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Worst Egg Experience Yet

IkoIko Posts: 25
edited 5:41AM in EggHead Forum
Important lesson learned tonight (still a newbie):

Tried to get my Egg lit to do some split chicken breasts and thighs for the family -- aiming for 375 direct. I had the brilliant idea of using the leftover lump from last week's cook which was an 18 hour pork butt. There was plenty of lump left -- all the way to the top of the fire ring. BUT, what I failed to account for was that it was a LOT of smaller pieces with relatively fewer larger ones mixed in. I did use a makeshift wiggle rod to clear the holes in the fire grate. But ultimately I just couldn't get the fire hot enough even though there was clearly air flowing cleanly through the grate (I could see the glowing coals from underneath).

90 minutes later of trying everything I could think of...I threw in the towel. Clearly there is just too many tiny pieces of lump that need to be cleaned out and re-loaded with fresh lump.

Question: is this I need to think about cleaning out the fire box each time after a long 'low and slow' cook?


  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,007
    i do that all the time. works fine for me. i never clean out old lump. not even for a lo n slo butt cook.

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • Rezen73Rezen73 Posts: 356
    Happens to me too sometimes; it can be especially bad on really humid or rainy days.
  • smbishopsmbishop Posts: 1,966
    I use left over lump all the time. Wiggle rod, maybe light in a few places, leave the top open until a good fire is going, then close the dome and leave the vent and top wide open to get up to temp.

    When I clear out the fire box, I save all the tiny pieces and use them when I do a high temp clean burn...
    Southlake, TX.  And any chance I get,  @ Cowhouse Creek - Gatesville, TX
  • IkoIko Posts: 25
    Well we were only 103 today with 115 heat index so there was some pretty crazy humidity here in NJ.

    FWIW - The vent was all the way open the whole time with dome open until the coals were white hot and then closed with no DFMT on top. Still couldn't get it over 325 after 90 minutes. This, a week after I wrapped the thermometer back around to 150 in about 20 minutes prepping for a TRexed strip steak.

    PS - I ultimately did get a pretty high heat tonight after stirring the coals a few times and throwing some fresh lump on top but by then it was too late to start dinner -- and I didn't have enough confidence that I could maintain the temp given the difficulty getting there.
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,007
    clear out the fire box? all i ever do is stir the used lump and scoop out the ash (every few cooks) with the ash tool. don't remember when I last took everything out and really cleaned it. just dump new lump on top of old, regardless of what i'm cooking.

    Scott, Evans has his work cut out for him tomorrow, I think. hope he beats andy though. too bad about tommy, but he never really had a chance. last couple of stages were GREAT though, huh? :)

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • smbishopsmbishop Posts: 1,966
    Great couple of days, I will be cheering for Evans!
    Southlake, TX.  And any chance I get,  @ Cowhouse Creek - Gatesville, TX
  • I hear from other folks on here say that it nevers happens to them but it happens to me. when the lump gets so small that it is blocking the air flow from the bottom, there is no way your fire will get hot. It has to have an air flow. When that happens, I take out all the lump, insert larger pieces and put some of the little stuff on top.

    That said, sometimes I am able to clear the little lump away from the holes with a wiggle stick, but I don't trust it for long cooks to maintain a temp.

    Large BGE, Santa Maria Pit, Hasty-Bake Gourmet, MAK One Star Pellet Pooper,  26" Weber, 22" Weber Performer.  Most have custom handles made by me.

    "Just living from one cook to the next"

  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    Iko wrote:
    Question: is this I need to think about cleaning out the fire box each time after a long 'low and slow' cook?

    Not at all... However, if you are new to the egg cleaning out each cook won't hurt at all.

    If you can't get the temperature up or the egg light and you have lump in the egg the problem is air flow up through the lump bed.

    I clean the ash out before any longer cook. Other than that most of the time I just light what was in there before without stirring. About 5 to 8 cooks I will clean the ash out from under the fire grate.

    If I need to refill lump I will 'swish around' the used lump getting any small pieces out from the holes in the fire grate and fire box. A coat hanger wiggle rod does not work well. Go to a hardware store and buy some round stock and bend it or buy one from one of the forum members.

    Lump is carbonized wood. Used lump is carbonized wood + ash.

    This cook is using all small pieces of lump, the biggest being about as big as a mans thumbnail. All is from previous cooks. Doing this cook I did clean out the ash from under the fire grate. I haven't cleaned out the ash from behind the fire box in probably 3+ years. Not sure if I will do it this year either. Lump loaded to just above the holes in the fire box. As long as the lump is not wet, it will burn if there is oxygen available.

    The flame up is due to the dome being open when taking the pictures.





  • HossHoss Posts: 14,600
    Humidity will play havoc with lump left in an egg.If you keep the bottom vent shut and the ceramic top on it while not in use is not so bad.I usually just stir the leftover lump really good and add as much fresh as I think I need.I have had instances when the lump had absorbed moisture and took a long time to cook like normal.I have also noticed leaving a partial bag of lump open will let it absorb moisture.I always make sure to roll down the top of opened bags for somewhat of a seal.Hate to hear of your misfortune. :( You may want to calibrate your thermometer also.Maybe the egg was hotter than you think.It only takes a couple of minutes.Remove thermo,place tip in boiling water,should read 212 depending on your elevation.I like to make sure all the ashes are cleaned out from the previous cook so I know I'm getting good airflow.Good Luck! :)
  • IkoIko Posts: 25
    Pretty sure thermo is calibrated...I've only had the Egg for about 6 weeks and I calibrated before my first cook. Plus it is consistent with the Maverick grate temp (+25 degrees in the dome versus grate)

    I think this was a case of not stirring the lump before lighting and then playing catch up all night. Coat hanger wiggle rod helped but I guess it was too little too late.

    I still LOVE my egg...chalk this one up to rookie mistake.
  • Austin  EggheadAustin Egghead Posts: 3,907
    I always use used lump, but I do clean out the ashes from firebox and remove any small lumps and add new lump, if needed, before starting a new fire. Never have had a problem getting to temp or maintaining temp. Hope this helps
    Large, small and mini now Egging in Rowlett Tx
  • HossHoss Posts: 14,600
    Gotcha.I do stir mine vigorously before reusing.I just wondered about the therm when I read that you had wrapped it back to 150. ;) Cookemup! :)
  • BobSBobS Posts: 2,485
    I am not sure how you loaded it to begin with...

    I pour my lump into a plastic container, give it a good shake and use the lump off the top. After every 5-6 bags I throw away the fines that accumulate in the bottom of the bin.

    With that process, I have never had a problem after a long cook.
  • jzccjzcc Posts: 123
    We've had this happen on both the large and small Eggs. More often than not, it is simply a case of not enough air flow. Do yourself a favor and order a wiggle rod from Thirdeye. I think you'll find it will work wonders for you! Occasionally, we have to wiggle twice if we don't get up to temp fast enough, but, generally, it's because we missed a hole.
  • Judy MayberryJudy Mayberry Posts: 1,991

    I don't think this through, I just use the same method every time I use an Egg and have never had the problem you did.

    I use the long tongs to stir the used lump (gently so the grate won't get knocked out of place) so all the ash falls down through the grate. Then I take out all the used lump either with the tongs or scoop it out with a work glove on one hand, into a plastic planter saucer.

    Then I look under the grate to see If the ash build-up is so high air flow will be a problem. If the ash is really high, I use a plastic market bag in the gloved hand and scoop out as much as I can into a nearby trash can.

    Put the grate back, put in new lump but leave room for all that used lump as the top layer. I never have a problem lighting it nor do I have to use a wiggle rod.

    I've had thirdeye's wiggle rod for years and have never had to use it!
    Judy in San Diego
  • jaymag_87jaymag_87 Posts: 111
    I'm like CarolinaQ. I stir the old lump real good. I make sure I get the flat edge of the ash tool all the way down to the grate and scrap the top of the grate. It helps me keep the holes clear of small chunks. Then I do the same on the bottom side if the grate, through the bottom vent. I'm too cheap to buy a wiggle rod. You'd think the after buying an XL and a Mini that I'd be willing to part withna few more dollars. :blink: :whistle:
  • I'm also a new Egger and had a somewhat similiar experience. I got a used LBGE and cooked for a week solid. Last cook was a low and slow 12 hr. Went on vacation for a week.

    My first cook when I got back wouldn't light. I used 3 lighter pieces by the time it was said and down and it smoked like a raging fire the whole time but never was getting the fire or temp.

    I finally added more lump and was able to get it going and the smoke cleared out and I got fire/temp and moved on. I had some trouble controlling temp and flare up that night as evidence to the hair missing on my arms. I'm still unsure what happened with mine but this topic is helpful.
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