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Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by ndtiger, Dec 16, 2009.
How long will my fire last in a side firebox before needing to add charcoal?
What unit and what fuel do you use?
I don't think you are going to get a very solid answer, because there are just too many variables. What temperature are you trying to maintain in the smoker? What type of fuel are you using? What is the ambient air temperature? Is it humid out?
Those questions are what we ask ourselves every time we start up a fire to smoke. You'll find out that lump charcoal lasts longer then briquettes due to less fine ash. You'll also learn that hot days require less fuel to maintain a nice wispy temp of 225.
There is no easy answer to your question. You can however purchase a remote thermometer for your smoker that will alert you when your smoking temperature drops below a certain level or you can closely monitor your smokers own thermometer.
Every smoker is gonna be different. You'll just have to learn what it likes to make it last the longest.
Yep.....gotta know what you are smoking on and what type of charcoal are you using
What a broad question.
As everyone else said, smoker type, charcoal type, temps outside and air flow, opening the smoker, all of these will come into play.
Char-Broil with side box, Kingsford briquettes, 45 degrees outside
Best thing you can do, especially starting out, is to keep a log of your smokes. You have to have a base to start with and make adjustments as you go.
Dump your charcoal in, lit it and regulate your smoker so you maintain a desirable temp, say 230 degrees. When your temps start to go down, add more, but make a note of how much you added. Is it cold out, warm out, windy, rainy, those things come into play and with a few smokes under your belt, you will have a better understanding of how your smoker works and reacts. Its different for everyone and you really have to just get in there and do it. After 3 or 4 smokes, you will start to get the hang of it and it will become easier, guaranteed.
Well temp outside isn't too bad, freezing here.
If you load up a full chimney and dump it in, bring it to temp, not sure what you are doing for wood.
If just adding for flavor and using coals for a heat source then I would say the first batch will run you about an hour but much of that will be coming up to and regulating temp, after that if you add about another 3/4 full chimney of hot coals then you should be able to get about 2 hours out of it, maybe a bit less.
Again this is going on coal only, I burn a LOT of wood and coals are just for starting out and boosting temps but use mostly oak for a heat source.
As the ash builds up in the bottom of your firebox it will insulate and actually help to keep the temps up a LOT.
If you ever pull ash out in the middle of a good smoke you will notice it is glowing red in the center.
So you should get to a point after a few hours where about a chimney full will burn for about 2 hours nice and solid before you should have to add more, but then when adding more you could go a little lighter (half a chimney full) due to the insulated heat in the ashes.
Hope that this helps.
Kind of off subject, but you should always make sure you have a extra bag of fuel on you. You never know when mother nature is going to show your smoker who's boss!
In my case, the wife doesn't like getting asked to drive the 30mins to the closest store at 5am to save a bunch of butts the torture of being put in the oven!
I have a bandera and I have to add chunks about everyt hour and 15 minutes or so. But then that was a 80 degree day with hardly any wind too.
Stumps.......once a day. LOL
Sorry couldn't resist.
Sounds like Meat Hunter & Fire it Up hit the nail on the head
I second keeping a log book, it really can help you narrow down and solve the problems you have, plus it is an awesome frame of reference next winter when you go to smoke and you can't remember what you did this winter, you know us old timers...we forget pretty easy