Lighting the kamado

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Mike Fuson
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Lighting the kamado

Postby Mike Fuson » Thu May 23, 2019 4:08 pm

I just got a big joe and have done a couple racks of ribs and one steak. So I am very new. My question is about lighting. Manual says to light the charcoal and let it burn for a while with the lid open, if I do that it’s hot and kinda hard to put the heat deflectors in and then it takes a while to bring the temp back down to 250 to smoke. I’ve been watching a guy on YouTube and he fills the box up with charcoal and lights a couple fire starters and immediately puts the oak and heat deflectors in and let’s it come up to the 250 mark. I worry about that method not getting the charcoal burning good for the long haul but it seems easier. What’s the correct way?
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby woodenvisions » Thu May 23, 2019 6:26 pm

Hey there Mike,

I don't have a Joe but have a simaliar type of smoker/cooker.
All I can say is that I do exactly like the YouTube guy.
Its ALWAYS easier to slowly raise temps than it is to lower them in Kamados.

I would light the coals/lump and keep the lid fully open, get the needle to move a bit and close the lid and work the vents open slowly.
This works for me but may not for others so its pretty much trial and error.

Good luck man
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Mike Fuson » Thu May 23, 2019 7:47 pm

Thanks for the reply woodenvisions. Here is part of my problem, and maybe all of it. I own a cabinet shop and I thought I don’t need those little fire starters if I have a cabinet shop I’ll just use some scrap. The wood don’t burn long enough to really get the charcoal burning good. I’m doing a brisket right now and I put some scrap wood in the bottom and charcoal on top and lit it and put everything in order and put the brisket on. Couple hours into the cook the temp began to go down. I had to take it off and the charcoal never did get to burning good. I let it burn for a while this time before putting it back on. I’ll order some starters tonight...
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby woodenvisions » Thu May 23, 2019 9:47 pm

Mike Fuson wrote:Thanks for the reply woodenvisions. Here is part of my problem, and maybe all of it. I own a cabinet shop and I thought I don’t need those little fire starters if I have a cabinet shop I’ll just use some scrap. The wood don’t burn long enough to really get the charcoal burning good. I’m doing a brisket right now and I put some scrap wood in the bottom and charcoal on top and lit it and put everything in order and put the brisket on. Couple hours into the cook the temp began to go down. I had to take it off and the charcoal never did get to burning good. I let it burn for a while this time before putting it back on. I’ll order some starters tonight...
Ok so here is " my " opinion regarding this.
Like I said I'm not familiar with the Joes, but I'm pretty sure that you can use " Lump " charcoal in it, and might actually be recommended.
If so, pick your preference on brand. Lots of us on here use different brands and to each his own, but I've Always had great luck with Royal Oak Lump.
Not only does it burn hotter than regular Charcoal but imho it burns longer and the best part is that you can re-light any unused Lump for the next cook.
You are probably losing your fire because of a combination of too low of a temp and the coals not hot enough for the vent settings.
Firestarters are good and I've used them but if you get urself a weed burner you can select different " fire spots " almost instantly.
You should be able to fill ur basket up All of the way and light 3 or 4 different spots and after you get them lit, close your lid and open both top and bottom vents all of the way till u hit about 175/200 degrees and then shut them both to where you can maintain that low temp you want without snuffing out the fire.
Again, the Joe is foreign to me but I know for me to run 250 degrees, the top vent has an opening of ( maybe ) 1/8" and the bottom about a 1/4" - 5/16" .
If I try to close in on 225 it's hit or miss on weather I lose or keep the fire.

And to be completely honest, I have a hard time believing that the meat or even the person eating the meat knows the difference between 225 and 250...
I would seriously get a weed burner and some Lump and try that.
Baskets are great as well and I have one but the Embers scare the you know what out of me.
Hopefully that helps.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby egghead » Thu May 23, 2019 10:46 pm

Señor Wood gives excellent advice. I have 3 Big Green Eggs and have only used lump for 14 years - burns hotter and less ash than briquettes. I’ve used many different brands of lump but have used Royal Oak the most followed by B&B, and Best of the West. BTW - The lump comments and debates on Some sites are boring.

There are so many ways to light the lump:
Starter cubes
Electric starter
Alcohol swabs (I haven’t tried that)
Weed burner
Map gas
Twisted up napkin that has been drizzled with cooking oil

I have gravitated to Mapp gas - lots of folks use Mapp gas or weed burners.

I also agree with the you tube dude. I set the vents for the temp I want (learning curve here), light in three places, and close the dome. Give time for the bad smoke to go away and start cooking. I allow around 30 minutes for the egg to be ready.

Good luck with it amigo.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Chasdev » Fri May 24, 2019 7:24 am

Just have to ask, are your wood scraps straight up wood with no chemical treatment whatsoever?
Also, is it smoking wood like oak or pecan or hickory, cherry, apple or some other non food flavoring wood like pine?
I've been driving my Kamado for a few years and have used regular charcoal briquets and lump.
My favorite lump is FOGO, my least favorite is Cowboy, both judged based on the taste of the meat.
I use those nest fire starters, place one in a cardboard tube like what's left from a roll of paper towels, with the nest at the end of the tube place the tube in the center of the fire grate and build a volcano of lump around the tube, building it all the way up until it almost reaches the underside of the deflector.
Remove the cardboard tube and light the nest with a long nose lighter then drop a few pieces of lump on top of the burning nest.
Let it burn for five minutes, add whatever wood chunks if any around the perimeter, place all the plates and grates you are going to use and close the lid leaving all the vents wide open.
When the internal temp reaches about 25 degrees below your target temp place the meat and start to shut down the vents.
I also moved on to a blower type temp controller, and I highly recommend them, mine being the cheapest one, the "PartyQ" brand.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Mike Fuson » Fri May 24, 2019 10:21 pm

I am using lump charcoal. Kamado Joe brand. The scrap wood from my shop that I used to start the fire was kiln dried maple, it was only used to start the charcoal burning but it’s clearly not the best way.
Woodvisions when you say weed pot I assume you’re talking about one of those chimney cans?
Another question, when do you put your smoking wood in? The YouTube guy puts the starter cube in and the hickory chunks in also and then lights. In my mind the smoking wood is just going to burn up while the grill is coming up to temp? To my understanding charcoal is supposed to burn and turn white and then it’s ready to use? So what’s confusing me is if you start the fire and open the vents like for smoking at 250 then the grill is going to reach that temp before the charcoal has burned and turned white? Plus the smoking wood would done be burned up. That’s the way the YouTube guy does it though and he makes great looking meat. I’ve got to be misunderstanding something somewhere.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby egghead » Fri May 24, 2019 10:53 pm

Señor Wood said weed burner. A torch hooked up to a propane tank. Like this one:

https://www.acehardware.com/departments ... es/7135882

Load the lump, tuck the wood chunks away in several spots, light the lump in three locations away from the wood chunks, set the vents for desired temp, close the dome and come back to check the temps in about 20 minutes. Make a small vent adjustment if necessary. Should have clear or light blue smoke in about 10 more minutes.

There’s a learning curve but it’s all good.

Good luck with it.
Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of congress; but I repeat myself - Mark Twain
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Mike Fuson » Sat May 25, 2019 8:11 am

Thanks egghead, I’ll give that a try.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby dub' » Sat May 25, 2019 10:38 am

gave up on starter cubes and gel. just use 1/4 chimney of lit smaller lump bits scattered
across a full belly of stacked&sorted lump charc (Big chunks on bottom-smaller on top) with foil wrapped
smokewood chunks towards the middle of the pile. Lights the top just fine and follows KISS protocol.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Chasdev » Sat May 25, 2019 11:06 am

I don't like the chemicals that come off the foil when it heats up.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Professor Bunky » Tue May 28, 2019 1:56 pm

I've been having some problems similar to Mike's with my Kamander Kamado. With my last cook (ribs), the temp started dropping after 2-3 hrs, even with fully opening up the vents. So I had to stir up the coals a bit to get it back on track. (Note to WV: this was after I added a new gasket to the rim of the cover base)

I'm guessing that I don't have the charcoal pile set up right and/or I didn't use enough fire starter squares. I may try Chasdev's technique next time or Egghead's weed burner.

Also, is there any problem using good quality briquette instead of lump, other than more ash?

Thanks guys and good luck, Mike.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby egghead » Tue May 28, 2019 3:22 pm

I’m not familiar with a Kamander but I assume it has an upper and lower vent. Chances are you had an Air flow problem. In a BGE there is a lower grate that the lump sits on that can get somewhat clogged with ash. If that is the case a simple coat hanger bent into and “L” shape can be used to clear the bottom grate.

There are folks that say the ceramic can absorb chemicals that are used to bind briquettes - I don’t know about that but why use briquettes when lump burns hotter, generates less ash, and can be lit again after sniffing out.

Good luck
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Professor Bunky » Tue May 28, 2019 4:43 pm

Thanks, Egghead.
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Re: Lighting the kamado

Postby Russ » Tue May 28, 2019 7:29 pm

It's great to see everybody helping another cook progress. Great bunch of people here. :salut: :salut: :salut:

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