Do you know what the most asked question is when you plan for a barbeque party? It has to be the question about grill vents! There inevitably will be someone who has questions about that. This article is to help those people who don’t know about how these vents workers have confusion like what, exactly, they are for.
Here, we’ll be using the example of the iconic kettle grill of the Weber-Stephen Product, as the Weber kettle grill has been an easy to use and reliable backyard fixture since 1893.
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Every best smoker or grill generally has a set. Weber grills usually use an intake damper, or lower vent, and an exhaust damper, or lid vent. Basic as they are, these enveloped openings are essential to managing grill temperature. How they work is given here:
- Bottom Vents: The bottom vents or lower vents of the grill exactly have one job, and it is to fuel the fire with the oxygen. They work as intake dampers which take fresh air from outside to replace the burnt oxygen due to ignition. It is third-grade science that the more air gets inside, the hotter the fire becomes. The perfect idea is to start with all bottom vents open when using a Weber grill. Then close each part partially to get the charcoals burning at the rate for the type of fire you want.
- Top Vents: These vents are found on the lid or the topper part of the grill as the name suggest, and they help to vent the hot air and smoke out of the top of the grill to keep your foods safe from carbon mono oxide. These vents are more crucial than you might think as the exhausting done by them is needed to pull out fresh air through the bottom vent! If you close them, you’ll kill your fire. In most cases, it’ll be better if you leave them open all the way and use the bottom vents instead to manage grill temperature.
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Using the Vents to Control Temperature
It is a known fact that cooking is mainly about controlling the temperature as you don’t want to end up with burnt foods or undercooked meals. We’ve already established the fact that Oxygen enters the lower vent and fuels the charcoal, while the lid vent’s job is to let heat and combustion gases out. To control the temperature of your grill, you have to know it. Generally, the thermometer supplied with the grill is off by 50 degrees. So try to replace with a digital one which lets you check the temperature without opening the lid keeping the vents active.
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Grilling with Your Weber Grill
First, start by allowing your coals to ash over in a chimney starter. It will take several minutes. Then, uncover all the vents of the grill. To do it, rotate the top vents’ cover clockwise, and the bottom vents’ cover anticlockwise till the vents are not fully opened. After that, remove the kindled charcoal from the chimney starter followed by lifting the cooking grid.
Then close the lid after replacing the cooking grid. Let your grill’s temperature reach to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius). The temperature and atmosphere have effects on how long does it take the grill to heat.
Once your grill reaches to 350 F, slide the bottom vent’s handle to the center position and let it heat for another 5 minutes.
Make sure to double check before you lay the food down on your grill, it should be kept between 325 and 350 F. If it needs to increase the temperature by up to 50 degrees, you need to open the bottom vent by sliding the handle about half an inch to the left; to lower the temperature by up to 50 degrees, slide the handle to the right about half inch.
Managing Vents for Smoking on Weber Grill
When you want to smoke meats and chickens and fish on your weber grill, build a two-zone fire. Keep hot coals and wood chips on one side of the tray and filled the other half with much cooler one and also water filled pan underneath the meat. Then open the vents situated directly under and over the meat. Keep all the other vents covered unless you need to change the heat. Keep your grill’s temperature hovering around 225 F.
Some Tips and Tricks from Yours Truly!
- As you try to master your grill and adjust your system, it is best for you to leave the top damper open.
- Do some practice runs without food to learn about it.
- Try use aromatic wood to give your meats exotic flavors.
- If you see the temperature drop under 200 F during smoking, add a layer of fresh coals.
- The color of the smoke should be gray. Check the grill for a flare-up if you see black smoke and move the food to a cooler part of the grill.
- Run some tests to find leaks before you use your grill.
- Don’t play with the exhaust vent until you can hit the temperature marks by only adjusting the lowers vents.
- Don’t forget that oxygen of air cannot reach the coals unless there is a way by which the combustion gases (carbon dioxide, carbon mono oxide) to exit.
- Beware of the carbon mono oxide! So don’t use your Weber kettle grill indoor.
So to conclude this article, I’ll remind you once again of those things you need to do. Leave the exhaust damper open and control the temperature solely with the intake damper. Run dry tests without food to calibrate your system. And of course practice- as you know that it WILL make you perfect! I wish you have a pleasant BBQ experience with the Best Smoker and grilling machine, Weber Kettle Grill by mastering the usage of its vents from the help of this article.