Weird Ash Cook!???

NorCalQ

New member
Let me set this up...
It rained a lot up here and I keep my bagged pellets and pellets in cleaned plastic cat litter containers, outside, under a tarp. *After the rains, the underside of the tarp was wet. *I checked the pellets in the containers and they seemed a bit crumbly, but usable. *The stuff that looked like it was swollen and sawdust like, I dumped. *Now to the cook...
I had an overnight cook in my MAK 2 and used some pellets from a local BBQ retailer that were made for him. *After about 2/3 the way thru the cook, I noticed more smoke coming from the hopper than from the cook chamber. *I emptied out pellets down to the auger and saw lots of crumbly pellets, so I figured that the auger had broken up the soft pellets and jammed up the auger tube. *The MAK was holding temp well, so I let it go for a while longer, but nothing changed. *Fortunately, I was able to fire up the Primo, get it to temp and swap over my chuck for the rest of the cook.
Once the Mak cooled, I looked in the firebox and saw that it was pretty full, so I figured I would have to clean out the auger tube. *The tube looked clear. *When I went to vac out the firebox, I found that it was full of stuff that looked like a mix of sawdust and this weird solid stuff that looked like a cross between glass, plastic and metal, but it was really light weight. *
I've used these pellets before with no problems. *What is this stuff and why did it happen this cook and not prior cooks with the same pellets??? If this is creosote, then why did it happen?
 

KyNola

Member
My guess is that your pellets were moist to begin with and if the air was still humid from the rain or it was still raining, the fan was drawing in very moist air adding to the moisture problem. Another possibility is the actual make up of the pellets. Do you know what the pellets were made with? If it is 100% hickory the MAK can't handle those and will cause the firepot to fill up and cake with ash because the fan throttles back when the target temp is achieved on a "low and slow" cook and the fan can't blow those ashes out. I speak from experience about 100% hickory pellets. If you haven't already you need to ask your retailer what those pellets are made of and who makes them for him.
 

TentHunter

Moderator
I can tell you from experience if you get enough moisture in a bag of pellets to make some of them swell and crumble, then the whole bag is is ruined. Set the bag aside and don't use them in your pellet grill!


Don't throw them away, though. They are still fine for use in pellets pouches for charcoal cookers, or electric smokers. They also make great mulch in potted plants!
 

NorCalQ

New member
FYI...pellets "looked" and felt dry and didn't seem to crumble when I tried to, but that don't mean much. Weather during the cook was mild and dry in NorCal. I have done winter cooks before, but have never seen this stuff in my fire pot before. Really, the whole pot was full of this stuff.
 

KyNola

Member
Because the pellets were moist the ash was too heavy for the fan to blow it out of the firepot because the fan was throttled back for an overnight low and slow cook. I filled a firepot almost to the top with gunk that looked very similar to the large mass in your photo.
 

NorCalQ

New member
They are pellets branded for my local retailer. They were fine in the past so I used them for heat. They are apple/oak.
 

NorCalQ

New member
Another FYI...I've been using 100% Hickory pellets by Lumber Jack for some time. Always got good cooks with average ash in the pot, but never like this. These pellets were apple/oak. This stuff really concerned me. I'm going to do some test cooks with other pellets before I do another cook with meat. Meat is just too expensive these days to do tests on.
 

mcschlotz

Member
I haven't personally used Lumber Jack 100% Hickory but 100% hickory from some companies has been a documented issue in MAK's with most experiencing too much ash. Obviously YMMV. My recommendation is to stick with BBQ'ers Delight plus follow a standard routine of dumping out any remaining fire pot contents before each smoke. Only takes a few seconds.

Hmm... storing pellets in containers outside under a tarp... guess that wouldn't be my first location choice.
 
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onionhead

New member
They are apple/oak.
I had a lot of experience with clinkers when I was growing up with a coal-fired furnace. I, recently, used Pacific Pellets apple blend and had a lot of clinker build up. This even built up on the hot rod. I carefully scraped the clinkers off the rod until I used up all of the apple blend. I will not use that, again. I have since gone to Lumber Jack pellets and am very pleased with the MHC blend.
 
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