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Starting the Egg...from the BOTTOM or TOP of the charcoal???

edited 10:54PM in EggHead Forum
I was reading messages on "that other" website, and one person stated that, for low-and-slow cooking, you should always place your firestarter cubes on the TOP of the charcoal...For high temp cooking, the charcoal should be started from the BOTTOM. I hadn't heard of this recommendation before...what's the consensus out there? I'm mostly interested in low-and-slow, so how do you folks start your fire, when you're cooking this way?


  • sprintersprinter Posts: 1,188
    Patrick in Minnesota,[p]I've always started my fires from the top and let them burn down. However, I do usually dig a bit of a hole in the pile and lay in the fire starter. Once it gets going a bit I throw some coals on top of it and let it go. CW said that for low and slow or for high temp sears he puts the starter way in the bottom of the pile then covers it all up and lets the fire burn up. I think there are a lot of ways skin this cat, whatever works for you.[p]Troy
  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,523
    Patrick in Minnesota,
    I agree with Sprinter. I always start mine near the top. I use 2 or 3 small pieces of firestarter scattered around for hotter fires, and one in the middle for lo/slo. Sometimes I will even use 2 pieces of firestarter if I am doing lo/slo direct, so that the fire is more evenly spread out.[p]Many folks swear by starting at the bottom, or under the grate for high temps, but I have good results starting at the top. I find the fire always moves down anyway.[p]Q on!
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
    Instagram: @DizzyPigBBQ
  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    sprinter, FOFLMAO...this is a fun topic. And your right, what ever way to skin the cat works.
    My secret weapon in fire starting (that song agin, "Come on baby light my fire") is a 1/4 inch x 30 inch aluminum rod that I bent a 90 degree 3" angle like a L on the bottom. I use the bent end for a rake to rake the coals when needed, and the staight end for burrowing a hole down to the grate. Then I take a knife and shave or cut off a chunk of firelog material, strike a match, light the dang stuff, and let if fall to the grate. Then when burning nicely, I lay a few pieces of charcoal over the fire, and go about my business in the kitchen. With lower vent open and top open I watch the smoke turn to white and then I go filler up with fresh charcoal if doing low and slow.I just smother that puppy and arrange my smoking chunks on top do my setup for the cook and by habit now I know where to set the vents for whatever range of cook I want. [p]If a hot fire is needed, leave it alone and whooooeeeee, soon you have 700 degrees F to play with.[p]Just my routine...what ever works, go for it. They just ain't no particular's to put on it.
    BTW...Hya Patrick, you sure know how to stir up the fire..heeeeee.. er,,,[email protected]!!

  • Nu-GuyNu-Guy Posts: 136
    Nature Boy,
    Interesting question here and I am glad Patrick asked it. I would like to add a little twist to the question. I generally start mine from the top. What I have noticed on a low/slo, like when I want max smoke, is after I add my soaked wood chips and get good smoke.....about 1/2 hour later the fire burns down into the charcoal and wood chips that did not get used up in the first 1/2 hour just kind of sit there doing nothing. I can get them going again by opening up the vent but then of course the temp goes up and there goes my low/slo cook. Any ideas?

  • sprintersprinter Posts: 1,188
    Char-Woody,[p]When you have time to pick yourself up off the floor, you need to get to typing and let us all know this secret that you have been teasing us with.[p]I too use one of the fire logs to start my fires but I dig a hole about a third of the way down into the lump and then bury it from there. I think I may start to bury some of my wood chunks also so there is smoke for a longer time. Especially on the low and slow. Maybe put a few directly on the fire, then bury it, then a few more on top. Maybe one on the bottom of the pile also. Heck, why not put a few under the grate and a couple of then on the firebrick I use on the chimney also.................. you're right, this is a fun topic.[p]Eagerly awaiting this announcement...[p]Troy
  • Char-WoodyChar-Woody Posts: 2,642
    sprinter, yahoooo...yep..patience my friend, I am laying my life on the line doing this experiment. "Taste Testing"...

  • CornfedCornfed Posts: 1,324
    Patrick in Minnesota,[p]I like to start fires intended for 300* and up with a single fire cube under the grate. Any temps below this, I've been trying with a single cube on top of the fire.[p]As for my favorite drink, I like a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man's hat.[p]Cornfed
  • BluesnBBQBluesnBBQ Posts: 615
    sprinter sez: "I think I may start to bury some of my wood chunks also so there is smoke for a longer time.
    Especially on the low and slow. Maybe put a few directly on the fire, then bury it, then a few more on top. Maybe
    one on the bottom of the pile also. Heck, why not put a few under the grate and a couple of then on the firebrick I
    use on the chimney also..."[p]If you're going to do that, why not just throw a bag of chunks into your bag of lump! :)

  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    Patrick in Minnesota,[p]This subject always gets a lot of replies with different methods - therefore its pretty obvious it makes little difference in the large scheme of things. [p]I think lighting from under the lump is faster "if" certain things apply. I had good luck when I used my ceramic grate in my large but not good luck with the small's ceramic grate. My large and small do much better with the upgraded grates (wire or iron) when lighting from below. I think you also need to be the type that does not totally fill your firebox each time. Lighting from under the lump will get a whole pile going in less time because the heat from below sets off the lump above rather than forcing the heat from above to set off the coal below - so you really don't want more than 1/2-3/4 full. It seems like its 5-10 min faster so not a huge deal. [p]Lo & slow I start from above so the whole pile doesn't start - only a small area will be burning.[p]Each person will do it somewhat differently. Do what works for you.[p]Tim
  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,523
    Try and get your chips/chunks right in the coals. Also around the edge of the fire. Sometimes I move some of the glowing coals to the side and drop the chunk underneath.[p]Smoke away!
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
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