside rim of the charcoal. Then a little squirt in the center. Wait a few seconds then toss in a match.

    Alcohol burns clean and quickly starts the charcoal. It is very safe as long as you stand back a little when dropping in the match. The warmer the day, the more it evaporates before lighting and can cause a flash. In the winter, it doesn't evaporate and I actually have to hold the match at the squirt points.
    Barry Lancaster, PA
  • WingRiderWingRider Posts: 326
    I use the BGE started blocks,I take one and cut it in half and start in two places for a low n slo.I usually fill the lump up to the top of the spacer ring(maybe a little below the top to allow for air flow beneath the platesetter). I usually let the egg stabilize then sprinkle wood chips around the top of the lump, if I am going to use wood chunks, I will place them in the top layer of lump before lighting the lump and then sprinkle a few chips on the lump after stabilization. I usually try to put the platesetter in during stabilization to warm up(a pair of welding gloves help to temporarily remove the PS to sprinkle chips).Lump will burn up,down and sideways.
    HTH :laugh:
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    You may be overthinking this a little, or else the rest of us are underthinking! :laugh:
    Remember, you can re-use unburnt lump, so just fill the egg to the top of the firebox or the top of the fire ring for long cooks, mix some chips throughout the lump and light it, three or four places around the top
    Give your fire plenty of time to stabilize at your desired temp, 30 mins to an hour.
    On an indirect cook a 250 dome temp will give you close to 225 at grid level.
    Good Luck and Welcome Aboard! :) :)
  • Gator Bait Gator Bait Posts: 5,244
    Hey Frank, Welcome to the forum. One of our favorite members Grandpas Grub has compiled a great post with great resources. Answers to many of your questions may be found there. Here is the link to his post.

    FAQ - Tips & Helpful Information

    Again Welcome to the greatest forum,

    Blair

     
  • vonbondsvonbonds Posts: 22
    Woah,awesome set of links for a newbie like me. Thanks!!!
  • FSM-MeatballFSM-Meatball Posts: 215
    Like everyone else said-

    Fill to the top of the firebox, you can reuse the unburnt lump.
    Use wood chunks for smoke. Dont soak them in water. Mix them in with your lump. About a fist size amount of wood is good. Your smoke wood should smolder, not burn so put it on the side if you are using a hot fire.

    I have a different starting method- I use a chimney starter. I oil a paper towel, loosely wrap it in 1/4 sheet of newspaper and use that under the chimney to start the fire. Dump the coals when ready.

    There are lots of starting options including
    -Fire Starter blocks (may leave a checmical flavor)
    -Oiled Paper towels/napkins
    -Alcohol
    -Chimney starters
    -Weed Burners
    -Mapp/Propane Torches
    -Electric Starters
  • Gator Bait Gator Bait Posts: 5,244
     
    They are a great resource even for non newbies, keep your eyes open and every now and then Kent will post the latest version. I always have it bookmarked where I can get to it quickly. :)

    Blair

     
  • LitLit Posts: 2,375
    I clear out a hole in the bottom of my left over lump and light it there at the bottom and then fill the fire box. Makes more sense to me that heat rises so much less chance of the fire going out on a low and slow. I have never had a fire go out and have always wondered how that happens.
  • FishbucketFishbucket Posts: 18
    Capt Frank, Et Al......

    Well I've grilled steaks on my indoor fireplace and normally I start the fire from the bottom. I also have purchased a Loof Lighter and could probably get the bottom lit that way as well. I guess my biggest concern is not heating up to many coals so as to not inadvertently exceed a 225 dome temp. Once you get to big of a fire or burn going I'm guessing it's a bit problematic to get it to drop from 500 down to 225.

    The other concern I have for anyone else out there is the smoke. I like the idea of going with the chunk and not the chips as my first experience with the chips was that they seemed to burn up rather quickly, so quickly that while I was stabilizing my Egg temp hardly any smoke was left. Correct me if I'm wrong here but I'm guessing that once I initially drop the lid I should leave it shut and not open it up until the temp stabilizes, and then put the meat in ?

    Thanks again everyone for the great tips, awesome !

    Frank
  • FishbucketFishbucket Posts: 18
    Lit,

    Yes that's what I was thinking as well. When you lit from the bottom then the burn will slowly move up the fire box bottom to top is my understanding of what you wrote.

    Thanks,

    Frank
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    A fireplace is a different critter than an Egg, but I can see how you wondered about ow to light. First of all, 225 is a difficult temp to maintain in a large egg. The concensus is to cook at 250 dome, which gives you about 225 at the grid. A large egg will maintain 250 for 24 hrs or more with a full load of lump. It dosen't really matter how much of the lump is actually lit, what matters is how much Oxygen that lump is getting, so a nice even fire throughout does not mean your lump is going to burn up quickly.
    As for the smoke, you will get a lot of smoke at the beginning, then it will clear up,but it is still there just because you can't see it dosen't mean your meat is not getting it. You may think they have all burned up but this is not true unless you have way to hot a fire.
    You are correct about leaving the dome closed. Let your fire stabilize with all your hardware and chips/chunks in place, then add the meat, close the dome and go do something else, resist the temptation to open "just to check", you will not only screw up your temps, but you will extend your cook time. So keep the dome closed as much as possible.
    There is a learning curve, don't be afraid to experiment, share what you learn and ask plenty of questions! :) :)
  • FishbucketFishbucket Posts: 18
    The concensus is to cook at 250 dome, which gives you about 225 at the grid. A large egg will maintain 250 for 24 hrs or more with a full load of lump. It dosen't really matter how much of the lump is actually lit, what matters is how much Oxygen that lump is getting, so a nice even fire throughout does not mean your lump is going to burn up quickly.
    As for the smoke, you will get a lot of smoke at the beginning, then it will clear up,but it is still there just because you can't see it dosen't mean your meat is not getting it. You may think they have all burned up but this is not true unless you have way to hot a fire.



    Thanks Capt, awesome ! I did a 6 hour St Louis smoke for my first eggsperience last weekend and it was pretty awesome. Mild to weak smoke flavor but that's probably my fault, but better than too much smoke I suppose. Med egg dome temp 240/50 and grid temp not to far apart at around 230 roughly. Great observation on the Oxygen versus the size of the fire. That tells me alot.

    Cheers,
    Frank
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    You are welcome, glad I could help a little.
    Remember, you are smoking with real wood charcoal, so you get a little smoke flavor with out adding anything else. It is very easy to get to much smoke, especially in chicken or fish. Apple, cherry, pecan and other milder woods are favorites around here for that reason :)
  • FishbucketFishbucket Posts: 18
    Hi Capt,

    Yeah I almost left out the wood chips altogether just to see how much the wood charcoal flavored the meat ,trying to get that flavor of the charcoal on the meat that they get at the Rendezvous in Memphis. Thank again.

    Cheers,

    Frank
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    One of my favorite places, but you gotta know they have a 60+ year head start on you! :laugh:
    I do my ribs that style, dry rub only. I use a little hickory and some apple mixed through the lump. I rub w/a 50% mix of Bad Byron's Butt Rub, 25% Paprika, and 25% brown sugar, and a dash of cumin. Spritz with pure apple juice 3-4 times after the first 2hrs of the cook. Serve several different sauces on the side, Blues Hog mostly. Works for me, I get no complaints! :P :cheer:
    signing off now, dinner is ready :)
  • LitLit Posts: 2,375
    Thats just how I have always done it. I see alot of people light it from the top. Instead of the looft lighter I use a heat gun.
  • what is the recommended time to let burn before cooking and what is this chemical i hear about that needs to be burned off charcoal lump before cooking? does it burn from temp or does ALL lump need to be "red hot" to burn it off?
  • The best advice I got concerning the bad smoke is to place your hand in the smoke above the vent and then smell your hand. It is really obvious when the acrid smoke is gone, the smell gets much sweeter.

    I also scatter chips throughout the charcoal and I observe that the smoke ebbs and flows as the fire spreads and lights new unburned chips.
  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,045
    They are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and they burn off in about 20 minutes - you will usually see the smoke become clear. The coals do not all have to be red hot to burn it off.

    As muleskinner says, you can smell the smoke and sif it has burned off enough.
    Barry Lancaster, PA
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