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Bad Smoke? Educate Me.

I've read about letting the bad smoke clear after lighting the egg.  Usually after I light mine, it only takes a few minutes for the smoke to clear out a little.  The dark smoke is usually well gone before I get up to temp.  On a couple of cooks now, including tonight, my food has had a bad aftertaste that I believe is bad smoke related.  So, if Im cooking direct at say 500deg, obviously new coals are continuously lighting.  Is the bad smoke from the newly lit coals getting in my food?  If not, any ideas?  Tell me what I need to know to avoid this problem. 

Shucker

Eastern North Carolina

Go Pirates!

Large Big Green Egg

Medium Big Green Egg

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Comments

  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 3,590
    Once up to temp, I usually let it stabilize for 30 minutes or so. Drink a few beers and play with the baby son or hit the kitchen for prep work. If you lean into the "chimney" and smell the smoke it is a good indicator. If the smoke smells the food will taste bad. Smells good, you are good. Could be lump related too. What kind of lump?
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • I usually just wait until the smoke is clear and no longer white. On my first cook I put my food on too soon and it had a chemical taste. I usually wait around 30 minutes before I put my food on. 

    I am sure you aren't waiting long enough. As you already know cooking on the BGE is trial and error. If you are waiting 10 minutes I would wait 20. 

    Just keep up with how long you are waiting and once you get it right you can mark that off the list of things you did wrong. I have only had my BGE a month and have completed about 10 cooks. I am still learning and tweaking every time, but I am getting better and better at it! 

    It is so much fun!
    image
    Louisville, GA - 2 Large BGE's
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    Where and how are you lighting it? 
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 3,590
    Where and how are you lighting it? 

    @Nola, I thought about you when the power went off in the stadium during Superbowl. I thought to myself Nola has ever power tool in his man cave going at one time and blew a transformer.. :))
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 4,847
    @shucker- nola will get you through this and explain why it happens (bad smoke that is).  Has to do with Volatile Organic Compunds (VOC's) that are resident in the lump (and most other carbon related compounds).  Time and the initial fire are your keys to solving the issue.
    Louisville
  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 764
    I think if you hit 500º the bad smoke is gone.

    Gerhard

  •  
    Chubbs said:
    What kind of lump?

    Royal Oak

    Shucker

    Eastern North Carolina

    Go Pirates!

    Large Big Green Egg

    Medium Big Green Egg

  • Where and how are you lighting it? 

    Lighting the top in the center.  Most times, tonight included, I use an electric starter.  Sometimes I use the bge fire starters.  I had the flames rolling pretty good tonight and let it burn for 20-30 minutes before putting the food on.

    Shucker

    Eastern North Carolina

    Go Pirates!

    Large Big Green Egg

    Medium Big Green Egg

  • gerhardk said:
    I think if you hit 500º the bad smoke is gone.

    Gerhard
    Yeah, my thoughts too.  Not sure what is going on.

    Shucker

    Eastern North Carolina

    Go Pirates!

    Large Big Green Egg

    Medium Big Green Egg

  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 3,590
    shucker said:



     

    Chubbs said:

    What kind of lump?
    Royal Oak

    Where do you live? Most people rave about Royal Oak. A few of us from Columbia SC have been getting bad batches lately. My last bag took nearly an hour to even remotely feel comfortable putting food on the egg. Smelled like chemicals. I won't be using RO anymore.
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    shucker said:
    Where and how are you lighting it? 

    Lighting the top in the center.  Most times, tonight included, I use an electric starter.  Sometimes I use the bge fire starters.  I had the flames rolling pretty good tonight and let it burn for 20-30 minutes before putting the food on.
    What kind of cook did you end up doing?  If you were doing an indirect low n slow, you can get too much lit by letting it blaze and lighting a lot of lump, then choking back the air.  If you're cooking direct around 500 or so, I'd light in a few places, or at least move stuff around so just the top is lit. 
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    Chubbs said:
    Where and how are you lighting it? 

    @Nola, I thought about you when the power went off in the stadium during Superbowl. I thought to myself Nola has ever power tool in his man cave going at one time and blew a transformer.. :))
    Hahaha....Some of my neighbors came by and we ended up spinning old vinyl on the turntable....the game was on the TV with the sound off for half the game.  We didn't even notice the power outage until it was almost fixed (was pretty wasted right about then).  Maybe it was the new stereo sucking down the power.... :D
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 3,590


    Chubbs said:



    Where and how are you lighting it? 




    @Nola, I thought about you when the power went off in the stadium during Superbowl. I thought to myself Nola has ever power tool in his man cave going at one time and blew a transformer.. :))



    Hahaha....Some of my neighbors came by and we ended up spinning old vinyl on the turntable....the game was on the TV with the sound off for half the game.  We didn't even notice the power outage until it was almost fixed (was pretty wasted right about then).  Maybe it was the new stereo sucking down the power.... :D


    I néed to see some pics of the new stereo. I want one that will play on my porch bad
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    I'll post some soon.  I built the cart for it, the 300 pound top is almost done - been polishing it with a diamond grinder.  It's up and running, and man, it be LOUD!
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    @Chubbs I have a cool ghetto blaster that's great for a porch.  I'll post a pic.  I'll be bringing it Salado to disturb the peace :D
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • Time and heat will get rid of the chemical taste. 

    Like many above noted, 30 minutes is the minimum to get a clean fire burning. If in doubt wait 45-60 minutes, see if you notice a difference. 

    Light on the top and open the bottom full, top full until at least 300 on the dome thermo. Then put on the DFMT, start to dial in your desired heat setting. Clear smoke is good smoke.....
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,739
    You can also just trust your nose.  Hold your hand over the daisy wheel, then smell it.  If it smells good, it is ready.  If it smells like campfire...wait a little longer ;)


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg wing. 
    2014 Wing King's Apprentice
  • rtt121rtt121 Posts: 420
    For some reason I can't hyperlink.. Google search:bad smoke big green egg That first result is a thread that is a good education
  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,335
    Huh, I thought all smoke smelled good. Except cigarettes. Campfire smokes is the best too! I usually wait no more than 10 minutes before putting food on. Haven't had a problem yet.
    Dunedin, FL
  • Chubbs said:

     
    Chubbs said:
    What kind of lump?

    Royal Oak
    Where do you live? Most people rave about Royal Oak. A few of us from Columbia SC have been getting bad batches lately. My last bag took nearly an hour to even remotely feel comfortable putting food on the egg. Smelled like chemicals. I won't be using RO anymore.
    Eastern North Carolina. Ive had very good luck with RO so far.  Hope its not RO, because my only other choice here is Cowboy

    Shucker

    Eastern North Carolina

    Go Pirates!

    Large Big Green Egg

    Medium Big Green Egg

  • Cowboy is no bueno...just my opinion
    LBGE, Smoke Hollow 4-in-1, Charbroil Big Easy, and Weber Smokey Joe.
  • Chubbs said:

     
    Chubbs said:
    What kind of lump?

    Royal Oak
    Where do you live? Most people rave about Royal Oak. A few of us from Columbia SC have been getting bad batches lately. My last bag took nearly an hour to even remotely feel comfortable putting food on the egg. Smelled like chemicals. I won't be using RO anymore.

    shucker said:
    Where and how are you lighting it? 

    Lighting the top in the center.  Most times, tonight included, I use an electric starter.  Sometimes I use the bge fire starters.  I had the flames rolling pretty good tonight and let it burn for 20-30 minutes before putting the food on.
    What kind of cook did you end up doing?  If you were doing an indirect low n slow, you can get too much lit by letting it blaze and lighting a lot of lump, then choking back the air.  If you're cooking direct around 500 or so, I'd light in a few places, or at least move stuff around so just the top is lit. 
    I did direct 500 and Id say about 1/2 of the lump was lit before the cook was done.

    Shucker

    Eastern North Carolina

    Go Pirates!

    Large Big Green Egg

    Medium Big Green Egg

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    The top layer of lump is all you need lit.  I don't know how much lump you had in the egg, but if you filled it up and half of it was lit, that could be the problem.  You only need enough lit to supply the heat you need, and you want the top lit.  Try to adjust your temp, keep the lid closed and wait for clear or dark grey smoke - take a whiff - it shouldn't smell like chemicals.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • Thanks for all the feedback.  I've had several successful cooks now and I feel like Im getting the hang of how much lump I need burning to reach desired temp.  Ive just had a few recent cooks with the bad taste problem.  I guess I'll chalk it up to bad lump as I am not doing anything different thatn when the cooks turn out fine. I still dont understand why the bad smoke doesnt taint the food as new lump is lit during longer cooks. 

    Shucker

    Eastern North Carolina

    Go Pirates!

    Large Big Green Egg

    Medium Big Green Egg

  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,506
    I believe the VOC's are used up by the initial fire (even the unlit pieces) and once they are burned up they are gone. 

    I have noticed when I have leftover lump and just relight it a few days later for another cook I do not get that much bad smoke and can get food on quicker.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 4,847
    Once you get some lump burning the heat from that lump will be enough to drive off the VOC's even in the unlit lump.  That's why you have to wait til the smoke is clear or smells good (if using smoke wood).  And the time for that to occur depends on the quantity of lump burning and the temperature.  FWIW-
    Louisville
  • " I still dont understand why the bad smoke doesnt taint the food as new lump is lit during longer cooks. " When the voc's get driven off during lighting and stabilization, they all get driven off then.....it's not like each piece of lump gives off its own at different individual times during the cook.
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,017
    As burning lump cooks the VOCs off unburnt lump, eventually that process results in (my theory at least) those volatile gases getting burned by the fire in the burning lump.  That's why lighting on top is important - the air flow is up, and as the unburnt lump is heated, the effluent mostly flows into the burning lump, is combusted and doesn't contribute to the foul "bad smoke".

    For low n slows, you want a small, hot fire rather than a big smoldering fire.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • Eggbeater said:
    " I still dont understand why the bad smoke doesnt taint the food as new lump is lit during longer cooks. " When the voc's get driven off during lighting and stabilization, they all get driven off then.....it's not like each piece of lump gives off its own at different individual times during the cook.
    Yes. Once the fire box has a fire, albeit small and stable, the VOCs seem to be gone from all the lump in the fire box after about 30 to 40 minutes. If you have a 450 fire going after 10 minutes, the VOCs might be gone in 10 minutes, while if you choke everything down right from the start it may take 40 to 60 minutes to get it to smell good. Also depends on the lump - some just stinks. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 8,503
    Eggbeater said:
    " I still dont understand why the bad smoke doesnt taint the food as new lump is lit during longer cooks. " When the voc's get driven off during lighting and stabilization, they all get driven off then.....it's not like each piece of lump gives off its own at different individual times during the cook.
    Yes. VOC's evaporate around 300 degrees. Charcoal has VOC's, but very little when to compared to wood. Most of it was lost during creation of the charcoal. Once the remainder has evaporated, the rest is H2O and CO with CO2 depending on if the coals are on fire or smoldering. CO2 only is released during fully complete combustion which is almost impossible to achieve. Incomplete combustion is what we are seeing at our cooler fire temps. This is why you cannot grill without ventilation. 
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