Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wet Charcoal. Again. Yep. Again.

Well we finally went and did it. We really really wanted to read the paper presented at the International Association for Fire Safety Science symposium, so we joined the IAFSS! Yep, we are now proud member number 1604! We found some interesting stuff in the paper including a possible source for this myth about storing wet charcoal causing fires due to self heating and spontaneous ignition.

So, we have reorganized the web page, breaking it up into smaller bites. We have added new material from the paper, as well as adding two new references that also assert that the wet charcoal myth is indeed that. And finally, we have added a checklist of these references that you can print out and give to the fire marshal if he tries to blame a house fire on wet charcoal.

You can read all about it here: The Myth About Storing Wet Charcoal.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beer Can Chicken, part 93

We suppose it is no surprise that with the grilling and barbecue season in full swing that discussions of Beer Can Chicken would crop up. We have always maintained that Beer Can Chicken is either a) a waste of time, b) a gimmick, or c) both. We wrote about our experiments doing side-by-side cooking of chickens with beer, chickens with an empty can, chickens with beer and gobs of spices and garlic in this article on our web site. What we found was that a plain chicken sitting on an empty beer can was no more juicy and had no more flavor than a chicken sitting on a can of dark porter loaded with spices and garlic.

In addition to the side-by-side cooking, we also measured the temperature of the beer in the can, inside the chicken. What we found was that the beer never boils and in fact never gets above 170-180° during the cooking process, thus bringing into question the very idea that the beer was being vaporized and then somehow transported into the chicken meat.

Well, a recent discussion questioned that number, suggesting that perhaps if more of the can were outside of the chicken, i.e., more of the can were exposed to the heat, the beer would get hotter and boil. Of course, none of the recipes we had ever seen suggested that this was a critical factor in Beer Can Chicken success, but we took the challenge and tried a new experiment.

We put ½ can of beer in our cooker with a temperature probe in the beer. We recorded the temperature of the beer over the course of a one hour cook, using the same temperature we had used in all our previous experimentation. This represents the best possible situation for getting the beer hot since there is no chicken keeping the beer shielded from the heat.

What did we find? Well, we will be updating our Beer Can Chicken, Myth or Fact? web page this weekend with all the details, but the short story is this. The beer never boiled. It got hotter and got hot faster, but it never came close to boiling. Look for the update to our web page where you will see the graph of the beer temperature vs. time, along with a few other observations.

One additional bit of information: In a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, a writer claims that Beer Can Chicken will make a nice moist chicken, but add no flavor. At least he got it half right.

(UPDATE: We have just posted the update to the web page so you can see the graph.)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like the swallows return every year to San Juan Capistrano, there's been another gasket "debate" regarding the safety of using Rutland gaskets on a ceramic charcoal cooker. (Actually, we know that the swallows no longer return to San Juan Capistrano, but now go to a golf resort about 50 miles away, but we digress.....) We have written articles on the safety of the Rutland gasket, the Cotronics ceramic gasket, and the Nomex gasket used by Big Green Egg. We had planned to write an overview article to compare the information about all three in a summary format, so maybe this Whizlog entry will form the framework of that article get us off our behinds.

Why the debate? Ah, there's a story. There have been claims made by various parties in the past that:
  1. The Rutland gasket will harm unborn fetuses.
  2. Rutland says it is unsafe to use their products around food.
  3. The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Rutland's product contains information showing it is dangerous to use around food.
  4. The MSDS for fiberglass from Corning contains information showing it is dangerous to use around food.
Actually, none of the above statements are true. Let's address them one by one:

The Rutland gasket will harm unborn fetuses. This myth got started because an employee of Big Green Egg made this statement to some of their customers, claiming that Rutland had told them that their product could harm unborn fetuses. First of all, as you can see in the letter from Rutland, Rutland never made any such statement to Big Green Egg. Secondly, we had a phone conversation with this employee who said that they had never been told this explicitly by Rutland, but that Rutland had made it sound like using their product around food was very dangerous and maybe it could do something bad like harm unborn fetuses. However, again, if you view the letter from Rutland, they say they have never made this statement.

Rutland says it is unsafe to use their product around food. If you read what Rutland says, they say that they have no safety data. If they have no safety data, then they will not be able to make a statement that it is safe to use their product around food. However, this is quite a different matter than saying it is unsafe. There is no indication whatsoever in the letter that Rutland says it is unsafe to use their product around food.

The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for Rutland's product contains information showing it is dangerous to use around food. You can read the Rutland MSDS and you will find nothing in it saying it is dangerous to use their product around food. The MSDS is the place where they would document any dangers associated with using their product and there are no such warnings regarding its use around food. (It is also interesting to note that the Technical Data Sheet for Rutland's gasket only says "Not recommended to come in contact with food" as opposed to saying it is dangerous to use it AROUND food.)

The MSDS for fiberglass from Corning contains information showing it is dangerous to use around food. Again, you can read the Corning MSDS for fiberglass and you will find nothing other than a warning about ingesting a large enough quantity to cause physical blockage of the intestines. The Rutland gasket also contains graphite. You can read the details on our web page about the Rutland gasket, but the bottom line is that graphite contains trace amounts of silica, and there has to be prolonged exposure (20-30 years) to high levels of the silica to cause problems.

So, we need to get cracking on that overview article, but for now we hope that you will try to ignore the hysteria and just simply go read the data and make up your own mind regarding the use of any of the three most popular gasket materials used on ceramic charcoal cookers. One place you can find this data is on our Information Central web page. Look for the section on gaskets and you will find all the data we have compiled so far. We think you will find that it is probably safe to use any one of these three materials.


We have just published out latest charcoal review, Charcos Coconut Charcoal. We were a bit hesitant to review another coconut charcoal since lately it seems like there is nothing but junk being sold. Of course, readers will remember the saga of Kamado Extruded Coconut Charcoal. Then there was the aFire Coconut Charcoal disappointment.

However, we checked out the Charcos web site and read the specifications on this charcoal, and it looked promising. You will need to read the review for all the details, but suffice it to say that we were not disappointed. If you have ever wanted to try coconut charcoal for your cooker, you might want to take a look at Charcos. It looks like it would be great for overnight low and slow cooking, as well as for hot and fast grilling.


Monday, July 19, 2010

What Have We Been Doing?

Ok, it's been a while since we updated you on all our projects, so here we go!

First of all, if you haven't heard, we are donating all of the proceeds in the month of July from our Google Ads to American Spirit BBQ. If you aren't familiar with ASBBQ, they cook BBQ for various military groups as a way of saying "Thank You!" to our troops for their service to our country. So far this year, they have cooked for a number of units, and they have 10 more events planned just through the middle of September! We have documented their efforts in an earlier post to this Whizlong so we hope you will consider taking this pain-free way of donating to their efforts. Just click on the ads at the bottom of our webpages and the money generated in July will go to ASBBQ. So far, we have raised about $130 which will feed about 120 people at one of these events.

So, on to what else is happening. We are currently juggling several projects that we need to finish up and get published:
  1. Charcos Coconut Charcoal Review We have completed all the work necessary and are in the midst of writing up the review, so keep an eye out for this!
  2. Damp Charcoal, Myth or Fact? This started as a small discussion on the Big Green Egg Forum. Will leaving charcoal out in high humidity make it damp and therefore hard to light or hard to get up to high temperatures? We will answer this question pretty definitively. We ended our data collection yesterday, and now need to do the analysis and write the web page up.
  3. Bincho Charcoal We are playing around with samples of this expensive commodity. We started by delving into some safety issues. Eventually we plan to do most of what we normally do for a review in order to help you decide if you want to use this type of charcoal. This is a long term project, but one worth doing, we feel.

We suppose you aren't interested in spraying weeds or scrubbing the algae off of the brick walk in front of our front door, but these vital tasks must be performed in order keep the Naked Whiz Publishing Empire running!

And we almost forgot! We are working a project so big, so incredible, so stunning, we can't tell you what it is. We are taking our time so that we get this right. Or at least as right as we can get it. We plan a big announcement party when the time is right, so don't be surprised if you see something really wild and crazy when you visit our web pages in the next couple of months!


nakedwhiz.com       Home       Search Our Site       Email The Whiz       Listen To Whizcast       Whizlog       Buy Whiz Gear       Privacy Policy
All Contents ©2001, 2010 The Naked Whiz