Adding Charcoal Question.

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Nov 11, 2006
I use lump charcoal in combination with mostly pecan wood chunks. The question I have is this: When adding fuel to the fire, I mostly add new charcoal, is it ok to just add charcoal directly to my existing fire or should the charcoal be already lit then add it? I just want to make sure that if I add the charcoal directly from the bag to the fire that I will not cause any unwanted taste in my meat. Thank you in advance.

Welcome to SMF Goose!!!

I prefer to add charcoal lit in a chimney starter myself. If your coal bed is hot enough and you don't try to add too much lump at once you can get away with it to a point but I like to keep my fire as clean as possible. It is a good recipe for creosote if it is unlit IMHO.
Welcome to SMF.
How's your temps before and shortly after adding the lump? If it's low when you add it or goes down after you add it, maybe you should add it lit.'

Chad, if you don't mind, explain lump to me. I think I use it in my grill. Does it look like burnt chunks of wood? If so, isn't the combustion process already taken place before it's bagged? That makes me think that creosote would not be an issue. Anything but logs and splits is completely foreign to me.
GS, lump does look like burnt chunks of wood. I'm pretty sure it will still produce creosote even though it has already been burned some. Even if it's not officially "creosote" if you overpower your coal bed with unlit lump you get that really thick billowy smoke we want to avoid. Like I said, not 100% on creosote, but I'm pretty sure lump will still produce it.

I will keep increasing my damper opening to increase heat as my fire decreases in size and BTU's. Once it gets burned down to where it won't make enough heat (or combust chunks well) I'll add 1/2 to 1 full chimney of lump. It depends on how much estimated cooking time I have left and ambient temp. mostly.

Hope that explains the thought process a little anyway.
Welcome to SMF Goose, always nice to see a fellow Lousianian come on board. 8)

I used to add unlit charcoal but I noticed that my temps would drop while the unlit charcoal was getting started. I think it was sucking the BTU's up from the lit coals trying to light the unlit coals instead of using them to keep my temps up. I started using lit coals in a chimney and have not ever had that problem again.
Thank you all for the help. To stay on the safe side I think I will just add about half of a lit chimney to maintain my temp. I also would like to thank this community for such a nice reception to the boards and for the quick answers. At this moment I am smoking a chicken just to see if I can maintain my temps, well that and sipping a few and waiting on LSU to kick Bama's butt :) Thanx again guys.

Good luck with the birds Goose. Glad you're here. I too always fire up my coals before adding them to an existing fire. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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