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Lighting Lump at high(ish) altitude w/o sparks

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    Lighting Lump at high(ish) altitude w/o sparks

    Kinda specific - scenario is a private property deep inside national forest that just burned and this weekend was our first shot at getting in for two months. Still open flames all around, kinda weird and we don’t want to contribute to future burns! Our discussion was how to get stubborn lump lit w/o a fan or otherwise inducing a lot of sparks. Elevation is 5500 do it can be a little stubborn. Any ideas welcome.

    First thing that came to mind

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      First thing that came to mind is don’t do it.


      • Steve B
        Steve B commented
        Editing a comment
        My thoughts exactly.

      • bbqLuv
        bbqLuv commented
        Editing a comment

      But I suppose I should clarify: you want to start a fire in a high-risk burn zone that has active fires within several miles?? And the authorities are okay with it?


      • rickgregory
        rickgregory commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm more in the 'you want to be in a forest with active fires???' camp


      A simple way to start a fire is to use cotton balls loaded with petroleum jelly, cheap and easy. Self-lighting charcoal works well too.
      I would not go into an area with active fires, nor would I start or use any open flames. Common sense, no?

      First, check with the officials in your area for fire restrictions, etc.


        Originally posted by zero_credit View Post
        But I suppose I should clarify: you want to start a fire in a high-risk burn zone that has active fires within several miles?? And the authorities are okay with it?
        Not even close. We are obeying all current restrictions, but will be using lump in the future and want to avoid sparks.


        • rickgregory
          rickgregory commented
          Editing a comment
          What does "Not even close" refer to here? That Zero isn't close in their characterization or that authorities aren't ok with this?

          To answer your question I'd a) consider use briquettes instead and b) if you insist on lump, put a lid on the cooker. (and if they don't want to light, use weber cubes or the like)

          But honestly, if the conditions are such that sparks present a real fire risk why even take that risk?
          Last edited by rickgregory; September 8, 2021, 09:35 AM.

        Just wrap your meat in foil and walk it on over to the forest fire to cook.
        High altitude barbecue takes special skills. Everything I’ve cooked at the Lake Tahoe level took twice the time it does at sea level. Perhaps a DigiQ blower would be helpful while cooking.


          I've observed many more sparks when I dump the bottom of the bag into the chimney starter. This leads me to conclude that most of the sparks come from the fine pieces and dust which accumulate at the bag bottom. You could sift your lump before putting it into the standard chimney and reduce the sparking immensely. But it will still spark and will need countermeasures if you proceed.

          I'm guessing you may not have electricity there because of the recent burns and general remoteness. If so, I would bring a bottle of nitrous oxide (NOS), like that used for engine power adder, and using a tiny orifice, would gently release it at the bottom of the starter. This would add extra oxygen to compensate for the altitude and hasten the spread of the fire (inside the starter).

          Lastly, I would use the chimney starter only once and transfer the coals to a fire pit to which you could add more fuel in small amounts, periodically, to reduce the amount of fuel starting at any one time. Then you could shovel from the coal bed into your cooker. This would also be a good time to transition to logs in the fire pit, using the lump only once to get it going. Hardwood logs should not throw as many sparks.
          Last edited by Bruceski44; September 8, 2021, 08:36 AM.


          • tbob4
            tbob4 commented
            Editing a comment
            I agree with this. I have had some lump that was really "sparky" from the chimney. I have started with briquettes, emptied the chimney and then gone with lump on top.

          I use either Weber wax cubes or cotton balls soaked with 90+% isopropyl alcohol. Whatever you choose, be safe!


            Personally I think you either need to avoid dumping from the bag of lump, to avoid the small pieces that cause sparks, or use briquettes instead. I am pretty shocked they actually allow charcoal grills in a fire zone at all. I used to have a Weber Go-Anywhere propane grill that was handy for camping when I couldn't use charcoal.



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