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Charcoal wont get hot enough

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Im using lump charcoal up here in NY in a homemade, uninsulated smoker. With temps down in the low 20s I cant get my temps up to over 175. Ive even made a wind barrier that surrounds the entire smoker to no avail. What type of charcoal can I use that burns hotter, but doesnt taste bad?
post #2 of 17
Have you gotten temps up to a higher level before?
If you don't have enough airflow on your intake then the coals would have a tougher time getting hot enough.
Are you burning a good amount of wood, certain kinds like oak will burn hot and long and help keep up your temps.
post #3 of 17
possible solutions:

increase airflow
preheat/preburn charcoal
add more charcoal
remove water pan, if any

*insulate smoker any wqay you can; this will help more than you can imagine until you try it.
post #4 of 17
You may need put the lump in a fire basket that is lifted an inch or so up from the bottom of the firebox so the air can circulate under the lump and the ash can fall thru the grates/expanded metal down out of the way. Lump and briquettes need to be up a bit so the ash doesn't form and insulate the coals thus lowering the temps on you.

I use a BBQ Wok as a charcoal basket. You can find them in most hardware stores. They look like this http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...027&hasJS=true

Some of the guys on here have made their own out of expanded metal.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
yes, i have gotten this thing up to over 400 on a nice day. I have plenty of airflow, and I do preburn my charcoal. I was thinking of using Kingsford competition charcoal: I hear it burns a lot hotter.
post #6 of 17
What type of smoker are you using? I smoked in single digit temps yesterday and had no problems. I start with a chimney full of Kingsford. I dump that in the firebox and lay 3 or 4 red oaks stick on top of that and let that get going real well. Then I add another couple sticks of more red oak and just get a good fire going. Then I have a good coal base.
After that I just mix and match whatever I feel will work. When I need more heat I may just throw a handfull of Royal Oak lump on or more Kingsford or another piece of oak. Along the way I will add whatever wood I want if any for more flavor. The oak does a nice job of that already but sometimes I like a little cherry or hickory thrown in.

Sounds to me you just need to get a real good coal base going first and then add from there.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
well, if you look at my profile picture, My smoker is a modified galvanized garbage pail. I've never used royal oak, or oak where can I buy some?
post #8 of 17
post #9 of 17
If you are using galvanized, you wouldn't want it to get hot. PDT_Armataz_01_05.gif
post #10 of 17
Is it possible your lump got a little damp somehow? It will never burn as hot even if it gets dried out well.
post #11 of 17
Get another smoker...Galvanized metal imparts VERY serious health hazards. Ever seen galvanized cookware? NO? I didn't think so...must be a good reason for that!
consultant to " www.servsafe.com "

Banderas forever

"Smoke 'em if you got 'em"
post #12 of 17
Welcome to the SMF. Enjoy your stay!
post #13 of 17
galvanized??? You dont want it to get too hot...
post #14 of 17
i'm having the same issue with my Char Griller Pro.. damper on the firebox open to full... the highest i got it to was maybe 190 - 200?
post #15 of 17
Are you using a charcoal basket? If not that makes a big differance. Also I do a mix of lump and royal oak natural briquets - approx 1/3 to 1/2 lump. The lump burns hotter, while the briquets give me longer steadier temps. My basket fits 1 full chimney of unlit and one full chimney of lit, this gives me temps around 250° in my chamber. Another thing I learned the hard way was to let your lit chimney get completely going - I used to dump it when it was probably only 80% lit, and I kept stalling at 200°.
post #16 of 17
Did some more work in it last night... Noticed... the top wasnt sitting flush.. had to grind down the swing arm a lil... now its sitting flush and dropped my firebox down about three inches.... and fired that puppy up. and SWEET MARY AND JOJO!!!! I got her up to 325* on FB side and 310* on the stack side*!!!! Got it settled down to 225 on the FB side and 220* on the stack side and it stayed there for 3hrs before adding more fuel... Not bad, not bad at all.....
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
well, dont worry about the galvanized, these temps arent doing any harm to the aluminum, its safe. I can get my temps up in the warmer months to 250, even 300 if i want to. Its the cold that kills me. Do you think that I need to increase the airflow out the top? When I take the lid off, the fire starts to burn hotter usually
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