Absolute disaster! Advice needed!

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by shakeyjake, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. shakeyjake

    shakeyjake Newbie

    Hi all. I had my first attempt at smoking yesterday, well I say smoking, I couldn't even get the charcoal lit!!!

    I had previously cured the smoker and used a charcoal starter and it worked a treat. However when I tried to use it again, it just wouldn't light. I used an entire newspaper during various attempts, but it would just stop after about five minutes when all the paper had burnt. I even tucked a few firefighters in, but to no avail. At one point the paper was blazing like mad, and I thought it was definitely work, but it just fizzled out to nothing.

    Do you think there was something wrong with the charcoal? I'd opened it a couple of weeks prior and it was fine when I used it, but could it have gone bad in that time? It was pretty windy, but even sheltering it didn't work, plus the amount of flame I had at some points was way more than when I used it and it worked first time.

    Sorry, if this is a stupid thread, I was so frustrated that it was the first dry day in ages and couldn't use it.


    oldschoolbbq likes this.
  2. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Damp coal. You could put some on a cookie sheet or foil in the oven on low with the door cracked open for a few hours to dry. I keep my charcoal in a new rubbish bin with a very tight fitting lid. I never ever use lighter fluid and never have any problems unless I have a few too many and forget to put the lid back on and then inevitably it rains that night. 
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
  3. shakeyjake

    shakeyjake Newbie

    That's probably spot on. Thinking about it, it was stored in an outside locker. It felt dry and the paperbag it was in was okay but the locker isn't very water tight so it must've soaked some up. Cheers for the quick answer. Think I'll be storing it elsewhere from now on!
  4. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Were you trying to light it as a mound or was it in a chimney starter. If you do not have a chimney started then you may want to get one as they will make lighting the charcoal much easier - even when slightly damp. If the paper bag was not showing signs of wet wet or damp then it is unlikely that the charcoal would be too damp to light. Timberjet's advice is good though - a bin with a tight fitting lid is a good place to keep it or even just inside a black plastic bin liner.

    I was in B&Q last weekend and saw that they were selling off chimney starters for £10 each.
  5. shakeyjake

    shakeyjake Newbie

    I was using a starter. I used it once before and it worked really well. It just wouldn't light this time though. I copied a you tube video to make sure I did it right but once the paper burnt away nothing happened. I may just try it with a new bag of charcoal, so etching must've happened to it as I can't figure out what I did differently from when the starter worked a treat.
  6. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is nothing wrong with using a firelighter under the charcoal to get it started. Often paper does not stay hot enough for long enough. I would avoid liquid lighting fluid though as this can sometimes leave a taste.

    I never use lighting fluid myself however some champion BBQers like Myron Mixon use it by the bottle full - even in competition cooking.
  7. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As they say, keep your powder(Charcoal) dry. [​IMG]

    Have fun and . . .
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Just a suggestion...The  Chimney Starter works like a Champ but you can get a hotter flame and longer burn time from your paper if you drizzle a couple Tablespoons (30ml) of Veg Oil or Bacon Grease on the paper. It leaves no smell, well Bacon Fat smells great, an burns hot. It never failed me in 20 years...JJ
    smokeburns likes this.
  9. markuk

    markuk Smoking Fanatic

  10. adenjago

    adenjago Fire Starter

    Just for info...

    I brought one of the B&Q chimney starters when I first got my Weber Grill, for the price you can't go wrong, but it does start to fall apart when it starts to be used Regular (it could just be the one I had) but when I dropped on a weber Chimney on sale for about £13, and put them side by side you see a lot of difference the build quality of the Weber feels stronger and sturdier and made of thick grade metal rather than the flimsy metal and there is a smaller difference in size but makes a big difference it's 1 1/2 half inch taller and an additional 2" on the Diameter...which don't sound much but it holds a lot more charcoal. 

    FYI... when I start the chimney, the newspaper I use is lightly drizzled with oil as it helps paper to burn longer IMO

  11. Hello Ade.  Wade told me about the Aussie heat beads.  They are the mutts nuts BUT I had that same problem with them.  Once lit and after I finish cooking I can't get the darn things to go out.  Good quality charcoal and ZERO nasty taste.  You pay more but use less.  I never recommend it to new folks but I even had to use the lighting fluid once ( don't try it unless you have tons of experience, it will taste nasty! )  What I have started to do is to use some good quality lump wood charcoal in the bottom 1/3 of the chimney and then top up with briquettes.  The paper starts the lump quickly, get rid of the paper ash as soon as to improve air flow and the lump gets the briquettes going well.  The hard wood lump also adds some flavour.  Works every time.  Hope this helps.  Keep Smokin!

  12. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I totally agree with you Ade. Both my chimney starters are now the Weber ones but I have not seen them as low as £13 apart from the smaller "Weber Portable Chimney Starter" - you got a good deal there. They are usually about £17 after any discount.

    I did have one of the B&Q types a few years ago and the other difference between the two is that the bottom of the charcoal chamber in the B&Q chimney is flat metal sheet with holes whereas the Weber ones have an inverted cone that is made of thick wire. This makes the Weber ones even more efficient when lighting.

    I too prefer the Weber chimneys but my original B&Q one had a lot of use, both with me and it is still in regular used my daughter on her BBQ today. The wooden part of the B&Q handle has been replaced several times though as it is a little prone to being scorched.

    If you can get the Weber Chimney starter for £13 then jump at the chance - but if not the B&Q chimney will also give you good service.

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