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Extreme sear gone wrong?

tnt barbecue

Joined Aug 12, 2016
Hey all,

I know this is a smoking meat forum, but I'm pretty sure we're all grillers as well. I'm a big fan of using a chimney starter to get a super hot sear on steaks, and I recently tried a modification that might have gone wrong. I usually use a small cooking grate over the top of the chimney for the "afterburner effect", but this time I wanted to try an iron skillet. I was after that steakhouse-like crust that a flat surface would provide. I basically planned to put a pre-seasoned Lodge skillet over the top of the chimney, get it up to 900+ degrees, and then sear the Filet for a few seconds.

A torrential downpour aborted my experiment, but after extinguishing the chimney, I noticed a collection of black soot on the bottom of the pan. I was using a half-full chimney of lump charcoal (Rockwood). You can see the soot here:

The soot came off really easily, and I didn't notice any flaking of the pan. Still, I'm just a bit concerned about safety. As much I love trying new things and experimenting, obviously I don't want to put anyone's health at risk.

Is there anything inherently unsafe from a food perspective about what I'm doing (I'm not worried about knocking it over, starting a fire, etc)? Any thoughts on what the results might be? A cooking grate works well for the ultimate grill marks, and I would think a flat surface would provide the crust I'm looking for.

Thanks in advance.



Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jun 27, 2014
You probably just got the soot on the bottom of your lodge because it essentially blocked the exhaust of the chimney.  The same happens in your grill, it just has much more airflow to vent.  I wouldn't be concerned over any health risks.


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Oct 4, 2012
Your pan was sniffing the fire, which caused the soot. If you try again, place your pans 1"-2" above the top of the chimney. You still might get some soot, but you'll
Get a cleaner burning fire.

When I do this over my rocket stove I get the a same thing.

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