Big Green Egg - EGGhead Forum - The Ultimate Cooking Experience...
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I want to love this but...

Hi everyone, I'm both new to the forum and to the BGE. Researched this for a while before diving in. Reading this forum, the BGE site, reviews etc. I was rally looking forward to getting an egg but now I just getting frustrated. We bought a XL egg after hearing other people say their only regret with buying a Large was not buying an XL. Picked up the platesetter, ash tool etc. Just the basics to get started. First few cooks went well, kept the temp at 350-375 no issues (vent open 2", daisy wheel about 1/4 open). Since then I've noted and had trouble with a few things... Did a break it in cook for about 5 hours at 350. Then first few cooks, temp at 350-375, probably had it going for about 11 hours total and I had used a large 17lbs bag of lump already. Seem like a lot, is it? After about the 5th cook started to have problems keeping temp. I would light it the same way, stir the old lump, clean out ash, new lump up to the top of the fire box, 1 block of the BGE fire starter in the middle, wait until several of the lumps were burning then plate setter / grill and walk away. Come back in 10-15 minutes, start adjusting the vent and daisy wheel to get temp. Daisy wheel would be 1/4 open at best with the vent open ~2-2 1/2". Throw the food on and go away. Last few time I did the same routine but found that as soon as I opened the lid I lost temp and couldn't get it back. Temp would drop to 300 or less with the vent more than 1/2 open (3-4") and the daisy wheel fully opened. Aaaugh. Had to go back to the propane BBQ or the oven to cook the food. What am I doing wrong? Last night I cleaned the egg out with a shop vac, checked the holes in the fire box, added lump (this time only 1/2 of the plate) and lit it. Took over 1 hour to get to 250, barely got to 300, put the pate setter in and cooked on the propane BBQ as I was getting no where with the Egg . It stayed at 250-300 with the bottom vent / daisy wheel fully open for 2+ hours. How often do I need to clean out the Egg with a vacuum? I just went to the BBQ place I bought the Egg from, they went through the lighting procedure with me and that's about it. Lots of head scratching. I'm at home now, refilled the fire box fully, used 2 fire starters, vent and daisy fully open as they recommended and got up to 400 in about 15 minutes, plateaued, dropped to 300 for about 5 minutes then slowly back up to 400. I put the setter back in to cook off drippings, closed the vent to 3" and the daisy wheel open and it holding at 450. Still doesn't seem right. I had better temps with less air for the first few cooks. Thoughts? I want to be an Egghead, really I do but right now I'm just frustrated. Any help would be appreciated. I've trolled the forum for similar threads and read most of them but I am still having issues.
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Comments

  • Did u get a bad batch of lump? What kind are you using?
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,133
    Sorry to hear that you are having these troubles, but sticking with it will be worth it! :)

    There are many folks on here who have already forgotten more about grilling/smoking/egging than I will ever know, so I hope those folks will chime in to help you out. Just to address some simple things:

    - Have you calibrated/checked your dome therm in boiling water?
    - What kind of lump charcoal are you using?
    - Have you tried to start from a clean, vac'ed egg without the daisy wheel on at all? What happens if you leave both top and bottom vents fully open? Usually, that leads to nuclear temps pretty soon, so if you don't get those kind of temps then more troubleshooting is called for.

    This forum is a great resource. Hang in there, help is on the way.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 1,468

    @Stew21,

    I had a similar experience the first time I had guests over to eat pizza off the egg.  It's hard to cook pizza when the temp only gets to 300 after 90 minutes of having the lower vent wide open and the daisy top completely open.  However, I did some trouble shooting and have reached the following conclusions.

    1) The screen on the lower vent inhibits air flow more than you might think.  Use this to your advantage.  Open it when you need to get really hot, but factor it into your decision-making when you want to stabilize it at a lower temperature.

    2) If you want to get up to a high temp quickly it is in your best interest to light a lot of charcoal.  Some of the folks here use flame throwers and other similar devices.  Another option is to use multiple firestarter cubes (as opposed to only using one) when time is important.

    3) - the least obvious - It is crucial that you make sure that the grid that holds the charcoal has some wide open holes in it to allow for air flow.  Some have actually bought a different grate (High Q) that has much more space for air flow for this reason.  On my XL, I just move the charcoal around so that I have 2 open holes in my charcoal grate at the front of the grill.  This gives me a cooler spot on the front of the grid, but the XL is so big that I can actually use this to my advantage as I cook.  Before I figured this out, getting up to heat with my XL involved a little bit of luck.  If the charcoal fell into the firebox in a way that did not clog the holes on the charcoal grate, it would go well.  If not, I would have trouble.  Since I started doing this I have had no problems with high temp or low temp cooks. 

     

    Good luck.  Let us know how things work out.

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

    San Antonio, TX

  • Dyal_SCDyal_SC Posts: 1,577
    Have you tried taking the fire bowl completely out and cleaning behind it? Ashes fall through the side fire bowl holes and restrict the airflow if you don't disassemble it for a cleaning every now and then. If you haven't yet taken the bowl out before shopvac'ing, I betcha that's the problem.
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,087
    With my DW wheel on, even though it is fully open, about 450* - 500* is as hot as the grill will get.  When I lite, the Draft door is fully open; no DW wheel on.

    Next time you lite it, leave a nearly empty spot in the center where you know the air holes are not blocked and there is no question that air can flow easily. Lite that area with your cube. 

    Look into the egg through your bottom vent.  Is the firebox properly aligned with the draft door?  Other than that or a lid not sealing I don't see how it is not getting hot.  Are the coals glowing when you look inside it from the top?
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • dlk7dlk7 Posts: 974
    For cooks above 325 degrees you don't need to use the daisy wheel.  I cook on my XL every night and don't clean out the ash until I see it almost touching the bottom of the fire grate.  Bad/wet/damp lump will cause poor heating.  Are all of your ceramic inserts place properly so the airflow goes straight through past the fire ring?  Are the holes in your fire grate plugged? 

    Two XL BGEs - So Happy!!!!

    Rudderville, TN

  • dlk7dlk7 Posts: 974
    Also, I agree with Caliking to calibrate the dome thermometer.  I use less than 20 pounds per week and I cook every night and use both XLs a couple of times per week.              

    Two XL BGEs - So Happy!!!!

    Rudderville, TN

  • Stew21Stew21 Posts: 13
    edited September 2013
    1st bag of lump was the BGE, the 2nd bag I just started last night is Royal Oak. 

     No, I haven't checked the temp probe yet, maybe do that tomorrow. I've had the BGE going for about 1 1/2 hours at 470, but the vent and daisy wheel still seem to open farther than I would expect compared to the first few cooks. What temps are considered nuclear?   I've tried to keep it below 400 (did get up to 500 one day for a few minutes while warming up and I walked away for too long). Can I crank it up now?

    When I cleaned it last night I pulled all the ceramic insets and vacuumed everything.  When I put it back together I had a finger width between the outside egg and the fire box inset all the way around.  

    I may shut it down soon and try again tomorrow. I still want to do a low and slow cook this week and I also want to sear some steaks. Both will be firsts. Thanks for the info so far.
  • I've had my XL BGE for about 3 years...cook on it 3-4 times / week.  90% of my cooks are direct (no platesetter).  The only time I use the daisy wheel is during indirect cooks (Butts / brisket)...otherwise I leave the top wide open and just use the bottom vent to control the temp.

    I light my charcoal (royal oak) in 4 places with a MAPP torch, then leave the bottom vent completely open for first 8-10 minutes, then shut it down to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch opening.  At least on my Egg, this locks it at about 350-375 degrees which is where I do the vast majority of my cooks. 

    I can't imagine your problem is related to airflow although I could be wrong. I clean out my ash about every 10-12 cooks and could probably go longer.

    When using the platesetter, I wait until my fire is very well established (approaching 300) before inserting it.  The platesetter will knock your temp down considerably, then it will climb back up tot he 250-275 range.  At this point, I go ahead and put the daisy wheel on. 

    Stick with it!  There is a learning curve but once you get it figured out, you'll love it.  Good luck!

  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,087
    You can crank it up once you've done the first cook. 

    "Nuclear" varies.  For me that means >600*. 
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 5,133
    Nuclear= 800°F+ i.e. you max out your therm is one way of putting it.If you really get it going, the needle on the therm will wrap around. Who knows how hot the egg is then...1200°F? Gaskets don't survive those kind of temps too well. Many folks do high-temp clean burns to burn drippings/grease etc from the inside of the egg. 

    If you have the newer light gray colored gasket, I don't think you have to break it in. Pizza and steak are usually done at higher temps, anywhere from 500-1000°F depending on who you talk to.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • YEMTreyYEMTrey Posts: 1,360
    I've had my XL for just over a year now.  I've noticed a big difference within the different lumps that I've used.
    I have bags of Wicked Good that will burn for days, but take a little longer to get to temp.  Then, on the other hand, I have Royal Oak that will get to temp faster and hotter, but will burn much quicker.

    I agree with the poster above.  One of the benefits of the XL is it's grate size.  No matter how much lump I put in it, I make sure to have a few clear holes in the grate at around 7 o'clock and 2 o'clock.

    Stick with it grasshopper, soon you'll be one with your egg.
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    "Ain't nobody gonna find ya, unless you get yourself lost."
  • A lot of good advice here. I'll share my story and hope it helps. (Someone already spoke about the lump.) I tried a different lump brand a bag ago (and a friend ago) and had a lot of joy taken out of BGE cooking: pain to light; temperature unstable through long cooks; and could only achieve 500 F. Went back to the old lump and I'm a happy camper now (still short a friend): Low and slowwed 14 lbs Pork Butt a week ago; mid temp and time Bisson trii-tip, loaf of bread, and a round of pizza party latter the joy is back.

    Good luck getting over the hump and teach the next generation what good food is all about.

  • RaymontRaymont Posts: 195

    Seems to me it has to be either bad lump or bad air flow. Also, maybe you should try a different starting technique (vegtable oil on a paper towel in several spots) or try my go to.. 91% rubbing alcohol.

    Small & Large BGE

    Nashville, TN

  • If your temp is not getting high enough, you need more oxygen so adjust the daisywheel and bottom vent accordingly.

    If the temp is not getting hot fast enough in the beginning, then your method is too timid. Try more firestarter blocks, an electric firestarter, oiled paper towel, Looflighter, etc.

    If neither of those options work, then maybe your lump is not up to snuff.

    I use an electric firestarter long enough for the coals to start flaming and then I remove the firestarter. I have the bottom vent open and the lid open. I let the coals continue to burn until they look obviously started. Then I close the lid and let the egg get up to the desired temp (or maybe 25 degrees above). At that point, I add smoking wood/chips, the plate setter, the grates, etc. Close the lid and let the egg re-equilibrate while adjusting the vents as needed. (If using a DigiQ, this is when I attach it.)
  • I agree with Jeroldharter.  I found the fire starter blocks were inconsistent.  I first switched to an electronic fire starter, then ultimately to a Looflighter.  My problems went away.

    Keep with it!  You'll be fine once you find a formula that works best for you and your family!
  • Can you put your hand on the egg and leave it there? All things equal you should be lapping the dome thermo...i.e. 750* + what you are showing.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • There is a small learning curve with the BGE. You are right in the middle of it. Keep at it and you will get it figured out. 

    Remember, fire needs three things. Fuel, O2, and ignition. Those three in the right combination will produce the fire you are after every time. 
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • I'll reiterate what others have said about leaving the top wide open (no daisy wheel at all) and the bottom vent wide open as well when starting your fire and getting up to the desired temp.  Once your charcoal burns off the impurities and you approach your desired temp, then you can begin closing down the vent and/or adjusting the daisy wheel.  Like some others, I do many of my direct cooks never using the daisy wheel at all.

    Also trying the torch method might help at the outset.  I just use a handheld propane torch from HD and hold the tip down into the charcoal at four spots just inside the perimeter of the Egg for about 45-60 seconds each and I'm always able to start cooking in about 15-20 minutes.

    Other than that, not sure what else to say.  It's a learning process for sure and you'll get there.

    LBGE

    Cedar table w/granite top

    Ceramic Grillworks two-tier swing rack

    Perpetual cooler of ice-cold beer

  • Stew~ C 'mon man! Grillin is for men ... you can't just quit. Pound your chest a time or two, go grab a cold one, and try getting back in the game. If you want the food to cook itself then go to your local Pub/Grill and order out. Otherwise, keep trying and sooner or later you'll have it perfected to the point that you'll enjoy each and every chance you get to light your Egg! Keep Egging. :-c
    My PitMaster IQ120 FREAKIN ROCKS!!!!!!!
  • make sure you keep the charcoal in a dry place - meaning very low humidity. This will go a long way in making your cook more consistent.

    I use a Weber Chimney with one or two pieces of newsprint. For low/slow only fill it 1/2 way and get it red-hot, dump it in the middle, add more lump to fill the firebox with wood-chips scattered about.  For "nuke", fill the chimney, get it red-hot (7-9 minutes), dump it and spread it out, add more for sufficient coverage. If I am in a hurry, I may fire up the leaf-blower to get it going (pointed indirectly into the lower vent.  I can get flames shooting out the top and it gets real hot fairly quickly. :)  

    I have even used the chimney/leaf-blower to heat up a bent mower blade red-hot to hammer it flat again :)  Then re-tempered and put it back on the mower until the next time it caught that same root and bent the crap out of it.   The root has been removed (chain-saw time!!!)


  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 764
    edited September 2013
    It is pretty simple to get temperature, you need fuel and air.  If your lump is wet it can take time to get to temperature if air flow is restricted you won't get a good fire to get to temperature.  You are using lump charcoal and not briquettes are you?  Briquette contain binder, (sand, clay, horse shit....) so they leave a lot of stuff after burning which will restrict the airflow, also they don't burn as hot as lump even without the airflow problems.

    Gerhard
  • I'm in no position to offer "expert" advice but I read somewhere (I'll get the exact link if needed) but building a correct fire is important.  I can go several cooks with burgers, chops, ABT, without adding lump.  I know that's one of the downsides to the XL is that you have more lump just to fill it up.  Just my 2 cents....

    BBQJDUB
    Large BGE
    BBQJDUB

    Charlotte, NC
  • I own a large but I would think that as far as lighting and getting to temp the L and the XL would be the same.  Having said that, here is what I do:
    • Remove the daisy wheel and set it aside.
    • Open the bottom vent all the way, including the screen.  We don't want to restrict air flow at this point.
    • Stir the existing lump and try to get all the ash and small stuff out that you can.  Make sure that all the holes in the grate and fire box are clear.
    • If I need to get to a high temp say 500 + I will use three of the weber starters placed in 120 degree pattern. 250 - 500 use two starters , 275 and under one starter.
    • Open the dome lid and light the starters and leave the lid open.  The idea is to get as much O2 flowing as you can.
    • Go inside and prep some food, pet the dog kiss the SO or whatever.  Then come back and check the lump, the flame should be gone and the lump starting to glow.   
    • You want to make sure you have enough lump lit to match the temps you want to reach.  A  fist size for low, bigger for medium and so on. 
    • Once the fire is going good, shut the dome.  Let the ceramic heat up, watch the dome temp start to move.  About 100 below target temp start shutting the vents.
    • 300 and above I do not use the daisy wheel at all, unless of course I have a runaway fire, then I will use that to slow it down.  Its amazing how much the DW restricts the air flow, even when its opened all the way.
    Hang in there it gets easier, next thing you have to figure out is how to correct when you over shoot the temp.
    Also, do a google search for "BGE Wiggle Stick" easy to make, and a great way to clear the grate while in a cook. 


    Simi Valley, California
  • In my experience every egg is a little different depending on model, gasket condition, and how clean it is.  I can't personally speak to the XL but I've never used more then one starter to get a Egg started unless I am trying to get things going REALLY quickly. Using 350* as my starting point my large is there in 25-30 minutes, medium 20-25 minutes, and small 12-15 minutes.  My medium goes nuclear incredibly easily, the large and small don't.
    I raise my kids, cook and golf.  When work gets in the way I'm pissed, I'm pissed off 48 weeks a year.
    Inbetween Iowa and Colorado, not close to anything remotely entertaining outside of football season. 
  • When putting the ceramics back in, did you make sure to line the gap in the firebox up with the vent hole in the Egg? That'd certainly affect airflow. When I start my LBGE, I reach into the vent hole with my hand and use my pinky finger to mke sure the air holes aren't plugged. This is my main problem with airflow. I use a wiggle rod during the burn. When I get around to it, I'll order a high q grate or whatever they're called. Much better airflow that way. Worth the price. Good luck!!
    Large BGE -- Greensboro!


  • I have had conversations with people I know who have BGEs and one thing a consistently hear is they have all had trouble getting a fire started using other brands of lump other than BGE.  I know it is tempting to get the cheap stuff, but trust me, it is worth the little extra money in the end.  I can use one fire starter in the center of the lump, light it, cover it with one medium to large piece of lump, and the fire will take off.  I can be up to 300* in 10 minutes usually. 

    Another thing, depending on what you are cooking, you may not need to fill the fire box up completely.  For direct cooking that will take no more than 30 minutes to cook (probably less in most cases), I can get away with a little less than half full.  This will allow the air to get to it with less restrictions and it will light quicker.  Hope this helps.

  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,087
    Stew21 said:
    When I cleaned it last night I pulled all the ceramic insets and vacuumed everything.  When I put it back together I had a finger width between the outside egg and the fire box inset all the way around.  

    I was asking about the cut-out in the firebox.  It should line up with the draft door for a nice straight shot for the air to flow through. 
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • jmcnutt5 said:

    I have had conversations with people I know who have BGEs and one thing a consistently hear is they have all had trouble getting a fire started using other brands of lump other than BGE.  .

    Don't agree with the comment on the charcoal, nothing special about the BGE brand other than the price. You will find some bags that have a lot small pieces in them but I have found that with any brand you may buy that occasionally the bag is not the same as the previous.

    Gerhard
  • Thanks everyone, ton of good info.  Chicken tonight come hell or high flames then a slow cook on Thursday, just need to find the right recipe...time to troll
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