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150 degree mini-wsm low-temp test with IQ-120 stoker

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Round one of the low temperature trials.  I have stacked the odds against the IQ-120, intentionally to find the limits. 



1. A full bed (72 briquettes) of Kingsford Blue sitting in the Mini-WSM build.

2. A very small smoker, the Mini-WSM

3. Several large chunks of dry Apple wood placed right next to, and under where the hot coals are going to be dumped, this should encourage a nice flare up (with associated temp spike) as they first ignite.

4. The IQ-120 is set to no damping (setting 4), it has to do all the regulation, without a damper on the air intake to the blower limiting flow.

5. Starting the Minion method with an excessive amount of white-hot, chimney started coals.  Nine in total dumped in the middle on the apple wood and 72 briquettes.


I have tried to set up the kind of mistakes a newbie would make, to see if the IQ-120 can compensate.


30 minute results:

Disappointingly, it stoked the fire to the 150 degree set temperature with no overshoot at this time.


45 minute results:

I am rewarded with a modest 6 degree overshoot for my efforts.  Salmon is loaded on the grill, dropping the temperature to 143.

Five minutes later it has recovered with no overshoot (boring). Salmon has been on a few minutes, internal temperature hovering around 68 degrees.


The Salmon:

A nice filet of about a pound, with a sweet soy glaze, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.


55 minute results:

An overshoot of ten degrees is seen (160) Stoker is running zero to five percent flow, to keep the fire alive.


65-85 minute results:

Temperature has stabilized and locked to 150, Looks like all the spikes are past.

Salmon is at 125 internal temp, not long now.



Edited by Addertooth - 8/12/14 at 3:08pm
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 


Okay, rock steady stable 150 for the past 45 minutes, the salmon is cooking too slow.  Dialed up the smoker to jump to 200, which should speed the Salmon.  When the fish is done, The Brined, Beer Can Chicken goes on next.  It will have most of it's cook done at 225, with the last 55 degrees of (meat temperature) achieved at 350, to crisp the skin.

Twenty-five minutes after the IQ120 was changed from 150, to 200, the new temperature is met.

Edited by Addertooth - 8/12/14 at 4:03pm
post #3 of 13
It's a new game, stump the mini. Damn things are frustratingly reliable aren't they? Even without a temp controller you have a pretty stable temperature.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

I must (shamefully) admit it is fun to set the dial to a temp, and have it go to it. If you can rotate a dial, and hit the set button, you too can hit and hold any temperature. I picked up the materials to make the fitted smoker blanket.  It is aluminum coated cotton ironing board material (for the outside) and a synthetic-free cotton inner lining material which will be sandwiched between the ironing board material.  It will cover the sides and the top, as a two-piece cover. 

post #5 of 13



20 bucks did all 3 of my smokers. I cooked a chicken 350* in -50* windchill this winter.   You're in Arizona by Mexico and you need insulation?   

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 


It is all just a grand experiment.  I know which rate the blower is turning at all times (percentage of full rate).  Air rate is proportional to fuel burn rate.  I want to determine how much fuel reduction I get with increased insulation (R factor).  The smoker should be able to hold higher temperatures longer with insulation.  The meat can also be rested in the pot, if it is insulated. I frequently rest my pork shoulders in the MES40 by simply reducing the set temperature to 100; it works well.  No wrapping in towels and throwing in an ice chest. The goal is to make charcoal/wood cooking as point-and-shoot as an electric, but with the benefit of a smoke ring.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Salmon is off (145 internal temp) Chicken is on.  Three chunks of Pecan added to the charcoal.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Chicken at 116 internal temp, Two chunks of Pecan added, smoker set to 350 for final stage of the cook and crisping of the skin.

post #9 of 13

Only other tip i'd give you is chicken needs little smoke.   From someone that's cooked more birds on the mini than i wanna count I'll tell you just a short time at 350 isn't gonna crisp the skin.


I'l let it run as high as it can get over 350 and it comes out great bite through skin but the whole bird won't be crispy.   I'll even cook over 450-500* on my Jimmy smoker ...does better but only so crispy.   Chicken needs to be flipped down towards the heat for the best crisp.  Once in a while i'll flip a spatchcocked bird over partway through...that's where it's at.


I know you like your toys but you'll get higher temps with out the IQ....I have one. 



Great looking salmon!   Did salmon last night myself on the mini.

Edited by FWIsmoker - 8/12/14 at 7:30pm
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 


Agreed, A higher temp is likely available if I pitch the pizza stone diffuser and make use of the radiant heat from the coals.  No-IQ120 is needed to hit a high temp with the diffuser gone.  Right now, I am like a kid playing with a new toy; I just want to see where it's limits are at.  Right now the diffuser (pizza stone) is in place, and it is cruising 350.  It is probably going through coals like a madman too!  I gorged myself on almost a pound of smoked Atlantic Salmon, so at this point, the chicken is just being cooked for fun and learning.  I am also playing with combining brining and beer can with the same bird.  The brining was done in a vacuum sealed bag.  I periodically rotated the bag in the fridge to get good brine distribution.  BTW, I agree too many chunks of Pecan have been used.  It was just for play, and I love the smell of Pecan cooking.  Right now the smoke coming out smells glorious.  If I could purchase a cologne that smelled smoky and earthy, it would be perfect.  (Women would probably not be crazy about it though, my wife doesn't like it when I smell too much like smoke). 

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

Pictures Posted Now!

Chicken done, resting in foil.  Pictures in about 15 minutes.  It does have that distinctive "over-smoked" look.  The second round of pecan was likely a mistake, but the taste test will confirm it one way or another. 

Now it is out of the foil.  It's smoky appearance was deceiving. The skin was not bitter at all.  The smoky flavor permeated deep into the meat.  The brining brought a savory quality to the chicken which had been missing in other birds I have smoked. It was also juicier than any previous chicken, even though the temperature overshot to 168.  Rain and lightning is rolling through, and the smoker was switched to battery power to cook off the rest of the coals (yes, I know some people save the coals, but I am looking at the burn pattern, which indicates air flow over the coals).

Thanks for viewing.  

Picture 1: The brined, beer-can chicken. 

Picture 2: One very juicy slice, savory and smoky!


Edited by Addertooth - 8/12/14 at 9:44pm
post #12 of 13
Any chance you could send that brine recipe my way
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 



When brining chickens, I don't want a big bucket in my fridge.  FoodSaver vacuum sealed bags are used for the bird and brine solution.  Total brine solution is about a pint. 

I start with chicken stock, which already has significant salt. 1 tablespoon of salt is added, along with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of onion powder, half a teaspoon of allspice, half a teaspoon of sage and two sprigs of fresh rosemary.  All the ingredients are mixed cold.  The chicken is placed in the FoodSaver bag cavity side up.  The brine is poured into the bag, ensuring the cavity is filled.  The bag is hung vertically with about 3 inches of extra material on the top of the bag.  A vacuum is pulled until all the air is gone, then the bag is sealed.  The bird is brined for 12 hours, with the bag rotated every few hours to get good distribution of brine contact around the chicken.  After 12 hours in the bag, the chicken is removed and rinsed off.  A chicken beer-can rub is applied to the bird, inside the cavity too.  Then a 12 oz. can of beer is poured, or drank until it is down to 1/3 of a can.  The can is put in a poultry holder, and spices are put in the can.  The chicken is then "violated" with the beer can and set up on the smoking grill.   The first part of the smoke is at 225.  This smoker temperature is held until the breast of the chicken reaches 115 internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast.  After the breast has reached 115, the smoker temperature is raised to 350, and held until the breast reaches 165.  The chicken is removed from the smoker and rested for 20 minutes under foil.  The bird is "de-violated" and placed upon a carving board for final slicing and prep.  It comes out wonderful.  As said earlier, chickens do require less smoke.  Stick with milder woods like apple, pecan and hickory. 

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