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1st egg use - chemical flavor -help!

grillthrillergrillthriller Posts: 7
edited 7:50PM in EggHead Forum
Newbie here, I used some Wicked Good lump charcoal and (2) really old camping wood starter sticks to start my 1st egg use tonight. My 1 1/2 inch thick New York Strips were cooked to perfection, thankfully but the overall flavor was chemical-like, ESPECIALLY on the charred parts of the steaks.

I have always used a gas grill before and never experienced this kind of flavor. Was it the brand new egg? New grate? The camping starter sticks (about 1/2 inch by 4 inches-no smell that I detect)? The charcoal itself (the charcoal doesn't have this smell)? Thanks for any advice!


  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041

    How long did you let the lump burn before you put the meat on? What did the smoke coming out the top smell like?
    I would think you needed to burn the lump 30-40 minutes to get the "bad" smoke smell to go away....
    Kent Madison MS
  • Bingo, Kent. I only let the coals smolder about 15 minutes. My daughter commented about how blue the smoke looked coming out the top (!!!) as I was grilling the steaks. D-oh! I'll wait longer to put on the meat next time. In fact, I'm going to cook a whole chicken next and will wait 30-40 minutes to let coals smolder. Thank you!

    Sean -Grillthriller
    Eden Prairie, MN
  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    Use the "hand trick"... I put my hand over the smoke coming out for a couple of seconds... then smell my skin... that's what the meat will smell like... Don't forget - Blue smoke bad!

    Congrats on the new Egg.. you'll love it..
    Kent Madison MS
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    I'll bet is was a combination of the starter sticks and not letting the fire settle down enough for cooking. Watch your top vent. Puffing white smoke is not good, and can make food bitter. You can smell the difference between good and bad smoke.

    You are after light gray or the good sweet blue smoke. Just remember It's it's puffin' white... it ain't right. If it's blowin' blue.... it's good for Q.

    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • BBQ Maven has you sussed. I would lose any kind of lighter except mapp or propane, electric or oil enhanced paper towel



    Caledon, ON


  • Thanks, Kent. That HAS to be the problem. Before I did the dishes, I remember smelling the same odor on my hands. Blue smoke bad...I should be able to remember that! Love this forum as much as the egg so far, thanks for the advice!
  • Thanks to the BBQ gurus on this site, sounds like you figured out the problem (not letting the lump burn for long enough period).

    However, there seems to be some contradictory info - BBQ Maven said "blue = bad" while Thirdeye said "blue is good for Q" - sooooooo Eggsperts, which is it? :blink:
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • Or just smell the smoke. Shouldn't take more than 10 minutes with fresh lump. No time at all with leftover lump
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Dang, that's a good question, I just noticed that after reading your post. Maybe BBQMaven meant that those campfire starter cubes would throw off a blue colored smoke and bad smell.... kind of like starting a diesel pickup. Heheheee.

    I was going to suggest Googling "blue smoke" but there is a newer barbecue restaurant in New York called that and it gets all the hits, so Google "sweet blue smoking wood" for opinions from other barbacuists.

    Anyways, I cook with smoke that is light in volume and light in color. Here is a lighter gray smoke, and the next picture is one of my favorites taken by Scotty's Inferno. He described it to me as "you almost wonder if it's even there".


    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Give it 30-45 minutes. No smoke when set at 325*.

    If you are new, better investigate the phenomenon called "flashback"!!! B)

    Here's a GREAT explanation:
  • Save money and go lite on the starters. I get the square starters from my BGE dealer and break them in half. As long as the air flow is good, it starts my medium's load easily. I have heard that those with larger eggs break the starters in half for two different spots.
  • I agree - I am so happy since I got my Bernzomatic click-start MAPP torch!
  • 91% Ethanol (from Walmart) is great too. Biproduct is CO2 ... no smell.

    Dripping Springs, Texas.
    Just west of Austintatious

  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    Thirdeye - Didn't mean to contradict you.. in Grillthriller's post he mentioned his daughter commented on the "blue" smoke - simply was helping him see that kind of smoke was not good...

    He stated he was going from a gasser to BGE... there is a bit of a learning curve
    Kent Madison MS
  • jeffinsgfjeffinsgf Posts: 1,259
    I feel that volume of smoke is an easier indicator than color. Billowing smoke is bad. I like Thirdeye's comment "like you almost wonder if it's there". The best smoke flavor I produce comes when I think I haven't put enough chunks in and/or think they've gone out.
  • Thirdeye, you're comments and photos are very helpful. I had a STEADY stream of blue smoke while cooking, ah, wrecking $30 in NY strips.

    No more camping starter sticks, just in case. Speaking of which:

    Everyone, my egg dealer said he'll soon begin selling "Looftlighter" with the claim of starting charcoal in...15 seconds! It's on my Christmas wish list.
  • the camping starter sticks are fine, but they take a while to burn off completely.

    they also have a tendency to go out, and simply smolder. that smoke will be white, and there will be a lot of it.

    always smell the smoke... the nose knows as they say
  • deepsouthdeepsouth Posts: 1,796
    wicked good takes a wicked long time to get started enough to cook burgers and steaks. in my experience, sometimes up to an hour.
  • RipnemRipnem Posts: 5,511

    I buy and burn a ton of WG lump and have been mixing it with a 'lighter/faster' lump when I want quick of smokier results. Ozark Oak is a great lump for that and also on it's own. WG just burns so long and without a lot of smoke of it's own. Nice when that's what you're after. Like bread or pizza ;)
  • jeffinsgfjeffinsgf Posts: 1,259
    My experience with the Looftlighter is less than stellar. It works fine, but I think you'll find more than just me who have found that it only lasts about 3 months of frequent use. At 80 bucks, it should last longer and be serviceable. The last point is the most critical to me. I actually looked at becoming a dealer for them, since I do business with another Swedish company. I asked about parts support and was told the unit was "not serviceable"...just replace it when it breaks. Sorry, no.

    15 seconds is a joke, too. Takes slightly longer than a torch.
  • deepsouthdeepsouth Posts: 1,796
    Ripnem wrote:

    I buy and burn a ton of WG lump and have been mixing it with a 'lighter/faster' lump when I want quick of smokier results. Ozark Oak is a great lump for that and also on it's own. WG just burns so long and without a lot of smoke of it's own. Nice when that's what you're after. Like bread or pizza ;)

    for sure!

    i was just going back to a time over my dad's house, using his egg, and all he had was wicked good and i was trying to do some "quick burgers", which didn't happen!
  • yeah.

    dense lump has its place, but lighter lump like cowboy does too.

    really dense lump will often have a slight ammonia smell to it when fresh. it burns off quickly enough, but not as quickly as the lighter lumps made from american hardwoods
  • I think it helps to stir the new lump once, maybe twice as the chemicals burn off. I'll usually get another wave of white smoke when I do that as different areas get exposed to more heat.
  • RU Eggsperienced wrote:
    I agree - I am so happy since I got my Bernzomatic click-start MAPP torch!

    Couldn't agree more. Picked one up Friday and will not use anything else now. Three cooks, three easy lights and really quick!

    Smokin'Stogies in Exton, Pa with my wife and our four dogs; Sully and Boo the Newfoundlands, Murphy the Irish Setter and Alli the Beagle/Lab mix. 

    Eggers Prayer-

    Our egg, which art in sizes, hallowed be thy smoke, thy will be grilled, at home as it is at eggfest. Give us this clay our daily brisket and forgive us our rubs, as we forgive those who gas grill against us, and lead us not to flashback but deliver us from overnighters. For thine is the grill, the smoke, the egg. Let's eat!

  • The whole blue smoke thing doesn't work for me. It has too much to do with background color, lighting, etc. I've never seen blue smoke from my egg on my balcony, but I've got a bluish-gray house behind mine, and that might have something to do with it.

    If I just lit my egg, I don't bother checking to see if it's ready until I don't see smoke pouring out of my egg. Once the smoke has cleared, I'll check by smell. If the egg stinks, I don't cook. As long as your nose works, it kind of eliminates the whole smoke color issue.
  • I'm surprised the BGE videos and manual neglect this critical information. Although the cooking instructions were spot on, the resulting flavor was the worst grilled food I've ever had. Hopefully, giving the coals their due time will make this problem a thing of the past.
  • Thanks for saving me 80 bucks. The dealer I spoke with was so reved up it was hard not to catch his enthusiasm. No longer on the wish list.
  • jeffinsgfjeffinsgf Posts: 1,259
    What he's revved up about is the margin. I don't know where he's getting them, but from the manufacturer, by the pallet load, they're 20 bucks.
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    I have always used the BGE starter cubes, two split diagonally and tucked in the lump in four places, works fine, takes about 20 min to burn down and get the lump on its way, sometimes it seems forever to get the smoke to clear up.

    I recently switched to a MAPP torch [thanks Kricks] and won't ever go back. Lump is burning at 450-500 in ten minutes, or I can start closing down on a lo&slo temp even sooner. It is easy to get a good clean burn, any smoke is from lump, not other chemicals.

    Berz-0-Matic markets a self-igniting torch with a 5ft hose to the tank, makes lighting a snap. I got mine at Lowes :)
  • i have learned if I want to keep the wife happy, never put the food on until the smoke is clear! don't let the ckicken fat drop on the coals, and use a home made aluminum foil drip pan or a bought drip pan on the plate setter.
    XL   Walled Lake, MI

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