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Creating the fire- how do you do it so it comes out right?

Flashback BobFlashback Bob Posts: 519
edited 2:41PM in EggHead Forum
I have experienced a lot of inconsistencies in my cooking temps and times. I noticed yesterday that despite my starting out with an evenly distributed fire, the actual cooking fire was off to one side- cooking the stuff on that side significantly more than what's on the rest of the grill. [p]I'm thinking it probably has to do with the way I start the fire. I have plenty of lump, regardless of how much cooking I'm doing, and I use the BGE fire starters. I take two and break them into three or four pieces and place them evenly spaced into the lump and light 'em. Today I got the DVD that was supposed to come with my egg and I see they just have you use one in the center.[p]My neighbor (XLBGE) across the street uses a chimney and a Weber firestarter. [p]I know there's a lot of ways to do this right, but from what little I watched on the DVD, I know I've been working with dysfunctional fires. Also, I haven't kept the dome open while they were burning, I usually put the grill on, close the dome and wait for the smoke to clear. [p]I've never seen the "volcano" I've read about here, though one after-dinner marshmallow toasting did have excellent coals centered in the egg.[p]I was a Gasoholic for about 20 years and now I'm trying to go straight.[p]Thank you


  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,463
    Flashback Bob,[p]I think fires with irregular heat may be just a side effect of using lump. While there seems to be a tendency for the fire to be a little hotter in the back, because of the air flowing from the bottom vent, I've had hot spots all over. My guess is that the smaller bits of lump catch on faster, and if there are veins of them, the fire gets established much better in that place.[p]For low and slow, I pretty much follow the Elder Ward method for laying a fire. See TNW's site. I believe the description is part of a recipe for ribs. This method works 9 out of 10 times for me.[p]A volcano is pretty simple. Drop in a bunch of lump. Start however you like. I have a MAPP torch, and I hit two spots near the center for 20 seconds each. I leave the bottom vent all the way open, and the daisy wheel off. It usually takes about 10 minutes to get above 200. Then about 7 minutes for 300. And then about a minute for each 100 degrees thereafter.[p]gdenby

  • Why1504Why1504 Posts: 277
    gdenby,[p]To buld a big fire you need a full firebox of good, dry lump. There needs to be plenty of airflow so the ashes need to be cleaned out. The holes in the firebox need to be clear. When I am grilling I disassemble the egg and get all the ashes out, fill the firebox to the top, and light it in several places with the MAPP torch. Then I close it up and let her burn. If the hot spots are bad I take the ash tool and stir the fire to help even it out. In my experience if you have good, dry lump fire building for a hot fire really doesn't matter. After I am done cooking I close her up tight to put out the fire. Then the next time I cook all I have to do is light the coals and go. It won't get quite as hot during these subsequent cooks but I still will hit 700. After several cooks I pull out the reaming lump, disassemble the egg, clean out and start again, placing any remaining lump on top of the new lump. If I do a low and slow I will be more selective with my fire building and am sure to place large pieces on the bottom and fill it up to the top of the firebox. In my opinion, not enough lump, bad lump, or lump that has gotten wet leads to bad fires. One other thought, if your gasket is fried this can also limit the ability to go nuclear. Hope this helps.
  • BigfootBigfoot Posts: 154
    Flashback Bob,
    This is from The Naked Whiz site I THINK... I am not 100% sure - there are soooo many great contributers here! But this gives the best way to build a fire for a long low and slow cook. Same principals apply to other cooks;;[p]LONG LOW AND SLOW FIRE[p]I get a nice long stable cook at 220 dome temp by filling the egg (I have a large) with clean fresh lump (not charcoal), say 1/2 the way up the fire ring. I make sure that I will get a good draft by scooping out all the used lump and saving it for a high temp cook.
    I light a spot or two in the lump with my Mapp gas torch (see the link for tips on lighting your lump with Mapp gas). In the egg, you don't get the whole bed of coals burning unless you want to do a high temp sear (called "nuclear temp" by eggers).
    Once a spot or two of the lump is well lit, I close the bottom vent to about 1/4 inch. I also close the top daisy wheel so it's open only a half inch or so. I then let the fire balance itself as it reaches 280 to 300 degrees. This will take 5 to 10 minutes, depending upon outside temp, wind, humidity, etc.
    Many times when I am cooking at these low temps, I am cooking indirect. I find that, even if the dome temp is approaching 300, when I put the plate setter in for the indirect cook the dome temp in the egg drops to 240 degrees right away. It is important at this point to close the bottom vent to about the width of a credit card. Or less. Seriously! I also close the daisy wheel on top to about 1/4 inch max.
    This is the time to put your meat in. I always lift up the corner of the plate setter and throw a couple of chunks of smoking wood at the same time.
    The secret of the egg is that it will stabilize and burn for a long time with the bottom vent barely cracked, and the top nearly closed. Closed up tight (well not literally "tight") like this, there isn't a big draft fanning the flames and carrying off the moisture you want to keep during your long slow cook.
    With a little practice, you'll find you will achieve stable low temperature cooks that can easily last 18 hours or more. While learning this technique, it is important not to "chase" the fire, by opening the vents alot, closing them alot and so on. Easy does it.
    To summarize:
    1. Use plenty of fresh lump in a clean egg
    2. light the fire in just one or two spots
    3. Don't let the fire get too hot before you damper it down
    4. keep your top and bottom vents mostly closed
    5. Use a plate setter (if you don't have one, buy one!)
    6. Don't chase the fire

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