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Two firsts in the same 12hrs.

CobraCobra Posts: 110
edited 11:53PM in EggHead Forum
Im cooking a butt for some pulled pork this afternoon, for a group of guys is getting together while the wives are out on the town. I decided to try the method of stacking the lump big chunks on the bottom, working my way up to small chunks on top. I have never had issue with dumping the bag in and kinda smoothing out the pile to make it level but thought what could hurt, it makes sense to put effort into the fire, right? That was the first, first. The second first was my fire burning out no more than 11 hours later, and having to remove the grid, and platesetter after digging out the old chimney starter to get more fresh lump going.

I must have not used enough lump in the pile, Im not sure that I think the effor to stack the lump was worth the effort. Im not saying I wont try that again, but I think I'll stick to dumping the bag in for a while longer.

On another note, I didnt lose the cook, the grill only dropped to 200 and the pork looks pretty tasty to me, its got another 20 degrees to go, then I'll wrap it, and throw it in a cooler for later.


  • Cobra,

    When you say that your fire went out, did it actually use up all the lump, or did it burn straight down the middle, leaving piles of unlit lump around the sides?

    If the former, you either didn't put enough in - you should fill about 1/2 way up the fire RING, not fire BOX - or your thermometer is way off, and you were actually cooking a lot hotter than you thought you were, causing the lump to burn down faster.

    If the latter, try lighting your fire in 3-4 spots, rather than just lighting once in the center. That will help to make sure the fire burns evenly.

    In either case, building the fire using the larger to smaller method you described wasn't the issue. That method helps with airflow, which is a good thing. I do that on my overnight cooks and have kept my large going for 42 hours on one load of lump.

  • I cooked a butt for the first time last weekend on my large and it held 250 through the night nude with no problem. Were the coals burned out? Were you trying to hold too low of a temp? I can usually hold 230-250 without a problem, but I have heard other posts about fires going out when trying to hold around 200.
    The running out of lump is as you probably didn't load enough in the egg or the egg was hotter than your thermometer is reading. On my large & medium I load to the top of the ring when I am doing an overnight cook.

    Stacking lump is a safe way to proceed. I have evolved to making sure the holes in the fire ring and fire box are not plugged. I put in large enough pieces to cover but not plug the holes in the fire grate. Then I dump and or use old lump.

  • CobraCobra Posts: 110
    Thanks all for your input.

    I basically ran out of lump. I was using a Guru, holding at 225. I did basically the same cook 2 weeks ago except it was a packer brisket, and cooked 16.5 hours. I guess in stacking it I didn't get it as compacted as I normally do when I just dump it in. Even though I did load it just as high, I made sure I was above the fire box, but not more than say half way up the fire ring. I wasn't blaming the problem on the method of stacking lump, it makes great sense to do it this way. Next time I will be sure that the layers are very complete and as compact as possible.

    Thanks again, keep smokin...
  • Cobra,

    From a Taoist/touchy feely view (Yin (lump stacker) vs Yang (lump dumper)) - it's a balance between air and fuel. In this example, I'm a clear Yin. I believe that you should do whatever you can to maximize the potential of high airflow vs the hope all lump will ignite. My unproven theory is that small pieces of lump directly on top of the grate or firebox holes will restrict airflow, thus should be avoided.

    In a Low and slow cook you need only enough oxygen to keep the fire alive (200-275), however if you plug the the holes of the egg (grate or firebox holes) you can stifle the fire. For sure, a Stoker/Guru can maintain airflow no matter how you stack it, but this can't acceptable to a minimalist or cash strapped big green egger. So the key w/o a Stoker/Guru is make sure you have enough fuel and air to burn for your needs - 10,12,15,18 hrs.... In my opinion, the method of big pieces/med/small maximizes airflow and yields maximum combustion while minimizing the potential of airflow blockage. Not enough air or fuel - you will wake up in the AM to see a sub-200 egg - ok I've seen that and thus I'm a "Yin"..

    For high temp cooks it is even more critical that you keep the holes in the grate and the fire open...Again in my opinion the tiny pieces of lump can clog up holes in your grate and prevent airflow. The combustion of your lump at the max rate yields higher temps thanks to max airflow.... I'd venture to bet those that dump their lump are also those that complain their eggs can't get above 400F.

    Conclusion - Not enough air or not enough lump - you are done.

    Well thanks for reading if you've gotten this far. (hic)...
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