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Coal Base

 
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BorderCop
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Joined: 06 Dec 2015
Posts: 42
Location: Blythe, CA

PostPosted: Wed May 25 16 12:25 am    Post subject: Coal Base Reply with quote

Just looking to see how many pounds of charcoal you use to start your coal base. How often do you add charcoal, if at all. How about wood?

I did my first cook this past weekend but I'm looking to improve. I've also looked through the forum but couldn't find anything that specifically addressed the questions. The smoker is a RF 250 gal cooking chamber with a firebox that is approximately 29x27x29 (or somewhere close).

Thx

Sam
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brutus1964
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Joined: 01 Apr 2014
Posts: 519
Location: Pinson, Tn.

PostPosted: Wed May 25 16 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure that there is a simple standard answer to your question. Cookers vary as well as the conditions that you are cooking with (the temp are you trying to maintain, how well does the cooker draft, outside temp, wind, humidity etc etc). Start a fire with a set amount of coals (5 lbs, 10lbs, 1 chimney, 2 chimneys, etc.) Once you have made a fire and cooked with an amount you should get an idea if you need more or less. Most cookers have a sweet spot that they will run at with little effort. Find the sweet spot and let the cooker settle in and don't try to fight it. Example-I start my cooker with about 10 lbs of charcoal and add 2 sticks of hickory that is about 2" square and about 18" long. My cooker will run at about 260-275 for about 45-55 minutes and then the temp will start dropping. As soon as my temp looks like it is starting to drop, I will add 2 more sticks that I have had sitting on my firebox ( this will allow the new sticks to ignite almost immediately and burn clean). My cooker will very seldom drop below 250 or rise above 280 if I stay on top of it and maintain my fire. Sometimes on long cooks I will add a chimney of hot charcoal after about 4 hours or so if I start to lose my coal base. I hope this helps.
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BorderCop
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Joined: 06 Dec 2015
Posts: 42
Location: Blythe, CA

PostPosted: Wed May 25 16 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

brutus1964 wrote:
I'm not sure that there is a simple standard answer to your question. Cookers vary as well as the conditions that you are cooking with (the temp are you trying to maintain, how well does the cooker draft, outside temp, wind, humidity etc etc). Start a fire with a set amount of coals (5 lbs, 10lbs, 1 chimney, 2 chimneys, etc.) Once you have made a fire and cooked with an amount you should get an idea if you need more or less. Most cookers have a sweet spot that they will run at with little effort. Find the sweet spot and let the cooker settle in and don't try to fight it. Example-I start my cooker with about 10 lbs of charcoal and add 2 sticks of hickory that is about 2" square and about 18" long. My cooker will run at about 260-275 for about 45-55 minutes and then the temp will start dropping. As soon as my temp looks like it is starting to drop, I will add 2 more sticks that I have had sitting on my firebox ( this will allow the new sticks to ignite almost immediately and burn clean). My cooker will very seldom drop below 250 or rise above 280 if I stay on top of it and maintain my fire. Sometimes on long cooks I will add a chimney of hot charcoal after about 4 hours or so if I start to lose my coal base. I hope this helps.


Thanks Brutus, it does help. I realize that all smokers will be different, but gathering the information from as many sources as possible will help me gauge what my target conditions should be. Thanks again.
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necron 99
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Joined: 04 Aug 2007
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Location: San Antonio, TX

PostPosted: Wed May 25 16 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use 1 full Weber chimney of lit charcoal to start my 24" offset, but I also have one half to a full chimney of unlit charcoal in the firebox plus a split of smoke wood I dump it on top of. Firebox is round 24" diameter x 24" long.

This lasts me 3 to 4 hours or so adding a fresh split as one burns up before needing to add more charcoal. This varies by brand of charcoal and by size distribution per bag of charcoal. I do not use mineral blend briquettes but use lump and / or briquettes lacking mineral coal such as Royal Oak Chef's Select.

if I'm proactive and watching the pit close enough I add just unlit charcoal to replenish, but often I wind up adding a lit chimney as well if I don't catch it just right.

FWIW I have a good diffuser plate in this offset so I expect your RF will use less, but not a whole lot less, fuel.
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BorderCop
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Joined: 06 Dec 2015
Posts: 42
Location: Blythe, CA

PostPosted: Thu May 26 16 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

necron 99 wrote:
I use 1 full Weber chimney of lit charcoal to start my 24" offset, but I also have one half to a full chimney of unlit charcoal in the firebox plus a split of smoke wood I dump it on top of. Firebox is round 24" diameter x 24" long.

This lasts me 3 to 4 hours or so adding a fresh split as one burns up before needing to add more charcoal. This varies by brand of charcoal and by size distribution per bag of charcoal. I do not use mineral blend briquettes but use lump and / or briquettes lacking mineral coal such as Royal Oak Chef's Select.

if I'm proactive and watching the pit close enough I add just unlit charcoal to replenish, but often I wind up adding a lit chimney as well if I don't catch it just right.

FWIW I have a good diffuser plate in this offset so I expect your RF will use less, but not a whole lot less, fuel.


Good info. Much appreciated.
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