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Weird smell from Brand new Kamado Joe Classic


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Hey all!  Joined few days ago and bought a KJ classic 1.  Ive been without a smoker and miss it so much!  Now I'm back in the game.  Anyways got it home first night, broke in on 200-220 for about 3hrs then cooked some chicken thighs.  Next day I did a brisket and all turned out amazing!  This morning (doing pork shoulders) I stirred my lump charcoal, emptied the ashes, put a bunch new lump charcoal in and started my fire using the minion method, just a few lumps I accelerated outside of the kamado and put into the middle.  All was well, 30 minutes later I set my two heat diffusors in along with a foil Reynolds roasting pan.  The foil pan had a small hole from a bend of the weight of the pork and spilled 3-4 tablespoons of water onto the heat diffusors that were starting to warm up.  I tossed the pan wiped the water as the diffusors heated up and started to steam.  Then I caught nose of this smell, It was very close to ammonia.  It burned the nostrils and the throat and unpleasant to the eyes.  I cannot for the life of me figure out what was going on, still mostly have no idea.  I turned it up a little to 350-400, a bit of heat, seemed to start to get better with the smell still detectable but slowly going away.  I waited 20 min and put another Reynolds roasting pan on and came back 5 minutes later the that ammonia smell again!  What is going on?!  There was some water again on bottom side of foil roasting pan but no hole, maybe condensation some how?  My ONLY faintest idea is the roasting pans have a blue coating on the bottom (very thin/scratches off) and somehow with moisture and ceramic diffusors it was creating some weird reaction.  The kamado sat one day after the brisket, some (not much) brisket grease got onto the diffusors but that wouldn't cause anything.  For the brisket I had a circular aluminum pie pan wrapped in foil as drip tray for water and catching drippings.  Thats all the info I'm pretty sure, any idea at all?  I'm not a noob to smoking, only ceramic kamados, and I have never ever ever ever smelt something like that from many grills I have had of all kinds.  Ive never smelt any chemical smell period much less a pungent ammonia smell.  Anyways thanks for reading.  I can post pics if it helps, I opened her wide open let her get to 820 and go down naturally hoping I can do the pork shoulders tomm.

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The smell ONLY occured after the brisket cook.  The first two were just fine, amazing actually!  It had to have been the water, the foil, or the brisket grease.  Maybe the under blue side coating of the Reynolds tray but the smell occurred very fast with the first tray leaking water onto diffusors, I would say within 10 seconds.  I am confident the water somehow created it, at a loss how 

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Update:  I might be a bit worried.  It's down to 400 after several hours of up to 820 full blast.  The diffusor plates are white clean!  Inside of lid is not prob due to the fact I opened it a few times when up high?  Anyways I can still smell the smell out of the smoke tower exit.  Not really when I just opened it, thats a good sign.  Makes me wonder if the smell got into the black remnants inside the lid?  Maybe it needs a high burn without diffusors to clear the inside of lid out?

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Edit again:  If at a minimum for documentations sake :P I found an old post on this forum about it.  Several people had ammonia like smell in 2014.  They never narrowed it down but thought maybe humid climate?  I am in Idaho and even winters here its dry, I have lots of issues with static electricity.  Anyways I left the $25 bag of Kamado Joe brand lump charcoal sitting out and open on my concrete sidewalk.  No rain, not hardly any morning moisture but yes a little.  Very cold...Some in that thread also stated firing up leftover charcoal that had been put out by shutting dampers caused the smell, some new charcoal maybe stored wrong.  Anyways the heat diffusors are white and smell warmly good, no smell at all.  Just came from the charcoal fire...

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So was there any residue smell or taste in the shoulder? 

 

You mentioned water in the second pan - I get a lot of juices coming from pork, so not sure if you were far enough along in your cook for it to be that, or was the meat still fairly "cool" (say less than 140 F)?

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I have experienced this on more than one ocassion with various brands of new lump. It it not restricted to "used" lump at all. And, I seriously doubt it has anything to do with new kamados. Mine weren't at the time. I think that it was more probably bags that were rained on at some point and perhaps the middle of the bags did not get dry.

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Boater, CentralTexBBQ it was the lump 100% for sure.  As noted I made two cooks on the new grill with no issues then the 3rd day (4th owning grill and new bag of lump) the smell came.  So I don't know if it was some moisture buildup that 'contaminated' my kamado joe brand lump or if it was the lump down near the bottom???  But also as noted I found many issues like this over the years some even with normal briquettes.  Weird because Ive been smoking for 20 years never ever heard of it much less smelled myself. 

 

The pork shoulders turned out perfect with new lump, just got the only brand lowes had, Cowboy something but it was great.  I did, after the fire died out, opened up my dampers to allow air flow.  Seems like a normal thing to do especially when the kamado cover arrives tomm.

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Glad it worked out for you.  If you're using Lowes for your lump source, look for some B & B hardwood lump.  Cheap, good stuff.  In my area, Lowe's gets it by the pallet, and if you get it off the top of the pallet, there's not much chips in the bottom of the bag. If it's been moved around too much, you never know.  The folk working that section may not take a whole lot of care moving it around, and there's consequences of that.

 

But same issue is true of any brand there.  

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On 1/28/2022 at 5:55 PM, Boater said:

Glad it worked out for you.  If you're using Lowes for your lump source, look for some B & B hardwood lump.  Cheap, good stuff.  In my area, Lowe's gets it by the pallet, and if you get it off the top of the pallet, there's not much chips in the bottom of the bag. If it's been moved around too much, you never know.  The folk working that section may not take a whole lot of care moving it around, and there's consequences of that.

 

But same issue is true of any brand there.  

 

My friend just said BB also.  Dont see local But just put a big bag of Oak lump and oak small logs BB in my amazon cart.  Going to test oak for my wife, she has complained about hickory and heartburn.

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Yeah, this time of year Lowe's will not have the stock they will come Memorial Day. My local Ace is my year-round source, I just thought to mention it at Lowes as if you go regularly, it's something to keep on your radar.  The Ace carries oak B&B, rather than mixed hardwood, so a bit pricier per pound, but still WELL under the real premium stuff.  

 

And they barbeque, so know enough to handle the bags carefully.  

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Well I feel its only right to come back and report...BB premium texas oak Lump I am using with dutch oven today making mexican dish Birria.  I loaded night before with 4 chunks of pecan wood.  Wife has been watching the first 5-6hrs after I got it going this morn.  I opened lid when I got back and got a very faint ammonia smell.  maybe 10-11% of the above thread.  I said it out loud and the wife said okay I also did wasn't sure if I was imagining it.  I loaded grill night before, been leaving vents open so no stagnant air sits in kamado.  put cover on.  Its dry winter here in Idaho.  IDK how it could even have a faint smell.  its baffling.  It is so light this time around I'm not worried about my dish ruining plus it has a lid on it.  but still WTH!

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