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WSM 22.5 - questions

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi , I just bought a WSM after cooking on stick burners for the last 13 years ..
Wanted something small and less labor intensive for the house . My other two are on
Trailers. Looked at some reviews on here and bought one -

Question 1 - granted I've only cooked on it 7 times the past couple if weeks but I'm having trouble keeping the temp low - 225.. For a long period if time .. Tried the minion
Method and it wants to stay up around 250-260

#2 I've never put green charcoal in a cooker before and have a hard time getting my brain around it . I think I can taste it in the food. What are other options?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated !
post #2 of 16
I don't have a 22.5 WSM but I do have the 18 WSM and I believe the principal are the same between the two, so I will try to help

1. To keep the temp down make sure the 3 bottom vents closed or near closed till you are at a temp you are comfortable with. After a few more smokes all the nooks and crannies where air is leaking in with probably be closed up and once that happens you'll be able to just set it and forget about it. Also make sure you have water or something filled in your pan to take some of that heat energy away and control your temps.

2. I'm not sure what green charcoal is, I assume it is something that is suppose to be more environmentally friendly. But if something is negatively effecting the taste of my food I don't use it any more.

3. Congrats on your smoker, you are going to love the WSM
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info - you are right there is smoke leaking from
A couple of spots .. I will try and adjust the vents some more to see if that
Solves the problem

Sorry by "green charcoal" I meant new charcoal that hasn't been
Started in a chimney ...

Thanks again
post #4 of 16

I use a much smaller mini WSM but the management should be nearly the same. If I'm doing a low temp cook (225˚) I'll load the basket with briquettes and light about 15 in the chimney. I'll leave a depression in the the pile in the basket, with one chunk of wood at the bottom of the depression (so it will have direct contact with the lit coals) and 2-3 more chunks buried in the pile. For the larger 22.5 you might use 4-5 chunks of smoke wood. When the briquettes in the chimney are ready I dump them in the depression. At this point ALL vents are open. I then monitor my temp until  it reaches 200˚-210˚, at which point I close off one vent completely and close the other halfway. My mini only has 2 vents, yours has 3, so maybe close one and leave 2 half open. When it reaches the target temp of 225˚, I'll close the remaining vent to 1/4" open and keep an eye on the temp. Depending on the day, it might drop, in which case I'll open it a little more. If it continues rising I'll shut it down completely until I get billowing smoke, then open it a hair. Usually 1 or 2 adjustments are all that's required over maybe a half hour to get the temp dialed in and the smoke thin and blue. Your larger smoker might take longer, but probably not much. Once the temp's stable for 10 or 15 minutes, I'll add my meat. This is where the temperature will go nuts. If it's a 9 lb. butt, it might drop to 175˚ or so from the big hunk of cold meat. Of it's a 3lb rack of ribs, it might skyrocket to 300˚ or so due to the huge gulp of oxygen from opening the lid. Either way, I deal with it by walking away, opening a beer and forgetting about it for a half hour. In almost every case, I come back to find the temperature very near 225˚. Thing is, once you get it dialed in, it wants to average out to that temperature. It might change momentarily, but it'll get back to where it wants to be.

After 7 cooks your smoker should be pretty much coated with soot and fat, so it's not going to change its behavior that much. If your door's leaking, try bending it into shape. If your body's out of round, try bending that.

If you don't like the idea of green charcoal, well you may wanna go back to stick burning. Or switch to lump or all natural briquettes. With Stubbs briquettes, I've had great luck with long smokes at stable temps and zero off flavors. With Kingsford, I feel like I can taste the added crap on long smokes, but it's not so bad I'd never consider using it. I just like Stubb's better.

post #5 of 16
Try the fuse method. Make a thinner charcoal ring and that will give u an even low temp cook. You can make the ring thicker and more dense to get hotter temps. Good luck!
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'll give it a try thanks.. Is that just a thinner ring and starting the fire at one end instead of the middle? Having used a stick burner for so long these methods of building fires is new to me, so I'm thankful for the suggestions

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much.. I will experiment with the vents like you describe here. The Kingsford is what I have been using, but it was always started in a chimney first. I've seen the stubbs, but never tried it. I'll give it a try, but will definitely try the lump. 

Thanks again

post #8 of 16
You got it. Just lay out your ring, leave enough room at the begining to place your lit coals. Ensure that the coals will only light one direction, i use a small paver as a barrier. I love this method because i can get 10 hours of 225-250 and it burns like a clock so u can guess how much time you have left. My last tip... Have your "fuse" end where your side door to the WSM opens. In a pinch you can open the door and add some coals, that will add a couple hours without having to disturb anything. Have fun!
post #9 of 16

Adding water will reduce temp but will increase fuel consumption.  Closing vents is the best way -- without water -- IMO.  Don't be afraid to close a cpl vents 100% and control temp with just one.  It will go low.  I use a terra cotta clay flower pot saucer but I doubt it makes that big a difference over an empty water pan.  YMMV.  (But 250* is fine as far as I'm concerned)


I recommend filling the charcoal ring completely with lump for every cook and adding lit lump to it.  Wait until the fire burns clean then add the food.  That way the unlit charcoal will be heated and you won't have to add green charcoal.  Your instincts are right -- if you add green charcoal you will get a thick unwanted smoke.  If you're finished cooking, close all the vents to snuff the fire and reuse the unspent charcoal in your next cook.

Edited by Bama BBQ - 9/22/13 at 6:50pm
post #10 of 16
Lit charcoals are slowly igniting unlit coals in both methods. Adding unlit at any point to the fuse method has never caused any abormal conditions. Maybe if you throw them in like a baseball, but thats just my experiece.
post #11 of 16
Originally Posted by dieselaw View Post

Lit charcoals are slowly igniting unlit coals in both methods. Adding unlit at any point to the fuse method has never caused any abormal conditions. Maybe if you throw them in like a baseball, but thats just my experiece.


I completely agree.  The fuze, snake, etc works great.  I have used it with great success on short, low temp cooks.


Here's a variation on the fuze, or snake theme, a fire brick divide:


CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), default quality

Edited by Bama BBQ - 9/22/13 at 6:49pm
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Very good! Thanks for the help.. All my cooking up to this point has been on different trailer rigs .. i appreciate the advice!

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

All great info - thanks for the responses..The fuse method it is! I'll give it try tomorrow, cooking BB  and ribs. Looking forward to getting this WSM dialed in its much more convenient that using my big stick burner every time.

post #14 of 16

Generally that "green" food taste from charcoal is due to the binder material in pressed charcoal briquettes.  Natural lump does not tend to have that aroma and smell.  Lump will burn hotter and often will burn longer at a give temp.


Another trick if you are using briquettes is to make sure your lit is on top of the unlit.  A lot of the acrid smoke from the binder (the white smoke) get's burned up in the high heat of the lit coals as it rises when you put the lit on top of the unlit.  This is the original minion method and the small center clump and snake method came later.  The biggest problems I had with acrid smoke from newly lit briquettes was when I was first using my 18.5" WSM.  It was the worst when I put in a chimney of lit and then topped with unlit to fill the ring.  As the unlit starts to catch up, it will eventually loose the white smoke and that acrid smell, but it goes away a lot quicker (and is less to start with) if the lit is on the top and the smoke is passing across the fully lit coals.

post #15 of 16
I dont have the WSM 22 but I have the 18. I have only used it once and I tried the "minion" method and really hated the charcoal taste it left on the meat. Today I just sprinkled some lit coals on top of a load unlit coals. Im very afraid that the charcoal smoke is going to be on this food as well because it took along time for the smoke to lighten up. pork shoulder should be done in a few hrs and I will let you know which one I prefer.
post #16 of 16
Temperature control in the WSM is all about controlling the amount of oxygen the smoldering coals are receiving. I had issues with a loose lid that I fixed by placing foil around the rim where the lid sets. Also had a problem with air gaps around the OEM aluminum door, fixed this by replacing it withe a 18 gauge stainless steel door from http://cajunbandit.com/wsm-parts-mods/

These to modifications have made my 22.5" WSM rock steady for temperature control.
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