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Difficulty in lighting charcoal

dave schiller

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Last night, I decided to grill a couple of steaks on my small Weber kettle. I filled my chimney about 3/4 full with Royal Oak lump and proceeded to light it. I first used a single paraffin cube but nothing lit. Then I tried again with 2 cubes, still without success. So I then tried with crumpled paper. Nada. Finally I used my small propane torch, directing the flame into the chimney through various openings in the chimney. That worked, mostly. The charcoal slowly ignited but there was a lot of snap, crackle, and pop. Sounded like rice crispies on steroids. It finally lit and I was able to cook the steaks.

The charcoal was in an opened bag and about a year old. It had been stored in a very dry basement where the humidity runs about 50%. Never have had any moisture problems down there. I thought the shelf life of charcoal was indefinite if kept dry.

Anyone else ever experienced anything like this? Was it age or the type of charcoal?
 

gmc2003

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Never had that happen. I'm pretty sure it's not the age. I've got charcoal stored in my garage year round that lites just fine. You mentioned that the bag was an opened bag. Was the top rolled down or was the top fully open to the basements elements?

Chris
 

5GRILLZNTN

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I think Chris is right, that open bag let the charcoal absorb any moisture that was in the air.
 

dave schiller

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I think Chris is right, that open bag let the charcoal absorb any moisture that was in the air.
Perhaps so, but my basement is so dry that I've considered putting a humidifier down there. I've measured the humidity at about 50% in the summer, lower during winter. 50% is considered to be the recommended level for home living space. Is that too high for charcoal storage?
 

5GRILLZNTN

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Perhaps so, but my basement is so dry that I've considered putting a humidifier down there. I've measured the humidity at about 50% in the summer, lower during winter. 50% is considered to be the recommended level for home living space. Is that too high for charcoal storage?
I store my charcoal outside (under my porch) in an open top bin, but always roll the top of the bag down. Never had a lighting problem. I'd go buy a new bag of charcoal, and try that. Whatever you do, I would always keep the top of the bag closed.
 

noboundaries

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That snap, crackle, pop might be the key. With RO lump I'd get very little of that. With other lumps it's like Rice Krispies on steroids. You might have got a bag that wasn't completely carbonized, which is what I've noticed with other lumps.

I had to leave a bag of RO lump open and unrolled in my garage for 3 years due to a strong fuel smell. I don't recall it crackling much when I eventually used it.

When I did use lump, I'd put a layer of briquettes in the chimney before adding the lump. The briquettes kept the small pieces of lump from falling through the bottom of the chimney and got hot enough to fire up the lump.

I use old paper grocery bags or torn up charcoal bags to fire up my chimney. I used to use my side burner on my gasser to fire up the chimney, but that gasser is so dead and rusted.
 

chopsaw

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Perhaps so, but my basement is so dry that I've considered putting a humidifier down there. I've measured the humidity at about 50% in the summer, lower during winter. 50% is considered to be the recommended level for home living space. Is that too high for charcoal storage?
I wouldn't think so , but maybe . I close the bags , but leave it outside on the patio , under cover . Lights fine .
All the times I had alot of snap and pop on start up , was more to the bottom of the bag . I always thought it was from dust and small pieces .
 

gmc2003

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I wouldn't think so , but maybe . I close the bags , but leave it outside on the patio , under cover . Lights fine .
All the times I had alot of snap and pop on start up , was more to the bottom of the bag . I always thought it was from dust and small pieces .
I wonder if it was one of the last bags filled of that particular run. Maybe some of the floor crap got into it.

Chris
 

dave schiller

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Only about 1/4-1/3 of the bag the lump came out of had been used, so I wasn't anywhere near the bottom of the bag. The used portion had been burned in my offset smoker. I don't remember any problems then, probably because I was feeding an already existing fire and the FB door was closed.
 

phathead69

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Perhaps so, but my basement is so dry that I've considered putting a humidifier down there. I've measured the humidity at about 50% in the summer, lower during winter. 50% is considered to be the recommended level for home living space. Is that too high for charcoal storage?
How do /did you get a basement at 50%RH. I get mine down to 60 with dehumider going at best.
 

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