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Charcoal Smokers and Wood Chunk Amounts, Does It Really Make Sense?


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jan 17, 2021
I humbly stand corrected after doing some research.

What I call the "dump method" is more like the original form of the Minion method. What I've seen people call the Minion method is they place a can in the middle of the charcoal ring, surround it with cold charcoal, fill it with hot charcoal, then remove the can. I think I did that once, then changed to what I called the dump method which gave me more fuel, less wasted space, and longer burn times. Plus, later, I could easily bury splits in the center of the pile of cold charcoal.

So, again, I humbly stand corrected. I am absolutely using the original form of the Minion method. Still learning something new!
I just consider it as anything with pre-loaded coals. So the "snake" thing with kettles, just like that coffee can way, and also those "S" shaped charcoal baskets we can buy for our WSMs (and presumably drums).

I usually only dump ashed over coals, but it's rare I have more than a 6hr cook. I use the exhaust to control temps, though. For example a 6hr cook means I am dumping a full chimney, temp of course shoots up to 325*F, but with the intakes and exhaust set to my liking, the fire will be choked down enough within a few minutes (so all i have to do is open and let out that extra heat, i.e. put the meat on).

& That sounds about right- I'd expect that a split takes a while (like you said ~2hrs) to calm down, but I'd think it'd be a little faster using hot coals? In any case, I won't know til I try it.


Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Sep 7, 2013
Interesting method HD. Controlling temps with the exhaust is something I do hours into a smoke if the lower vents won't stop a temp rise. If it works for you, smoke on!

I generally use my Kettle for short smokes of 6-9 hours. I do a different loading in either charcoal baskets or a Smokenator, but it's basically another form of the Minion method.


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Sep 15, 2012
Chicken or fish one chunck of apple wood or whatever fruit wood I have on hand.
Pork and beef one chunck of apple and one chunk of hickory. Maybe two hickories if it's a brisket or butt.



Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Aug 16, 2016
Hamdrew Hamdrew - I asked myself the same question some time ago! I have been experimenting with "all wood" fire cooks in both my mini WSM and Weber 21" kettle and I have drawn a few conclusions.

Absolutely! I take golf ball to softball sized chunks of smoke wood of choice and fill my Weber chimney charcoal starter and start them just as I would briquettes. I am just making coals from wood chunks to cook with. They get real smoky then VERY HOT shooting a flame out the top several feet as they get going and burning off the volitilates. They will turn all black then they will ash over just as briquettes do. That is when I will use the coals for grilling- direct or indirect just as you would if you have ever cooked in the outdoors over an open flame. But in this case you can throttle a bit with the lid and vents. I particularly LOVE doing this with the VORTEX doing chicken wings! The flavor is incredible compared to briquetts and I have a near endless supply of oak maple alder and hazelnut wood from my property. I use an electric mitre saw to cut up branches or hardwood splits into chunks. I guess you could split into long and thin kindling peices and put in the chimney vertically as well.

The key is you need to carbonize, or otherwise transform the wood through the high heat process before using them.

The down side is you cant really do a "low and slow" at this point since they are all burning hot all at once. However once my cook is finished and I shut all the vents to starve them of oxygen they just turn into partially used "lump" charcoal as you would buy commercially in a bag. I guess you could intentionally snuff out the whole chimney in your smoker immediately to let cool and save for future use. That's how you make home-made lump charcoal anyway.

Give it a try... it has saved me hundreds of dollars buying charcoal so far and FAR superior taste.
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