Keep the ashes cleaned out
My charcoal won't stay lit. What could be wrong?
- To keep proper airflow, the vents on the bowl must be kept clear of any lumps or ashes that might be blocking the vents after the coals are extinguished. Because charcoal will leave behind some ash, it may be necessary to give a gentle sweep to clear the ashes while grilling. If grilling for an extended period of time, this may need to be done once every hour.
Dampers should be fully opened
- There are three dampers on the bottom of the bowl, and one damper on the top of the lid. In order for the grill to heat properly, all dampers must be fully open. If they are not open all the way, turn the dampers to the open position. Having them closed can suffocate the fire.
Charcoal should be white hot before putting the food on
- It's important the briquettes are lightly covered with a gray ash. Once they have ashed over, begin preheating the grill. Put the lid on, and let the grill set for approximately 10-15 minutes to allow the grill to preheat properly.
New charcoal should not be added to partially burned charcoal
- Adding new charcoal to partially burned charcoal can reduce the length of time the charcoal will burn. It is best to use all unburned charcoal.
- The cooking method that is being used will play a role in how well and fast the food cooks. Direct heat is great for small pieces of food that cook quickly such as hamburgers, steaks, chops, boneless chicken pieces and fish fillets. Indirect heat works better for larger tougher foods that require longer cooking times such as roasts, whole chickens and ribs. For example: if a hamburger is being cooked indirectly it will take a lot longer to cook and will not achieve the desired results. Since the wrong method is being used it could give the impression that the grill is not getting hot enough.
- If the drip pan being used is too large, it can inhibit the sources of oxygen. This can reduce the overall heat because the coals are not burning properly thus causing poor cooking temperatures.
What brand of fuel and age is important
- Some inexpensive brands of charcoal briquettes may contain fillers that can reduce performance. Good quality hardwood charcoal briquettes should be used to obtain the best results. Be sure the briquettes being used are not old. If the briquettes have been sitting unused for more than a season, the lighting and burning capabilities may be reduced. Successful grilling depends on a good fire. It should be hot enough to maintain steady heat, but not so hot that it blackens the food.
Charcoal should be dry
- Charcoal is porous and will absorb moisture readily. Always store briquettes in a dry area, and keep the bag in a tightly closed covered container. Charcoal that has been exposed to humidity or moisture can be difficult to light and may not burn well.
Food that you are cooking
- If too few briquettes are used for the weight and/or amount of the food on the grill, the food will not cook properly. The heat may become too low for adequate cooking temperatures, or may burn out before the food has had enough time to cook.
- In general food should be allowed to come to room temperature before applying to the grill. If frozen foods are used, a longer cooking time must be allowed and appropriate adjustment to the amount of charcoal to accommodate the longer cooking time.
High altitude cooking
- In areas where the altitude is higher, there is less oxygen. Therefore, it takes a longer time to cook food. When using the grill, it is recommended to leave all the vents wide open when cooking. Removing any debris (such as accumulated ashes) helps to increase circulation for better cooking.