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I do not have a talent for this.

edited 4:29AM in EggHead Forum
Help... [p]I'm still having trouble with charcoal and temperature. Emptied the old lump out of the egg (a major and messy pain in the neck) and poured in a fresh back of WGC (weekend warrior) up to above the air holes. Used a weber wax starter cube and a chimney starter. It took two tries to get a fire going. When it finally did catch, it stayed a very subtle (for lack of a better word) fire, drilling straight down into the charcoal rather than spreading out, only about 175 degrees dome temperature, for probably half an hour. [p]Eventually I lost patience and stirred it up a few times with the ash tool. Finally the fire spread out and then suddenly EVERYTHING caught. From then on it was easy to control the temperature as long as the lid was closed. But every time I opened the lid, I had a towering inferno - flames everywhere. I didn't even throw any food on last night, it would have burned. Decided to just let it roll for a while around 400 to eat up some of the newness of the charcoal. [p]Is this typical for a fresh pile of charcoal? Is it easier if half your coals are old? How long should I expect to have to burn coals until they stop flaming up so much, and when will they stop producing plumes of white smoke that smells like a house fire?[p]It seems like this was easier the first time I used the egg, but it has gotten harder every time since.

Comments

  • BluesnBBQBluesnBBQ Posts: 615
    If you dump charcoal into your cooker you're going to have a problem getting a fire going. Fire needs oxygen to burn and you need to have some space between the pieces of lump to let air through.[p]Here's what I usually do:[p]1) Stir up the old lump a little and make some space for a stater cube in it (usually in the middle).[p]2) Light the cube.[p]3) Open a beer (essential to getting a good fire going!)[p]4) Once the cube has burnt some, start placing bigger pieces over it, but not directly on it. This is kind of like building a campfire where you arrange pieces of wood over the fire in a sort of cone shape. [p]5) By now the cube should be compltely burned and the lump should be going. You can add as much as you need now, being careful to keep some space between the pieces.[p]When I do overnight cooks I usually clear out all of the old lump and ashes and light 2-3 starter cubes in different places to get the lump going.
  • randomeggerrandomegger Posts: 194
    BluesnBBQ,[p]On the contrary! I generally just dump the lump, jam a starter cube in the middle, light and then rake some of the coal back over the cube.[p]And then open a beer.[p]Sounds to me like a primer at Naked Whiz's flashback site might be in order, too. (It's amazing how well the hair can grow back on your arm so many times... You know, my Grandad had what he called a farmer's tan - his left arm, the one hanging out of the cab of his pick up, was tanned while his right was not. I wonder if we should coin the term Egger's Burn? Egger's Singe? Egger's Haircut?)[p]RE

  • dhuffjrdhuffjr Posts: 3,182
    randomegger,
    I'm a dumper too....after stirring.....never shaken as I don't have a wiggle rod. Propane torch in a spot or two and off to the races.

  • rellis,
    Dont know that brand of charcoal,but a MAPP tourch is what I use now after having similar problems getting a fire going. Now what I do is take out old lump (BGE brand) stir the ash with the ash tool or if real bad use the shop vac and suck it out then put fresh lump in the bottom and the old lump (if any) on top use the MAPP and light it in about 5 places and away I go. Hope this helps some.

  • The VirginianThe Virginian Posts: 275
    rellis,
    I would recommend a few things:
    1. make sure that your firebox is lined up properly so that the hole matches up with the bottom vent.
    2. dump a load of weekend warrior in the firebox. The size distribution for that brand is good enough that you should not really have to worry about spacing between pieces.
    3. open the bottom vent all the way, open the top of the Egg, and light the starter.
    4. Once the charcoal has caught, maybe 5-7 minutes, close the top down, but have the daisy wheel popped open all the way (move the top to the side in other words).
    5. Keep an eye on it, and when the temp gets within about 75 degrees of where you want to be, reduce the gap in the bottom vent to about a half inch (unless you are going for high temps) and move the daisy wheel top over, but with the little vents on it open.
    6. Continue to make adjustments on the vent and daisy wheel until you get the temp you want. [p]I do this every time, and never have problems with the fire going out or staying small. Keep at it, you and the Egg will soon be operating as one.[p]Brett

  • Flashback BobFlashback Bob Posts: 519
    rellis,
    Relax lad, it will all come out in the wash![p]I had a lot of trouble in my early days with the Egg, but it's all about getting comfortable with each other.[p]First- you don't need to remove your old lump. Leave it in and just add to it. It'll burn fine, though maybe not quite as hot as new lump, but it'll burn cleaner.[p]Second- Typically, fill lump up to top of firebox/bottom of fire ring. [p]Third- allow the fire to burn at least 20 minutes before you attempt to cook. Some lumps take a little longer to burn clean, some take less. Just wait till it's at your target temp and burning clean before you try to cook on it. I usually allow 1/2 hr. This weekend I had a fire with a slow burning lump that took closer to 45 min.[p]fourth - Read about flashback at TNW's site. What I have found is that Flashback and/or bigger flames and faster accelerating temperatures happen most with new lump. Especially if there's the dust from the bottom of the bag.
    Your excessive flaming may be due to opening the lid while the fire is taking off.

    [ul][li]About Flashback[/ul]
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    rellis,[p] If you live anywhere near Raleigh give me a call at the number on my web site.
  • Flashback BobFlashback Bob Posts: 519
    Wow,
    There were no responses when I started writing!

  • randomegger,[p]That'll work too, but I like to spend a few minutes building a fire. [p]I recently replaced my stock charcoal grate with a metal (I think cast iron?) one. I think that helps the air get through.
  • EddieMacEddieMac Posts: 423
    If you're near Celtic Wolf, take him up on his offer! [p]If I'm doing low-n-slow I empty out the fire box completely...Scrape out all the ash from underneath....And then I stack the lump carefully...biggest pieces on the bottom, medium pieces on top...smaller pieces on top of that....For a low-n-slow it's best to light the lump in the middle and that's it....The fire will burn down the middle and you'll be able to manage temperature more easily...And then I occasionally stick my billy bar down in the sides of the lump every few hours and jostle around to push newer lump towards the middle.....For a hot and fast cook I start the fire in three or four locations.....[p]After each low-n-slow I do a "forensic fire investigation" and carefully look at how the fire burned by looking at the ashes and burned areas....I've learned alot by doing that....Ditch the chimney starter....[p]Ed McLean....eddiemac
    Ft. Pierce, FL

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 6,083
    rellis,[p]I keep a small plastic bucket around to scoop out un-burnt lump when I'm putting in fresh. I have a wok flipping spatula that I've bent to a 90 angle, and use that to scoop out ash. The only time things get really messy is digging through the lump bin, looking for just the right size lumps for a particular fire.[p]I'm assuming from what you said that there were flames coming from the charcoal when you opened the dome after reaching 400 degrees. This is pretty much what is supposed to happen. I usually don't have much in the way of flames from 400 degree fires, but above 500, most definitely. Sometimes before steak searing (700+), I have 4 - 6 inches of flame out of the top vent. If you search the archives for gloves, you'll find that having a pair of welder's gloves nearby is a good thing.[p]Assuming that what you're cooking can be cooked at 400+, just place it on the grid quickly. Expect flare-ups if you're cooking something fatty direct. The flames will die down quickly with the dome closed. The excess grease will be consumed in a few minutes.[p]I stopped using fire starters some time ago, but when I was still using them I would use several, and usually break them into halves to start 2 - 6 places initially.[p]gdenby
  • Phew... thanks for all the replies everybody, work got busy all of a sudden but I will definitely read these carefully tonight.[p]10-4 on the beer technique.[p]Celtic Wolf - I'm in Cary, so that's a definite yes - what is your website?[p]Thanks again, I'm much more enthused about learning this stuff knowing there is help available.
  • Never mind CW, I found it.
  • BbqKidBbqKid Posts: 14
    rellis,
    Does anyone have trouble with lump popping... It seems like it crackles and gets everywhere including the food... just bad lump or what?

  • Several folks mentioned flashback -- yes, that is one thing I have learned the hard way how to anticipate, and (almost always) avoid. You wouldn't know by looking at my arm now but it was nearly bald about this time last year.[p]Okay I really need to get back to work now :)
  • Celtic WolfCeltic Wolf Posts: 9,773
    rellis,[p] You aren't all that far from me. If you'd like I'll be happy to come over and show you how to keep the Egg lit. Call me when you have time.
  • rellis,
    I just dump the lump in put electric starter in the middle of the pile leave the lid up...(Half the time I forget to open the bottom vent) in about 7-10 mins fire is going I pull the starter out adjust bottom vent close the lid and adjust the top vent....No need to over think this...But you should go Electric starter or a Map torch starter cubes smell funny to me....

  • One other thing I am not a pro but I use Barbeque Galore brand Lump....It burns great and you don't get the back flash like you do with the BGE brand
  • RhumAndJerkRhumAndJerk Posts: 1,506
    rellis,
    Just a quick observation, if you are using a chimney starter, the starter cube goes under the charcoal and not on top. It is not possible to have a cold chimney full of charcoal after two fire starters. Even with briquettes, one cube should produce enough hot coals to cook on in about 15 minutes. You don’t really even need a chimney starter.[p]Like everyone said, make sure that the bottom vent is open all the way to start and close it more and more as you get to the desired temp.[p]Using Lump is not like using briquettes, you don’t really care if all the pieces catch. You really only want enough lump to be burning to produce the desired dome temperature. As you noted, when everything is going, you get a very hot fire. I never remove the old lump, I just push it to the sides and dump the new in the center.[p]One last suggestion, calibrate your dome thermometer to make sure that it is reading correctly. If the entire firebox is full of burning lump then your temp should be in excess of 800 degrees or more. Get a pan of water boiling on the stove and then hold your dome thermometer in it to see what is reading. If it does not read 212, then adjust the nut on the back until it does. [p]Hope this helps,
    RhumAndJerk

  • egginatoregginator Posts: 569
    BbqKid,
    Sounds like you are using Kingsford lump. [p]Ed

  • eddiemac,[p]I like that "forensic investigation" idea. I've only done four cooks on my new Large Egg. But I'm starting to figure out how the drafts work and the direction the burn creeps.[p]My first burn, I just dumped. My second, I dumped and arranged. My third, which was my most successful, I built around a big fist sized lump and sort of did a spider web of pieces "bridging" gaps. Took a while to build, but was a good learning experience.
  • Flashback BobFlashback Bob Posts: 519
    BbqKid,
    Yes, it's the lump you're using. Try some others and see what you like best.

  • cbscbs Posts: 99
    Am I the only one who (for a non-low and slow) puts the starter through the bottom vent under the lump and lights it that way? [p]Works great for me.
  • SpokaneManSpokaneMan Posts: 77
    Agreed on the Kingsford. I read about the sparking on TNW, but had to see for myself. It's like one of those fireworks cones from when I was a kid.[p]It does seem to burn nicely though. I even found a blackened disposable razor in my first bag.
  • SpokaneManSpokaneMan Posts: 77
    I did that once when I couldn't get the fire going for some reason. It worked great but I think someone on here said you shouldn't do that. I don't remember why.
  • You're obviously a trendsetter.
  • stinkiestinkie Posts: 7
    rellis,
    i just dump the lump in. after running out of starter qubes i started trying different things and red in this forum about using vegie or evooon paper towles. wet 2 paper towles with vegie oil fold and twist them and put them in arouomd some of the larger lumps and light.and in about 15 or 20 minutes start to ajust the vents. it's been working out very well. no more oders or bad tase of starter qubes. [p]stinkie

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