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On 9/3/2019 at 9:58 AM, BGWolf said:

An a cylinder lasts a very long time

 

 

Seemingly forever.

 

I bought a replacement cylinder a couple seasons ago thinking I needed it. Still haven't replaced the original.

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On 9/2/2019 at 7:18 PM, Jose Andres Zapata said:

I like the Royal Oak tumbleweed starters. $3something at Walmart for 16. I use 1 to 4 depending and how fast I want it to start. They are $6something at Homedepot...so Walmart it is.

I started using tumbleweed starters when I sawJose use them in one of his posts. I live in the high desert mountains of Arizona where sparks and the possibility of starting a  wild land fire when sparks float on the wind, keeps me from using a torch, looft lighter or heat gun or anything that sparks more than I like. Torches look to be really convenient but with where I live, I just can't take the risk.  I light one tumbleweed in the center for either low or moderate heat cooks. I light three across the middle of my lump from front to back when I am doing high heat steak or pizza. I light the tumbleweed /s and immediately put in my deflectors and close the lid. Almost zero sparks and a well contained fire. 

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On 9/2/2019 at 3:15 AM, T-RoyPDX said:

I'm a newbie concerning kamado cooking.  I've had a smoker for years (WSM) that I used briquettes and a chimney starter for.  With My Big Joe III, I've tried both Weber fire starters and a MAPP torch.  Right now, I really like using the MAPP as it gets things started in a hurry.  20 or so seconds on a spot and it's lit, vs. waiting for the fire starter to get things going.

 

Am I missing anything here - seems like using the torch works fast and great vs the slower fire starter method?

 

I use these:

 

20190904_152946-s.jpg

 

Believe it or not, this is faster than a MAPP torch for me.  I bury a one or more of these in my charcoal and light them.  It takes 15 seconds.   Then I can walk away and be working on something else.  To get a MAPP torch to give me the same amount of 'light' that I would get from one of these, I would have to hold the torch on the same spot for a couple minutes at each spot.  I have a MAPP torch but I use propane on it.  I use it rarely any more because I still think this is quicker.  I am typically using a temperature control system so I engage it about 30 seconds after I light these starters and I'm off to the races.  Minimal time and effort.  Perfect results every time.

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5 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

 

I use these:

 

Believe it or not, this is faster than a MAPP torch for me.  I bury a one or more of these in my charcoal and light them.  It takes 15 seconds.   Then I can walk away and be working on something else.  To get a MAPP torch to give me the same amount of 'light' that I would get from one of these, I would have to hold the torch on the same spot for a couple minutes at each spot.  I have a MAPP torch but I use propane on it.  I use it rarely any more because I still think this is quicker.  I am typically using a temperature control system so I engage it about 30 seconds after I light these starters and I'm off to the races.  Minimal time and effort.  Perfect results every time.

 

I use the same, or I use cotton balls with 91% rubbing alcohol. The KJ starters light easily enough and have a nice long burn time to get the coals going. I cut them down to maybe 1/4" pieces to stretch them. They work great and only let a little puff of smoke off when they extinguish. The cotton balls don't burn as long. The only down side is I can't buy them locally, which has had me try the following:

 

-Weber cubes. Light easily because they have lighter fluid in them but way too messy. I get little white flakes all over my grill table.

-RO tumbleweeds light easily but smoke too much.

-Zip lighter cubes are difficult to light and smoke way too much.

 

I only use my torch to light my pellet tube. If I'm in a hurry I'll use my chimney, but I try not to be in a hurry when I'm grilling.

 

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23 minutes ago, SeaBrisket said:

 

I use the same, or I use cotton balls with 91% rubbing alcohol. The KJ starters light easily enough and have a nice long burn time to get the coals going. I cut them down to maybe 1/4" pieces to stretch them. They work great and only let a little puff of smoke off when they extinguish. The cotton balls don't burn as long. The only down side is I can't buy them locally, which has had me try the following:

 

-Weber cubes. Light easily because they have lighter fluid in them but way too messy. I get little white flakes all over my grill table.

-RO tumbleweeds light easily but smoke too much.

-Zip lighter cubes are difficult to light and smoke way too much.

 

I only use my torch to light my pellet tube. If I'm in a hurry I'll use my chimney, but I try not to be in a hurry when I'm grilling.

 

 

They don't have lighter fluid in them.  It's paraffin wax.  It's the exact same stuff that's in the KJ starters but it's just basically a pure paraffin cube.

 

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1 minute ago, John Setzler said:

 

They don't have lighter fluid in them.  It's paraffin wax.  It's the exact same stuff that's in the KJ starters but it's just basically a pure paraffin cube.

 

These? https://www.weber.com/US/en/accessories/cooking/charcoal-briquettes-and-accessories/7417.html

They smell like lighter fluid to me but I've never noticed an off taste from them. Just don't like how they crumble apart.

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30 minutes ago, SeaBrisket said:

These? https://www.weber.com/US/en/accessories/cooking/charcoal-briquettes-and-accessories/7417.html

They smell like lighter fluid to me but I've never noticed an off taste from them. Just don't like how they crumble apart.

 

Yes.. those.. they have some crumbly bits at the flat edge because of how they are made.. no biggie.  Just break the container open over your firebox.  Those work as well as the ones i use.

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Like PMillen i use cotton balls soaked in 91% alcohol ( don't use less) 2 for small and 3 for large. As a side note make sure your fingers don't have any an them when lighting . I'm not going to comment on how i came about this knowledge. The cotton might take a little while to get going but like John does it gives me time to do other things. Plus smoking is a relaxing style of cooking 

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On 9/2/2019 at 10:23 AM, T_om said:

I have a Weber Performer and use the chimney lighter almost exclusively for cooks on it.  However, I found lighter blocks to be foolproof and super easy in my KJ II Classic..

 

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B078X3QVJ1/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

I am never in a big enough hurry to get things going on my KJ  to bother with other lighting methods when the lighter blocks are dead easy.  And I am getting a really good feel for startup times...  lightoff to certain temperatures, etc. and because I start the same way every time, I have a good handle on schedules.

 

Tom

 

Same here. The ole chimney + cubes + time are the easy way to go about. Since I'm typically smoking there is a decent build up to assemble all the items in the cook including the grill. Using decent planning you can get everything to converge at the same time even when using a chimney as a starter. Some time before starting the meat prep I start the chimney. Catch it mid-way through meat prep and add it to grill. As meat prep is finishing grill should be rising to temp. If temp is not met, toss meat in fridge and wait. Planning ahead with the chimney is really just a matter of coordinating your cooking step times such that it works out in the way you want. Also depending on how much heat you need out of the grill you can load more or less charcoal in the chimney to accomplish the goal. Overall I find better control over the cooking conditions that way than tossing cubes into the coal bed. Regardless it's a pretty non-laborious way to start the grill and its cheap all things considered. Its ~10 - 20 mins for a typical chimney to light up so its not a ton of prep work to be considerate of.

 

I love the Weber cubes. Cheap and reliable.

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Funny that no one's mentioned the dreaded white smoke...

 

I've found that starting a fire can take 20 to 90 minutes. It's rarely about achieving temperature, usually about the quality of the smoke. A propane "match" has been most used; takes 15 sec. to light a spot. I'm still working on the first bag of wax-based fire starters.

 

However, my last three cooks I've used a chimney with far superior results to the other methods. Sweet smoke in 20 min. I haven't said anything because I want a longer string of successes before talking about it. Here's what I think is happening. 

 

The dreaded white smoke is produce by wood burning at low temperature. It's hot enough to outgas volatile vapors that ignite and burn, but not hot enough to burn them completely. As the wood heats, so does the fire and eventually, white smoke goes away. This is known as a "mature" fire. 

 

A chimney lighter, left for a few minutes, gets to the mature stage before you dump it. I get best results using the "volcano" fire lay, making the chimney the peak. As new wood starts to burn, any white smoke is burned up passing through the mature fire. By the time I've installed grate/deflectors and closed the dome, the smoke is clear. 

 

Cooking temperature depends only on how much air you give it from here. 

 

The only downside is sparking when you dump the chimney. I get sparks from some fuels, but not others, so if it's a problem, choose fuels and lighting methods accordingly. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

 

 

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Some of the white smoke on start up might be related to the brand of charcoal. I've used  Royal oak for a long time except for the last couple of bags was happy  with it. I now use Rockwood and noticed a difference in starting. The RO smoked much more when starting it the rockwood hardly smokes at all. I think this is do to rockwood cooking(?) the wood longer. The lumps feel lighter and clink musicly when pour in the grill as they bump together. Whatever the brand wait for the smoke to clear. I've used chimneys for my regular grills but never felt the need with my Joe guess it's all a personal choice. 

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I agree with @len440. Lump is a big factor, but so many other things too. I've been using Black Diamond CharWood. Seriously ready to cook within 10 minutes. Very little smoke to no smoke or sparking. Building a fire needs oxygen flow, fuel and heat. Play around with the three to create the optimum time to cook/time to heat. Also, bringing up to temp isn't the only concern. I've used some lump that took 30 minutes for the acrid smell to clear. My first few cooks with a kamado I didn't understand burning off the VOC's prior to putting the food on the grill. With that, I had serious buyers remorse because my food tasted horrible. Once I learned to hold my hand over the smoke and not put the food on until I smelled pleasant smoke, the buyers remorse faded and joy set in. The starter cubes are great when starting out using a kamado because they burn clean and create heat which helps the air start drafting through the cooker. The hotter it gets the more air gets sucked in.   

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On 9/4/2019 at 12:40 PM, John Setzler said:

 

I use these:

 

20190904_152946-s.jpg

 

Believe it or not, this is faster than a MAPP torch for me.  I bury a one or more of these in my charcoal and light them.  It takes 15 seconds.   Then I can walk away and be working on something else.  To get a MAPP torch to give me the same amount of 'light' that I would get from one of these, I would have to hold the torch on the same spot for a couple minutes at each spot.  I have a MAPP torch but I use propane on it.  I use it rarely any more because I still think this is quicker.  I am typically using a temperature control system so I engage it about 30 seconds after I light these starters and I'm off to the races.  Minimal time and effort.  Perfect results every time.

I've been looking at these.  The last few cooks, have used the Weber paraffin cubes but I still think I'll grab these next to compare.  I have also tried to time the torch vs the Weber cubes and surprisingly, the smoking hot MAPP doesn't really get things ready any sooner.  When I use the MAPP torch, I get quite a few sparks.  Here in Oregon where typically it's more wet, it's no biggie, unlike the drier climates (Arizona, CA, etc. etc.).  Of course, now being a newbie, I've been experimenting with different charcoals as well so I've already seen a huge variation in charcoals that do and don't spark (and some crazy!) if lighting by torch.

 

Typically, I have a problem slowingggggg downnnnnn - and always want to do things the best/quickest/most-efficient way, so cudos to you who can just take their time.  Some of us are constantly working on that :)  

 

As other have said, if smoking or low'ish temp, then light in one or maybe 2 places.  If going to sear temp, I'll light in at least 2 places.  So far so good!  thanks everyone!

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