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Adjusting the top vs. the bottom vent? What's the reason for adjusting one over the other?


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@kamado mofoFor smoking on the Akorn, you'll likely get the smokiest flavor when smoking at 275F in my experience.  I try to settle my Akorn around 235F after throwing on cold meat.  By the end of the cook, the thermometer should be reading 260-275F.  Any temp between 225-275F is going to result in tasty BBQ.  Akorn is usually happiest around 250F as far as stability is concerned.

 

@KaliforniaI generally set the bottom vent and make small adjustments to the top vent.  When your down in the low and slow range, it takes very little on the top vent to raise or lower temps after you set the bottom where you know it will work (for me, just covering the screw or roughly .75, top vent at .9 typically)

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  • 2 weeks later...

One other thing I've noticed is that the shape of the fire can make a difference.  If you set your charcoal bed in a volcano form, with a clear center passage, the grill is more sensitive to the vent settings, and you generally need smaller openings.  If you have a full, dense coal bed, especially if the pieces are smaller (end of bag), the grill seems to need wider damper settings.  I don't have evidence, but I would suspect that it will also more susceptible to temperature spiking on long cooks if a clear air path opens up through the coals.  Perhaps others can expand on this.

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  • 1 year later...

I know this topic is old, but Loremaster72's Question about shape of fire is quite interesting. Has anyone made similar experiences?

 

I have been trying to see what is the minimum amount of charcoal that I can use for a quick lunch steak grill. and wonder how volcano shaped or spread out banked piles can focus heat and how that in turn influences effectiveness of top &bottom venting.

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2 hours ago, cswschweiz said:

I know this topic is old, but Loremaster72's Question about shape of fire is quite interesting. Has anyone made similar experiences?

 

I have been trying to see what is the minimum amount of charcoal that I can use for a quick lunch steak grill. and wonder how volcano shaped or spread out banked piles can focus heat and how that in turn influences effectiveness of top &bottom venting.

I keep my fire box chuck full even for a short cook like your lunch steak. Once you finish cooking and shut down your kamado the fire will be extinguished by the lack of oxygen. What remains is burnable charcoal dusted with some ash. Not much is lost. I just keep topping off the load. Personally I think techniques like the volcano, ring of fire, and such are more adaptable for use in a traditional smoker. In the contained and sealed environment of a kamado I don't think the shape or configuration of your charcoal really matters all that much. I just load it up way past the air holes and keep it that way. Having a charcoal basket really helps because you can lift it, shake it, and then add new  charcoal to the burnable charcoal that is left. 

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Keeperovdaflame. Thanks for posting your thoughts so quickly! 

We are new to kamado grilling and have not yet experienced being able to shut down a full loaded grill and keep usable charcoal.  I think we've only done the full shut down on small amounts and it all burned through.  We will have to try it tonight with some sausages!  Thanks again for your perspective!

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Cswschweiz, you will find that, if you immediately close both the top and the bottom vents at the conclusion of your "cook," you will be left with a substantial amount of unburned charcoal.  For my "junior," I simply let it fall into the bottom pan, remove the pan, and pour it back into the charcoal bag for next time.  It's really surprising how little charcoal is consumed ... I think that this is because of the "convection oven" nature of the grill itself.  The meat is mostly cooked by recirculating hot air, not by radiant heat from the coals as in a "Smokey Joe."

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