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Novice Smoker... Questions about weather and lump vs briquettes

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey Everybody.

I did my first double smoke session on Thursday. I did two 4lb chickens and a single rack of spare ribs. The chicken turned out great. The spares.... not so good. Thats another post.

 

Now on to business. I have a 18" WSM. I used Cowboy Lump Charcoal. Got the heat going using the minion method. When I got things going the heat was around 350. It settled around 275 to 300. All vents open. I got the chickens on the bottom rack and ribs on top.

 

Not long after getting the food on the temp dropped to 250. All vents open. During the smoke I was having trouble keeping the heat in the 250 to 300 range. It finally stayed at 250. At certain points it would drop to under 250 to 175 at on point. I kept adding charcoal. At one time another chimney full. I went through an entire bag of lump. The weather was very windy with passing showers and humid. Smoker under awning.

 

With all that said here is what I think and my questions:

Is it possible that the wind played a big factor in the heat problems?

Could it be that the heat problems were due to the amount of food in the smoker? Was it both wind and amount of food?

Do charcoal briquettes burn hotter than lump charcoal? Whats better between the two?

Or was it a series of mistakes on my part?

 

Thanks for your help and advice in advance.

 

 

post #2 of 14


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Quagmire38 View Post

 

With all that said here is what I think and my questions:

Is it possible that the wind played a big factor in the heat problems?

Absolutely.  The biggest factor in your situation.  Next time try to create a win break, if possible.

Could it be that the heat problems were due to the amount of food in the smoker? Was it both wind and amount of food?

No.  You might get an initial temp drop when you first put them in, but that should be it.

Do charcoal briquettes burn hotter than lump charcoal? Whats better between the two?

Quality lump burns hotter, and cleaner, and imparts smoke flavor in and of itself.  No binders or fillers either, which makes it a better value than it might first appear.  You may want to add more wood chunks on top of the coals to generate more heat. 

Or was it a series of mistakes on my part?

Possibly.  Many newbies tend to fuss too much and make hasty changes before the smoker can show it's reaction to the previous change.  You need about 10 minutes to determine what your change actually accomplished.  Temp mgmt. will get easier with practice and experience.  One example: close or open a vent a bit, wait 10 min. 

 

Have you checked your thermo for proper calibration?  Essential step so you know you're getting accurate info.  Factory thermos are notoriously inaccurate.  You also want to keep your cook temps between 225-250* for those smokes.  300*+ will lock up the outer proteins and limit smoke penetration.  Low and slow, my friend!

 

Thanks for your help and advice in advance.

 

Your Welcome!  icon_cool.gif

 

 



 

post #3 of 14

Sounds like James has you covered.

post #4 of 14

Quagmire, why not post your location  so the answer (while very satisfactory) can be more tailored to your area.  Just the state or region if you want.  Heck, you might just be around the corner from one of us (well, it could happen).  You're definitely off to a good start with one of the popular smokers, a WSM.  Lottsa WSM "experts" here ready to answer any and all questions.

post #5 of 14

My opinion is that Lump burns hotter, briquettes last much longer.

 

Cowboy Brand PDT_Armataz_01_33.gif

post #6 of 14

Heres a little reading about charcoal.

http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm 

 

Most WSM owners dont leave all the vents open..

 

 

The top one stays wide open.

 

The bottoms are all open til ya get to around 180..

 

 Then shut all except one and put that about half open.

 

The WSM will get up to 220/230 slowly.

 

Get your food on quickly and keep the top on and door shut.

 

  There is tons of info about working yer WSM here...

 

 minon.JPG

 

This is how TYOTRAIN showed me how to fire it off.

 

I put 8-10   kingsford briquettes in the can after  getting them hot in a chimney  and R.O red bag for the fire..

 

  Hope this helps!!

 

 

  Craig

 

 

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Than you all for the advice.
Adiochiro: How would I go about checking to see if the factory thermo is Properly calibrated?

NWDave: I'm located in New York City.

Flash: Cowboy brand may not be the best but it's what's available. Allow me to correct myself. I came across a small, out of the way supermarket that sells Red Oak Lump. Is Red Oak better? I'm also willing to order online. What's the best lump?

FPNMF: thanks for the pics and vent advice. I think I will try a dry run just to play around with the vents.
Thanks to all.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
SORRY GUYS... The other lump is ROYAL OAK. I said it was red oak. Sorry.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quagmire38 View Post



NWDave: I'm located in New York City.

 


Quagmire33, we're encouraging members to go to their profile---"My Profile" at the top of screen (in that brown bar-it's brown for me anyway) --Click on My Profile and then click on the Edit Community Profile.  When the edit box pops up - in location, enter New York City, or whatever you desire to enter in the location.  Now, everyone will know they may have a kindred spirit near them.  Thanks.
 

 

post #10 of 14

Forgot to add - I use Royal Oak all the time -- excellent lump. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quagmire38 View Post

SORRY GUYS... The other lump is ROYAL OAK. I said it was red oak. Sorry.


 

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quagmire38 View Post

Than you all for the advice.
Adiochiro: How would I go about checking to see if the factory thermo is Properly calibrated?

NWDave: I'm located in New York City.

Flash: Cowboy brand may not be the best but it's what's available. Allow me to correct myself. I came across a small, out of the way supermarket that sells Red Oak Lump. Is Red Oak better? I'm also willing to order online. What's the best lump?

FPNMF: thanks for the pics and vent advice. I think I will try a dry run just to play around with the vents.
Thanks to all.


To calibrate your therm, pull it and stick the probe end in boiling water. It should read, obviously, 212 F. The difference between 212 F. and your actual reading is what you need to factor in as you use the therm in your WSM.

 

Cowboy burns hot but quick. Given your experience you will benefit from a longer, cooler burning lump like Royal Oak.

 

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quagmire38 View Post

Than you all for the advice.
Adiochiro: How would I go about checking to see if the factory thermo is Properly calibrated?

NWDave: I'm located in New York City.

Flash: Cowboy brand may not be the best but it's what's available. Allow me to correct myself. I came across a small, out of the way supermarket that sells Red Oak Lump. Is Red Oak better? I'm also willing to order online. What's the best lump?

FPNMF: thanks for the pics and vent advice. I think I will try a dry run just to play around with the vents.
Thanks to all.


 I have only used Cowboy Brand and Royal Oak. Cowboy Brand popped and snapped alot more than Royal Oak did.

 

post #13 of 14

royal oak is all I use for charcoal,  i love it

post #14 of 14

 

 

what works for me is about  80-90 % real charcoal and 10- 20% Kingsford.

 

The kingsford seems burns easier than lump and help stablize temps 

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