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UDS burn time-What Should I Expect??

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hey folks, I've been a devotee of bbq a few years now & just sold my filing cabinet smoker. Being able to get free fuel in the form of hardwood pallets at work means I've never tried charcoal.  Ribs, pulled,sausages, and whole loins for smoked chops are the extent of what I've done. Brisket is next on the list.  What should I expect for a burn time with a14" x 10-12" basket of charcoal???  A buddy of mine works at the slaughterhouse here & has some killer brisket lined up as soon as I build the UDS.  Any help is appreciated.  A ball valve is a must, and I can get it at work.  Thanks for any & all replies.  Jamie

post #2 of 10

That's a pretty good size basket.  I smoked a brisket last weekend and the temp held for a solid 12hrs until I put it out by shutting the values down.  My basket is only 8,5" high, so I would expect you could get an easy 16hrs without blinking an eye--probably longer.  That sounds ridiculous, but the way the UDS holds heat is ridiculous.

post #3 of 10

A lot of the burn time depends on how much charcoal you use. If you fill the basket you will get some very long burn times. Less charcoal will mean less time.


I have a buddy that can pretty much judge how much charcoal he needs for X amount of burn time.  But then again he's been a Drumhead for as long as I've known him and that's been 20 years.


I'd be a bit leary using pallets as a fuel source due to the fact that a lot of the pallets have been treated to prevent rot. Even if you burn the wood down before using it, you still have to deal with the toxic fumes that will be burned off.

post #4 of 10

I ran my drum for 18 hours last weekend, using the standard 18.5" x 12" charcoal basket (the one seen in most uds's) There was still fuel left over. Fill your basket to the brim, leaving a pocket in the middle for your lit coals and you will be fine. If you have left over just shake the basket and add new charcoal on top as needed. I have never ran my drum out of fuel on a smoke.

post #5 of 10

My drum can go for 20+ hours if I fill it up with lump. You will love the UDS. I was also going to mention what Dutch said about burning pallets in your smoker. There was a good thread a while back that talked about how a lot of pallets have some toxic stuff in them to prevent them from rotting.

post #6 of 10

I've never hit the limit on my drum yet. My food has always been done before the fuel has run out. My basket is around 13" in diameter by 10" high.

post #7 of 10


Originally Posted by AK1 View Post

I've never hit the limit on my drum yet. My food has always been done before the fuel has run out. My basket is around 13" in diameter by 10" high.

I second that statement. I don't actually know how long my will go for sure because I have never come close to running out of fuel. I just know I have gone for around 12 hours and it barely looks like any of the fuel has burned up.

post #8 of 10

Well, I decided to do a little test. I was doing some ribs yesterday, and fired up the UDS yesterday at 1 pm. After the ribs were done, I thought I'd keep the UDS going just to see how long it would go. I gave up at 1:30 pm today. It was still at 200 degrees.

post #9 of 10

The basket I made is 16" round and right now is of unknown height, memory is failing me at this point in time. I think its about 12" tall tho.  But I do know that when I loaded it with about 10lbs of briquettes it ran at 220 to 250 for 20 plus hours with coals left to spare. Also I had no food in it, just a test run to see how it handled.


When I ran lump I did a smoke for about 10 hours the first day and at least another 10 the second day.


Something I did notice was that with the briquettes I had to rattle the drum once in a while to jiggle the coals, but never had to disassemble. With the lump I did nothing to the basket.

post #10 of 10

My basket is around 13-14" in diameter( I used the charcoal grate from an 18" Weber Kettle) by about 8-10" high. It takes about 1/2 a bag of lump(roughly 10 lbs) to fill and normally I get 2 smokes before I even think about topping it off. 


I don't use briquettes, because I found from experience that they make too much ash and tend to choke the fire, and  also that the majority are composed of too much "junk"

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