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How do I know when the egg is ready to use?

seannichols21seannichols21 Posts: 2
edited May 2012 in EggHead Forum
I am brand new to my egg as well as new to using a charcoal grill and with that I am a bit confused on when/how I will know when my grill is ready to use both for smoking and grilling.

I have ready numerous posts stating that the smoke should be clear and odor free before using and that makes since for a regular grilling. But if I am smoking, do I need to wait for the smoke to be clear? Many posts said to light a small area and regulate once I get to 250, but if I do that won't that leave a bunch of un burnt coals that will produce nasty smoke on my meat once they ignite thru ought the cook?

Maybe I am over thinking this, but I could really use a detailed explanation around when I know my grill is ready for smoking and should I be worried about charcoal that has not burnt off the nasty stuff prior to placing my meat on.

I hope this makes sense!


  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    dome is at steady temp, and the smoke smells good.  clear? blue? white?  i dunno.  but if it smells good, it'll taste good.

    once you get steady at 250 for a while (for low and slow cooks), the VOCs will be pretty much blown off, even from the unlit lump.  VOCs aren't released by the burning.... they are volatile (easily evaporated) compounds which are carried away by the draft (even from unlit lump). their volatility is increased also by their being in a hot environment to begin with.

    you could get rid of all the VOCs simply by airing out the lump.  would take longer without the draft and heat, but they'd eventually be gone.

    when all else fails, smell the smoke
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • That helps a lot as it makes since if the VOC's get burnt off just from being in the hot environment. I assumed they had to be burnt to release.

    Thanks a bunch!
  • Well.....pretty good advice right there. We all do it different but "if it smells good, it will taste good" makes sense to me.

    Keeping it Weird in the ATX
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  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    it's not that they even get burnt off.   they are carried away by the draft too.

    'volatile' in this case doesn't mean that they burn.  it means that they vaporize readily, in most cases at room temp.  the smell from most paint is made of 'volatile organic compounds'. that smell eventually clears because the vapors are carried away and there aren't any more in the paint.

    same for the lump.
    open a fresh bag.  that smell is VOCs.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,528
    dome is at steady temp, and the smoke smells good.  clear? blue? white?  i dunno.  but if it smells good, it'll taste good.

    smell test is all I rely upon.  If I had load a lot of new lump, I'll give it a few minutes at 250* or so to ensure the VOCs are gone. But in the end, I stick my nose over the top and if smells ok, I put my wood in and start cooking.

    One of the benefits of using a chimney to light the coals is that I put new lump in the chimney. When I pour the hot coals into the Egg, the VOCs are generally gone.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • burr_baby33burr_baby33 Posts: 503
    Listen to stike. He is one of the individuals I consider to be an expert. He helped me a lot in the beginning. Now every time you light up you will continue to learn (something) , I do.
  • FxLynchFxLynch Posts: 433
    All of the above is good advice, and is exactly what I do.  

    As for your question about when you are smoking with wood chunks, it depends on if you are doing low and slow, or just using smoke as flavor for steaks or chicken in a faster cook.  If I'm doing a quicker cook I just get the fire going, stabilize the temp and make sure the smoke is clear.  Then I throw my wood chunks/chips in and start cooking.

    For a low and slow I mix chunks in with the lump, so it's a little harder to tell when the VOC's have burned off because the wood is also smoking.  In that case, I just give the egg a while to burn while stabilizing the temps.  I've never had the "off tasting" smoke flavor that way.  

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