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The Kamado Is A Chimney!

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  • CeramicChef
    Former Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 1184
    • OKC, OK

    The Kamado Is A Chimney!

    I thought I’d get your attention with this title! It certainly beats “Theory of the Kamado”, right? But at the end of the day, every single kamado is nothing more than a chimney, just like the fireplace you have at home.

    The kamado has been around for about 4 millennia and goes back to ancient China and India. Kamados came to be known in America and the rest of the world after WW II when servicemen brought them home from their tours in Japan. Now for the theory and basic operation of the kamado. We need to know why and how any BBQ cooker and kamados in particular work if we’re to understand their behavior.

    Now kamados come in many brands, but irrespective of brand every kamado operates in the same basic way. I don’t care if you’re cooking on the Char Griller Akorn or any of the top of the line Komodo Kamados, every kamado operates the same. They are all nothing more than chimneys. They all burn air and the rate of the burn, and hence heat produced manifested as temperature, is controlled by controlling the amount of air available for being converted to CO2.


    You need 3 things for a fire: fuel, heat, and oxygen. If any one of those 3 is absent, there is no fire. Period. End of conversation. So let’s look at each one turn.
    Fuel. Fire requires something that will sustain the fire. Fire needs to have something to consume. That something is fuel. In kamados that fuel is some form of carbon. Carbon can take to form of wood, lump charcoal, or briquettes for our purposes. Carbon is, in the presence of heat and Oxygen, converted to CO2 and heat. It is that heat that cooks our food in the kamado.
    Heat. Heat is required to sustain the chemical reaction that converts carbon and oxygen to CO2. Thus heat is a necessary component to burning anything and it is a by product of any conversion of carbon and oxygen to CO2. Think about this for a moment: charcoal is in contact with air all the time, but without heat, nothing is going to happen. Charcoal will sit on your patio in a bag forever in the presence of air and absolutely nothing is going to happen.
    Oxygen. Oxygen is the most important component of the air we breathe. No oxygen, no life as we know it! Oxygen compromises about 21% of air, nitrogen about 78% and the remainder are other gases. It is the oxygen in air that reacts with carbon in the presence of heat that produces more heat that we need for cooking. Control the airflow into your kamado and you control the temperature.

    Okay, chemistry class is over. So basically what do we know at this point? Kamados are chemical reactors converting carbon and oxygen to CO2 and throwing off heat. That heat helps maintain the reaction of carbon and oxygen. The amount of heat produced is manifested as temperature.

    Now I told you the kamado, irrespective of brand, is nothing more than a chimney and they all operate . Here’s what I mean: the chimney in your house draws air in at the bottom, air comes in contact with burning logs and in a reaction, the oxygen combines with the carbon in the logs, produces heat and CO2, and the CO2 exits out the top of the chimney. So too with your kamado albeit in a little more sophisticated way! Air is drawn into the kamado through the bottom vent, that air contacts burning lump and the oxygen in the air reacts with the burning lump producing heat and CO2. The CO2 exits the kamado out the top vent. See? Your Akorns, Big Green Eggs, Komodo Kamados, and every other brand of kamado are nothing more than chimneys.

    So I hope you understand that know just a little theory yields great dividends. Every single kamado ever made over the last 4,000 years works exactly as every other kamado and they are all chimneys. Knowing just a little theory can be very profitable. I told a buddy who just loved my pulled pork and ribs that I cooked on my Primo Oval XL that it wasn’t the cooker, it was the cook. He bet me $1000 i couldn’t cook as well on a cheaper kamado. To prove my point and win the bet, I made a kamado out of 2 large ceramic pots, expanded metal, and with my Dremel cut out openings for a top and bottom vent. I cooked a pork butt and some ribs in that contraption and it was the hit of the party watching him pay up. I donated that money to a local charity! Theory isn't something abstract but can actually be quite profitable!

    Questions? Comments? Thoughts?
    Last edited by CeramicChef; May 14, 2016, 06:22 PM.
  • boftx
    Founding Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 852
    • Las Vegas, NV
    • CharGriller Pro COS
      Oklahoma Joe COS
      Maverick 732 thermometer
      Red Thermapen
      Favorite beer: Scotch

      I know I make damn good BBQ cause my 3 dogs have NEVER said no to it. (OTOH, my 13yr old says no to just about everything, except my ribs.)

    #2
    This applies to ALL cookers. One of the reasons I love using a COS as a stick-burner is that if I can master that I can cook on anything. Granted, I cooked for a LONG time without benefit of modern thermometers, but now that we have them the type of cooker is almost irrelevant.

    Comment

    • Jerod Broussard
      Moderator
      • Jun 2014
      • 10003
      • East Texas
      • Pit Barrel Cooker "Texas Brisket Edition"
        Weber One Touch Premium Copper 22" Kettle (gift)
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        B & B and Kingsford Charcoal
        B & B Pellets

      #3
      Nice write up. Now I just need help detaching a garbage disposal and that has a really high amount of broken glass in it.

      Comment


      • Jon Solberg
        Jon Solberg commented
        Editing a comment
        Twist it off : )

      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        Heck no, I can suck it out.

      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        That sucks!
    • martybartram
      Former Member
      • Apr 2016
      • 460
      • Vass, NC

      #4
      Well written CeramicChef! I was actually going to build a smoker that way myself and then I learned about the SNS and that sold me on going back to my roots and the Weber

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for the compliment! I appreciate it.

      • martybartram
        martybartram commented
        Editing a comment
        You are very welcome
    • Skip
      Founding Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 3833
      • Blue Earth, Minnesota
      • LSG Adjustable Grill/Smoker, MAK Pellet Grill, Large BGE, Weber Gasser, Cast Iron Pans & Griddle, Grill Grates, Mostly Thermoworks Thermometers

      #5
      Good job CeramicChef . Thanks for the post.

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        You're very welcome, Skip. I do appreciate the feedback.
    • Thunder77
      Founding Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 2876
      • Halethorpe, MD
      • Weber 26.75" Kettle with SnS. Broil King Baron 5 burner. Akorn Kamado, and Akorn Jr kamado. Primo Oval Junior. Love grilling steaks, ribs, and chicken. Need to master smoked salmon Favorite cool weather beer: Sam Adams Octoberfest Favorite warm weather beer: Yuengling Traditional Lager All-time favorite drink: Single Malt Scotch

      #6
      Nicely Done. Do you have any pictures of the cheap kamado you built? Love to see that.

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        No, unfortunately I don't. I wish I did, but all I did was go to Lowe's buy some big ceramic flower pots and get after it. It was so basic I didn't think to take pics. That was before the days of smart phones.
    • Histrix
      Club Member
      • May 2016
      • 475
      • 757

      #7
      All enclosed cookers that require oxygen for combustion are basically "chimneys".

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        Right you are. Unfortunately, many folks new to the kamado are intimidated. I'm just trying to make everything a little less daunting to some who either have a kamado or are considering one.
    • billg71
      Charter Member
      • May 2015
      • 401
      • Acworth, GA
      • Komodo Kamado 22" Supreme
        PK Grill
        Weber Genesis S-330
        Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center
        Weber Go Anywhere charcoal portable(my oldest Weber)
        Maverick 732
        Tappecue
        ThermaChef
        ThermaWorks Smoke
        Thermapens

      #8
      Great intro, CeramicChef ! How is this going to be organized? Into one thread with chapters or into several threads? Can this be stuck to the top of the forum?

      Looking forward to the next topic, thanks for putting the time into this.

      Bill

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        billg71 - thanks for the feedback and that's a very good question. I think that based on the number of followers, the number of posts, etc., something will evolve. I also think that making posts stickies is up to the Moderating Team.
    • Breadhead
      Banned Former Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 0

      #9
      That's a great start CeramicChef ... Well done.👍

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        Breadhead - coming from you, that is high praise. Thanks!
    • Spinaker
      Moderator
      • Nov 2014
      • 10997
      • Land of Tonka
      • John "J R"
        Instagram: JRBowlsby
        Smokin' Hound Que
        Minnesota/ United States of America

        ********************************************
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        ******************.
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      #10
      CeramicChef

      Thank You for putting this up and getting the ball moving. As I told you before, I have really gotten into Kamado cooking this past year. I have had mine for 3 1/2 years but this last year was when I really have got to know her. I think what changed the game for me was the implementation of the heat deflector. This made all the difference in the world in my cooks. Kamados hold so much moisture, that I was losing out on bark because of my water pan. This was the main reason why I didn't cook on it much. I needed drier heat!! This is also the reason I got a PBC (partially, also wanted capacity). As soon as a I moved the water out and put in the thick deflector plate, I was making the best ribs I have ever made in my life. Not to mention a lot of other great meals. I have expanded to making pizza and placing a wok in the cooker for some stir fry!!

      I can't wait to see how this thread develops. I am looking forward to learning a lot from you and the rest of the Kamado Community.

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        Spinaker - thanks for the feedback.

        You are very right in that kamados hold moisture and that water pans are really unnecessary. Remind me to write the thread about Hold Overs From Other Cookers.

        Glad you got your heat deflectors. We'll also do a thread on Necessary Accessories.
    • fuzzydaddy
      Charter Member
      • Nov 2014
      • 4974
      • Winchester TN
      • Hardware
        Blackstone 36” Griddle.
        Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado & Kettle Grill.
        Slow 'N Sear (1.0, Deluxe, 2.0).
        DnG Pans/Racks, Easy Spin Grates, Elevated Cooking Grates.
        Weber Chimney Starters (regular and compact).
        Joule, Instant Accu Slim.
        GrillGrates.
        Maverick XR-50 [my favorite].
        ThermoWorks Smoke & Gateway, Thermapen, Thermapop, ChefAlarms, DOT, probes

        Consumables / Favorites
        KBB (short cooks), Weber (long cooks), B&B Hardwood Briquettes when I'm out of Weber.
        Ribs (beef & pork), Pork Butts, Chuck Roasts, Pork Tenderloins, Shrimp, Fajitas.
        SnS Grills salt free rubs: Not Just for Beef & Rocky’s Rub.
        MeatChurch Holy Cow. MMD, BBBR, S&G, Herbs de Provence, SPG.

      #11
      Thank you CeramicChef for an excellent write up to get things started. Much appreciated.

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        fuzzydaddy - Your comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    • Strat50
      Former Member
      • Nov 2014
      • 511
      • Houston, Alaska

      #12
      One of the most influential effects of a kamado (except my Akorn) has not really been mentioned. This is the thermal mass of the ceramic structure of most kamados. Many will say that the ceramic structure of there kamado helps to insulate the inside from outside. This is incorrect. What the ceramic shell DOES do, is to provide a modest thermal break from the outside air temps. As ceramic is a poor insulator, it can't really "insulate" the inside from the outside , but it doesn't really need to. The inside layer heats up, the outside radiates the heat outward, but at a slower rate than, say steel(for example).The ceramic "stores" heat, which results in the even cooking that kamado lovers enjoy. However, there is a balance between temperature differentials of the inside and outside. For most cooks, this differential is inconsequential, but, from a thermodynamic sense, the greater the temp differential, the more fuel one uses, just like any cooker. This thermal mass effect is why we use pizza stones in our rigs, for example. This is why brick ovens are so great too!

      Now, if one looks at rigs like the Akorn, there are 2 layers of metal, with an insulation layer between. The reason the Akorn can't quite compete with the ceramic cookers(from a certain point of view, that is), is that there is little thermal mass in the cookers inside, which lowers the efficiency somewhat. The moisture retention of the ceramic material comes into play too. The steel interior of the Akorn retains little or no moisture. Again, this is a pretty small deal that is easily dealt with depending on how the cook is planned and executed. However, the thermal break in the Akorn is quite good, meaning it's easy to cook with, and is effective. Understand, this is not a "my rig is better than yours" type of thing here. Just a "why this cheap thing works" kind of deal. The keg cookers, by the way, fall somewhere in-between, depending on the cooker etc..

      The convection effect that kamados possess, combined with the thermal mass and, lastly, the tight seal is what makes them so damn good for many types of cooks. Kamados, like many different cooker types from Asia, were designed to get maximum efficiency from the least fuel, relative to the ambient climate. As fuel is in shorter supply in these areas; and with little to work with but the clay earth, kamados are a triumph in culinary engineering. What all this means, is that sociology, engineering, and culinary arts combine by necessity(which is the mother of invention).

      A chimney? Yeah, that part is technically true, but, in a meaningful sense, a kamado is just an oven that also transports smokey flavors to whatever is being cooked. This concept is a bit over-simplified, but you all get the drift here. Long and slow cooks equate to a deeper smoke flavor. Short(er) cooks equate to less smoke in the flavor, but for these faster cooked foods, less smoke is OK and encouraged(think pizza, bread) . Just like many other cookers. What I love about kamados, is that I can go from low and slow, to baking bread, and then to turbo heat for searing.

      OK, enough for now. I need some sleep(13 hour shift in the heat). I welcome any questions, comments, and debates.

      I do have a kamado design I want to build that accentuates the kamado's strengths, but would be too expensive to buy(although a good DIY person could accomplish it easily).

      Whew! Time for bed.....

      Comment


      • CeramicChef
        CeramicChef commented
        Editing a comment
        WHEW! Strat50 - remind me when we get to talking about thermal mass to cut and paste this post. We really need to discuss thermal mass, heat soaking, etc. and this post of yours is a very good start, especially at 3:00 AM! Hope you slept well.

      • Spinaker
        Spinaker commented
        Editing a comment
        My keg has a ton of moisture inside. Even without a water pan, I still have tons of moisture in the cook chamber. But I've never ran a Ceramic, so I can't compare. Strat50

      • Strat50
        Strat50 commented
        Editing a comment
        What I mean by moisture is "usable" moisture. In other words, moisture that stays in a steam/vapor state, not condensing on the sides of the cooker. Ceramic, being porous, will hold moisture till the ambient humidity drops, wherein that moisture gets released where it is usable.
    • CeramicChef
      Former Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 1184
      • OKC, OK

      #13
      Meathead Maniacs - When I posted this, I realized that it was awfully dense and maybe a bit long winded. For that I apologize. I"ll try and include more pictures to illustrate points in the future. I'm not the greatest when I comes to editing pics and adding annotations, but this should get me to the next level.

      Thanks for all the kind comments. I do appreciate them greatly.

      Comment

      • MBMorgan
        Club Member
        • Sep 2015
        • 6637
        • Colorado
        • > Weber Genesis EP-330
          > Grilla Grills Original Grilla (OG) pellet smoker
          > Pit Barrel Cooker (gone to a new home)
          > WeberQ 2000 (on "loan" to a relative)
          > Old Smokey Electric (for chickens mostly - when it's too nasty out
          to fiddle with a more capable cooker)
          > Luhr Jensen Little Chief Electric - Top Loader circa 1990 (smoked fish & jerky)
          > Thermoworks Smoke
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          > Searzall torch
          > BBQ Guru Rib Ring

        #14
        Originally posted by CeramicChef View Post
        Meathead Maniacs - When I posted this, I realized that it was awfully dense and maybe a bit long winded. For that I apologize. I"ll try and include more pictures to illustrate points in the future. I'm not the greatest when I comes to editing pics and adding annotations, but this should get me to the next level.

        Thanks for all the kind comments. I do appreciate them greatly.
        Neither dense nor long winded (although pics would indeed add a lot) ... just very well written! Keep up the good work ...

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          Mbmorgan - Thanks for your time giving me feedback. I learned how to be clear and concise years ago back in Engineering School. Those Profs were ruthless with the red ink. Brevity is said to be the soul of wit. Brevity was required for an A!
      • Thunder77
        Founding Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 2876
        • Halethorpe, MD
        • Weber 26.75" Kettle with SnS. Broil King Baron 5 burner. Akorn Kamado, and Akorn Jr kamado. Primo Oval Junior. Love grilling steaks, ribs, and chicken. Need to master smoked salmon Favorite cool weather beer: Sam Adams Octoberfest Favorite warm weather beer: Yuengling Traditional Lager All-time favorite drink: Single Malt Scotch

        #15
        I thought it was very well done. Obviously a lot of thought went into it. Being of a technical mind, I understand the science, but it is good to have a refresher. My main problem with kamados is available cooking space vs cost. I have seen the price tag on a used XL BGE, and I was floored! I'm not saying they aren't worth the cost; they are just beyond my price range. Perhaps there may be an Akorn for Fathers Day. Who knows?

        Brevity is also prized in technical writing, and I have been anything but brief! Anyway, Well done! I look forward to follow up posts.

        Comment


        • CeramicChef
          CeramicChef commented
          Editing a comment
          jgjeske1 - thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it. As for the cost/cooking area, I think you're looking at a kamado unidimensionally . The kamado is a most versatile cooker; it's a grill, smoker, roasting oven, baking oven, etc. When looked at in that vein, it becomes very cost effective, IMO.

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