Greetings. I've been browsing the site frequently since I received my first smoker as a gift for Christmas. I have a Char-Broil vertical charcoal smoker and I've used it quite a few times already. I've tried several different types of meats including chicken, pork and beef. The biggest issue I have so far is that my temperature is generally too hot! It's hard for me to keep the temperature below 280F.
I've been using a vegetable wok pan to hold my coals, as I have read those help with airflow. Before switching to this, it was hard for me to keep a fire going because of the ash build up. I use the minion method and start a small batch of coals in my chimney, and then transfer them into the pan with the other unlit coals. This works great at first, but eventually all of the coals start to burn and I get a fire that lasts roughly 2 and a half to 3 hours sitting around 280F.
I've tried using less coals, but the problem there is that I don't get a long burn at all. I'm using a typical Kingsford Blue Bag Charcoal Briquettes. Not pretreated or anything, just standard briquettes. Any help or advice is much appreciated. Also, it's cool here in the winter so I'm not dealing with extreme outdoor temperatures, yet. Thanks and happy smoking!