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Old 04-23-2011, 11:51 PM   #1
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Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Hey everyone, I hope I am not re-posting, I have very bad skills when it comes to narrowing things down in the vastness of online forums! At any rate, I am new to charcoal grilling, I bought a 22" Weber Kettle, and started with Kingsford Original briquettes. I recently switched to Cowboy Lump Charcoal, I have been having a great deal of trouble maintaining the level of heat I was used to previously with the briquettes. I am also using a Weber chimney starter which I usually fill as tightly as I can, and usually overfill it. It's just become quite embarrassing, I previously had set times I would cook things for and they'd come out perfectly, now with the lump I am having to keep things on longer and longer. Any help would be super appreciated!!
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Old 04-24-2011, 12:03 AM   #2
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Oh, I should probably add that I'm a bit confused, I had read a lot online that lump burns considerably hotter than briquettes... just dang confused!!
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Old 04-24-2011, 02:01 AM   #3
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

If you're using a Weber Kettle, you really don't need to go with the lump charcoal. I use Stubb's briquets in my 22.5 Weber Performer and add just a few pieces of mesquite lump for added flavor. Occasionally, I will add a small piece of fruit wood like apple or cherry to give some smoke flavor to fish, ribs or chicken.

Set your kettle up with one side for the briquets and the other side for indirect cooking. Always keep the top vent on the lid full open and if things start getting to hot, you can damp down the bottom vent. The key to controlling the fire is not to get to much going at the start. Never use more than a half full chimney to start your fire. I don't even use a chimney on my Weber Performer. I just start a couple of small areas of coals going (maybe three briquets in each area) with a propane torch.

I guess the question should have been asked first, "why do you want more heat than you were already getting from the briquets?"
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Old 04-24-2011, 07:04 AM   #4
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

I'm not a big fan of the cowboy lump. I would switch to a better quality lump that will burn slower. Also add some unlit lump to the grill before you dump the chimney. It's called banking the fire this way you'll get longer burn times.
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:54 AM   #5
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Cowboy lump is what I can find close to me and use the majority of the time. I have to take rides to get to Royal Oak Lump and Stubbs (I just got my first bag of Stubbs the other day just haven't tested it yet). I've never had a problem maintaining temps in my kettle with cowboy lump.

Couple questions: Are your vents fully open?

Are you dumping the lit lump into your kettle on top of unlit lump OR
unlit lump on top of the lit lump OR
nothing at all just what was in your chimney starter?
If your just using what was in your starter then you're not going to maintain a higher temp because what's at the bottom of the starter is burning up as the rest of the lump ignites in the starter so your already losing some of the lump.

If you want a higher temp, do what Lew said (half full starter). Once lit, dump it on one side of the kettle for indirect cooking. Then dump UNLIT cowboy lump right on top of that. How much you should use depends on what your cooking but I'd say enough to cover all the lit lump because you're only using half full starter. Keep bottom and top vents wide open. You'll have plenty of heat as well as plenty of fuel for your cook.
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Old 04-24-2011, 05:07 PM   #6
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Dittos to whut Witt said. I would not use Cowboy Lump if it was free. Unless you have access to some good stuff stick with the Briquettes. Notice Kingsford has added a nice array of embedded wood chips to their line. Would not mind trying the hickory flavor. The Mesquite is somewhut tolerable but the nut heads obviously are too cheap to use januine S. Texas mesquite in the blend. They apparently using the N. Texas variety which smells like a pile of smoldering jock straps when it burns.
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:24 PM   #7
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigwheel
which smells like a pile of smoldering jock straps when it burns.
LMFAO!!

My vents are full open, but I have been filling the chimney starter to the brim, waiting for the coals at the top to start going gray, then dumping that and cooking with it. I am not adding it to any existing coals, and I am not adding coals after. I think Wal-Mart has Royal Oak lump, no? I would continue to use briquettes, but from what I understand there is a lot of junk in those things. I like to keep things very simple.

The advice has been extremely appreciated everyone!! Thank you very very much!

I should be grilling here again in the next two nights, I will definitely repost my results here.
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:56 PM   #8
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by robgilbert
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigwheel
which smells like a pile of smoldering jock straps when it burns.
LMFAO!!

My vents are full open, but I have been filling the chimney starter to the brim, waiting for the coals at the top to start going gray, then dumping that and cooking with it. I am not adding it to any existing coals, and I am not adding coals after. I think Wal-Mart has Royal Oak lump, no? I would continue to use briquettes, but from what I understand there is a lot of junk in those things. I like to keep things very simple.

The advice has been extremely appreciated everyone!! Thank you very very much!

I should be grilling here again in the next two nights, I will definitely repost my results here.
It seems like you are dumping the chimney to early...if the coals on the top are just starting to go grey it's to early. I start with a full chimney and when it's about 3/4 full then I dump my charcoal the coals need to be nice and hot. Just starting to go grey could be part of your problem. Also I leave the top vent open all the way but not the bottom.
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Old 04-30-2011, 04:30 PM   #9
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Well yall getting me all enthused with this charcoal grilling. I been using gas and electric for years. I had a feeling about this deal of trying to convert the electric brinkmann Gourmet back to charcoal. It turned out I was right as usual. I had an old leftover deep fry basket which will make a perfect charcoal basket once the inner lava rock holding pan is removed and the handle gets knocked off the basket. About 4 pop rivets is all that holds it on. That should be cheaper than hiring a drunk welder to build one or sending off to order the original firepan which comes with the charcoal models. The lady at Wally World grilling dept. say they cannot keep that Hickory Flavored Kingsford in stock. The yups is gobbling it up like little greedy piglets I think. I had some RC lump many moons ago and do not recall any problemos with it. Now if your stoking a bullet remember the large diameter stuff is not for you. Make sure it has uniform medium to smaller granulars. B and B is junk stay plumb away from that in case I aint already tole you. Best lump for your purposes is some stuff called Ozark Oak. Your duty would be to got out and try to find some..if you wanted to accept the assignment of course Best of fortunes to you sir.
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Old 04-30-2011, 06:40 PM   #10
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

My arent we full of it today big.....I have seen your compiliation of equipment....didnt see many extension cords in the pics though.
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:20 PM   #11
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Well if a person is smart they scatter weeds over the electric cords etc. My love affair with electric cooking began about 1968 when a nice old football coach showed me how to build the best cooking moochine which has ever been invented..which was an old fashioned metal inside refrigerator with a 220 volt double eyed heating element from an electric range mounted in the bottom. The trick is just hook up one ring to 110 then you load it up and sit the proverbial pie pan and a chunk of real mesquite on the element...shut the door and come back tomorrow. That is a wholesale jerky making operation..briskets etc. I dont see much of a way to improve on it. As long as the door was shut the wood just set there and smolder since it didnt have any oxygen to burn or a place to exit so it only take one chunk of wood to cook for a week or so. Now I used to run the wire through a bullet hole but now if I could find another would just shut the door on the cord. Some things a person can do it the country which do not apply to city living. Shutting the door on the cord works purty well and with a bullet hole the hole was normally oversized to the cord and let air in to waste the mesquite chunk etc.
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Old 04-30-2011, 09:19 PM   #12
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Now that sounds like my old carp smoker from when I was a kid. All we needed was a flood of the river , a couple baseball bats and a pair of shorts and we had all the smoked carp we could eat.
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Old 05-01-2011, 03:56 PM   #13
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Hear ya on that one. Catfish is for everyday...carp is for company.
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Old 05-01-2011, 09:51 PM   #14
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigwheel
Well if a person is smart they scatter weeds over the electric cords etc. My love affair with electric cooking began about 1968 when a nice old football coach showed me how to build the best cooking moochine which has ever been invented..which was an old fashioned metal inside refrigerator with a 220 volt double eyed heating element from an electric range mounted in the bottom. The trick is just hook up one ring to 110 then you load it up and sit the proverbial pie pan and a chunk of real mesquite on the element...shut the door and come back tomorrow. That is a wholesale jerky making operation..briskets etc. I dont see much of a way to improve on it. As long as the door was shut the wood just set there and smolder since it didnt have any oxygen to burn or a place to exit so it only take one chunk of wood to cook for a week or so. Now I used to run the wire through a bullet hole but now if I could find another would just shut the door on the cord. Some things a person can do it the country which do not apply to city living. Shutting the door on the cord works purty well and with a bullet hole the hole was normally oversized to the cord and let air in to waste the mesquite chunk etc.
When I was a little kid my grandpa had converted an old fashioned fridge into a electric smoker. Probably the best smoker I've ever seen, defiantly turned out some good grub. I'd make my own if my better half would let me, I don't think she'd be to keen on a old fridge hanging out in the backyard, but then again the food can be very convincing.
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Old 05-02-2011, 10:32 AM   #15
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Eggxactly the problemo I had with my carp smoker. I even tole the kids they could play in it if they wanted. Warden did not go for it..nag nag nag. I just as soon eat Beanie Weenies from the can as listen to it.
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Old 05-04-2011, 05:51 PM   #16
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

6 months ago I would have agreed with Dave and Jeff about Cowboy Lump. However, it's all I have been able to find recently and it's gotten MUCH better with quality and size and I haven't noticed any dovetails.

Bottomline regardless of what you're using it all depends on the amount lit, unlit and airflow.

Lump gets hotter than briquettes is a myth, not true whatsoever.h
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Old 05-04-2011, 08:06 PM   #17
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Well I know when I lit a chimney of briquets and a chimney of lump, the metal glows red with the lump and doesn't with the briquets. Now I'm no expert but I believe glowing red metal is hotter then non glowing red metal.
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Old 05-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #18
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Well I would not want to pick up your tab on lump. By the time it turns a chimney red its purty much history. When it gets a few spots of gray on it and the hot air starts rising its time to start cookin.
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Old 05-05-2011, 05:11 AM   #19
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigwheel
Well I would not want to pick up your tab on lump. By the time it turns a chimney red its purty much history. When it gets a few spots of gray on it and the hot air starts rising its time to start cookin.
Exactly BW! Nick isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Nick, it turns red with the lump because it lights faster 'fully' than briquettes do. Leave the briquettes in there too long like you are doing with the lump and it will turn red too. You just can't fix stupid......no matter how hard JB tries.
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:51 AM   #20
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Re: Help getting more heat out of lump charcoal

Cowboy Lump =
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