Help! I'm a newbie!

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Aug 1, 2007
Southern Ca.
Hey all - this is a great site. I recently got a "Chargriller - Professional" exactly like the one posted earlier today (7/31) by Meowey. I've never smoked anything before - I've always used a simple propane grill. I'm having trouble getting the heat up above 200. My first discovery about this smoker is that either the thermometer in the lid doesn't go above 150, or its placement in the lid will only allow it to get so high. I've placed a simple oven thermometer on the grate for now.

How much charcoal should I use in the firebox? What is the proper wood/charcoal ratio? I've been using a standard "chimney" charcoal starter but the amount that fits in there doesn't seem to be doing the job?

Sorry for writing so much in my first post - I obviously have many questions. Thanks in advance for the help.

I just realized I didn't give any of the intro info for my first post. I live in Southern Ca - I'm a major foodie (by hobby only - not professionally), I have two little ones (ages 1 and 3) and I have a beautiful wife who really appreciates the fact that I can cook!
I wish I could answer your question, I have no clue :)))
I can barely work mine. But I wanted to say hi and rest assured by the time you wake up tomorrow AM you will have all the answers you need. These folks are very gracious and giving.
Always nice to welcome a fellow So. Cal. smoking fan. The members who can help you answer your questions will probably want to know if you have tested the thermometer, and its location. Hang in there, you'll have plenty of useful responses very shortly. Glad you joined the SMF.
Hey there! welcome to SMF, I just finished putting together my CGSP a few minutes ago. Now, I have a couple questions for you before I give you what answers I have.

Have you properly seasoned the smoker and the grates?

Ok well I guess it was only one question.

If you are using the same chimney I'm using you can maybe fit about 30-40 briquettes in the thing, that should maybe be enough to get good heat in the SFB but you need at least 50 coals in the main chamber to get good heat (according to the manual). Also I've heard the thermometer supplied is only really good for plugging that hole in the lid. If you look around here you'll find info on modding the lid to have thermometers in the corners of the lid to take temps at grate level. I found a couple (hopefully good) thermometers at Wal-Mart for about $14.

When smoking, you will want to load ONLY the SFB with coals and put 1-2 chunks of wood on at a time.

I think that covers just about everything to the best of my knowlege. If you want more info, wait for more posts and check out Jeffs free 5 day eCourse.

BTW, Where in socal are you?

Don't go by the stock thermo built in the lid. I compared mine to a digital thermo whose probe was inside the unit when I seasoned it. It was way off.

I got the unit up to about 220F with the first chimney about half full. An hour later when I added a full chimney (lit) to the sfb I got the temp up to 300F to season it for about an hour. I then added some unlit coals and it settled in at 250F with the intake about 1/3 open. The smoke stack cap should be wide open the whole time. The intake on the SFB should be wide open when you start. It controlls the temp. More open means more air to the coals and more heat. I'm still playing to see where the SFB intake should be to give me my ideal temp of 225-240.

Good luck with yours.

Hope this helps!

Take care, have fun, and do good!


Welcome aboard the mighty SMF Bil, glad to have ya' aboard!!

I also have the CG you have, there are a few simple mods you'll want to do to stablize your temps. Just do a search, there are plenty of folks here that have posted them.

As for the charcoal, try using lump charcoal instead of briquets... it burns hotter and lasts longer. I start out with a chimney of unlit in the firebox, then layer a chimney of lit on top of that. I open the firebox damper and chimney flap all the way, let the coals get nice and hot, then put 1 or 2 chunks of my favorite wood in the coals. I let the temp get up to 225-250, and close the firebox damper 1/2 to 2/3 shut. As Meowey said, leave the chimney flap wide open all the time and use the damper to adjust the heat.

Lump charcoal ROCKS!
Don't buy the chargriller cover, it's designed well, but made of crap, mine pulled apart at the seams quickly.

Also, the paint on the sfb will bubble, and peel just will. Don't freak...wipe, or brush off the peeling paint, and spray some PAM on the areas affected. This will "season" the outside, and keep the rust at bay. I love my the mods.
welcome to smf. these guys steered ya right.another thing maybe they didn't mention is these things are fuel hogs be prepared to burn some coal/wood etc. over the course of a smoke. good luck w/your new tool.
Welcome to SMF Bil....Yup, Best advice is invest in a digitial thermometer the stock one's on most units are just not reliable....Keep playing with the Chargriller and you will be a Pro before ya know it...Enjoy the smoke!!!! DB BBQ
Welcome bilvo,
I'm on the other end of the states but just had to comment that I have one little one (age 3) and if I didn't cook my family apparently would starve. Good thing I love to cook (by hobby only as well). Oh yea, my wife is beautiful much in common :-)
Thanks for the tips! Most of you said you use 1 load full of charcoal to start - how long can I expect that to last? Will I have to refresh it throughout the process?

Also - many of you have extended the chimney down to the grate level - what's the benefit of this?

thanks again for all the help

Hi Bil!...Welcome to the SMF!...
...We're glad to have you aboard!!...

Sorry it took so long to welcome you to our family!...Been offline here
due to ISP/computer problems since July 2...

Until later...
welcome....this place is great.

Been using the same cooker as you for two years. At first I thought id screwed up but after many tries and some good advice from the experts I think I got the best cooker for my dollars.

When I fire up I use a good load of charcoals. I dont mind using the sams charc in my fire box but prefer good ones for grillin. Anyway then I lay a good pile of twigs or kindelin on the hot coals. when the flame up add a good stick of your favorite wood. When it flames it is time to close both lids. Now we wait for the temps to come down to where I want to cook. I have more trouble keepin temp down.not up. also some days with no wind, which aint often in Kansas, I need to slide open the fire box tray to alow more air to enter and keep the fire burning clean, not smolderin,
clean fire means clean smoke flavor.

Also forget the thermo on the lid, it is just decoration. Get some thing to check temp at the grate next to the food. I also lowered the stack to the grate level and I usa a pan of water to baffel the heat as it leaves the fire box . Dont know how much these things help but it makes me feel like I know what Im doin. Most important, master the fire and have fun. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.