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Temp issues

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
So i used my 22.5 wsm for the first time but the temp didnt get past 200 with all vent open. The only way to get the temp up was to take some of the water out of the pan. Has anyone else run into this? Im not use to using a water pan to help control the temp. But the bird turned out perfect anyway.
Edited by inkslinger - 12/1/13 at 9:10am
post #2 of 6

This is very common for first time use on a WSM.  Once you cook a few times, the gaps will seal up and you will get better control over the pit temp.  I would suggest you do 5 lbs of thighs at a high heat - if you can get it up there - to throw as much fat rendering onto the interior as possible.


Another thing to consider is the amount of fuel you are burning at once.  When I am doing long cooks, I use the minion method - start only 5 - 8 coals, shut down all the bottom vents except for one vent (down wind if possible) about 1/4" open - place those lit 5 - 8 coals furthest from the cracked open vent so the fuel burns toward the vent.  Top vent should be wide open.  If I am using a water pan you won't see 200F for about 2 hours.  It may peak at 225 and hold for 6 - 8 hours and then slowly drop.  You can decrease the drop by opening more bottom vent but the fuel will burn faster (hence more heat).


Once you cook a few times in the WSM and you want to cook fast, don't put water in the pan - you can use sand or clay instead as an insulator and help keep the temp more consistent, use more lit coals initially and control the max temp using the bottom vents. 


One of the most difficult things to do is bring the temp on a WSM back down once it has elevated.  It is nearly impossible.  Slowly increase temp to desired - don't ramp up suddenly because you won't be coming back down any time soon, even if you shut down the bottom vents.


Another way to quickly season your pit - may be too late for you now - is to save the trimmings from a few briskets and get the pit - if you can - around 300F and the brisket fat will do the same thing as chicken - you're just using something that you have laying around instead of cooking a bunch of chicken your family doesn't want.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. Greatly appreciated. Thats why i love this sight, there are so many people with great advice and so willing to help.
post #4 of 6

I bought a 18.5 inch at our Sunday School garage sale.  well seasoned.  I, too, used the Minion method.  You said you lit 5-8 pieces of charcoal and placed them away from the vent.  How many pieces of charcoal did you put around the ring leaving the center open for the 5-8 lit coals?

I think I put way to much charcoal to start.  Temp shot up to 335.  I closed the 3 vents on the bottom (left one about 1/4 in open.  Left top vent 3/4 open.  took forever to get temp down.


I am doing 3 slabs of baby backs Sunday.  Please advise how much lump charcoal to line ring with and how many lit coals to ddd for 4-5 hour smoke.





post #5 of 6

MC1934 -


On my 22.5" I put a 20# bag in the ring and place 5 - 6 coals on the inside edge of the ring furthest away from the ONE vent I have cracked open.  All the other vents on the bottom are shut completely and the top vent is wide open.


For a 18" you may be able to fit 16lbs or so - not sure.  The key to the minion method working is the coal is packed tight and touching so one briquette lights the next one touching it.  If they are not touching, they won't light the next one.  If you use only 10lbs because you don't need to cook as long - for ribs - just make sure that 10lbs is packed tight in the bottom or piled together on one side.


I put the lit coals away from the cracked open vent because fire needs air for combustion.  If you force the coals to burn towards the air - over unlit coals - you have a better chance of continuing the minion chain if the coals happen to shift during the burn.


The downside of the WSM is that if you overshoot your temp, it is very very difficult to bring the temp back down and it takes a long time.  Always start with the vents completely closed and only crack one at a time.  If it is windy, then crack the vent down wind if you don't have a wind break for the WSM.

post #6 of 6

Hey all, parachuting in here from CT.  I have switched back-N-forth on using briquettes and lump charcoal.  I finally settled on lump charcoal as it keeps the burn longer and hotter.  It definitely took a few tries to get a feel for it and I use less lump charcoal than briquettes due to the more pure nature of the lump charcoal.  I was against the switch, but it turned out better when I'm doing long, slow burns and need to keep a solid 215 - 225 or so temp for long burns, especially when doing turkey, Boston Butt or any other six-plus hour burn.