Charcoal and winter?

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WellDone
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Charcoal and winter?

Post by WellDone » Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:34 pm

(sorry Peter, please ignore my "negativity" lol)

I've never BBQ'd in winter before. I am in my (re-)beginning stages of using charcoal, via a converted broken propane BBQ. I am quickly learning about how to get more out of my current 'on the cheap' set up and getting good results (edible and tasty food :P ).

However I am concerned about winter. I am adamant about using the BBQ through winter but unsure of what challenges I may face.

Currently I put my briquettes in a pyramid shape, then spray them with starter fluid and let them soak for about 5 minutes. Then I light them, leaving the lid open while the orange flame is visible (maybe 3-4 minutes?). Once that dies down I close the lid and do whatever food prep is necessary. Still getting a bead on the time, but the Royal Oak briquettes (yeah, from CT - where else?!?!? hehehe) are ready to go and the thermometer is showing 400+ within 45 minutes.

I'm guessing this won't be the case when there's a foot of snow on the patio and the ambient temp is 'minus-something'. :shock:

Will my current technique prevail? Should I expect to change anything? If anyone has any input i'd greatly appreciate hearing it!

PATIA!
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Tim Q
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Tim Q » Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:40 am

Hi Andrew,

I have been starting my briquettes using a Weber Chimney Starter. It's so easy. The starter will hold 6lbs of Kingsford briquettes. (about a 100 briquettes) and all it takes to start is a few sheet of newspaper. No fluid aftertaste!

Check this site out for a demo. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHXcibEJ1lc

I got my 22.5 WSM smoker this summer and I looking forward to smoking in the winter here in Montreal. My backyard gets pretty deep with snow but I will be plowing a path to my smoker. I have read that the lower outside temps will cause the smoker to burn a bit more fuel but apparently the WSM does quite well in the winter. If anything, the snowbanks will shield the smoker from the wind.
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Button Bone
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Button Bone » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:14 am

LIGHTER FLUID!! :?

Throw that stuff away immediately and never think of using it ever again!

Just as TimQ mentioned, buy yourself a chimney starter. They are super easy to use and they take the exact same amount of time to get charcoal roaring hot.

You should be able to maintain 400 degrees in the winter without any issues although it might require a bit more charcoal.

Absolutely nothing wrong with the Royal Oak briquettes you are using.

Have fun with your Q in the winter, it's a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience!

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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Cramden » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:47 am

While your getting rid of the lighter fluid and picking up a chimmney starter, may I suggest spending a few extra bucks and buying the Weber model. I've experienced a few handles coming apart with the inferior brand you'll see at the Q store. Lost a load of hot coals this way. OUCH. HOT FOOT!!!

Cheers
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Roger M » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:40 pm

a weber chimney will have you cooking in far less time than 45 mins

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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Peter » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:00 pm

Good advice here, Andrew, especially about the lighter fluid! Don't go there ... ever.

Put together a wind break for the really cold days or find a sheltered spot for the Q. Wind is the only real concern in winter. As long as you can keep the wind off the Q, you can go all year.

An alternative to the chimney is an electric starter. Its a U shaped electric element you place under the charcoal for 15 minutes or so to get things started. I have used them in bullets, offsets and grills with good results. A propane tiger torch (weed burner) does a good job, too.
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by WellDone » Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:34 pm

YIPE! :shock: Okay, okay, no more fluid! Don't ban me! :lol:

Thanks for the chimney vids, Tim. I'll check out Ontario Gas BBQ in the next short while and pick up one of the Weber ones as Cramden has suggested. I don't mind spending a few extra bucks if it means it'll be safer - i'd rather not test the validity of the claim.

As for the briquettes - I like these Royal Oak pieces. They're cheap, I only need about 40 in the Q and she'll run at 400+ degrees for well over 40 minutes. They're easy to get a hold of, too.

Wind - gonna have to get a bit creative with this thing. I need to "install" (read: modify) some proper vents in this thing because having the large open holes on the underside of the unit isn't exactly safe when you're working with fire on a wood patio. :? Should be easy enough to fabricate something simple and effective.

Thanks everyone! b3

Hopefully I don't spend too much at OGB! :lol: I'm hoping to walk out with only a chimney and thermometer. :|
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Shawn W » Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:56 am

Chimneys work very well. With or without the chimney parafin fire starter cubes are a good alternative to newspaper. Weber makes odourless non-toxic ones that are around $7/24, parafin sawdust cubes are larger and around $5/24.

With a Weber chimney I break a parafin starter cube in half, put them under the chimney then light. No chasing paper ash around the deck to clean up.

If you forego the chimney and light in your grill you could put the starter cubes below the grate on which you pile your charcoal.

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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by BobEQue » Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:07 am

I am a bit brutal. I use a weed burner to start my chimney. I built a chimney using a 12 inch chimney stand pipe and some stainless wire. It's ugly but it works.
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ourman
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by ourman » Sat Sep 26, 2009 11:44 am

Im extremely rough on cimneys i use the turkey cooker burner to light it...the last cheap ones i got it melted the rivets i had to spot weld it together..

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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by WellDone » Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:05 am

Oh great, here, we go, it's starting already ..... I hope to walk out with a thermometer and a chimney and now starter cubes! :lol: Y'all are gonna turn this into an expensive hobby for me now, ain't ya?!?!?!? :lol: :mrgreen:

Okay, all joking aside, I do have to wonder about winter storage of the briquettes. I've been using the orange-bagged Royal Oak Plus briquettes that are seen at Canadian Tire and i'm wondering if i'm going to have any problems with them freezing. I plan on keeping them in the garage (attached to house, but only minimally insulated). Should I invest in a container of some sort as opposed to the bag that they come in? Or will freezing not be an issue? I do, of course, plan on keeping them on the wall closest to the house.

If that's no good then is it safe to keep these in the basement? Any worries of fumes/odour these give off? I don't know because right now they stay in the shed and I don't wanna have to dig my way there during winter.

PATIA!
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Trev » Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:25 am

I kept mine in my shed all winter and it was fine. Having said that, I also plan to move it to the garage for the winter because it's easier to get at. So far humidity, or freezing, hasn't been a problem at all-- Cold air can't hold [much] humidity, so the winter is a good time for charcoal.
For starting up I'd use a chimney and newspaper. I made a bunch of paraffin starters but they're not necessary, really. Newspaper generates a really high heat and they work great for getting things going in a hurry. Like was said, dump the fluid; you don't want that in your body or on your food- nasty stuff. You'll notice the difference as soon as you stop using it.
I don't know about storing charcoal in your basement. Obviously it's not explosive, but I'm not sure what type of hazard one would associate with it. I'll bet the fire dept. or one of the crew could tell you for sure. I would expect that it would be okay as long as it's stored away from open flames and stuff like that. Pretty much common sense. If it's not the instant-light type then it shouldn't give off any kind of fumes or odour at all. You might want to check your house insurance policy as well, regarding the storage of flammable goods. Just a thought.
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by WellDone » Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:09 am

Oh damn, you're gooood! :) The missus' Dad is a retired fire fighter, so i'm sure he'll have some good input. Just getting ready to go over there right now for lunch, actually, so i'll be sure to ask. Thanks Trev!
Oh, yes, newspaper for the chimney, for sure - reuse, recycle, reduce. :wink: ..... and it's free b3



Of course, the missus found someone selling a like-new propane BBQ online for cheap. My response was "oh, that's nice". :lol:
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by Trev » Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:15 pm

WellDone wrote: The missus' Dad is a retired fire fighter, so i'm sure he'll have some good input.
:lol:
Mine too! He's had lots to say, actually! He chewed me out for keeping propane in my garage during the winter.
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Re: Charcoal and winter?

Post by ROXY » Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:44 pm

Yeah,, what they said..
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