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How best to load the smoker and wood chips/chunks

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Okay I have a Chargriller Akorn smoker and love it.  I'm trying to figure out how best to load it.  I use the smoker stone.

 

Typically, I would load up the fire box with lump, put 3 of the Weber parafin fire starters where the smoker stone legs do not cover (that way I can drop my chips/chunks near the lit coals.  I've had pretty good luck with this setup but it does require a little while to get it regulated.

 

Last night I smoked two boston butts overnight.  I figured I would try something new and use my starter chimney to get the coals good and hot first.  I dumped the lit coals onto the unlit firebox and spread them out evenly.  I dropped in the chunks of apple and hickory on top of the lit coals and then dropped a couple handfuls of cherry chips on top of the coals.

 

I lit it around 10:30 and put the butts on around 11:00.  I regulated the temperature by midnight and went to bed.  My thermometer woke me up a couple times because the smoker was too hot or cold.  At 5 AM, the smoker went out and I had to relight it.

 

The problems for me was the inability to easily regulate the temperature but to be fair I did a clean-out and used brand new lump this time.  Also, it seemed that the chunks really never caught and smoked.

 

So I would like to know how you guys setup your fire box and where / how you place the chunks and chips.  Light it from the top, bottom, sides, etc?

 

Thanks!

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