Getting a clean burn on my 3 - why do I continually fail?

abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15

I’ve cooked about a dozen pizzas and the majority have turned out well and been enjoyed by the eater. But several, including mine on two occasions have tasted like fuel. I’ve asked for assistance from ooni and received the standard response of drip the pellets in slowly.

I do that, get a good fire going, and then add the pellets into the hopper up to the invisible line suggested by ooni. Then it burns and I see the dark smoke come out of the chimney and soot lines the sides of my unit. I wait until the black smoke is gone and then I put a pie in and mostly they turn out okay. But when I tap the hopper or top off the hopper or something, bam i get the fuel tasting pizza.

I want consistency. Would really like to see a comprehensive video by ooni or a member that shows how to manage the hopper and pellets and cook w/o getting the fuel flavor. Thanks!

Comments

  • mozzafellamozzafella Ooni Community Member Posts: 70

    Sounds like it's your pellets, what ones are you using?

  • abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15

    I’ve tried several types from big manufacturers. Got another bag of oak pellets from a good manufacturer in the US and they told me it is nothing but wood - no binder. So will try again. The new bag of oak pellets is from bbq delight.

  • mozzafellamozzafella Ooni Community Member Posts: 70

    Other things to ensure are, that the pellets are dry and that the oven is up to temp

  • abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15

    Thanks @mozzafella I believe the pellets are dry - certainly not wet; and the pizzas come out fine from a cooked perspective. Nice crust on the bottom, great edges with coloring, nice top, etc.
    example product.

  • mozzafellamozzafella Ooni Community Member Posts: 70
    edited February 4

    Strange, you don't usually get flavor from the pellets unless you have an incomplete combustion.
    My favourite pellets were cookingpellets, I hear trager are good tho, never found a uk stockist.

  • abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15

    Traeger was the first pellets I used.

  • KevinKevin Ooni Team Posts: 115

    @abscam said:
    But several, including mine on two occasions have tasted like fuel.

    Hey abscam! As mozzafella has mentioned above, your pellets might have absorbed some moisture which is causing them to smoke. Pellets will absorb moisture from the atmosphere too so it's important to keep them in an airtight container. If they're particularly old then they won't perform as well.

    @abscam said:
    I want consistency. Would really like to see a comprehensive video by ooni or a member that shows how to manage the hopper and pellets and cook w/o getting the fuel flavor. Thanks!

    Have you seen this video?

    It's detailed and shows the best method for lighting and maintaining temps. It sounds like your pellets are getting stuck in the hopper and, when you top up, they are dropping in rather than trickling. This can dampen the flame. Top up every 5 or so minutes and tap the hopper to make sure there's no blockage.

    It might be worth taking note of the variables (pellets, weather, temperatures on your stone) of your different cooks to see if you can try to control the part that is causing this flavour.

    Good luck :)

  • abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15

    I'll have another go of it w/ these new pellets - in unsealed bag. Yes I've watched that video a number of times. I also asked a question about the hopper and the screw that can be adjusted in/out to change the angle of the metal piece, but never received an answer on that. Jamie in support did provide me with the standard advice and the quick start guide, which I've read and reread. So perhaps the pellets have been bad and that has caused issues. Fingers crossed this new unopened bag will do the trick.

  • pastryneilpastryneil Ooni Community Member Posts: 9

    I have a slightly different method that works every time. Except when it’s windy, or when I had poor pellets. In which case it was a disaster!

    I use a jam funnel, or the hopper extender. I pour pellets in the hopper all the way to the top, fill up the jam funnel if it’s on. I pull the hopper back about 5mm to improve airflow.

    Then with a blowtorch light from the side through the little hole. I hold it there for about 20 seconds.

    Then I have a small fan pointed at the back of the grate, and leave it there until the oven is ready.

    Every 4-5 minutes I give the hopper a little tap to make sure the pellets are feeding down.

    Then I move the fan about 20 seconds before I launch the pizza. Cook the pizza, then put the fan back on while I make the next pizza.

    The fan keeps the pellets burning with good airflow. When you take the fan off you will see a little smoke, but that’s why I wait 20’seconds before launching.

    As long as you have good pellets this method works. And with the hopper extender or jam funnel you won’t need to keep topping up.

    You know when you have a bad burn because your crust will have a grey look, rather than charred. And it tastes awful!

  • abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15

    @pastryneil thanks for the suggestion. I have a battery powered fan now. I don't have an extender or jam funnel, but suspect they are only necessary if you don't want to have to continue to fill - which is a pain frankly as Unni eats pellets for sure. I'll try your suggestion w/ the fan usage.

  • pastryneilpastryneil Ooni Community Member Posts: 9

    The hopper extender is best, but jam funnel works well also. With the hopper extender I can fill it up, heat the oven and cook 8 pizza before I need to add more pell

  • jnct8817jnct8817 Ooni Community Member Posts: 1
    I have the same issue. It will be burning good then out of no where it looks like a old coal train billowing black smoke. Any ideas?
  • KevinKevin Ooni Team Posts: 115
    jnct8817 said:
    I have the same issue. It will be burning good then out of no where it looks like a old coal train billowing black smoke. Any ideas?
    This sounds like there's a blockage in the hopper and the pellets are dropping in bulk in one go. Give your hopper a wee tap with the scoop/cap when you top up.

    abscam said:

    I'll have another go of it w/ these new pellets - in unsealed bag. Yes I've watched that video a number of times. I also asked a question about the hopper and the screw that can be adjusted in/out to change the angle of the metal piece, but never received an answer on that. Jamie in support did provide me with the standard advice and the quick start guide, which I've read and reread. So perhaps the pellets have been bad and that has caused issues. Fingers crossed this new unopened bag will do the trick.

    Hey @abscam! We like to 'set it and forget it' when it comes to the pellets slide. I personally leave it open with 1" of space for the pellets to flow through :) 
  • pastryneilpastryneil Ooni Community Member Posts: 9
    Did you ever get anywhere with this?
  • abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15
    @pastryneil I made two pizzas last Friday night and one was inedible and the other was fine, but not well cooked.  I let the pellets burn down, didn’t have the flame coming across the top, etc on #2. Sunday I cooked two more and was very conservative on my flame and once the ooni was heated I didn’t add many more pellets - hopper was never full.  Pizzas were both edible, but the crust wasn’t done enough, as the heat was down.  So still have issues here.
  • Wburgman757Wburgman757 Ooni Community Member Posts: 13
    I live in a high-humidity environment, had a similar problem until I started dehydrating enough pellets for a cook session in the oven for 15 min or so, makes a huge difference in how clean burn is.  Stick with it, it’ll get better.


  • njones42njones42 Ooni Community Member Posts: 5
    I’ve always had success using the standard hopper, but making sure the fire tray isn’t pushed in all the way. By leaving a small gap of maybe 5mm I’ve found it really helps the airflow and stops me getting all the black smoke. Also keep tapping it regularly to make sure the pellets are not blocking up. 
  • WinetosserWinetosser Ooni Community Member Posts: 17
    Could be a dirty burn from partial combustion. Pellets might be stuck, then dump.
  • nboschnbosch Ooni Community Member Posts: 13
    I've never had an issue with my Traeger pellets. I keep them in a plastic tote.
  • abscamabscam Ooni Community Member Posts: 15
    I live in a high-humidity environment, had a similar problem until I started dehydrating enough pellets for a cook session in the oven for 15 min or so, makes a huge difference in how clean burn is.  Stick with it, it’ll get better.


    @[email protected] what temp do you run the oven to dry out your pellets?
  • jesperjesper Ooni Community Member Posts: 6
    Try to open the back a little bit to increase air flow
  • becs46becs46 Ooni Community Member Posts: 5
    I’m in the uk and had exactly this issue last year. Your photo looks identical, the horrible fume blackness on the top rather than burn colour. For us it was purely and simply the pellets. We tried a cheap brand here and we had pizzas like this every time. Switched back to the ooni pellets and never had the issue again.
  • MattLuy11MattLuy11 Ooni Community Member Posts: 6
    Repeating what others have said here. Jam funnel or hopper extender in combination with a small fan directly behind the pellet box will work wonders. Only thing I would add is to tap the hopper with your peel every so often to make sure the pellets are being fed smoothly. Sometimes there's a blockage that needs a little massaging to pass into the flames 
  • Wburgman757Wburgman757 Ooni Community Member Posts: 13
    I live in a high-humidity environment, had a similar problem until I started dehydrating enough pellets for a cook session in the oven for 15 min or so, makes a huge difference in how clean burn is.  Stick with it, it’ll get better.


    My oven doesn't have a 'warm' feature which would work, so I usually set mine at 150F or so - warm enough to drive out moisture but not so high that I run the risk of ignition.  I have known people to successfully dehydrate peppers, herbs, mushrooms, etc, in their car on a sunny way with the windows up except for one or two cracked to allow some ventilation, so that would probably work as well!
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