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Bad charcoal?

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    Bad charcoal?

    I'm using kingsford original and I light according to the instructions. 40 in chimney for 10 mins, dump those in the basket and let burn with lid off for 10 mins, then add wood chunks and lid and let go for another 10 minutes. This is the same approach that I had been using with excellent results. I'm about 800 ft above sea level and my vent is open a little more than a quarter of the way based on previous advice. Cooks were going fine previously and then I started having issues with this new bag of charcoal. The problem is that the charcoal closest to the vent is burning through pretty quickly and the charcoal furthest from the vent doesn't seem to be burning well at all. My last cook I dumped as much of the lit charcoal as I could on the side furthest forum the vent. my temps were down in the 230 range after only 3 hours. Typical I can maintain 270-290 for at least 6 hours. It has been a bit more windy than in the summer and outside temps have been cooler (I'm in michigan). Other than taking out the food and rotating the basket, what are some thoughts to fix the issue? Could it just be that I got a bad bag of charcoal? Thanks in advance!

    #2
    Hey pball,

    I do tend to burn an extreme amount of KBB and have never seen a bad bag but since I buy in bulk I'm sure they all come from the same lot. So it could be but it sound odd.


    What are you cooking in?

    Comment


      #3
      Using the pit barrel cooker. Is that what you were asking or did I totally misinterpret your question?

      Comment


        #4
        Nope that's exactly what I was asking. Sorry if I missed that in your post.

        I can't help much with a PBC, I'm sure the Pit Barrel folks will be able to shed some light on this.

        Ernest , _John_ , fzxdoc , David Parrish and all the rest of the PBC team.....

        Comment


          #5
          Is all of the charcoal burning up more quickly? Or, is it only the fact that you're getting to lower cooking temps more quickly?

          I would bet the weather conditions are having a lot of effect.

          If you are losing the temp, but the charcoal is still there, I'd try starting with a few more coals. If the coals are disappearing more quickly, then you need to start with a few more lit coals, and more unlit coals.

          Even though it's never *cold* in Phoenix, I still go through more charcoal in the cooler winter months than I do in the summertime.

          I've burned a lot of bags of KBB in the last 30 years, and I don't remember ever getting a bag that burned differently.

          Best regards,
          Jim

          Comment


          • psuftball1
            psuftball1 commented
            Editing a comment
            It's the charcoal closest to the vent that seems to be burning up more quickly. Also the charcoal furthest from the vent hasn't seemed to be catching/burning through properly. I'm just confused because this is a recent problem that has occurred my last 3 cooks.

          • David Parrish
            David Parrish commented
            Editing a comment
            If your PBC is maintaining 230F or higher I think things might be normal and you're just running cooler because of the weather.

          #6
          Sounds like an air circulation issue.
          1. Try opening the bottom vent more to get more air in during the cooler weather.

          2. Raise your charcoal basket a little.

          Are you using any type of ash tray under the basket?

          Comment


          • psuftball1
            psuftball1 commented
            Editing a comment
            I have used the PBC ash tray the last two cooks.

          • David Parrish
            David Parrish commented
            Editing a comment
            I don't see how the ash tray could be the problem.

          • Ernest
            Ernest commented
            Editing a comment
            The PBC ashtray should not be an issue. I thought he had a makeshift ashtray.

          #7
          I doubt the charcoal is the issue, but let's think through it. Does it look normal? Has it been exposed to any weather extremes like rain or higher than normal humidity? Is it old? Anything about this bag that's different from bags you usually use?

          Now on to the PBC. Have you moved it to a different spot that might be getting different wind characteristics? How much cooler is it? Has your vent been adjusted? Have you made any changes in your setup?

          Comment


          • psuftball1
            psuftball1 commented
            Editing a comment
            Charcoal looks normal to me and I keep it inside so no extreme weather. It's not too old, maybe a few months. Haven't moved the PBC and have not adjusted the vent. Only thing different is I've used the PBC ash tray 2 of the last 3 cooks. I just feel like the charcoal closest to the vent has been burning more quickly than before. Anywhere from 20-30 degrees cooler than my summer cooks. No other changes to setup that I can think of.

          #8
          Being a creature of habit I set my PBC in pretty much the same spot every time I use it, with the vent facing away from the prevailing breeze. There are so few "moving parts" on a PBC that it's hard to imagine a "circulation issue" unless it's overloaded or something. About the only issues I've had with KBB - heck, any charcoal for that matter - is it's tendency to act like a sponge when exposed to high humidity. Now I live in Los Angeles so that's rarely a problem, and about the only problem I've seen relative to that is a lower temp burn. I do notice that the coals in the basket burn out from vent side to non-vent side which makes sense. I typically can get close to 10 hours burn time on a full load of coals. Think I'd get a new bag and see if that resolves the issues. I've burned lots of KBB and find it very consistent so this is definitely a mystery.

          Comment


            #9
            It could just be the weather conditions. I cooked 3 slabs of baby backs in my kettle this weekend with the Smokenator. I struggled all day long to keep it at 200 and I added lit coals 3 times along with some unlit coals. I've never had that problem before. It was windy but unseasonably warm (in the low '60's). I've used the Smokenator and my 14.5 WSM in far worse conditions and didn't have this kind of trouble. Maybe it's something in the Michigan air (I am from Michigan as well).

            Comment


            • JeffJ
              JeffJ commented
              Editing a comment
              Brighton area. About 20 miles due North of Ann Arbor.

            • psuftball1
              psuftball1 commented
              Editing a comment
              About 40 mins from me.

            • JeffJ
              JeffJ commented
              Editing a comment
              I am about 5 minutes away from I-96.

            #10
            psuftball1 , I also doubt that it could be your charcoal if storage conditions have been the same. I store my charcoal in big Rubbermaid containers in the garage and don't have a problem with it.

            I often monitor the temperature on both sides of the PBC especially for a long cook. I find that the side closest to the vent can easily run 20 to 50 degrees hotter than the side away from the vent for the first 3 to 5 hours of the cook, depending on how loaded the PBC is, and then the situation reverses, with the side away from the vent slowly taking precedence, temperaturewise, and eventually running 30 or more degrees hotter from then on.

            The PBC is such an efficient cooker that this does not bother me. However, I always hang the larger pieces of meat closer to the vent for long cooks.

            For short cooks, I find it's not uncommon to have the charcoal toward the vent more thoroughly burned by the end of the cook.

            I don't have the PBC ash pan (yet) and use double layers of heavy duty aluminum foil to catch the ash. My ash catcher is on its way, though, so I'll have fun with my next long cook as I see how it affects the temperatures, if at all.

            About the vent, I'm with Ernest and other PBC users who say that its position is not too critical once it's opened enough. I'm at 3700 feet altitude and it should be half open. I often run it 3/4 open and don't notice a difference. However, below 1/2, and I definitely see the effects of a starved fire.

            Kathryn

            Comment


              #11
              After considering my recent experience in light of the other comments I'm really thinking this is wind-related.

              I just did my first PBC cook. I followed standard recommendations for lighting. All started out fine, with temp holding around 290-300. Then a very brisk wind kicked up and the temp gradually dropped to 160. The charcoal was 75% consumed after only 4 hours, and what was left was not burning well. I rescued the cook with half a chimney load of pre-lit briquettes, but definitely not the "hands free" cook I'm looking for from the PBC. Looking forward to getting to know this beast.

              Tim

              Comment


              • tongatim
                tongatim commented
                Editing a comment
                Still thinking the wind has a strong influence. Cooked 6 racks of ribs yesterday. No wind. Temp held steady at 270-290 with very little attention.

              • JeffJ
                JeffJ commented
                Editing a comment
                I've experienced wind problems in past cooks. I frequently use my 14.5 WSM on the front porch because it provides quite a bit of shelter from the wind.

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