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Second (hopefully last?) charcoal survey question



  • WylecyotWylecyot Posts: 84
    B for me.  I think it's a measure of how complete the lump burns, which in my pea-brain equates to quality of the lump.

    Thanks for including us in the evaluation process Whiz!
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 6,058
    edited July 2013
    @nolaegghead has the right idea using a dedicated vac for ash if you cannot easily rake ash out into a pan. I even use cheap bags over the dry filter in my 5HP shop vac if the dust is fine - so much easier to clean and it protects the vac. Good advice Nola.
    The table nest under my egg leaves enough space that a 10" foil pan will slide right in, easy to rake ash out of the egg into the pan and it takes only seconds. Much harder if you have a paver under the egg. 
    Bottom line is if ash buildup is an issue, is it because the lump is not the best (as the Whiz says some produce 5 to 6 times more than others) or because it is a chore to clean out the egg? In my case, my egg is easy to clean, so ash build up is not an issue. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 15,239
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini, just added a Mini Max 5th Salado EggFest is March 14, 2015

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 12,201
    The amount of ash left over from burning lump shouldn't vary much.  Typically 0.5 to 2% of the weight of the wood, so probably a bit more since the charcoal weighs less than the wood.  Some ash is going to have more volume than other species of wood, (and based on a number of other variables), so it should be weighed to take the density issue out of the equation.  All in all, we're talking about a tiny percentage left is ash.  CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC

    From Wiki:

    Variability in assessment

    Many studies have been conducted regarding the chemical composition of wood ash, with widely varying results. Some quote calcium carbonate as the major constituent,[1] others find no carbonate at all, but calcium oxide instead.[2] Some show as much as twelve percent iron oxide[2] while others show none.[3]

    There are several factors which have a major impact on the composition:

    1. Fly ash: some studies include the solids escaping via the flue during combustion, others do not.
    2. Temperature of combustion [4] carries two direct effects:
      • Dissociation: conversion of carbonates, sulfides, etc. to oxides results in no carbon, sulfur, carbonates, or sulfides. Some metallic oxides (e.g. mercuric oxide) even dissociate to elemental state and/or vaporize completely at wood fire temperatures.
      • Volatilization: in studies where the fly ash is not measured, some combustion products may not be present at all.
    3. Experimental process: If the ashes are exposed to the environment between combustion and the analysis, oxides may convert back to carbonates via carbon dioxide in the air.
    4. Type, age, and growing environment of the wood stock impact the composition of the wood, and thus the ash.


    Typically between 0.43 and 1.82 percent of the mass of burned wood (dry basis) results in ash.[4] Also the conditions of the combustion affect the composition and amount of the residue ash, thus higher temperature will reduce ash yield.[3]

    Much wood ash contains calcium carbonate as its major component, representing 25[5] or even 45 percent[1] Less than 10 percent is potash, and less than 1 percent phosphate; there are trace elements of iron, manganese, zinc, copper and some heavy metals.[5] However these numbers vary as combustion temperature is an important variable in determining wood ash composition.[4] All of these are, primarily, in the form of oxides.[4]

    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: 12,201
    Another good point here - you'll have less ash if you burn very hot (like a pizza cook) versus a low and slow.  This is because some of the compounds in ash will be volatilized at higher but achievable temps.  Also, oxidation is an issue - a reducing (limited by air flow) fire will have less oxidation of compounds and have more ash than an oxidizing fire (unlimited air - like a pizza cook, or a reducer ring doing a direct).
    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 

  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273

    Guess I will go against the consensus - at least for me...


    My reason is during a really long cook, more ash being present reduces air flow.   That vacuum doesn't help at hour 12 of a long cook.

    I think if you typically cook shorter and hotter - it would not be as important.

    Cookin in Texas
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 12,201
    You don't need much air for a low n slow, and the ash is fairly porous.  I'd venture to say many (but not all) of the airflow problems in a low and slow are because of lump charcoal and dust clogging the holes in the fire grate.
    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 

  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,780
    Nolaegghead, I measure volume since that is primarily what we might be concerned with, i.e., the ability of the ash to interfere with the fire.  I don't think of the weight of the ash as being relevant to anything we care about.
    The Naked Whiz
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 12,201
    I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I'm going to throw out the argument that fluffy ash isn't as good at blocking air as hard dense ash.  If you take it to the extreme - the lump burns but the ash retains the shape of the original lump chunk, then there should still be the same airflow you had when the fire started.
    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 

  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,780
    My experience is the ash falls down into the bottom of the fire bowl, not holds its shape.  Some of course clings to the unburned charcoal, but as things settle, the ash falls down.
    Now the Kamado coconut crap that Richard Johnson pawned off on his customers, THAT could hold its shape, lol.
    The Naked Whiz
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 12,201
    hahah...yeah, I've noticed that too.  I'm just being the resident science troll here. 

    I've honestly never had a problem with ash (that I couldn't solve in 20 seconds with a fire poker). 

    The side vents (holes) in the fire box should route enough air to keep a sub-300 F low and slow going even with almost complete arteriosclerosis of the bottom grate.   Of course any situation can go sideways with damp lump, excess dust and small particles and the ash will exacerbate any precarious 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 

  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273

    Not as much of an expert as either Nola or Naked -- but I firmly believe in Low Ash - to the extent it will drive where I spend my $.


    Cookin in Texas
  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273
    Also - wanted to add.   These charcoal questions are great - huge critical success factor - glad your throwing out some questions.
    Cookin in Texas
  • RV10FlyerRV10Flyer Posts: 135
    I'm between B and C, closer to C.  I have an XL and it takes a lot of cooks to impact airflow.  Right now I have a 14 hour brisket cook, 18 hour but/shoulder, and multiple short cooks.  I will probably clean it in the next couple cooks or before my next slow cook.

    North Texas

    XL BGE

  • fiver29fiver29 Posts: 386
    I'll say B.  Only because I used a type of lump once (can't remember exactly the brand) and thought there was more ash than original lump.  What a mess!

    Most of the time I don't care as long as its not producing a lot.  Which I can happily say doesn't happen very often.
    Cleveland, Ohio

    Yes.  I own a blue egg!  Call Atlanta if you don't believe me!
    [I put this here so everyone knows when I put pictures up with a blue egg in it]
  • bud812bud812 Posts: 1,216
    I'm in the B camp.

    Not to get technical, but according to chemistry alcohol is a solution...

    Large & Small BGE

    Stockton Ca.

  • KennyLeeKennyLee Posts: 599


    Cedar table w/granite top

    Ceramic Grillworks two-tier swing rack

    Perpetual cooler of ice-cold beer

  • dlk7dlk7 Posts: 983
    B.  I egg every night and the fewer times I clean out the ash the better.  Consistent burn rate and ability to hit 750 degrees are more important.

    Two XL BGEs - So Happy!!!!

    Waunakee, WI

  • BoilereggerBoileregger Posts: 286
    B. I don't want the fire grate holes getting clogged on a long low and slow cook.
  • RLeeperRLeeper Posts: 480
    Extra Large, Large, and Mini. Tucker, GA
  • eddieproeddiepro Posts: 42

    Ash is not a big deal as intensity or burn time. Without either and I would not be satisfied with a bag of lump.
  • J_QueJ_Que Posts: 199
    B. I have to clean by hand.
    I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me.
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,697
    edited July 2013

    B.)  Could make a difference on a long low & slow.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • B. It isn't very important, but low ash is definitely a positive.
    Birmingham, AL
    XL, Small, and Mini BGEs
  • flynnbobflynnbob Posts: 567
    I used to use the shop vac from my manbearcave - it has the regular stock dry filter.  That ash would clog it up in 30 seconds.  I got a dedicated vac (around $50 at Amazon) and use the bags.  They DO NOT CLOG. When they're completely full, they weigh 20 pounds (of densely packed ash).  No muss, no fuss.  Yeah, I've scooped it out too.  Get a bag, big spoon or something.  Inevitably you have ash on the deck.  Not a big deal and I'm not ADHD or anything, but I'd spend $50 on the vacuum over a looflighter any day.  I use a cheap torch with propane, works like a champ.

    I just bought your vac on Amazon - Damn one click!  If I can't get it to work right, I am calling you!  Tired of the dirty deck and my vac's always clog.   Don't disrespect the LL it is a pretty good tool...


    Regarding ash I would say B-C.  If there is a lot of ash it would make me wonder what's in it.

    Milton, GA.
  • Black_BadgerBlack_Badger Posts: 823
    B for me.

    I care more about other factors (including quickness to light and sparkiness) but if there was a lump that produced more ash than others that could well away me away.
    Finally back in the Badger State!

    Middleton, WI
  • MO_EgginMO_Eggin Posts: 124

    The science lesson above is making my head hurt.
    LBGE, St. Louis, MO
  • BYS1981BYS1981 Posts: 1,633
    b. it matters some. occasionally I go cheap and get high ash charcoal, and I do have to clean more frequently. however, when using cheap charcoal I try not to do low and slow cooks with it.
  • C. If it is high ash producer, it's more ash for my compost pile. Low n Slo overnights get the wiggle rod before I go to bed.
    Wilson, NC
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