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Hi All, My wife bought me a Kamado last week for my birthday, I have been smoking on offsets for years..But never used one of these. Can anyone give me some ideas on what best method to use for a fire, I usually use the Minion method but not sure if it will work on this!  And any other info you want to throw at me would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!!!

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This best advice I could give start with some dry runs. Get yourself a good bag of lump charcoal.

There is a wealth of information on here. Learn where your vents need to be for all the major cooking temps.

Cooking on kamados takes practice. If you want to add wood. I recommend chucks. I usually take sticks (size of what you would use in the offset) and cut them into chunks with my circular saw

I just fill the fire bowl and get a propane torch and light the middle for about 5 mins. Leave the vents open full for 5 more and start adjusting to your target temp. I will adjust the top vent and then later adjust the bottom.

Don't overshoot your target temp b/c it's very hard to bring back down.

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Welcome Hillman. So your wife decides to buy you the RR of kamados for your Birthday? Better treat her nice and smoke her up her favorite and ASAP. As for how to light a kamado it depends on if you're gonna do a low and slow or a hot fire for rotisserie or pizza. For either one you fill er up and for low and slow light a starter cube in the middle or with MAP or whatever. If you want a fast hot fire then you start it in several locations. Those that have KKs from what I gather like to use the coco lump for low and slow then add some wood chunks for the smoke flavor. Do tell which model she got you and the color (pebble or tile). Smoke on.

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Hi All, My wife bought me a Kamado last week for my birthday, I have been smoking on offsets for years..But never used one of these. Can anyone give me some ideas on what best method to use for a fire, I usually use the Minion method but not sure if it will work on this!  And any other info you want to throw at me would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!!!

Welcome to Kamado Guru and welcome to The Addiction!

Please forget you ever even knew a word Minion. You'll never need it with your kamado. It's nothing but a PITA for kamado cookers. Forget about briquettes. They leave too much ash. Get a good lump. I use FOGO and for my money it's unparalleled. It burns hot, has a great size distribution (75%+ XL and L pieces), is dense, has a barely noticeable aroma, leaves behind very little ash, and has no foreign rocks, concrete, metal or plastic. It's 100% pure lump. You won't find better.

Buy 1 and only 1 bag of cheap lump. Royal Oak will do just fine for the purpose I'm about to outline.

You need to spend a day with your new kamado learning it's response curve to changes in vent settings. Kamados are about one thing and one thing only … airflow. You need to know what vent settings yield which temperatures. Those vent settings will never change for your kamado.

You need to hit the following temps that are most commonly used in kamado cooking: 225, 250, 275, 300, 325, 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, and searing at 500+. You also need to see how your kamado responds to changes in vent settings.

For a given temp range, i.e. 200-300 you'll use your bottom vent for gross temperature adjustments and you'll fine tune temperatures with the top vent. Same for 300-400, 400-500, etc.

So let's get started. Dump the bag of charcoal into your kamado. Always start every cook with a full fire bowl of lump. Charcoal is like gasoline in your automobile. I full tank doesn't mean you're going 150 mph. A full firebox doesn't mean you're at 750°. You control temperature with air flow. Little airflow means lower temps. Lots of airflow means high temps.

So start off lighting a very small SINGLE spot in your lump pile make sure your top and ottom vents are mostly closed. Leave the top of your kamado open for about 10 minutes before shutting the lid. That makes certain your fire is well established in your lump. To light a single spot you can use a couple of 91% isopropanol alcohol soaked cotton balls available in any pharmacy. You can also use starter cubes available from any BBQ store. I use a MAPP torch. Some folks use an oil soaked paper towel.

With the vents mostly closed, slowly let your kamado get to 225. If its climbing in temp too fast, close down on the top vent a little. You really don't want your kamado getting much beyond 225 because about the only downside of kamado cooking is that if you let Your temp get always from you, it's dadgummed tough to get temps to come down.

Once you're settle in at 225, let your kamado dwell ther for about 30 minutes. Let the system stabilize. Make note of the vent setting with a Sharpie on the bottom vent or take pics with your phone. Theses settings will never change for your kamado. After about 30 minutes at 225, slightly open your top vent a little more, not too much. Watch how your kamado reacts to more air. hit 250 and let your kamado stabilize ther for 30 minutes. Then hit 275 and repeat the process.

Now to hit temps in the range of 300-400, close down your top vent to about where it was at 250 and open your bottom vent a little more, maybe a 1/4" or so. Remember, the bottom vent is for gross temp adjustments and you fine tune with the top vent. Follow this procedure for all temps in the 300-400 range.

Then open the bottom vent and close the top vent as before for temps in the range of 400-500 as before. Always make note of your vent positions. Always note how your kamado reacts to changes in vents settings.

At the end of this exercise, you've got a very good fire going. Reward yourself by searing your family and you some really nice steaks! You deserve it.

If you can control temps, you'll never feel the frustration of chasing temps like most kamado cookers who don't follow this exercise.

I wish you all the best. Oh, and BTW, I'd have a cooler of cold beer next to my chair during this whole exercise! You've got to stay hydrated!

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Wow...Thanks for all the info!  Im really enjoying this site! The Model she got me was the Akorn kamado Kooker mod #6718 Black pebble finish 20 in.  I think this will be a great replacement for my old R2D2 smoker..Looking forward to trying it out next weekend! Thanks again, Dave

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Welcome. You will need a deflector for low and slow or indirect cooking. akorn has one that you can order on line form home depot or many use a weber grate and a round griddle as a deflector. Good luck, you are going to love the food that you cook on the akorn. 

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Hillman - one thing I forgot to include above.

I don't want anyone thinking I'm bashing the Akorn or that I'm living in the past. I'm decidedly NOT, so don't even go there, okay?

Akorns have been rife with manufacturing problems. These are well documented in this Forum. Most of the real problems you need to know is that there are problems with air leaks. The very first thing I'd do with an Akorn is check for air leaks. It's a very simple operation.

Start a fire in your lump and get it going pretty good. Dump a couple of chunks of smoking wood right on top of the fire in the lump pile. Close the lid. Let the smoke billow out the vents for something like 3-5 minutes. Now close tightly all your vents. Close the top vent. Close the bottom vent. Look for smoke leaking out of your Akorn. It should be air tight; there should be not 1 single leak. Look at the main seal between the lid and the base. Look at the seal around the bottom vent. Look at the top vent and make certain no smoke leaks out anywhere.

If there are leaks, your ability to control temps will be very problematic. You need to make careful note of where the leaks are located. Those leaks need to be sealed and your Akorn needs to be airtight before you undertake the exercise above, ok?

And before anyone tells me all those air leak problems are in the past, they're not. I helped a friend put together his Akorn last weekend and the dadgummed thing leaked like a sieve.

The Akorn is a good little cooker once your iron a couple of wrinkles out of the system.

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Hillman, Don't take offense, but you may want to change your grill from Komodo Kamado to Akorn. The differance is the same between a Chevy chevette and a Rolls-Royce. $300 as apposed to $4000-$6000. The quality is equally different. That being said, the Akorn is very functiuonal and will do you well making the best Q you've ever had once you get used to it. There are a couple of additional things particular to getting to temp for the Akorn that is more important than other kamodos. As a newbie you would do yourself a great favor by getting a dual probe thermp setup like the Maverick ET-732 or 733 or it's knockoffs. You can get these for around $55-$70 on Amazon. One probe will go into the meat and the other goes on the grid. Experienced smokers eventually don't need them, but for newbies it really helps. When you start your lump (NEVER USE LIGHTER FLUID TO START YOUR KAMADO. THIS WOULD BE EVEN MORE TRUE IF YOU HAD A CERAMIC KAMDO). As you get to 75F below your target temp start closing down your vents. You may find the following helpful for Akorn specific. Another iportant thing is forget trying to maintaion +-2F. +-15F is more realistic.

 

Not sure who wrote it, but I saved it for reference when I was starting out:

 Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:56 PM
This topic comes up over and over all over the place. I am thinking it might be good to post a sticky or
have a new section that new AKORN users or even new Kamado users in general can be directed for common
issues and solution.

I will attempt to detail exactly how to start a fire for slow low cooks.

1. Use only 100% lump

2. Pile the lump in the middle of the coal grill to form a "volcano". Your pile should extend from
edge to edge and come within a few inches of the bottom of your diffuser. As much as 2 or 3 inches deep
around the edge but remember "volcano" You want a little hole about 2.5"X2.5" wide and deep in the center.
(as close to the grate as possible since you need this air flow)

3. At this point you can add 1-4 chunks of wood to you pile if desired. Spread them around in different
locations and don't cover you hole.

4. Open top and bottom vents all the way.

***NOTE for step 5 - Veggie oil works well but now I use alcohol on the cotton.
I cram a plastic jar with cotton balls and dump alcohol in it. Then I always have a stash near the grill
and ready to go. The alcohol isn't as finicky as the oil. I also use SUPER JUMBO cotton balls so 1 is
enough. - edit 6/23/2012

5. Do not use a chinmey of any sort to light it. Even a Weber light cube it too much. (maybe 1/4 of one
would work I have not tried it). I use 2 large coton balls. I stretch it a little and drizzle a little
vegetable oild on it (too much and this won't work so this part might take a little practice but cotton
balls are cheap). Light it and drop it down in your little hole. Wait a moment to ensure it lights well
and then repeat with the next one. When you drop the 2nd one in the hole be careful not to smother the first.


6. Carefully place 1 or 2 pieces of small lump over/in the hole in such a way that it does not starve or
smother the cotton but it exposed to the flame.

7. Once you are certain the cotton is going well you may place your diffuser and cooking grate back on the
grill. and close the lid.

8. Watch the temp carefully. It may take 5 to 15 minutes or more to see it move up in to the 100+ range.
No worries, have a cold one while you wait.

9. Once you hit 160 you want to start closing it down. Start with 2 on top and 2 on the bottom. The idea at
this stage is to slowly ease up to around 200.

10. Once you hit 200 cut it back a little further. 1 on top and 1 on the bottom. Watch your temp very careful.
 1 of 2 things will happen at this point. It will continue to rise slowly (this is good,
cut back to .75 on top and .5 on teh bottom) or it will stall or even drop in temp a litle.
(if this happens open it an additional .5 on top and .5 on the bottom)

11. Coming out of step 10 you should be able to get your cook to stabilize at your targer temp near the 2
and some change mark. Once you have eased in to your target put the top at .5 and the bottom at .5. Observe
and you should be at a pretty stable point.

10 and 11 take the most practice and I can't stress enough how important it is to work the vents
in .25 to .5 point increments, allow at least 10 minutes after an adjustment to observe the difference
before making further adjustments.

In general terms each set of adjustments represent 1/2 the movement of the previous (roughly) and you will
narrow in on your target over time. The more you do this the better you get and the faster it can be done.
I have burned for over 20 hours and hardly put a dent in my fuel supply, refilling should not be required.

Now - why cotton balls and not a chimney or even weber cubes? The chimney will certainly light too much lump
at once and believe it or not so will the weber cube. After using the cotton ball you can observe that the
very edge of 3 or 4 pieces of lump are actually lit. This is all that is needed bring the tmep up in a
kamado cooker. Other methods like using paper, fluid etc light way too much lump and will cause issue with
your burn.

Lighting in this fashion I would expect a look of shock on your face when after 8 hours of burn you look to
see that there is only a little charing to all the lump you put in the cooker.

Give this a try, use plenty of patience the first 3 or 4 times and let me know how it works for you. Works
miracles for me and I feel pretty good that it will work for you.

I am also interested in any modification to this basic procedure you coem up with that helped you out.
No doubt others would also benefit. For example, there are other ways to light insteaf of a cotton ball
I'm sure. It just seends to be very small.

 

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Welcome from Bham. After 20 years with a BGE (which I loved), been loving my Akorn for the last 15 months. No mods, straight out the box, with a short learning curve. You are going to enjoy your new grill & this very informative web forum.

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