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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 05-05-2013, 04:38 PM   #1
bmoorhouse
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Default Wood chunks and temp control

For those of you who cook with chunks, does the temperature of your grill go up when the individual chunks light off?

I am having a hard time controlling my Kamado Joe when trying to maintain 225 degrees, and I think it might be the wood chunks I am using. It seems every 30 minutes or so, the grill wants to get hotter, so I close it down, which seems to stabilize it. About 30 minutes later, however, it does it again. Could this be caused by the wood chunks? The spikes tend to get up to 300 degrees and it is often hard to get it back down.

If it is the wood chunks, do you try to control the temps through the increase or just let it go? I would love to be able to do an overnight cook, but I just don't yet have the confidence that the temps won't get away from me while I sleep.

I don't know if it matters but my technique is to fill the grill often with a mix of left over charcoal and fresh charcoal. I then toss in some wood chips and a few chunks. I then light one starter cube, put my diffuser in place and leave the grill wide open until it gets to about 175 degrees. Hopefully about the same time, the smoke is no longer thick white, either way I open the lid to put my meat in, and then after closing it, set the top and bottom vents to barely open.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 04:59 PM   #2
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I wouldn't think it's the wood chunks--charcoal burns hotter than wood. Try opening the dampers less.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 05:19 PM   #3
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I'm not embarrassed to ask stupid questions any more, so here goes. What are you considering and unacceptable temp variation? There was a time when I would freak over 10* and start adjusting everything. Now, a bunch of years and cooks later, I pick a desired cook temp and set my iGrill alarms at about +/- 25*; so for a 300* cook I'm happy to stay in a 275*-325* range and I use the lower 275* alarm to remind met to throw a split or two in my stickburner. With all the new gee-wiz stuff out there, even for us old stickburners, it's way to tempting to try and "micro manage" the cooker, just sayin.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 09:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwfisk View Post
I'm not embarrassed to ask stupid questions any more, so here goes. What are you considering and unacceptable temp variation? There was a time when I would freak over 10* and start adjusting everything. Now, a bunch of years and cooks later, I pick a desired cook temp and set my iGrill alarms at about +/- 25*.
Not a stupid question at all. While I would like to keep the temps within +/- 10 degrees, I don't freak out until it starts climbing beyond 25 degrees above my target. For example, today I wanted a target temp of 225 degrees and set my iGrill at 215 and 235. It wasn't until it hit 300 degrees, however, that I started getting upset.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 09:34 PM   #5
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Do you open the lid often? Could you have an air leak some where?
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Unread 05-05-2013, 09:35 PM   #6
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Nope, didn't open the lid once other than to put the meat in and to take it out. I am not sure about an air leak though. I imagine that would be hard to locate. As my KJ is relatively new and my casket appears to be in good shape, however, I would be surprised is that was it.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 09:42 PM   #7
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I used to have a hard time managing my cooking temperatures of 250°, I now have the BBQ Guru and it manages the airflow to control temperatures.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 09:48 PM   #8
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I have read somewhere that fire control is done by running with your exhaust vent wide open and controlling the air flow by adjusting the intake vent. I'm almost 100% positive it was here on the Brethren. I had problems with my offset and temp spikes, but once I learned to control the air flow, the spikes became minimal. I'm wondering if by closing the top vent most of the way that it is causing the heat to be trapped in the cooker.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 09:58 PM   #9
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Your OAT's (Outdoor Air Temps), Wind and even the Sun will affect the internal temps of your smoker. I'll notice my WSM hit a new wood chunk now and then but I don't sweat it.

What do you monitor your temps with? Lid gauge, or something more accurate?

There are always a lot of variables to account for.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 10:21 PM   #10
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I use an iGrill and the KJ's built in temp gauge.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 10:26 PM   #11
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Your top vent (exhaust) needs to stay wide open. Use the bottom vent to control temp. As one poster noted. It's no big deal to let the temp fluctuate between a range such as 225-250. I used to wig the freak out when my temp wasn't just right but I've learned it's not that big of a deal.
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Unread 05-05-2013, 11:12 PM   #12
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On my KJ for 225 range I use 1 Weber starter cube, place defuser, leave the top vent and bottom vent wide open till 195 then the close the bottom vent to 5/16" and the daisy wheel to 1/4 inch, (I have literally measured, sad I know...) and after about an hour from lighting I'm at a good and steady 220-235. I place the meat and it takes a few minutes to hit that range again. After about 3 hours it will creep to 250 then slowly come down. But depending on what your cooking a lot of BBQ is forgiving.
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Unread 05-06-2013, 08:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon David View Post
On my KJ for 225 range I use 1 Weber starter cube, place defuser, leave the top vent and bottom vent wide open till 195 then the close the bottom vent to 5/16" and the daisy wheel to 1/4 inch, (I have literally measured, sad I know...) and after about an hour from lighting I'm at a good and steady 220-235. I place the meat and it takes a few minutes to hit that range again. After about 3 hours it will creep to 250 then slowly come down. But depending on what your cooking a lot of BBQ is forgiving.
It seems there is a lot of different techniques, and I appreciate everyone's input.

With your technique, Jon, when do you put your wood on? Put it on in the beginning and you miss a lot if smoke, but to put it on later, you have to move the grate and the diffuser.
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Unread 05-06-2013, 08:50 AM   #14
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I have the Akron. Slightly different beast but I don't have troubles out of mine (stupidity caused drippin's fires aside here.)

My thoughts on what might be the issue.
1) Wood chips not soaked or not soaked long enough. (chunks are soaked 1 hour)
2) Kamados are very odd beasts at low temps. My Akorn to stay at 225-250 I have to crack the top vent a tiny bit (.5-.75 per the Akron's guage.) and the bottom is closed.
*)Some people suggest running the top wide open the only time my akron says to do that is when smoking/cooking poultry and then you regulate with the bottom but you are at 350 so you need the air. Or for high temp broiling.
3) You want to come to temp when smoking with the vents (open the vents to regulate the air from the first moment) don't drop a weber cube in the pit and let it start in the open air because it will light way too much. Kamados are not forgiving beasts when you over shoot.

4) Check air leaks, my understanding it that Kamado Joes are pretty tight out of the box. Did you scorch a seal that is allowing air in?

Best of luck!
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