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Ready to Give Up - HELP!!



  • gamera06gamera06 Posts: 80
    edited August 2011
    The one & only time my BGE choke, was because I forgot to open the damper ...  :(|)

    Have you checked this video ?

    BGE XL, Large & Mini, Black Wifi Stoker Cannes, France
  • crghc98crghc98 Posts: 1,006
    There really is no need to clean your egg every time, or to dump the used lump. If there was I would've given up long ago. take some pics next time of your setup, before and after adding lump and lighting.

    I dump lump, I stir up old to remove ash...that is it. in my opinion the napkin and oil works as well as the started cubes...don't go spending money on something else...any of the methods should work.
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,916
    I agree with crghc98, the starting method has nothing to do with it.  There's as many "starting" techniques out there as there are EGG owners.  They all work just fine, just a preference thing.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • Keep at it! I had the same problems with my first dozen or so cooks but after the help I received on this forum I am now able to bring my egg up to temp where I want it an maintain without fail. The kicker for me was to ensure the charcoal had adequately heated before I shut the lid. I usually time 10-12 minutes and its typically good to go. Don't get discouraged. I had many many meals that were late. (and occasionally still do).
  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    edited August 2011
    never mind... sounded mean spirited.....

    Kent Madison MS
  • Lots of good suggestions in this thread.  Don't have much to add.  I've only been an Egger for about 3 months,  have a large and am in Austin.  I did have some minor problems with slower starting,  but that was when I tried using the lump they sell at HEB.  Using Royal Oak,  or the stuff from Sams Club works fine. It has been quite a few times with no wind at all.  I switched from using starter cubes to a Mapp torch,  but the starter cubes worked fine.  Try using the ideas expressed above,  try a different lump if your using the Central Market HEB stuff.  Good luck!

    With as hot as it has been here I've been thinking of trying low and slow with 1 charcoal briquet.  Would probably generate enough heat to get it to 250 by itself... :)
  • Why waste a briquette, Austin?

    It sounds like you could double-wrap a nice butt in aluminum foil and just leave it on the sidewalk or driveway for several hours.........
  • Austex, I'm also in Austin.  Having many of the same issues.  I bought my Egg in April and my first cooks were by far my best.  When the heat started going crazy I began to have some of the same problems.  I can go full on T-Rex without problems but the low and slow cooks have been hit or miss.  Trying to keep the fire below 300 but still lit has been a problem.  Vents open, daisy wheel moved to the side for maximum airflow.  I understand that the fire should be creating it's own updraft and stay lit but it just isn't happening.  I'm using lump from the dealer, clean out the firebox in it's entirety with each fire, build the fire with large pieces at the bottom, use plenty- but not too much, fuel.....There is nothing like going out to check on a low and slow fire at 2AM only to realize it has gone out.  When you are in your boxers at 2AM on the backporch and sweat is dripping off you, it ain't a lot of laughs.  It gets no funnier when you get back up at 7AM and find it has gone out again..... 

    Here's to good luck to all of us.  I'm doing six racks of ribs and a brisket tomorrow for the game....
  • Why do you say "use plenty- but not too much fuel"? For an overnight cook you should fill to near the top of the fire ring.
    Morro Bay, CA
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,948
    I just fill about mid-way on the fire ring.  Still have lump left-over after a 14 hour smoke.  

    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: and  and
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • Morrobayrich: Why do you say "use plenty- but not too much fuel"?

    I was more referencing the fact I've been going overboard in my attempts to make things perfect in an effort to overcome some of the problems I've had with the low and slow temp issues.  It isn't that I've run out of fuel, just that the fires at that temp have been extinguishing themselves.  Setting fires with fire starters in multiple places in the stack of lump would seem to be the answer but, still, they burn only in those places downward.  The fire is only using that fuel but does not spread over time. 

    Trust me, I'm all ears for building a better fire.
  • chpchp Posts: 16
    i did a pork shoulder the other day and found my temp wouldn't get above 200.  I immediately thought of your post and hoped it wasn't a contagious condition! But then I added way more charcoal to bring it to the top of the fire wall rim, re-ignited it using my electric starter and waited.  It took over 30 minutes to really get going and it seemed to do better with the daisy top removed and bottom open all the way but once it did light I had no more problems getting and maintaining a temp.  So maybe consider adding more coals than you might thing is needed.
  • This makes me wonder if maybe climate (especially humidity) has something to do with this problem.  My five year old XL Egg has only "lived" in the relatively hot and dry climate of inland Northern CA, and I've not had any kind of serious temp control issues.   I can hit 225-250 and keep it there for 5-6 hours with my bottom vent with only one inch open and the small holes in the daisy wheel open all the way.  Like many other poster's I start out with lump up to the top of the firebox, though much of it remains after extinguishing.   It takes about an hour to go from an initial 200 to 220 or so, and then climbs about 5 degrees per hour after that.  On the rare occasions I do a brisket or other long cooking cut, I can retard the 5 degree "creep" by reducing the bottom vent to about 1/2 inch.  And of course 700 is no problem just leaving the daisy piece off entirely and leaving the bottom open all the way....25 minutes or less in my area.

    Don't give up on your Egg!  But if you do, and you live in Northern CA, I might be willing to take it off your hands.   Some days the XL is just not big enough....... 
  • Okay guys, let's be done with this once and for all.  This is the old time resident curmudgeon speaking to you from the other side.  I've been cooking several times a week on a large for two decades, so I've started it a time or two.  The only fire related problems I've ever had were truly alcohol related problems.  Get drunk, pass out on the couch, don't monitor the fire periodically on an over-nught low-n-slow and come to to a cold firebox.

    So, leaving alcohol out of the equation, let's fire one of these babies up.  You egg is nothing more than an insulated charcoal chimney.  You have two controls, one on top and one on bottom, to moderate the air flow.  Why?  Air contains the oxygen necessary to complete combustion of the charcoal.  The faster the oxygen supply enters the egg, the faster the burn rate and the hotter the gasses traveling through the chimney.  Close the vents, no fire and no hot.  Open them all the way and get gasket melting heat around 1000F.  Cook somewhere in between.

    Here we diverge a bit depending on the type of cooking.  I won't sear on used lump, period.  There's enough small crap to fill the gaps between the larger pieces that air flow is restricted to the point that the max temperature may not even exceed 450F.  Clean it out, light it up and take a puff...  I light several spots with propane or MAPP gas.

    For low and slow cooling I stir the old lump, top it off mid-way up the fire ring, With a MAPP or Propane torch I light one spot right in the center of the lump, and set the vents for my normal 250F It takes at least an hour for my ceramic and steel to stabilize at 250F; sometimes longer (this is the time for you to inject and season your meat).  Where to set your controls?  Initially I start with the slider closed and the DW full open.  I open the sliding bottom vent as wide as I can with a Dodge 2500 RAM ignition key, plus a tap.  Final results will be about half that for both vents, barring introduction of alcohol into the system.

    I bake sourdough, lasagna, desserts and homemade baked beans at 350F.  That's about an inch open on the bottom door, more or less, and the top slider cracked half open.  I sear steak and bake pizza at 600F-700F, making adjustments to the slider and vent door accordingly.

    Okay, y'll listen up!!!  You sneak up on your cooking temperature from below, never overshooting it.  When you first see your cooking temp on your dome thermometer, turn down the vents a little and go the heck away.  When you've been up to temp for an hour you are ready to start cookin'

    Beware the  opinions of various manufacturers charcoals you read on this forum, the old forum, and particularly the NW database.  Cowboy is one of the most maligned lumps on the Internet.  Yet after the hurricanes of 2004 I was able to buy 5 full pallets from a landlord that Barbecues Galore skipped out on. That 300 20-pound bags of Cowboy burned as good as any lump costing twice the price.  Steve charged me $5 a 20-pound bag which normally sold for about $15, just to get it out of his building.  WIN!!!

    Follow my 'structions to the T and this problem should be history.  Throw away chimneys, starter sticks, and electric voodoo machines ('less your last name is Hendrix), buy a MAPP torch (the kind on a hose is most convenient) and a couple bottles of MAPP gas or propane gas (both work), and get that sucker lit!

    Time for this curmudgeon to return to the dark side.  I'll call you if you need me.
  • Success.....Let's hope I have this figured out. First thing, I used twice as much lump as I normally do.  I used starter cubes and napkins with oil. The starter cubes seemed to work better - I need to read up more on the napkin method.  I removed the plate setter until the fire was good and hot. Because of the recipe, needed the egg hotter than I have been using on previous attempts, getting it up to 400 degrees and got it stabilized there for my cook was pretty easy. I am not sure how easy it would have been to catch the temp on the way up, but that is another issue for next time!  About half way through my cook, I shut down all vents as I had more than enough heat to make it through without more heat. Everything came out perfect to rave reviews. Hopefully we are on the road to redemption. 

    I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks to all who provided input and suggestions. Stay posted for my next low and slow.


    P.S. I checked this morning and still have a majority of the lump left. Seems to be calling to try my egg again....
  • Peter CreaseyPeter Creasey Posts: 253
    edited September 2011

    I clean the ashes from my large BGE every time and make sure the holes are clear.

    Then I reload the BGE with the larger (newer) lump on bottom, then the smaller lump, then the smallest lump on top.  This enhances the air flow.

    . . . . .  Pete

  • BuzzBuzz Posts: 63
    Glad to hear that you are getting better at lighting the Egg.

    You have had a lot of great advice already, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

    First, size matters. It has been my experience that larger chucks of lump light easier and burn more consistently during the cook. Getting a bunch of small, powdery pieces (bottom of the bag) restricts airflow and the first can smother itself in places. I keep my charcoal in a Kingsford bin that I refill as needed. Once in awhile I get down to just powder and tiny bits in the bottom of the bin. I toss that stuff before refilling the bin. Don't know if that has any impact on your lighting problem.

    I do light my charcoal in the grill. I never use a chimney. I've tried different methods - MAPP torch, starter cubes, oiled paper towel, chuck of duraflame log. They all work. My least favorite is direct with the MAPP torch just because I don't like the sparks popping around.

    Second, I prefer to light the grill 45-60 minutes before I want to start cooking, especially if using the platesetter. That gives the fire plenty of time to heat up the grill well and stabilize the temperature.

    About half way through my cook, I shut down all vents as I had more than enough heat to make it through without more heat. Everything came out perfect to rave reviews. Hopefully we are on the road to redemption. 

    In the future, don't shut down the vents with food still cooking. When the fire goes out it may smolder and produce some nasty smoke. You don't want that on your food.

  • I had a lot of frustration with temps when I was using a low grade lump.  I switched to Royal Oak in the red bag that I buy at Walmart and the problem went away.  I use 93% alcohol to start it.  I never remove the old lump, just stir it around and add more if needed.  I only clean out the ash hole once a week.  Be sure to open the bottom vent all the way when getting started, then close it down to get the temp where you want it.  I assume you leave the lid up until the fire is going good.
  • P.S.  .............Never Give Up...........It's not over until I Win !!!!!!!!
  • glad you are on the road to recovery!

    I usually expect a fire made with all new lump to be ready to cook on in 20 minutes, but usually allow closer to 30.  I light the fire and then begin prepping for the cook.  usually about the time I'm ready the fire is ready.

    I want to underscore what the last poster just said about  lump.  it is all different and some take longer to get started than others.  Royal Oak is what I typically use, just make sure the bag says "made in USA"  - they have some South American lump that sparks a lot and will leave ash all over your food.. 

    Cowboy has been good for fast lighting, hotter and faster burning cooks.

    Wecked Good Weekend Warrior is a good lump but it takes longer to get started

  • SqueezySqueezy Posts: 1,102
    Roy, KC Transplant makes a good point. If you use a chimney to start your coals, dump the hot coals from the chimney ON TOP of your bed of new charcoal in the Egg, not the other way around. When I first got my egg I used a chimney and did like you are doing (dumping new charcoal on top of hot coals) and had issues every time. When I started to light the coals In the egg that problem went away. Just saying.

    I do it the same way ... couldn't agree more!
    Never eat anything passed through a window unless you're a seagull ... BGE Lg.
  • You don't have enough charcoal.

    Remember, it is fuel, you can't have a hot fire without enough fuel.

  • WrkWatchrWrkWatchr Posts: 6
    edited September 2011
    Another success...just barely....  I brought the Egg up to 400 degrees and thought I had the fire going good then added the plate setter. I decided to wait and watch as the plate setter and grill got up to temp. When I added the plate setter and shut the lid (top and bottom vents wide open) the temp immediately went down to 200 degrees and almost went out. The temp drop happened in less than 5 minutes. I hurriedly opened the lid and got out my blower and brought the temp back up before the fire went out totally. I brought the temp back up to 400 giving the plate setter plenty of time to get warm/hot before proceeding my cook. 

    After the temp stabilized at 400 I let it sit there for about 15 minutes then started slowly dropping the temp to my desired cooking temp of ~325. I was able to stabilize the temp at 322 in about 15-20 minutes then added my chicken for an hour smoke. After adding the chicken the temp dropped about 5 degrees then slowly came back up and stabilized right where I wanted it gently fluctuating between 317 and 322. After 45 minutes I took a quick peek to see how things were doing and everything was looking good. 

    Dinner came out right on time, cooked perfectly and tasting great. Compliments all around.

    Lessons Learned:

    - Twice as much lump as before
    - Keep Lid Open after adding the plate setter to allow it to come up to temp before getting ready to cook
    - While I know there are lots of guys here that can start cooking after 15-20 minutes, it seems that an hour is a good target to start the fire before the cooking starts
    - Using charcoal start squares seems to work much better than the chimney
    -Used lump still has plenty of cooking left in need to dump out the bottom of the bag
    - Catching the temp "on the way up" is one of the mystic sciences still beyond my meager experience
    - Keep trying....the results are worth the hassle...

  • Roy,

    First off, you're doing what is called "chasing the temp" - it's a bad habit - break that habit.  What that means is that you get all freaked out when your temp drops below, or raises higher than your desired temp. 

    That happens.  Repeat - IT happens.  Nothing to worry about, usually. 

    I used to do the same thing, then I realized that if I want 350, and for whatever reason, the Egg seems to want to stay @ 370, I'll let it stay there instead of wasting time, effort, and getting frustrated trying to get the thermometer to read EXACTLY 350.  The food will cook the same:   15-20 degrees either direction isn't going to amount to that much difference over the duration of the cook. 

    Secondly, the issue w/ the plate setter - I think you need to start approaching the Egg w/ the mindset of a physics teacher, or at least someone who understands the physics involved.  Let's break it down:  you got your Egg up to temp, then put in a HUGE, COLD, piece of ceramic (or whatever material that is) - it's a HEAT sink, and when it is COLD, it will obviously bring the temp of the Egg down (heat moves from hot to cold, according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics). 

    So, the point is that adding the plate setter WILL bring the temp of the Egg down, because it's disrupting the temp balance.  However, give it 15 minutes or so WITHOUT freaking out & running to adjust any of the vents, and I'll bet you see the Egg climb back up to the same temp (or within 10-15 degrees of it) that it was before you put the plate setter in. 

    Also, I would recommend you getting one of these, as you seem to be having WAY more trouble than normal keeping temps:

    I think you need the extra air flow to help you overcome your problems. 

    Also, FWIW, I use this to start my Egg: 

    I put on a pair of welding gloves as it WILL make the coals produce sparks.  Also, keep your face away (just imagine you're using jumper cables - you wouldn't lean in right over the battery for fear of getting splashed w/ battery acid).  I use the torch to light the Egg in 3 places (2 toward the front, slightly to the left & right of the bottom vent, and the third toward the back).  I leave the torch on the desired piece(s) of lump for about 20 seconds each, slowly moving the fire up & down the lump piece.  Then, after I've done that in the 3 different places, I'll put my hand over the coals to make sure I'm feeling heat.  If not, I'll use an old pair of fireplace bellows (similar to these: ). 

    I'll put the tip in the bottom vent & gently move the handles up & down for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, until I'm satisfied I've gotten good air flow).  Then I'll leave the dome up & the bottom vent open & just walk away for about 5-10 minutes, go inside, and do whatever food prep I need. 

    Then, I'll go back out, put in whatever accessories I need (ie, grate, platesetter, etc), shut the dome, put the daisy wheel on the top, and shut the bottom vent to where there's only about 1/2" to an inch of opening on it.  Then I'll go back inside again for another 5-10 minutes. 

    Literally, there have been times where I've gotten involved w/ the food prep & forgotten to go back outside to check on the fire, and the Egg has jumped to 600-700 degrees!!!  If that's the case, then just shut both vents even more (ALMOST all the way, but not quite - you STILL need some airflow). 

    Whether I've overshot the temp or not, I can have the temp I'm looking for (within 10-15 degrees of it) by about 15-20 minutes.  And I've found that that's also about the same amount of time needed to get rid of the "bad" smoke. 

    I know that altitude, humidity, type of lump, etc all play a part, so what works for me might not exactly work for you - but I will say that I believe you're having more trouble than 90% of people, and I think it's because you just haven't gotten the hang of it yet.  Keep at it, experiment with different techniques, keep a log or journal of what works & what doesn't, how long each technique takes to get to temp, etc - and eventually, you'll be on the right track!!! 

    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
  • Tweev - heh... well, he seems to be having a hard time getting to proper temp, so I figured he might need a step-by-step, as some folks need an extra hand in figuring out the "Egg-centricities" of the Egg. 
    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
  • Tweev - this forum doesn't have the "posting OT in the main forum" tradition. 

    And I agree, this is a BBQ forum, and should be about BBQ-ing!! 

    Anyway, WrkWatcher - please let us know how it goes - there are enough ppl here to provide enough assistance to get you to become an EGG-celent BBQ-er!!
    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

  • I always put all my paraphernalia e.g. plate setter, pizza stones, etc., etc. in the BGE immediately after lighting the fire so they can come up to temperature along with the BGE and so they will not crack if suddenly put on a hot fire.

    . . . . .  Pete

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