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How much charcoal

 
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eightysixCJ



Joined: 21 Oct 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Brooklyn, NY

PostPosted: Tue Nov 14 06 8:48 pm    Post subject: How much charcoal Reply with quote

Hello all,

I'm getting the feel for my new smoker, reverse flow, offset, 20"x38" smoke chamber with an 18"x18"x19" firebox, and wanted to get some idea if I am using enough/too much charcoal.

I am using a charcoal basket, 12"x12"x6". I start by filling the basket with unlit lump and add about 3/4 of a starter of hot coals. Gets up to 250-275 fine. With adding some wood for flavor and some more lump during the cook it takes about 10 pounds of lump to cook 4-5 hours at 260.

Does that sound about right or should I play with the vents to slow the burning or just use more lump?

Getting to 300 take a bit more time and lump.

Thanks,

Tom
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krimson_cardnal
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Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 41
Location: Up State New York

PostPosted: Tue Nov 14 06 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you're doing okay to me.

You using chunk wood or splits for "flavor"? Don't try to be stingy with the fuel. Go for a good burn with light smoke most of the time. If you try and slow it down too much you're going to start smoldering - not good, not no how. K_C
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cwall1313
BBQ Fan


Joined: 27 Sep 2006
Posts: 113
Location: Alexandria, VA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 15 06 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

86-

Sounds like we use the same type of smoker and I also use a charcoal basket that Badcat helped me with. Mine is just slightly bigger at 12x12x9. Definitely play with the vents to get the maximum burn time out of your charcoal. With mine, if I close the vent to about a 1/5 of the way open and have the damper halfway closed, I can get a 5-6hr burn out of one basket full at 225-250. Not sure you want to go above 250. When you start to hit the 300's you border on baking rather than smoking. Of course, everything is personal so you'll have to find what you like by trial and error.

And, the type of charcoal you use depends on how long you can keep temps up. By my house, I have two choices, Cowboy and Royal Oak. With Cowboy lump, I get about a 4hr burn time, with RO, I can get a solid six hours. Hope this helps.
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eightysixCJ



Joined: 21 Oct 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Brooklyn, NY

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16 06 4:30 am    Post subject: How much charcoal Reply with quote

Thanks for the input!

I have been using Wicked Good Weekend Warrior. My target temp is 225-250 which has been holding pretty well for 4-5 hours with outside temps in the mid fifties. I wanted to get an idea if my fuel consuption was way off or in the ballpark. Glad to hear I'm close. I am also thinking of lining the firebox with insulation bricks and sealing around the smokebox door.

Closing the vents had an immediate effect on dropping the temp. I was avoiding closing the chimney damper because I heard that would cause too much smoke on the food. Any opinions on how much effect on the food that has? Or is the effect more when the wood is smoking as opposed to when the coals are hot and smoking less?
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cwall1313
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Joined: 27 Sep 2006
Posts: 113
Location: Alexandria, VA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16 06 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I get my smoker up to temp, I usually leave the damper alone. I will adjust the vent from time to time depending on outside conditions and airflow, but you mainly control the amount of smoke with how much wood you use. I generally use 3-4 nice size chunks per basket and try to keep the smoke on the meat for 75% of the time. This method has worked well for me so far.

In my first venture I completely oversmoked some ribs and while it wasn't the worst thing i've ever eaten, it wasn't as good as that nice balance between smoke, rub, and sauce. Rule of thumb is you want a steady stream of "blue" smoke, not billowing white smoke. When I first started reading about this "blue" smoke I had no idea what anybody was talking about, but trust me, when you get it right you can't mistake it.

Again, there is no right or wrong to your answer, it completely depends on your taste. I use hickory and 3-4 chunks gives my shoulder and turkeys a very nice smoke flavor but if your using a sweeter wood like apple you may want to use a little more than that. The greatest thing about q'ing that I have seen so far is, classroom time is so much fun.
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Hoochie-Que
BBQ Fan


Joined: 27 Sep 2006
Posts: 371
Location: Park City, UT

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16 06 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generally speaking, on most smokers you will want to pretty much leave that chimney damper open (90% or better), and manage temp, burn rate, etc. using your vents... About the only time I have seen it suggested that you close that chimney damper down is if you have a fire "out of control" and you need to "shut things down"... Closing the chimney damper will normally choke the fire, things (charcoal/lump/wood) are going to begin to smolder, and the Que - well, the flavor will be rather sorry to terrible... Shocked

Lump is great, but it does burn hotter as a rule of thumb... And lump varies from brand to brand, too... Learn to manage the lump you use by regulating the amount you use and adjusting your vents... Cool
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eightysixCJ



Joined: 21 Oct 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Brooklyn, NY

PostPosted: Fri Nov 17 06 7:46 pm    Post subject: How much charcoal Reply with quote

Great info, thanks!

Tom
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