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Newbie questions: Takes too long to light? Too much lump?

It takes 30 mins or so to reach 450 (for cooking a steak) on my month old Egg. I put lump even with the top of the fire ring.I have top and bottom vents totally open (screen too... I cook on a concrete patio... no fear of embers.) My dealer says that is too much lump and is why it takes so long. He says to fill it just above the holes in the fire ring for a short cook... says it will light faster, draw better, and use less product. Do you agree?

I use one square starter cut in half. Would two get me to 400 quicker?

Would an electric starter light faster? 

I also get a ton of smoke after the flame goes out... really acrid smelling stuff... but it goes away in 3 or 4 mins. It especially happens when I add new (BGE) lump. 

Everyone says they get to cook in 15 minutes but it takes me 25 or 30? Do old BGE's light faster for some reason? What is interesting is that it takes "forever" to hit 350. Once at that, the thermometer really move quickly up to 400 or 500. 

(What would you cook at 600 or 700+)


Comments

  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 5,459
    Personal opinion (and we all know what those are worth...) if you want to get the BGE up to high temps quickly then you need to get a lot of lump burning quickly. Light in around 3-4 places and your "time to temp" will drop dramatically.
    Louisville
  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,456
    Starter cubes are probably the slowest way to light the Egg. Search on here for threads about different lighting techniques. I have a weed burner, heat gun, and electric starter. Weed burner is by far the fastest but heat gun works great too. Usually 15 minutes max before I am ready to cook.
  • doubledouble Posts: 1,214
    What size egg? Air flow = burn so if your grates blocked with little pieces of lump your flow may be restricted. I use a weed burner.
    Lynnwood WA
  • acegg77acegg77 Posts: 90
    I have the large BGE.

    I'll check the holes to make sure they are not blocked.

    Do you think filling just above the holes would make for a fast light?
  • bigphilbigphil Posts: 1,378
    lousubcap said:
    Personal opinion (and we all know what those are worth...) if you want to get the BGE up to high temps quickly then you need to get a lot of lump burning quickly. Light in around 3-4 places and your "time to temp" will drop dramatically.
    +1 high temp light more places and a weed burner works great or a utility torch from lowes 
    Large Big Green Egg , XL Big Green Egg . BBQ Guru, Weber Kettle, Weber Q grill for road trips.
  • acegg77acegg77 Posts: 90
    No way would I want to deal with a weed burner or even a heat gun. I'm a software engineer... I don't know the difference between a hammer and a saw... and power tools are way beyond my pay-grade! If something needs fixing I hire someone... gets done right the first time... as opposed if I did it myself!

    Seems that an electric starter might get me going quickly. I work on a tight schedule and if I can shave 15 or 20 minutes of cooking our dinner (we use Egg 3 or 4 times a week) that really helps. 
  • dougbackerdougbacker Posts: 277
    Sound like plugged holes or using A LOT of small used lump to me and not getting enough air because of the small lump

    --------------------------------------------------------
    South Dakota
    KBØQBT
    Large BGE, 
    Mini BGE
    36" Blackstone Griddle
    Phoenix Gasser
    Cyber Q WIFI

    And a deck box full of toy's


  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,456
    acegg77 said:
    No way would I want to deal with a weed burner or even a heat gun. I'm a software engineer... I don't know the difference between a hammer and a saw... and power tools are way beyond my pay-grade! If something needs fixing I hire someone... gets done right the first time... as opposed if I did it myself!

    Seems that an electric starter might get me going quickly. I work on a tight schedule and if I can shave 15 or 20 minutes of cooking our dinner (we use Egg 3 or 4 times a week) that really helps. 
    A heat gun is basically a hair dryer that blows air hot enough to ignite the lump. It has the added benefit of "fanning the flame" once it gets going. Couldn't be easier to use and takes no technical ability other than plugging it into an outlet. 
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 977
    edited May 2013

    Just out of curiosity, how high in altitude?  I recently had a potential customer in Denver experiencing the same problem.  He had some really bad charcoal out there combined with a lack of oxygen.  He tried a new fire grate first combined with a torch vs. the Looftlighter.  Haven't heard back yet on the results.

     

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  • acegg77acegg77 Posts: 90
    I'm close to sea level.

    I decided to cook early today... I used 2 starter cubes and it got to 350 in about 15 mins... so that's 10-15 min. earlier than before. I'm doing chicken wings at 400 for 35 mins (I hope!) 

    I also unplugged all the holes in the fire ring. a couple were plugged. 
  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 1,831
    I also use starter cubes.  I use a different number of cubes depending on the cook and my timetable.  When I want to get to temp as quickly as possible I use 4 starter cubes spread throughout the firebox.  Just as you found that using 2 cubes speeds up the process, 4 speeds it up even more.

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • doubledouble Posts: 1,214
    acegg77 said:

    No way would I want to deal with a weed burner or even a heat gun. I'm a software engineer... I don't know the difference between a hammer and a saw... and power tools are way beyond my pay-grade! If something needs fixing I hire someone... gets done right the first time... as opposed if I did it myself!


    Seems that an electric starter might get me going quickly. I work on a tight schedule and if I can shave 15 or 20 minutes of cooking our dinner (we use Egg 3 or 4 times a week) that really helps. 
    Software engineer at sea level are you in the PNW? If you can cook on the egg you can use a heat gun :-)
    Lynnwood WA
  • acegg77acegg77 Posts: 90
    Pacific Northwest? No. In CA. 

    I saw a couple of videos on heat guns... lots of sparks flying around and you have to stand there and hope one does not fly up and put you on fire. Using a second starter cube worked just fine. My Egg dealer sold me a box of Seymour "Fire Bolox" starters... they were half the price of the BGE brand... and he says there are the same... it is the company that makes them for BGE. They worked well. 

    I'm told (via some other thread I read recently)  there is a brand that is as good but even cheaper... can't remember it... maybe Rutters or something like that? I'll look it up.


  • doubledouble Posts: 1,214
    Rutland on amazon
    Lynnwood WA
  • FlashkaBobFlashkaBob Posts: 178
    BGE fire starters are basically sawdust and paraffin wax. I've had my LBGE for about a year and a half and always used that product to avoid any chemical residue found in some other brands.  I also had similar issues as yours. I found that after lighting the cubes, I would place a piece of lump over the flame to help light it faster. It produced a fair amount of black smoke and seemed like very little air flow was causing the problem. When the flame went out I would get a lot of white smoke for a few minutes and that would finally dissipate. About 30 minutes later I may or may not be ready to cook something. I recently purchased an electric charcoal starter which is just a small stove element. 10 minutes buried in the coals and I am up to temp in another 10. I no longer have the undesirable smoke issues coating the inside of my egg either. I am happy with this way of starting the egg for now. We will see how long it lasts.
    Be who you are and say what you feel... Because those that matter... don't mind ... and those that mind... don't matter !
  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,183
    I don't like the smell of the paraffin starters.  I use alcohol which is easy, clean, and fast. I am a retired programmer and I can vouch for the alcohol starter.

    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
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,300
    edited May 2013
    Being a software engineer is not an excuse. I'm not one, but was coding in Fortran in the late 60's, and did write a pretty good relational Db in old Xbase. I use a weed burner. Fast, really not much hazard. If you want a hot fire, assuming there is a good air flow, you can start one in maybe 2 minutes, and will have trouble keeping the dome temp under 350.

    Oh, and the temp rate increase is exponential. It may take a long time to reach 250, but above 450, add 100 degrees every minute, every half minute, every 1/8th minute.

    It is possible to start cooking in 15 min, but that is often not advisable. Fresh lump and smoking wood need to off-gas the Volatile Organic Compounds. Used lump emits far less VOCs, and can be used fairly quickly. I save leftover lump for quick weekday cooks.

    Fill your fire box, and remove the fire ring. Break several fire starters into pieces. Light them all. Let the dome stay open till the starter pieces burn out, and wait a minute or two more. You should have a good hot fire quickly, altho' the dome therm temp might be fairly low. But if you cook on a grill on the fire pot, the heat will be intense enough for grilling or searing.
  • jaydub58jaydub58 Posts: 1,296

    Shiff is right on; I use a MAPP torch personally, but to get away from the sparking  issue, use 91% alcohol like he says.

    Fast, hot start!

    John in the Willamette Valley of Oregon
  • EggersRUsEggersRUs Posts: 3
    I've tried most of the recommended starting methods. Short simple answer -

    Go to one of the cheap chinese tool places and buy a weed burner for $12 or $13. I had a tank of propane leftover from the grill I no longer use.

    Make sure you have good air flow. Some lump is harder to start than others. If it will burn, the weed burner will start it and do so faster than anything short of an actual acetylene torch.

    Weed burners are only sold at cheap chinese tool places like harbor freight. I'm making a guess that places like home depot and lowe's don't sell them due to potential liability issues.

    Hey, you have fire on demand - right in your hand. Kinda scary by today's attempts at idiot proof safety standards.

    Even so, works like gangbusters. Real easy to understand safety - turn off the gas,


  • BillPinNCBillPinNC Posts: 68
    I suggest you invest in the replacement charcoal fire grate sold by High Que, it really improves airflow resulting in faster lighting. The Mapp Torch is easy and fast also, combined with the new grate and you will cut down your start up time. http://www.high-que.com/
  • dweebs0rdweebs0r Posts: 502
    After the fire has been burning for 5-10 minutes, you can also use a leaf blower near the intake.  Just idle it near and dont blast it or you'll get lots of sparks.  Nuclear temps in no time.
    -Jody Newell (LBGE & a mini BGE!)
    Location:  Munford, TN  Homepage:  Shadow photo shadow.gif
  • Black_BadgerBlack_Badger Posts: 823
    Hey @acegg77 where in CA are you? (Carlsbad, near SD here...).

    Seems like you're getting lots of good advice and being pointed in the right direction here, but thought I'd add my two cents as well. When I first got my XL egg I was lighting with a chimney and two pieces of newspaper, it worked well and got me going fast, but often I had a hard time getting lower temps steady (below ~300) because I was lighting so much lump at the beginning.

    Now I'm using two paper towels torn into three places and doused with olive oil to start all of my fires. Roll the two PTs, tear the roll into thirds and stuff this into the lump in three different places. Keep one end dry and pour ~1tsp OO onto the other end oils soaks right up and keeps the flame going long enough to light the surrounding lump. Close the lid, remove the DFMT and open the bottom all the way. I'm ready to set temp with clean smoke in ~15-20min total. I too use BGE lump.

    Good luck, I'm sure you'll find something that works great for you.

    Cheers -
    B_B
    Finally back in the Badger State!

    Middleton, WI
  • TN_EggerTN_Egger Posts: 128

    I'm not a software engineer (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once). 

    Two or three firestarter cubes for me.  Works every time.

    Monteagle, TN

    one large and one small

  • horsefleshhorseflesh Posts: 204
    I use a Looftlighter now and love it. However, if you have zero tolerance for sparks, it's not for you. An electric coil starter is the next best thing, IMHO.
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