Question regarding adding charcoal to a WSM during the process

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by up musky hunter, May 28, 2015.

  1. Next weekend will be my first attempt at smoking a brisket and a pork butt. I am expecting 14-16 hours.

    How do you go about adding new charcoal to the WSM smoker without getting a bunch of ash to dislodge and float around the smoker eventually covering the meat? When smoking one of my first racks of ribs, I mistakenly "stirred" the coals to try and generate a little more heat at the end of the process as I was applying BBQ sauce. The ash was evident on the ribs.

    So, do you remove the meat, re-stoke the coals and the put the meat back on or is there some other method.  Thanks for the insight.
  2. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    Add the coal before the sauce stage. Usually I don't worry about it. I just open the door and toss more coal on. Now I haven't tried this with my new WSM, but it worked on my other vertical smoker
  3. Drewed - Do you remember roughly how much more you added? Assuming I start with a full charcoal box, should I expect to add 50%more again to make 16 hours of cook time? I have never gauged it past 6 or 7 hours.  
  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Musky Hunter , good luck on your Maiden Smoke [​IMG]  . May I offer a suggestion , get a note book and label it 'Smoking Log Book' . Write down everything about

    your smoke , including how fast your coal burns. Then you can estimate the amount to add for finishing your smoke. Enter all info. here that you can about your

    smoke. Include fuel , heat , time of day and cooking time , Weather and anything else you want ( funny things that happened) , ideas an so on . . .

    Be sure to track temps. and do your tenderness test on the Brisky . The Butt will lose it's bone with a slight tug , when done.

    Pick your temp. and try to be patient , you shouldn't increase temp. to get past the 'stall' , just wait it out.

    Have fun and . .  .
  5. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    Ahh....umm... I tossed in a few handfuls. Remember, this was not on my WSM. Best would be nice keeps notes, but I don't worry that much about it. I don't compleat, and it's just bbq, grab a beer or other iced beverage and go for it
    up musky hunter likes this.
  6. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    what size wsm?  I was EASILY getting 18 hour burns outta my 18.5 when I had one..I don't think I ever had to add charcoal on anything I ever cooked on there.
  7. trueteam

    trueteam Smoke Blower

    you shouldn't have to add charcoal to a WSM for a rack of ribs. I rarely have to add charcoal for butts either. How are you setting up the charcoal chamber?

    If I do have to add, I lift off the body and add coals or if just adding a few I do it through the door.
  8. trueteam

    trueteam Smoke Blower

    I misread that, sorry. I see you said you stirred.
  9. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    I tried following directions on my WSM this weekend with how to do the charcoal.  Turns out that on a new 22.5 WSM you do NOT need to fill the charcoal basket.  Better to use the fuse method.  Minion method is right out too.  You do not need that much coal. It will run way to hot if you fill the full basket.
  10. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Even a new one you can keep at a target temp with a full load.... provided you damp it down early. When I first got my 22.5" WSM I knew to close all bottom dampers when it hit 200°, then open one damper about 25% and let it creep up to 250°. The trick is you have to damp them early for the first dozen smokers or so or they will get away from you and run hot. Even five years later I still damp down at 200° but now I usually open the one damper to about 75%. Also start with only about 1/4 to 1/3 of a chimney of lit charcoal when your WSM is new.

    Original Post Topic:

    On getting long burn times the biggest thing that effects the WSM is wind..... not so much temperature as wind. I run my WSM year round and in the past I would only get approx. 12 hrs. of burn time at 250° out of a 20 lb. load of charcoal in the middle of winter, then I bought a welding blanket and used that to wrap my WSM in for any windy or cold days. I now get 18+ hrs. even on a windy below freezing day in January, and in the hot summer with no welding blanket I get 22+ hrs. So either build an enclosure or get a wrap and you will have much better burn times. The whole point of having a WSM is not to have to reload with charcoal mid smoke - also I only stir charcoal 1x around the 13 hr. mark and I do it very, very, very gently to avoid kicking up ash I don't even try to get all the ash off, just some of it.

    This was a smoke I did in Dec. of 2013, 4 pork butts and 3 briskets all at once, put the meat on around 10:00 PM, and never had to load any additional charcoal.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015
  11. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    I am running an Auber fan controller.  I lit the full bucket and it held nice temps for the first hour to hour and 1/2  then it started climbing, even with the fan off and gate shut.  

    I pulled it apart mid smoke, shoveled out 90% of the coal and re-laid it with the fuse method.  Didn't have a problem for the rest of the smoke.

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