When Your Big Green Egg Won’t Heat Well
A common lament from new Big Green Egg owners (and other kamado style grill owners) is, “why doesn’t my grill get as hot as it did when I first used it?” This is usually heard after the new owner has had two or three cooks and seen the dome temperature up in the 600 to 700+ degree range (you can get it hotter, but not usually recommended).
Fortunately, this is easily remedied. Assuming that the user has both vents wide open and that the charcoal is not wet, the issue is that the charcoal from the previous cooks has deteriorated into smaller pieces and generated ash that has not dropped into the ash bin. This is limiting the airflow and therefore limiting the oxygen that can get to the fire.
To achieve the previous hot temperatures, simply remove all of the charcoal in the pit and replace it with new charcoal (keep in mind, some charcoals will not burn as hot as others). Make sure to clear out any ash in the vent holes in the bottom of the pit. You can use a small stick or screwdriver to clear the vent holes. Of course you also want to make sure the ash bin is cleared of ash as well.
You definitely want an ash rake to clear out the ash bin. BGE and others also make an ash pan that helps clear the bin. This can be useful, but any receptacle will do as long as you are certain that the ash is not hot. Some egg owners will use a shop vac to completely remove all ash from the grill. This is not usually necessary.
The old charcoal you removed does not necessarily need to be thrown away. You can store it to use when you are using your egg for long slow cooks (ex: pork shoulders). For those cooks you don’t need to get the grill into its upper ranges and the smaller charcoal will work just fine.