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Fire Starting and Burn Uniformity - Pointers Please

Dooms-DaveDooms-Dave Posts: 15
edited 3:28PM in EggHead Forum
BTW - the answers from this forum have been invaluable, thanks for the education.
Learning as I go - trying to start a good fire quickly, but it's taking me 25-30 minutes to get up to 400* after a number of tries. Looking for comments on 2 issues:
Took me 3 tries to start a fire in my large (with 30mph winds as a storm rolled in I could understand, but next attempt took just as many). I am using some fire cubes the BGE dealer gave me, and end up placing 3 in a triangle pattern. That didn't work, added more, lit again. Maybe I'm not patient enough. At first it looked like it was starting, but the temp only got to 160* after 10 minutes with very little smoke. Wondering best way to start this type of cook? I have added new lump each time, wrap the cubes in newspaper to light, and place the cubes about "cube depth" in the lump so that the top only is exposed. I need specifics (dumb newbie I am) --Wife and kids get impatient with me and the wife read the literature that said I should be up to temp in 15 minutes. HELP! (I'm not even out there with adult beverages as an escape)[p]2. UNIFORMITY OF BURN - last night did some chicken breasts @350*-400* and watched through the top (and when I flipped / marinated) that the hot spot of the fire was off to the back and "moved" forward as time went on. Should I be concerned about getting the fire stared in the middle? Does it matter less for indirect (I assume yes, but want to hear from the experts)? Does how I start the fire make this happen? I was concerned about flare ups on some of the meat and not others, making half of them burned and the others done right.


  • JJJJ Posts: 951
    For high temp grilling, try placing thr fire cubes in the ash pit. That way the lump will be burn from the bottom up greatly increasing the time to reach the temp you desire.[p]Don't worry about uniformity.

  • CatCat Posts: 556
    Dooms-Dave,[p]On fire starting: after you light the starter cubes (not sure why you bother wrapping in newspaper), leave the dome open & lower vent open until a handful or coals has caught & the starter burns out...10 minutes, maybe. Then close the dome, but leave it uncapped & leave the lower vent wide open. [p]The cubes probably take longer to get a good fire going than an electric starter would. I use the cubes, and 25 minutes to get to 400 doesn't sound unreasonable.[p]On uniformity - I get hot spots sometimes too. So midway through a cook I check, and if the meat is cooking unevenly I move it around on the grill. Starting the fire in the center alleviates hot spots somewhat.[p]Cooking indirect - over a water-filled drip pan or ceramic mass - will even out the impact of hot spots.[p]Hope this helps...don't be discouraged, you'll be a master of the fire in no time![p]Cathy

  • CatCat Posts: 556
    Brother JJ,[p]I do this with the small Egg, but have trouble getting a fire going in the large using this technique. The cubes (Weber Firestarters) burn out before the coals catch. Any advice?[p]Hope you & Kathy are taking a few moments to relax and enjoy the long holiday weekend! Love to you both -[p]Sister Cat
  • Dooms-Dave, I have a Medium BGE, and have settled upon this routine for starting the fire: I first stir the charcoal and add more new lump if needed, then close the dome but remove the cap. I then scrape out any ash through the bottom vent door using the "special tool" for this. Then I place three Weber starter cubes in the bottom of the BGE, under the charcoal, and light the cubes. I've never had a failure, and the fire generally gets "up to temperature" in 5-10 minutes. It smokes a lot at first, and seems like it will never catch fire, but then all of a sudden the temperature starts shooting upward. When the temp reaches about 100 degrees ABOVE my target point, I place the cap on top of the dome, and adjust the opening appropriately. The temperature then "coasts down" to approximately my target; fine adjustments in the vent door/cap are made over the next 15 minutes, until it reaches the steady target temp. Hope this helps

  • JJJJ Posts: 951
    Hi Little Sis:
    I use a diamond mesh for the grate. It allows for more air flow and faster lump ignition. I have found the ceramic grate too air restrictive and the holes too eaily clogged with small peices.
    We are in Little Rock today and tomorrow and in Hot Springs on Sunday. Then back to Alabama Sunday afternoon.
    Hope you have a great extended 4th.
    Big Bro. JJ

  • Dooms-Dave,
    I would eliminate the newspaper (don't need it - and could block some of holes reducing air to fire)
    Also try to use larger peices of charcoal down on the grate to allow more air around and through the fire.
    Last - you could make a chimmney extension -(sheet metal whatever to add height?) which would give the chiminey more draw to assist in starting the fire.
    Good Luck.

  • JimWJimW Posts: 450
    I agree with what Cat says below. I use starter cubes for my low and slow cooks, an electric starter for anything around 300F and up. I have never had to use more than one cube and my fires are always up to temp within 20 minutes, tops, regardless of my target.[p]The single most important thing is to have your bottom vent wide open and the top completely removed until you approach your target. Then start controlling the temp with the bottom vent and daisy wheel as necessary.[p]JimW

  • Dooms-Dave,[p]I hesitate giving advice here, since I have only started my Egg about 30 to 35 times in the past 6 weeks. But here's what I have learned from the experts on this page as well as my short experience. [p]Char-Woody helped me when hd described his method. And the method I develped based on reading the suggestions of many good folks on this page now works well for me. You will have to experiement and find what work for you.[p]Clear the grate holes of any ash or lump chunks. Take off the Daisy Wheel with bottom vent in wide open position.[p]Use new lump. Built a small mound in the middle of the BGE. Put one starter cube in the middle. Light it. Newspaper is not necessary. I tried newspaper three or four times without the cubes and the newspaper tends to go out. Cubes work great. You shouldn't have to use more than one cube. I've even tried half a cube and it works fine.[p]When the cube lights I stack a few lumps on top of it. Then I close the Egg. In 10 to 15 minutes the coals are hot. That's when I add more lump depending how long I will be cooking. And this is where I add my left over (used) lump. I usually fill the Egg to about one - two inches above the air holes that are on the side.[p]Lump gives off smoke as it is heating up. But once its burning well (hot) there is very little smoke. I don't know why, but the experts on this page explained that a while back.[p]The lump should light faster (not slower) in a wind because of the increased draft.

    The low temps you get may be due to insufficient fuel. With enough lump it will be impossible to keep temps at 160. With a lot of lump temp will pop up toe 500 in no time flat. [p]When the temp reaches the point I want (lets say 270 degrees) I shut my bottom vent to about one inch open, put on the daisy wheel and slide it open to half. Then if temp continues to rise I gradually begin closing the bottom vent more until I find a place where the temp will stabilized at the 270 I want. You have to experiment here.[p]There shouldn't be any hot or cold spots in The EGG. The experts may know much more about this than me, but my two cents worth is that hot (and therefore cold) spots are caused by insufficient fuel.[p]Good Luck! Hope this helps. Listen to what all these folks on this page tell you. They really do know what they are talking about and I have never found them to be wrong. They have helped me a ton.[p]Anthony

  • CatCat Posts: 556
    JJ,[p]I didn't think of that - thanks for the suggestion! I've been using a trivet since my ceramic grate broke in two, and haven't tried the under-the-coals maneuver since the replacement. Will do.[p]Cathy

  • CatCat Posts: 556
    Wanderer,[p]The chimney extension is a great idea. I haven't tried this, but a friend says you can get the same effect simply by holding a cardboard tube (e.g., from a roll of paper towel) over the Egg top.[p]Cathy

  • Dooms-Dave, one added kicker...I use to save my breath and aggrevation because I too get impatient when humpty doesn't start sucking wind the way I think he should. I bought a battery operated "personal" fan from Walgreens. It has a small 2.5 inch diameter fan, runs on two AA batteries which last a long time and puts out just the right amount of "huff and puff". Sometimes I 'll even open the lid and fan the coals themselves. It works for me and at $4 it's cheap. ^oo^~

  • Cat,
    I use a peice of sheet metal rolled just big enough to fit inside the chimney (with a peice of wire wrapped around it?) nothing fancy - but you'll be surprised how much 10 - 12 inches more chimney makes the draw thru the firebox work better (when no breeze to help)[p]Good Luck

  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    Cat,[p]Nope - you have another problem - I use the trivet and start with one firecube everytime from under the trivet and even in the rain. Sure works in Virginia.[p]Tim[p]
  • TeslamaniaTeslamania Posts: 144
    A lot of good comments and pointers have been raised about how other forum members start their fires. I use one weber starter cube nestled on the bottom of the grate, I take one page of a standard Washington Post newspaper (the front page seems to work best - must be something about all that hot air that the WP is covering up on "The Hill" or at the White House) and make a pile of lump around the newspaper. I fill the fire box to the level of the holes, and "mound" it a bit higher in the center. I light the newspaper, open up the bottom vent, close the egg and leave the daisy wheel off. I set my timer for 8 minutes and when the alarm goes off, I am usually ready to throw on some wood. I put the cooking grid back on, slap on the food and put my slide / daisy back on with the bottom vent wide open. Ten or fifteen minutes later, I check back to adjust the vents. [p]Saves me a bit with the fire cubes, and doesn't seem to create any more ash then ususal. Works every time. [p]
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