fuel usage between WSM 18.5" and 22.5"

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by bigdaddyque, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. bigdaddyque

    bigdaddyque Newbie

    Hi all,  I'm going to buy a WSM, but like many others, unsure of size.  I originally hadn't considered the 18.5", but everyone keeps talking about how the 22.5" uses too much fuel.  The problem is, they can't tell me how much more it uses, they just say it's not worth it.  I'm starting to wonder if it is true.  I have been using a UDS, but didn't do a good job building it, and don't have time to do another.  so two questions, please help.

    1. how much more coals does the 22.5" actually use? anyone have both sizes?  I use lump.  If you could tell me how many more pounds you need for say ribs and brisket, that would help!  I also use a digiQ to control temp.

    2. How does the fuel usage compare to a UDS.  They seem to be similar size, and I have had no issues with fuel consumption in the UDS, I have yet to have to load extra coals, there is always leftover.  is it worse than a UDS?

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Man, and I thought I was analytical. 

    I've only got the 22.5" WSM and a 22.5" Kettle.  When I used the Kettle alone to smoke meat I went through about 15-20 lbs a month.  It required constant tending and I rarely smoked anything that took longer than 6-8 hours. 

    When I bumped up to the 22.5" WSM my fuel usage increased to about 40 lbs a month.   When I added the Guru it dropped to about 25 lbs on average and my average smoke was just over 4 hours.  I started smoking more for work, neighbors, and curing so my average smoke now is just under six hours.  I tend to smoke at 250 to 350F depending on the meat.  A long smoke for me now is 12 hours.  My fuel usage is back up to 35-40 lbs / month.

    I stock up on KBB when it is on sale during the summer holidays, twin paks for $9.88.  It was 40 lbs, now it is 37.2 lbs in a twin pack and you won't get as long a smoke with the briquettes packed less densely.

    You use lump and I have too.  I'm migrating back in that direction if I can find the lump I prefer. 

    My guess is that you might get a 25% reduction in fuel usage between the 18.5" and the 22.5".  Lets say you use 40 lbs a month in the 22.5 and 30 lbs a month in the 18.5.  If you are using lump at 75 cents a pound, the monthly difference in price is $7.50.  If using KBB at 26.6 cents a pound, the price difference is  $2.66 / month. 

    I see this is your first post so welcome to SMF!  Be sure to stop over at Roll Call and say "HI!"
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
  3. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You guys are not analytical, you're anal. 37.2 lbs,@ $0.266, WTF? I use Royal Oak lump started with Royal Oak briqs. I enjoy smoking and eating and could care less what the coal cost is. When I had a 22.5 WSM, and had a small or short cook, I would use an 18.5 charcoal ring in my 22.5. As for leftover coal, the WSM will close the air down completely and leftover coal will extinguish and be there for next time. I don't know how the UDS does in that regard, never had one. Good luck, Joe

    BTW, What is the net cost per ounce of the average pork butt after trimming the fat and after cooking when 13.875 grams of collagen has rendered out? Just to give you guys something to think about...lol
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well let's see my mini-WSM @265 runs for 16-18 hours on one basket of charcoal which equals about a fourth of a 18 pound bag. My 18.5 WSM and my UDS both can hold a 18 pound bag and I can get 22-26 hours on one load if running 225-250. I rarely use the UDS or the 18.5. I use my mini-wsm's everyday.
  5. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Can't speak for the smaller stuff, but I have the 22.5" WSM and basically use two load variations both start with a 20 lb. bag of Kingsford Blue Bag:

    Long smoke load: this is for smokes longer than 8 hrs. (brisket, pork butt, etc) - I fill my chimney starter and set it aside, dump about half of remaining bag into charcoal ring, put 4 or 5  fist sized chunks of wood on top, dump in rest of bag, top with another 4 or 5 chunks of wood. Light the chimney and once it is full lit dump it in the middle of pile. That will run at 250° for 18+ hrs in the winter and 22+ hrs in the summer.

    Shorter smokes I use the same process, but stop after adding the first layer of wood, so basically it is the same load cut in half. With the half load I can get 8+ hrs in the winter and 10+ hrs in the summer.

    Another way I maximize my fuel use is that I load my smoker with meat, then vacuum pack what we don't eat for dinner and use it for meals throughout the month. That way I'm only firing up my smoker roughly 1x per month, but I still have smokey good meat all month long! [​IMG]

    As others said you can also use the fire ring from the 18.5" (or make a smaller fire basket), that also helps keep the charcoal cost down. I wait for the good sales at Home Depot and Lowes to stock up - two 20 lb. bags for under $10 - then I buy about 240 lbs. of charcoal and stock it away in the garage.
  6. bigdaddyque

    bigdaddyque Newbie

    Thanks for the help guys. I wasn't trying to be that analytical, but just wanted to have an idea before I purchased. It sounds like the 22.5 WSM uses more than the UDS. For a 6 hour smoke in my UDS I usually use about 12 pounds and have a pretty good amount leftover. I do use the same size charcoal basket as the 18.5 so that's maybe why. Noboundaries, how often do you smoke? I will only be doing it 2-3 times a month

    Once in a while I do large cooks for church and large gatherings, but most often just for a few people. I want the large cooking space, but don't dont want to be wasting space and fuel most of the time. Tough to decide :-/
  7. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BDQ, I smoke 4-6 times a month.
  8. bigdaddyque

    bigdaddyque Newbie

    Noboundaries - do you use gaskets to seal the door and between the sections?
  9. Cool,  Interesting Information

  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    So one more thing to add to the fire is how most light their charcoal fueled smokers. Chimneys that you light and burn up a good portion of your fuel and send a great amount of heat (energy) up into space. You then dump that spent fuel into you cold smoker and ask it to heat up yoyrcd charcoal and the the cold air in the smoker.

    A much more efficient way to this is to fill your charcoal basket (ring) with your fuel of choice. Mix in or too with your smoke wood of choice. Take a propane torch and light it through one of the lower vents. You are pre heating the smoker, not your back yard,. It increases the unspent fuel you have in your smoker. There will be no white smoke. Try it, you will be hooked.
  11. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BDQ, I do have seals on mine. My barrel arrived slightly out of round so I added the seals to stop the air leaks. A round WSM will seal up after a few smokes without the seals.
  12. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    Using the BBQ Guru has probably cut my charcoal usage in half since I installed it on my 22.5" WSM.....I can get a minimum of 15 hours out of a half bag of kingsford blue.....Before that I was using a whole bag for the same length of time. 
  13. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    I use an auber fan and controller on my 22WSM. I use the fuse method and run it inside of the 22.5 ring. I light it with a couple of weber fire starter cubes. Wood chunks go on top of the fuse. I burned through just less than 1/2 of the medium bag to smoke beer butt chickens.
    My WSM is still new and not gasketed up yet - they are in the mail!
    Briquettes burn slower and more consistently than lump.
  14. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    But you shouldn't buy based on how much charcoal it is going to burn, but how much food you think you are going to need to cook. If you will want to cook 4+ bitts with beans, or a ton of ribs, then buy the 22.5. If you are cooking for a family of four, then it might be over kill. However the 22.5 is taller

Share This Page