Emergency - Need Help

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

deadly diabetic

Original poster
Jun 2, 2007
Okay so I was dumb...REAL dumb. After reading through this forum for the past couple of months I thought I had a good understanding of how to smoke but obviously I was wrong. Here's the problem:

I have friend coming over tonight who expects pulled pork and I have a 5lb seasoned butt ready to go; however, I CANNOT regulate my temperature.

I've now had to dump two bags worth of charcoal because it starts burning too quickly and I can't get it to stop. I'm trying to use the minion method and have an offset. The problem seems to be that no matter what I do the firebox starts to get really hot and then ALL of the charcoal starts to ignite and the temp SOARS. I have no choice but to shovel out all the coals onto the cement. The first time I tried this I thought it was because I had put wood chunks interspersed with the charcoal and it was igniting (even though it was in an applejuice bath overnight) and thus igniting the charcoal. So the second time I put all the wood on the side and had about two chimney's full of unlit charcoal next to it. I then put about a thirty red hot coals (as they were just sitting on the cement) on top of the unlit charcoal. Within forty minutes, the whole thing was red hot again and the wood was starting to ignite again. However I did put the red hot coals all in one place in the middle so maybe that was the problem. So now I have 8lbs worth of unlit charcoal with NO wood (waiting to regulate temp first) and have placed about fifteen redhot coals on top but I spread them out this time.

Okay, Please, Please, if you have any suggestions, let me know.

By the way this a hondo/black diamond clone.


sounds like you need to close down your vents on your smoker the charcoal is getting to hot because it is getting to much air shut the vents and close the chimney about 3/4 it should help and close the door
What kind of charcoal are you using? Don't use the instant light kind that'll go up like a torch. I've noticed a lot more coal companys are adding something to make them light faster.

You might also want to try using say 8 hot coals to the pile and see what happens. Sometimes less is more. Because of air leaks and such every smoker seems to have it's own best mix. Dont' get discouraged just go slow.

It's a big experiment and you are the proffessor. So go slow and see how things work for you and your smoker. Roman wasn't built in a day and some smokers are slower to learn.

Good Luck
Thanks for the advice guys, I'm trying to more closely regulate air flow now. The things that I had read said that they usually leave everything open until it reaches about 240* and then close it all off until it drop back down to 220* and then open the baffles a quarter of the way from there but when I got to 240* there were so many glowing red hot coals that even when I closed up everything I ended up with a raging fire.

I'm using Kingsford briquettes and they don't claim to have any special lighting ingredients but I'm not positive.

Debi - thanks for the encouragement, I needed it! You ever think about a career as a therapist ;)

i use regular kingsford charcoal and don't have any problems with it lighting like that. leave your smokestack wide open. close the intake damper to where it is about 1/4 the way open. use less charcoal too. i light a chimney of charcoal and put it in the firebox; then i place a couple of splits on top of those coals. when my heat starts to fall a bit, i add more wood, usually one split at a time, until my meat hits 150° internal. then it is charcoal, after it is lit in the chimney.

btw, my smokestack has no damper or anything to block it any. it stays wide open, and i use my firebox damper to control my heat.
Hey guys,

Well I was able to get the temperature relatively regulated between 240* - 250*. It lasted about four hours and then it was time to start adding more coals and wood. Because I didn't anticipate it very well and I was afraid to add too much charcoal the temperature really took a dive for a while, around 200*. At that point the meat went from 158* down to 154* so I decided to finish it in the oven (al a Jeff's instructions on the website). By the time I got it double-foiled (should it only be a single layer?) and in the oven, the temp dropped down to 152*. My question is: Is that sort of temperature drop going to hurt the meat? And also, how do you anticipate when you need to add more fuel?

BTW, I was able to smoke a fatty while everything was going smooth and here are some pics.

i don't think it hurts it (the meat) too much if it drops a bit. mine does it all the time, when i have to put it in the oven. i try not to put it in the oven, but sometimes i just have to.
i put in some more lit charcoal when my temps drop about 20° and stay there.
Deadly, how is that Char-Broil Double Door working. Sounds like you're having problems with the temp at first but you got the hang of it. You wrote that the temp held steady for about 4 hours, correct?

Still real interested in the Double Door. My wife wants me to make a decision for a Father's Day present. Either I get that or i'll probably end up getting either clothes or a gift card to Cabela's, which isn't that bad though. Even though I now have the problem of trying to find something at cabela's I need :-)
Remember that temp spikes often happen. Big chunks of meat like this don't really mind the spikes as it's the AVERAGE temp that matters. If you are shooting for an average temp of 240-250, spikes to 300 and falls to 200 or lower aren't going to kill you as long as you can maintain the the average at 240 or so. Lots of people drive themselves crazy trying to cook meat like baking a cake. These chunks of meat aren't that specific. Relax and work with the smoker, it will find a temp that it likes to run and you'll get outstanding food out of it. Sounds like you're learning the temp control aspect of it, and once that is down, you'll be 'smokin' in no time :)

Listen to the good folks here, you'll get the hang of it, sounds like you are recovering and off to a good start. Oh and the smoke ring looks nice on that fatty!
Hi Sweetie -

Yes I did do some Counseling in the Navy. I was pretty good at it but I was to empathetic and couldn't let it go at the end of the day. Wasn't a safe job for me! I went back to being an electrician it was safer.

Just take your time and it'll come to you.
Alright so it took me awhile to post about the smoke results and I want to apologize to people who maybe were monitoring this post for information about the Double-Door for that. I got extremely busy after that last post. Had a friend and his family come over at 3:00 in the afternoon and when they left around 9:00 I was soooooo tired.

Then of course today was Father's Day (my first), so I spent the day with the family. So those are my excuses for not posting results sooner. Also, I need to apologize for the lack of pictures. I wasn't sure that it was going to come out in the end so I didn't take many before it went in and by the time it came out I had four hungry adults and four hungry kids (five actually but I don't think smoked pork is considered a "first food"). Thus I didn't have time to take a lot of beautiful pictures.

So just to complete the story. I was worried about the drop in temp after I put the butt in the oven because the temp continued downward for a little while making it to 150* even though I had it in two layers of foil and the oven was set to 230*. At that point I ramped the oven temp up to 300* (figured it's sort of like a temp spike in the smoker) and waited for the meat to start climbing. Once it did and reached the 160* mark again (I was also afraid of hitting the plateau temp again), I backed the oven down to 230*. The meat slowly rose over the next couple of hours. At 3:30, the temp was like 197 - 198* and I was going for that 208* that Jeff talks about on the website; however, I knew that I needed to let it rest for two hours and 6:00 was the latest that I wanted to feed the guests. So I ramped the temp in oven back up to 250* to help the meat make it. At a tad after 4:00 the temp reached 205*, I made the executive decision to go ahead and pull it out of the oven. I kept it wrapped tight in its aluminum foil on counter in a glass casserole dish for two hours. Then, I opened it up. It was THE most tender BBQ I have ever eaten. Seriously, the flavor was great it had a nice smokiness to it. I had the finishing sauce on hand for those that wanted it. Overall it was good. My only problem with it was that the meat was so moist that it was almost mushy. I think that I added WAY too much apple juice into the foil before I wrapped it up. I probably need to back it down to just a splash next time. Also, there was so much au jus that when my wife tossed the meat in it, the bark just drank it up. Other than that though, I think it was pretty good first attempt. Each person, except me, ate two sandwiches. I was too engrossed in the idea of how I was going to make it better the next time that I didn't even realize that my wife had cleaned up the kitchen and put the meat away. Oh well, just another reason to smoke another one soon. Lastly, my wife made me an omelet this morning using the remainder of the fatty I made yesterday. It was delicious! Just smoked fatty and cheese, honestly it was the best omelet ever (that a complete unbiased and objective opinion too ;) ).

As for the smoker. I was frustrated early but overall thought that it did well in the hands of a newb. I'm still not used to regulating the temperature of charcoal with air dampeners and need more experience with it. Also, I think alot of the heat that I got through that four hour stretch where I didn't need to add fuel was due to the residual effect of getting the grill so darn hot in the first place. Thus I'm not convinced that I have the temp regulating thing down quite yet. I'm going to try another smoke this upcoming weekend (something shorter) to get some more experience. Also, the homemade baffle that I made, I made out of the same aluminum flashing I used for the chimney extension. The problem with that was that there were a couple time when the baffle somehow got sucked downward and thus closed off the smoke chamber all together. It was easy to tell when this happened because smoke would start pouring out the smokebox and not the main chamber. I need to augment my baffle with some sort of structural integrity to make sure that quits happening. Furthermore, even with the homemade remedies there was still some temperature variance between the two sides. The hotter the temp the greater the difference. Usually though it was a 10 - 15* difference between right next to the firebox and right next to the chimney. I think with some fine tuning (maybe some tuning plates) I can nullify that as well.

Overall it was a learning experience and one that I never would've had the courage to make it through if it weren't for all the people on this board! Thanks again guys for all the help and all the support! And now for the only pic of the finished product I have.

Pulled pork looks fine, great smoke ring. Bet it ate fine also!
Yep, that's a fatty! Another nice smoke ring.
You done good, as they say down where I'm from.
I would use natural lump charcoal instead of briquettes. Briquettes have coal, clay, and other undesirable ingredents in them. The lump burns hotter.
Best thing you can do is just keep on smokin', work on air flow regulation using the vents & monitor internal smoker temp. It will come.
DD, it sounds as though the smoker worked out okay for you. I think I'm going to have to invest in one of those. I'm ready to stop using my MES and switch to the charcoal.

On a side note, i've been asked to join some guys from work to enter the Lenexa BBQ that starts June 22. I'm not really going to do to much as the other guys have been doing this for a while. I'm real interested in just watching and asking some questions to see how they do things.

The Lenexa BBQ is a pretty big deal around here, not like the American Royal, but I think there is almost 200 teams in it this year. Should be a good time, it's going to be hot but that's what malt beverages are for :-)
DD, though I'm still relatively new to this livelihood, (or should I say addiction), there are a couple of things I have learned. Patience, don't get overly excited because things are not happening as you want and when you want them to happen. And keep in mind when it comes to temperature control a small change can, and usually will, make a lot of difference. But also remember that since it is a small change you are making that the results of that change will not happen immediately. Most of all enjoy the experience and don't stress. As Debi stated, keep trying and it will come to you. I learn something new every time I smoke, some of it intentional, most of it by mistake, but that's part of the mystique that makes it fun and gratifying when it all comes together in the end.
Everything looks great!!! Hmmm, too much juice? Haven't had that problem! Did it tast like apple juice or did it taste like pork? Did you use sugar free apple juice? I'm a gas or electric smoker, but I can still get spikes that I'm learning to control with the vents. Was is a windy day?
Hey DD -

It came out great! Just remember it's meat not a cake, fluctuations don't hurt unles it stay to low for to many hours but that's a bioligcal thing (bacteria and that sort of thing). You can always ad more fule if you have it if not stick it in the oven to finish it off - no biggie!

Ya did good!

SmokingMeatForums.com is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.