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What am I doing wrong?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I just can't seem to get my fire right. I was starting a fire to cook some ribs and placed my charcoal in a chimney. I filled the whole thing up and waited until they were all greyed over. When I dumped them in my offset box, it seemed the charcoal burned quickly and was hardly there. I'm using Kingsford My temperature rose but then dropped to 211 degrees in just 30 minutes. I need help. What am I doing wrong?
post #2 of 15

It sounds like you need to start another round of coals as soon as you empty the chimney.


Also, consider trying some lump charcoal in the firebox; it lights cleaner than briquettes without that burning-coal smell. You can add it to a fire in progress.

post #3 of 15

Its possible you have your intake vent open all the way and causing a fast hot burn. Try closing the damper vent to about half or 3/4 closed .

post #4 of 15

Yep, keep the exhaust open and crank down the intake vent to maintain proper pit temps.


Good luck and good smoking.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

I appreciate all the advice. I went through whole 20lb bag of charcoal on the smoker. The air was so still, which did not help. I tried little by little to close the intake vent to reduce the oxygen and not have the coals burn too fast. I was able to get a steady 230 degree for a few hours but had to put more coals in. I finally took them off after 5 hours and finished them in the oven for an hour. They ended up being really good. I just need a better technique on starting the fire and maintaining the temperature and not have complete ash in the firebox. I have done a lot of looking on the site and everyone has a different approach. I've used some of the wood just to get the temp up. Good or bad idea?

post #6 of 15

Just the experience of one old fart?


When you get your smoker set up the way you like it?


In my offset, I need to add a chimney of lump or a partial chimney of briquettes about every 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Depends on ambients like temp and wind.


Good luck and good smoking.

post #7 of 15

I use to have the same problem.


First, start your fire at least 2 hours prior to the time you plan on starting your meat. Start your chimney as usual, but dump it when the top two layers have just barely started to ash over. When you dump the charcoal, form a single line parallel to your smoker's intake opening (into the smoking camber). Place stick of wood on top of these coals. Keep the lid up! If you are cooking low and slow come back in 20 min or so and add unheated coals in front of your pervious lit coals. Then close the lids and let your smoke and heat start to track through, (Keep exhaust wide open). If you are cooking high and hot add a second stick of wood when you added fresh coals. Adjust your intake accordingly.....:fine tune" it by adjusting the exhaust. Add wood every 30min. 

post #8 of 15
Without seeing your cooker, it sounds like you could have a few issues. Is your cooking chamber sealed well? You could be losing a lot of heat there. Also a charcoal basket helps maintain a nice fire. I only use royal oak lump charcoal.

post #9 of 15
I'd try what 5oclocksomewher suggested with the heat.

Mine was letting the heat out and didn't have a good seal. I was using a heck of a lot more charcoal than my friends...it was crazy the amount I went through. I made a tight seal around the smoker and had a much better result.
post #10 of 15

Try reading my article "Stick burning 101" , may help. :biggrin:


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post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the advice. I definitely need a charcoal basket. That's a heavy duty basket you got there. Also, I think my chimney starter is a POS. Bought it cheap at Home Depot. Could be one reason why the charcoal is all ash as soon as I dump them or have too much in it. My first smoke I did not notice any leaks but after my last one, I did see there were some issues so I plan on sealing it with high heat silicone.

post #12 of 15

I also have seen the cheap chimney starters not working and have purchased the large weber one at Lowes for 15 bucks! This thing is a charm and works great!

post #13 of 15
If all grey in chimney the coals on bottom are pretty much done by the time you dump. I fill my FB basket with 10-12 lbs then fill chimney. Lite chimney let it burn for 15 minutes or so then dump.
post #14 of 15

Great advice and well timed! I started with a dual fuel gas/wood and just use minimal gas to help hold basic heat. Now that I'm getting consistent flavors that I'm looking for I'm going to start learning lumps and sticks....I will say a little gas is nice in January when its llike 5 outside

post #15 of 15

Although the firebox is helpful, as long as your coals are resting on a well vented (meaning "good" holes) grate you should have enough airflow for the temps you desire.

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