Holding lower temps in WSM?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by avas38, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    Is it possible to hold lower temps in the WSM? I want to make some sausages from The Marianski brothers "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages" and they call for a tiered cooking of the meats. For example, today I have some hot dogs, lap chong and krakowska going. These require differing temps, but do call for holding the temp around 113-131 degrees F for an extended period of time. Same for 167-194 degrees F (lower is better).

    Is this possible? I have an 18.5" WSM. Is there some accessory that can help? I couldn't manage it on my own. The hot dogs are good, too much fat rendered in the lap chong and the krakowska will be cut tomorrow, but I think too much fat rendered too.

    I thought an A-Maze smoker might help, but I'm not too sure.

  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I would like to know the answer to your question as well.
  3. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes you can lower the temps. What you do is start a half chimney of briquets, once they are fully lit place about six to eight briquets in your WSM with no water in the pan. Put the lid on and use a digital thermometer to check your temps at the grate level. Remove and add briquets as needed to maintain your temps. As your briquets burn low add more from the chimney, light more half chimney's as needed to keep a constant supply of hot briquets on hand.

    If you have an AMNS smoker that can be used to add smoke to your hot dogs. With just a handfull of briquets you are not going to be adding chunks of wood because they will cause temperature spikes.

    You have to pay more attention to your WSM when you cold smoke with it like that, but it does work. Good luck! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
  4. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    It sounds like a matter of babying the WSM with just a few lit coals. I was hoping the AMNS would produce enough heat to allow me to be lazy. How much tending would you say is required with this technique? It seems like a significant amount would be required if keeping a chimney on at all times is required.
  5. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have a WSM 18.5", but I ran lower temps a different way, first I use lump, but I believe this would work with briquettes, maybe better.  I stacked lump around the outside of the charcoal ring, making certain they were touching one another, I lit one end and adjusted my vents for the desired temp, I have smoked Jalapenos at 130°-140° for 3-4 hours and I have smoked cheese at 80° for 2 hours.

    I was surprised at how little charcoal was needed for the lower temps, I tried for low temps with the charcoal ring half full and just a few lit pieces, but the temps went to 180° within just a short amount of time, there was too much fuel available for combustion and I couldn't control how much lit because the fire spread out in all directions, with the fuel stacked in a line I could control how much ignited, then I closed my vents to have the necessary air flow for my desired temp.

    I was wanting to hold a steady temp, but if you were to increase the number of briquettes (more briquettes burning at one time) in the line, say 3 abreast in the rows,  that should allow you to raise the temp, then just continue to add that number of briquettes in the line as needed going around the circumference of the charcoal ring, until you need to increase the temp again and then add more briquettes to the line, say 4 abreast in the row.

    The WSMs are great at holding temp, all that is necessary is to determine how much fuel is needed to attain the temp we want, it took some messin' with at first, but after I determined how much fuel to place in the line it was pretty much set and forget like when smoking at the higher temps.

    One last thing, make certain there isn't any ash under charcoal grate, ...that gave me problems at first.

  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Good to know!
  7. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Gene - did you have any problem with start up smoke using this method? I like the idea, but I have ran into bad tastes when having cold charcoal being lit in the middle of a smoke producing a lot of nasty start up smoke. That was why I was using pre-lit charcoal that was already lit and burning clean. But I really like your idea! [​IMG]
  8. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Hey Johnny,

    No I didn't, I have thick smoke when I start my WSM, but not after it reaches my smoking temp, I'm a little confused that you have some, for example, when I'm smoking with a full ring I have lots of unlit charcoal (cold?) along with my buried smoking wood that is waiting to be ignited, with my ambient temp I smoke at 220° with two vents closed and the other open about 5%, so on a 12-16 hour smoke unlit (cold?) charcoal is constantly being ignited.

    My WSM belching white smoke at start up and not at smoking temps perplexed me when I first started using it, this is what I think causes it, when I first light my charcoal it is all at ambient, but when the smoker reaches smoking temp the unlit charcoal is preheated to smoking temp also, which eliminates the difference between ambient temp of the charcoal at start up and the preheated temp of the charcoal being lit at smoking temp which, I think, is causing the white smoke, I think it's like the wood burner guys preheating the wood before they place it in the firebox.

    Like I said, I used lump, I haven't tried it with briquettes, but it's still the "Minion Method" we use, it's just that I'm controlling the direction of heat propagation, also my smoking times weren't as long as it would take to smoke sausage, it never used the lump all the way around the charcoal ring, for longer smoking times it might be necessary to add charcoal before it is all used up to insure the new (cold?) charcoal has time to preheat, personally, I don't see what difference the fuel source would make, ...I would be interested to see if it would work with briquettes.

    (I hope you healing is progressing ok, you are in my prayers.)

  9. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    Sorry for the slow reply. I am having a little trouble visualizing what you are saying so I made an image.

    The black represents the WSM walls, red the charcoal ring and gray is charcoal. Assume that each set of charcoal is sitting in the WSM alone and theoretically goes around the ring fully (I just didn't want to make 4 pictures with full rings of charcoal). So assuming I had one full row of charcoal around the charcoal ring as in the 6 o'clock position it would run the coolest? Then to increase temperature I would load it up as shown clockwise in the image? So if I wanted the WSM to run really cold I would put one full row of charcoal around the ring, slightly warmer and I would use two rows etc?

    I hope I am not confusing this further.



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