SmokeFire Grease Fire: Who Has Had One? What Is One?

GrillnFool

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The design is brilliant and the cooker works great.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a Webber fan, I have owned multiple Weber products. I've been first in line at the yearly Weber summer sale, so I'm no Weber hater. But, There's no such thing as 'perfect.' If it were perfect, Weber wouldn't recommend using drip pans to help the performance -- their words, not mine (see:
).
 

Goneincognito

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New EX6 owner - my second pellet smoker. I bought it because: 1) it has incredible capacity and versatility, 2) the chute to the firebox which should reduce chances of a hopper fire, 3) the long shutdown period and reversing of the auger for safety,, 4) weber build quality -- heavier metal/insulation than most pellet grills. With all that, I'm on the fence.

Why? I'm running with two drip pans (like Harry Soo) in the bottom of the grill cuz I hate cleanup and I keep it super clean. On my second cook I did 16 chicken thighs which started slow and finished at 375 (cooked on the right side). I experienced more flare-ups on this new, nearly pristine grill, than I expected. Maybe I needed a drip pan directly under the rack or should have cooked them on the left side, but I wanted crispy skin. I also cooked a rib roast (left side, with a drip pan directly below rack). I finished it at 400 degrees for that wonderful char. Total success for the cook with minimal flare-up, but I saw a lot of hot embers landing in the grease/ash drawer when cooking at 400. That didn't make me comfortable. Has any one else seen that or experienced that behavior or a drawer fire?

Initial thoughts ... any grill that requires extra drip pans to keep it safe is badly designed.
You said it yourself.. You hate cleanup so you use a pan. That's got nothing to do with bad design.
Many people dont use pans and have no problems.
You mention Harry Soo... Go look at one of his earlier SF videos. He loads it up with pork butt (I think) and the draw is overflowing with grease. No problem on that cook.
The grease fires and fires in the draws that I have seen are all from people not cleaning them out between cooks or before a high heat cook.
You will get flare ups no matter what grill you cook on or the age of the grill.
 

JpsBBQ

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I only use a pan if I wish to easily manage the grease and clean up. I rarely do so unless I’m doing a couple butts or maybe a brisket that I know will render tons of fat. I see guys doing so on every other brand of pellet cooker that as Bruno said “have a huge drip pan” known as the heat deflector and or grease drip tray. That said, I cook all the time without drip pans and am extremely delinquent in my cleaning protocols. No issues at all. I feel you have to be pretty negligent to instigate a fire. It can happen, but the design is actually better than a drip tray for preventing grease fires. Period.
 

GrillnFool

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Most pellet grills have huge drip pans
You are missing the point here ... agreed, most pellet grills have heat deflectors and/or grease trays. Why? Their purpose is twofold -- to create an indirect cooking environment and to channel grease away from the flame. Unless they have a mechanism to move that deflector, they always cook indirect. The SF has a very small heat deflector which allows it to cook somewhat direct and somewhat indirect. Therefore, it never cooks exclusively either way. In trying to build a pit that cooks both ways there had to be compromises. When cooking low and slow (more indirect) there are still some open flames. When grilling direct, some of the flames are blocked. Block the flame too much and higher temps can't be achieved (the pitfall of most pellet grills). Weber chose a small deflector to allowing reaching higher temps, but then sadly they channeled the grease right to the flame. That combination caused a potential issue - grease fires. I don't think Weber was recommending the drip trays for easy cleanup. I believe were suggesting their use to shield the meat from the flame, create a more indirect cooking environemnt and keep the grease away from the flame. If they are recommending trays for that reason, not for just for easy cleanup, they are admitting the design is flawed. So yes, I use foil pans for easy cleanup (just like I foil the deflector on a typical pellet grill). But I am also using another pan to shield the meat from the direct flames to avoid the potential flare up (and if it's a really long cook I might fill it with water). Do I want to have to do so for the life of the cooker? Not really, it get's expensive.
 

JpsBBQ

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You are missing the point here ... agreed, most pellet grills have heat deflectors and/or grease trays. Why? Their purpose is twofold -- to create an indirect cooking environment and to channel grease away from the flame. Unless they have a mechanism to move that deflector, they always cook indirect. The SF has a very small heat deflector which allows it to cook somewhat direct and somewhat indirect. Therefore, it never cooks exclusively either way. In trying to build a pit that cooks both ways there had to be compromises. When cooking low and slow (more indirect) there are still some open flames. When grilling direct, some of the flames are blocked. Block the flame too much and higher temps can't be achieved (the pitfall of most pellet grills). Weber chose a small deflector to allowing reaching higher temps, but then sadly they channeled the grease right to the flame. That combination caused a potential issue - grease fires. I don't think Weber was recommending the drip trays for easy cleanup. I believe were suggesting their use to shield the meat from the flame, create a more indirect cooking environemnt and keep the grease away from the flame. If they are recommending trays for that reason, not for just for easy cleanup, they are admitting the design is flawed. So yes, I use foil pans for easy cleanup (just like I foil the deflector on a typical pellet grill). But I am also using another pan to shield the meat from the direct flames to avoid the potential flare up (and if it's a really long cook I might fill it with water). Do I want to have to do so for the life of the cooker? Not really, it get's expensive.
Just wrong on so many levels. You have to be almost willfully negligent to get a grease fire. It is superior to a grease tray sitting directly above the heat source. Sure the grease channels towards a container, but much of it adheres to the surfaces. The only reason there aren’t more grease fires in other cookers, and there are plenty, is they do a much worse job of grilling so people rarely cook above 375 degrees. The grease in the Smokefire is not channeled to the fire. It’s channeled adjacent to it and below the top of the fire pot which is where it’s hottest by a mile. Heat rises. Again, heat rises. Flare ups (grease fire) might occur when some residual grease is adhered to a deflector. True of any cooker. The rest is largely BS. It should also burn off fairly quickly and can be mitigated by keeping the lid closed. True with all cookers. You don’t need drip trays. You can use them if you want, just like millions do with any number of pellet cookers or charcoal cookers for that matter, but they aren’t required. I’m sure Weber recommends their use to avoid this same sort of discussion with someone who can’t get out of their own way. 🙄🙄🙄

The design is genius. Can you screw it up? I’m confident you can. 🤷🏼‍♂️
 

bbqking

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So just a suggestion. Dollar stores have drip trays for good prices. You can buy bulk trays at Costco. You can reuse drip trays. I had a brisket wrap leak probably 2-3 cups of grease into the bottom of my SmokeFire. Did not cause a grease fire. It defiantly was hot enough to ignite. But I knew it was there…so I cleaned it up.(very messy) and I took awhile for residual grease to “burn” off. Still no fire. I use drip pans to keep clean up down. And not just in my SmokeFire. I still haven’t figured out how some have had these grease fires…
 

bbqking

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By the way…if I haven’t already said it welcome @grillinfool. Glad to have you. We all like grilling food pics, so feel free to post those pics.
 

MrPhilGrillTX

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So turns out if you reuse your drip pans for a high heat cook, you tend to get grease fires. Learned it from a friend. 😳
Who realized what was happening and was able to shut the grill down without much (any?) damage other than plan B dinner that night. (Grill was preheating, no burned meat.)
 

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So turns out if you reuse your drip pans for a high heat cook, you tend to get grease fires. Learned it from a friend. 😳
Who realized what was happening and was able to shut the grill down without much (any?) damage other than plan B dinner that night. (Grill was preheating, no burned meat.)
Yeah... Funny how that can happen.
Did they intentionally reuse the pan?
 

JpsBBQ

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So turns out if you reuse your drip pans for a high heat cook, you tend to get grease fires. Learned it from a friend. 😳
Who realized what was happening and was able to shut the grill down without much (any?) damage other than plan B dinner that night. (Grill was preheating, no burned meat.)
This goes directly to my point about other grill designs which have the grease pan permanently above the fire/heat source. I don’t care how good it drains, some clingers to the surface and is a viable candidate for a fire. Pans are for convenience of clean up and cooks below 375.
 

JpsBBQ

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Yeah... Funny how that can happen.
Did they intentionally reuse the pan?
Reusing the pan should not be an issue for low and slow cooks as animal fat combusts at 375. Crank it up however and it’s ready to go.
 

Don D.

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Had one this past Sunday evening. I always use pans for all my cooks. They can be reused for low and slow. Past couple of weekends I've been reverse searing some steaks. And I take off the drip pans beforehand. That's why I love my front shelf, that's what I put the pans on while the grill is going up to 600. I did not clean the grill in a while and had a small grease fire while I was searing. Nothing major. Burnt itself out rather quickly. Totally my lack of cleaning not the SF fault at all.
 

JpsBBQ

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Had one this past Sunday evening. I always use pans for all my cooks. They can be reused for low and slow. Past couple of weekends I've been reverse searing some steaks. And I take off the drip pans beforehand. That's why I love my front shelf, that's what I put the pans on while the grill is going up to 600. I did not clean the grill in a while and had a small grease fire while I was searing. Nothing major. Burnt itself out rather quickly. Totally my lack of cleaning not the SF fault at all.
Still not totally clear on what happened here, but just keep in mind that at 600 with a marbled steak, you will get small flare ups that are like mini grease fires but burn off relatively quickly. Happens in any grill that can get really hot. You’ll see it in steak house kitchens too. Not saying that’s what you experienced as I wasn’t there but wanted to put it out there. Enjoy!
 

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