First charcoal smoke disaster. Q-View

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by big e, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. big e

    big e Fire Starter

    It went bad... really bad. The fire that is not the food. The food was excellent, but only because I pulled it out of hell and away from the fire god.

    So I swapped pans and proceeded to load it full of lump charcoal. Well not full. I did place my metal seperater in the middle in an attempt to use the minion method the (pisc below). I know what went wrong. The whole pan went up at once. It looked really good for the first 30 or so mins and it went down hill real quick.

    I managed to pull my ABT's and chicken off without incident. The abt's were done and the chicken was finished in the oven. Surprisingly enough everything had a real nice smoky taste (applewood). All of the food was great and well received by the family (very important for your first real smoke).

    So the mistakes were hidden from the family and everyone was full. Now its time to figure out what went wrong. I even burned up my Poller probe. Time for a new one I guess. It did last a whole week.

    My thoughts are that I used way too much fuel. Half a pan or less would have been sufficient. As for the minion method... thoughts???

    Also got a shot of my little homemade ABT rack. It worked great.

    ABT's were stuffed with a mix of creme cheese sharp, chedder, chopped onion, garlic powder, onion powder, franks hot sauce and some worcestershire. Topped off with some turkey bacon ans smoked with apple wood.

    The chicken was brined for 12 hrs in 1gal water, 1/2C, 1/3C sugar, onion and garlic powder 2tsp each.


    When it was going right (below)

    And after the SHTF!

    and the ABT's

    No pics of the chicken. We ate it too quickly for pics.
  2. striding man

    striding man Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Well BigE Ican't help on what went wrong, but at least you managed to save the chicken and the ABT's, and everyone enjoyed the meal. [​IMG]
    What did you make your ABT rack out of?
  3. fishawn

    fishawn Smoking Fanatic

    Don't be so hard on yourself!......Great Photo's & the ABT's looks great.
    I have done a lot worse than that! (More than once) & have finished a few things up in the oven because my BBQ caught on fire. I have yet to catch the smoker on fire so far, but...........
  4. big e

    big e Fire Starter


    Made it out of a cheap 99 cent rack from Wally World. 5 mins with a pair of side cutters and pliers and that's what I came up with.

    I just cut out every other rung and cut the sides to make some legs.

    Here's how it started out. I make jerky on these too.
  5. ds7662

    ds7662 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    HMMMM! I have never had that problem using the minion method.
    Might have tried placing unlit coals to one side of pan and the lit coals to the other.
    I see alot of holes in that pan for air movement. Are there anyway to close them?
    All that air I am sure is what made it take off like a rocket.
  6. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The last time I used my ECB, I did the same but didn't catch it until it had turned the ribs black. They tasted good, but I sure didn't take any pictures![​IMG] Trying to smoke in the cold, wind and snow prompted me to get the Smoke Vault which I'll use at least until spring gets here. Keith
  7. gramason

    gramason Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Like ds said, try putting the unlit coals on one side, and put the hot coals on the other, so they just touch the unlits. I do mine like a horseshoe, and put the lit coals at one end so it burns around.
  8. ron50

    ron50 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks like a nice save. The important things are a hero with the family for producing a tasty meal and you learned from your mistake. I would try for more of a domino type effect where the lit coals dont ignite the next bunch until they are almost consumed. It also looks like you used too much charcoal but what do I know, I'm a gas burner :)
  9. zdave

    zdave Fire Starter

    Did you use a water pan, and if yes, did it boil off? I couldn't tell from the pics. Sorry I can't be of more help. I use a larger version of that Char-Broil gas grill you have in the background to smoke.
  10. packplantpath

    packplantpath Smoking Fanatic

    So, how hot are we talking here? Just out of curiosity, I wonder how hot it is possible to get one of those bullets if you really pump it to it.
  11. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Wow. Could have forged iron on that puppy! I don't use the Minion, I just hang around and keep an eye on things and add when needed. But the others may have hit it right on- as the center burns outward, you are adding 3.14156 times more heat area for every ring that goes up..if my intuitive math skills are right. The number may be wrong, but the theory is sound.

    Start at one side of the pan.
  12. smokeys my pet

    smokeys my pet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good save! Be sure when using minion to stack and start the hot coals on one side not in the middle. At least thats how it kinda looked in the pics.

    Anyway good save and do not let it discourage you to continue this wonderful aart of smoking cause it is sooooooooooo worth it!!!!
  13. big e

    big e Fire Starter

    Yea she got really hot really quick. I didn't even have time to get an actual high temp reading. My Poller went from 250 to 350 (where I wanted to be) and then to 400 in a heart beat. After that it was just "HI" on the readout. The probe was blown. I pulled the lid off ad the unit was still showing 400 at the grill before the probe blew.

    Al I know is that the sides of my smoker went from a nice red to a brown red. The heat really got up there. I pulled the topend off just in time. I may have set the record for the fastest smoked ABT's.

    Does anyone have (or would be willing to) post a pic of how they load their ECB. Pics are worth a thousand words. I could use a visual.

    Also, Yes I was using a water pan. It didn't have time to boil off. It all went up like a house of matches.

    I aint done by a longshot. It can't be rocket science. I just have to keep from melting my smoker.


    BIG E
  14. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Also, try stacking in a "star" arrangement

    And duplicate at the bottom, and sides of course.
    <Ignore the dots, spacing thing>
  15. big e

    big e Fire Starter

    Should I have a full pan of charcoal? It sure seems like I used a lot of fuel.

    Should it be a single layer and then just add when needed?
  16. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'd load it out to the rim. The idea here is to keep approx. the same amount of coals going constantly...therefore keeping the heat constant.
  17. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Big E, why does that look like a bottom to a electric ECB??
    You can't burn charcoal in their bro, no air adjustment, all them hole's, no matter how you stack it, it's gonna take off on ya.....IMO!
  18. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I dunno Bubba, I have not used minion, but I did drill a crapload of 3/8 holes in my firepan. And I think it IS the bottom of an electric. Won't last long for sure. But the fire can only spread by conduction, so it SHOULD work- at least better than his last run.
  19. Some hardware stores sell the small Smoky Joe charcoal replacement grates. I had a problem getting my heat up so I put the grate in the charcoal pan to give it airflow for heat...It worked! Make sure there are holes in the charcoal pan, if you do all this youll be smokin!! PS use lump charcoal, it burns hotter and longer. Good luck next time.
  20. kookie

    kookie Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    I am not a charcoal smoker so I can't help you there. But I just wanted to say I like your rack you made for abt's. I might have to make one like that.

    Smoke on


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