Firing up a WSM - 22" edition

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by temposs, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. temposs

    temposs Newbie

    A few months ago, I purchased a brand new WSM 22" from a local store. Previous to this, I had used a ECB, which I had an easy time firing up and getting to maintain temperatures. Both of these smokers have similar characteristics: both are vertical water smokers. The biggest difference (other than the quality of the Weber), is the size and area which the 22" WSM has internally. For about a month, I had problems keeping the temperature where I wanted it. It was always either too low, or too high. After some testing, I think I've developed a method which works well for me in getting a perfect, steady temperature for smoking.

    I'm not claiming any of these ideas are 100% originally mine - I've mixed a few other tricks I've heard from other members while lurking here. I believe this method can be applied to any water smoker.

    Step 1: Fill the charcoal ring halfway up with your favorite brand of charcoal (I use Kingsford). The charcoal should be in a flat layer, leveled out within the ring.

    Step 2: I fill two charcoal chimneys 3/4 of the way up and ignite them.

    Step 3: Fill a kettle full of hot water and place it on your stove, set to boil.

    Step 4: When the coals are ready (don't wait too long til the top ones are completely ashed over), dump both chimneys on top of the unlit charcoal inside the base of the smoker. Toss a chunk or two of your favorite smoking wood on top, and level off the coals as much as possible.

    Step 5: Currently, the smoker body should be off the base, with an empty water pan inside of it. Take the kettle off the stove, and pour all the boiling water into the water pan. Carefully lift the smoker body onto the base.

    Step 6: Place top grate on, add food to be smoked. Place lid on. Vents (3 bottom and top) should all be left half open.

    In about 20 minutes, come back and see where your temperature has leveled off at. It should be at least 225º at this point, or higher. Any time you wish to lower the temperature of the smoker, add tap warm water to the water pan and/or adjust the vents. I personally like this method because everything starts out extremely hot. The water and the coals (due to the amount added) are really blazing at this point, and you can simply use water and the vents to regulate your temperatures. The only chore you'll be left with is to make sure the water pan never runs out of water (I add about 20 ounces every 2-3 hours). This purpose of this method is to never have to struggle to raise the temperature of the smoker, which in my opinion is a lot more difficult to do than lowering the temperature.

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