How to keep chunks from flaring up?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by smokingjoejoe, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    I know this is probably been asked before but I'll throw this out there one more time. I usually start my Weber Smokey Mountain mini using the minion method with some wood chunks on top. I've heard some people having issues doing it this way since bringing the temperature up on the barbecue can cause the wood chunks to catch fire and flareup. I never soak my wood chunks before putting them on so they're quite dry. How is everybody else doing using the minion method or are people using a different method when using wood chunks on the Weber Smoky Mountain mini?

    I'm currently smoking a 13 pound turkey, I know it's over the 12 pound recommended weight, however it's the smallest when I could get.

     
  2. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here's what I do for turkeys. I line the bottom of the basket with one layer of unlit coals, either briquettes or lump works the same way. Then I put 3 or 4 chunks of wood on top of that. Then I dump a whole chimney of lit coals on top of that. It will blow white smoke for 10-15 minutes, then it's clear blue for the 4 hours or so it takes to cook a 12-15 bird at 325˚-375˚.

    If I'm doing the Minion method, I'll do the same thing with the one layer of coals and put 3 or 4 chunks around the outside of the basket. Then I'll fill the basket with unlit and remove coals from the middle to form a well. An empty coffee can with both ends cut out helps also. I'll drop a chunk at the bottom of that well, and then top off with 10-15 lit coals.

    The idea is you want your chunks covered so they're not getting a free supply of air.
     
    smokingjoejoe likes this.
  3. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    Thanks for the tips. I tried the second method of yours with a well in the middle of my fire , but I left the wood chunks exposed and on top of the charcoal. Exposing it to a lot of air! Ill know for next time to submerge them under a layer of charcoal.
     
  4. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    You sound like you have experience with this bbq. Or a similar one. At what level do you run your vents ?
     
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    SJ, evening.....  If you are using a water pan, dump the water....  You will be able to use less air and keep the temp up.....   

    Dave
     
  6. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    I don't use a water pan. This turkey was done fast! I usually do mine in the oven at 325-350 and this one ranges from 250-350 because of flare ups and vent issues. And I'm done a 13 lbs bird in 2 hrs and 45 mins.
     
  7. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    Actually. The bbq did get up to 400 at one point. But still, this seems fast!
     
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like turkey fat dripping on the coals was the cause of the flare ups ......  [​IMG]
     
  9. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter


    Oh she's done! Faster than expected.
     
  10. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    Yup. I think you're right in that!

    I have small gaps in between the charcoal and diffuser.
     
  11. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have a mini just as you and Md have... I also try to cover my wood with unlit coals... I've not encountered any flare ups with this method... I want to ask about lighting your coals... do you use a charcoal chimney ? how many coals do you put in it to start ? how far along do you let them light, red hot, half lit, before dumping into the unlit (I like half lit and let smoker climb up slowly, instead of screaming hot right off the bat and trying to bring temps back down).. this lets all the wood chunks pre-heat before the fire actually gets to them... As Md said, it will be white smoke for the first 20 minutes or so and then when the temps even out the smoke will become "clean" smoke (TBS-thin blue smoke)....
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2013
  12. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    I use a coffee can which is my charcoal chimney. I fill the basket with charcoal all the way and make a little well in the middle. Then I dump the charcoal that's the fully lit from the coffee can, into the well there are there are about 10 pieces of charcoal. It takes my smoker about 10 or 15 minutes to get up to about 350° or 400° and then I put meat on I can gently hold temperature around 300 for 3 to 4 hours without a lot of maintenance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2013
  13. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    You can actually see my budget charcoal chimney in the first picture. Beside the bbq.
     
  14. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    my setup
     
  15. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a mini just like yours. Depends on what I'm doing as to how I set my vents. For Chicken or Turkey, generally wide open until I get to the mid 300˚'s, then I'll sut 'em down maybe 25%. For low and slow (which for me is usually 275˚) I'll run about a third to a half open. On the rare occasion I want to run 225˚, usually one vent fully closed, one open 20%-25%. This is all dependent on the weather.
     
  16. smokingjoejoe

    smokingjoejoe Fire Starter

    So I tried another turkey breast today with the chunks in he bottom of the rack and it was a total success. No flare ups getting the temp up to 325 and keeping it there for a couple hours whilst a turkey breast was being smoked. One thing to note was the amount of wind blowing today. More than usual which had the q running quite hot even with the vents barely open. I managed to keep it dialed in at 325 though with some nice blue smoke.

    Thanks for all the tips and advice. This mini really surprises me everytine I light it up.
     

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