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Help: Sometimes I'm afraid of my new egg

OeufOeuf Posts: 7
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
Hey All! New egg-user here. Had my large since Labor Day. First few cooks were low and slow and very successful (butts, brisket).
But, yikes, you guys...that flash and the heat and then there were flames shooting out the bottom vent and the top. I am afraid to grill steaks now.
I light the lump with a BGE firestarter. No problem getting things heated up...close the lid and let the fireworks begin. It is at this point that I am now afraid to lift the lid to put in the grid and the food. I have watched the on-line videos on the BGE site, but those do not show the flare-ups like I have gotten.
So...any suggestions??

Suzy

Comments

  • poolguypoolguy Posts: 129
    burp your dome 3 times before opening all the way. On high temp cooks, when you open the dome all the way at once oxygen rushes in and fuels the fire causing the flash up. I raise my dome 1-2 inches 3 times before opening all the way. Also wear high temp gloves. Hope this helps

    Larry
  • CageyCagey Posts: 79
    Suzy:

    I am definitely no expert, but as a new user I get the coals going with a MAP torch with the top daisy wheel off, and the bottom screen closed with the damper door fully open. After about 5 minutes or so, I but the daisy wheel on with only the twist vents open and close the bottom damper door to about 1 inch of opening. I then let the coals getting fully burning and let the smoke clear. I adjust the openings to get the temperature where I want it for my cook from there. So far, it has worked for me. I will say, I let the egg heat up for about an hour. It may be a little too long, but it seems to work for me. As I get more comfortable with the egg, I will probably reduce this time, but for now I use the hour to get the food all ready for cooking. I hope this helps. Take care and cook safe.

    Cagey
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,283
    The flash backs are a lot more "flashy" :ohmy: than dangerous. Its sort of an Egger rite of passage to loose forearm hair.

    To learn more about avoiding them, go to:

    http://www.nakedwhiz.com/flash.htm

    Its pretty easy to figure out when they will happen. I've caught myself a couple of times thinking "Oh S...! I'm going to get a !!!" So now I'm quite cautious when opening the lid above 500 dome. Don't even wear welders gloves, usually.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    sounds like you might be adding lots of new lump each time, and letting the egg go full open for a short while before opening it to start cooking.

    lots of new lump will provide lots of fuel for fireballs when you open the lid... even at 350 you can get them.

    i top off the egg with a little new lump each time i cook, even though you don't truly need to. older lump won't create those same types of explosive balls of fire, although you can ALSO have similar fireballs occur later in the cook when a raging fire is briefly choked, then the dome is opened.

    but that's a different thing. i really think yours is related to new lump, a hot fire, and a short wait time before you try to cook.

    light lump like cowboy will reach temps of 600_ very quickly. doesn't mean it's ready to cook on.

    new lump has dust on it, and explosive volatile compounds (vapors). open a bag of new lump, and smell it. those are the VOCs (volatile organic compounds). They are flammable. the dust on the charcoal is also flammable. just as a silo of dusty grain can explode (the particles burn when suspended in the oxygen-rich air), the dust can also be somewhat explosive.

    so you load the egg, light it up, leave vents open, and the thing hits 650-700. if you open the dome, the VOCs (which haven't been driven off yet) get a lot of oxygen, and the fireball reaches out into the open air. any charcoal dust that hasn't been burnt of or knocked off might also burn explosively.

    no need to cook your steaks at macho show-off temps. you can, sure, but you don't NEED to. let the
    egg chug along (but shut the vents about halfway) for a while until you smell clean smoke. clean smoke smells good. otherwise it'll smell chemically (partly from the VOCs, partly due to incomplete combustion, immature fire in a sense).

    once the fire is clean, you can open the dome easy enough. still, lift it an inch or two and wait for any dragon breath... if none, you can ease it open. even if it chuffed a little, and threatened to throw a ball of fire, it will likely not do it again.

    if it's sear temps you want, then tick the daisy open a bit more now that it is burning clean. time to 700 from a newly lit fire that was cruising at 400 or so is negligible. so it won't take really any more time to hit 700+ if you momentarily keep it at 350-400 until it is burning clean.

    no need to have it running full open the whole time.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Welcome to the NEL, National Egg League! I have lost arm hair more that once. It is good that you have a respect for the Egg. As temperatures climb so must your level of caution. I remember checking something on the Egg one evening while on the phone with a real estate client. I opened the lid (slowly and only about an inch) when this dragon-fire three foot flame belched out the bottom vent and right past my leg (now my loss of leg hair matches my loss of arm hair)! Later, I found out that if your Egg is not cleaned out properly, the ash compacts restricting airflow. When the heat becomes hot enough, the pressure blows through that ash and the belching dragon rares its evil head. The best thing is that you know what a flash is and like most of us in the NEL, have experienced it. You are not a rookie anymore! Always treat the EGG SERIOUSLY AND RESPECTFULLY. Advice any family members what the potential is as well so they don't just walk up, and pop the top just to see what's for dinner... To their surprise, They me be the other white meat!

    Uncle Phil
  • OeufOeuf Posts: 7
    AWESOME tips! I think you are correct...new lump and not letting it burn off the voc's, especially. Thanks so much for taking the time to explain so clearly.

    I forgot to mention that I have been burping...but was so afraid, I had to work up the courage to open the lid. My husband laughs at me as I tip-toe around and plan my approach to the egg. And for the record, he has singed his arm fur...and then it was my turn to laugh. Mwa-haha

    I think I am ready to try again.

    BTW, what lump to use? I admittedly did buy some Cowboy, but only will use it for high temps. What is your favorite...is it BGE brand?
  • BeliBeli Posts: 10,751
  • The burp is key. I do need some high temp gloves though. My wrist wasn't happy the other night when I did steaks LOL
  • OeufOeuf Posts: 7
    Uncle Phil,
    What exactly do you mean by, "not cleaned out properly"? I have been cleaning the ashes out of the bottom before each cook and have been making sure that the holes are clear in the fire box. Is there other cleaning I should be doing? Also, how do you know if you have burned out your gasket?
    Thanks,
    Suzy
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    any decent egger can cook with any lump, light, dense, cowboy, royal oak, wicked good, etc. at the end of the day, it's just carbon. density if the biggest ssue, as they are all fairly low in ash.

    only lump to avoid is south american royal oak, and some of the other lumps sourced from south america. they seem to have pitch pockets on them or something, and the lump pops and snaps and sparks, shooting ash continually during the cook, covering your food in ash.

    my choice of lump is primarily what's cheap and affordable. cowboy and royal oak are common where i am, and they both light fast. cowboy will go 32 hours overnight without choking the fire or burning too quickly. there's no issue with it burning too hot or not long enough.

    royal oak, for me, is the best of both worlds. a bit more dense than cowboy, still able to hit the high notes, burn very long, and good chunk sizes

    but at the end of the day, 20 pounds of lumps from one bag burns as long as 20 pounds from the another bag.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Therapy! That's what the forum is for B)
    Avoid adult beverages until you grill past the fear :P
  • BGE brand is made by Royal Oak, but where I live there's a $10 per bag difference.

    if you don't have them, welders gloves are good to have especially when cooking hot. Makes ME more comfortable, anyway! Available at Home Depot for about $12-$15.

    Searing a ribeye at 700 and a little fat drips when you're flipping it and the flames will be high in no time. Welders gloves are also good for handling hot things like a platesetter.
  • OeufOeuf Posts: 7
    On my way out to get some gloves right now.
    Wonder if they make a full body suit?
    Thanks,
    Suzy
  • if you're seriously skeeved about catching fire, you can get a leather welder's apron, too. To me, it's overkill, but if it makes you feel comfortable enough to cook on the damn thing, go for it. Should cost less than $40...check your local welding supply houses or good hardware stores.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    know the egg.
    Be.

    BE the egg.

    ...and you can cook naked if you really want to ;)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • RipnemRipnem Posts: 5,511
    That'll get Bordello 'Bob' back to the forum. :P assuming pics are involved.
  • OeufOeuf Posts: 7
    Hmmmmm...tempting...is that a dare?
  • RipnemRipnem Posts: 5,511
    Remember....no pics, it never happened. :whistle:
  • OeufOeuf Posts: 7
    I was gonna say...you go first! lol...
    Seeing as how I am afraid to even get near the egg, would not risk it.
    Will be fully clothed in my new gloves.
    Thanks, and yes..no pics.
    Suzy
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    ...was just a round about way of saying you need no special gloves if you just pay attention to the egg.

    that said, i have no hair on my arm right now either.
    hahahaha
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • A little experience goes a long way.

    I've had flash while cooking burgers and steaks at low and high temp.

    With burgers, I will close down the bottom damper to 1/2 to prevent flames and too much char, but I will open the damper before burping. It seems to make a big difference.

    Don't regret. Playing with fire is most of the fun.
  • No, Suzy, that is what I mean. If I go for a while without fully cleaning out the Egg with a shop vac, ash builds up under the grate and slows airflow. If all that is clean, you have no worries. The other posts regarding dry lump and letting the vocs burn off is great advise. After a few times of the dragon belching fire your way, you will at least no what to expect.
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