How much charcoal?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by revolutionthirty, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. I went and found something very similar to an ECB and I am planning on smoking my very first butt this weekend. I need a little help determining how much charcoal to start out with. I would like to know the amount in terms of starter chimneys instead of pounds if that makes any sense. I am using lump charcoal. Also if anyone could tell me how many would chunks to start with I would really appreciate it.

    I have only been a member of this forum since the first of the week and I'm already addicted!!
  2. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Wow, that's a tough one. How much charcoal kind of depends on how well your coal pan breathes, and if the smoker is tight or leaky. Are there vents near the charcoal pan to control your intake? Do the coals lay in the very bottom of the charcoal pan, or are they elevated a little on a grate of some sort? Is there any model and brand on it?

    Chimney starters are different sizes too. A full chimney for you, may be a half chimney for me.

    Any info you can supply will go a long way in providing a useable answer.
  3. It's a Meco 5031 Electric Smoker I modified. Smoker is leaky, vents are in the bottom of the charcoal pan, coals are elevated on a grate.
  4. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Well, a modified electric to coal I can't help with............

    But you said it was similar to a brinkman. My Brinkman Gourmet can breath well, and has an elevated coal grate. During the winter and spring, when it was windy and pleasant (hey, I live in Florida) I would start with 32 lit coals, and dump around 75 more unlits in with them, I would put the lits off to the side. The unlits would fill the pan from the opposite side, and I would overlap 2 or 3 unlit coals over the lits across the whole line of lit coals.

    Maybe that's a starting point for you. Since your smoker is modified, you're going to have to experiment. BTW, since it got so hot this summer, almost any amount of lit coals is too hot in my Gourmet. But you have intake vents, so you should be able to fine tune things.
  5. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Shoot 5 lit coals are enough to get you going. You want the burn to slowly spread and ignite the rest of you coals. Thus the Minion method of pyramiding came about. As to how many. Not sure how hot you burn. Before I did some mods to my old ECB, I would do atleast 3/4 of a pan for butt, since they take time. After my mods, I went down to 1/2 a pan and just added coals when needed. You are gonna have to add some after about 4 hours any way.
    As to wood chunks, just a couple of chunks to start. You want to smell the wood burning, not see a bunch of white smoke. Again, you can always add more wood later. Lots of variables that all work..........don't try to turn this into Rocket Science.

    Good smoke on right.

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