How I start and use my WSM....

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by fpnmf, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As I looked at the search related wsm start up threads I see lots of different methods and thought I would show how I do mine so it would be easy for me to find and repost..

    I use Kingsford Blue burns nice and lasts a long time...

    It also can be bought in fairly large quantity at the box stores on sale in the spring and fall..

    Starting at the bottom....

    I put a 28 oz can in the middle of the ring and pour the charcoal into the ring..filling full to the top of the ring.

    Next I add the wood for smoke..layering from the bottom to the top...then grab the ring and turn it and shake it to settle the charcoal nice and tight..then add the charcoal up to the top again...

    10 to 12 pieces of charcoal into the chimney and get them all burning..

    Dump the chimney into the soup can and pull the can out..

    I dont use water in the has a 12 inch terra cotta pot saucer in it...dont foil it either..I have a fire pit so everything gets washed into it.

    After a few years it looks like a well seasoned Dutch oven..

    Assemble the rest of the wsm with all vents wide open..

    When the temp gets around 180-200 I close 2 bottom vents and put the other bottom vent at half open..if I am going to smoke above 225-240 I let it get a little hotter before closing.

    When it gets up to temp..put the stuff in and leave the top vent all the way open..

    Simple and easy..thats how I like to do things...

    I did several mods to mine...washers behind the top rack supports and installed evelets from ace hardware..

    Picture is from Mr Rodriguez..

    I also practice the "Keep the lid on!!' routine.. I found that if I start chasing temps or thinking I gotta look....the temps go up quickly..

    I did this method until I bought the worked for me quite well. YMMV

    I still fire it off the same way only now the guru keeps temp perfect for me...Makes doing butts real easy by starting everything going in the evening..

    That way all the pulling and cleaning can be done in the morning the next day.

    Have a great day!!!!

    Last edited: May 30, 2013
    sn3rt likes this.
  2. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    Great post Craig. Very helpful. [​IMG]
  3. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    same technique I learned from you when I got my first WSM. Been working great every since!
  4. Is it shiggin if I use this lighting method, too?
  5. What size WSM is that? I'm trying to decide which one i should get. Thanks!
  6. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    18.5...same method for the 22 tho...

    If it is just you and your family the 18.5 is very efficient...

  7. Long cooks, like two butts aren't a problem on the 18?
  8. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice post, Will help the new WSM owners.
  9. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    No...4 butts arent a problem actually...

  10. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Craig is right...

    4 butts in a 18.5" WSM is a breeze and can be done even if you don't have a BBQ Guru or similar power draft.  The power draft just makes it easier.  I've done 4 butts in the WSM dozens of times (it was the standard smoke for the office and they went out of their way to find a reason for us to have pot luck food days with the pulled pork as the main attraction.)

    And if you are really creative, you can get 6 into a 18.5" WSM.  You have to stand them on end, 3 per rack, and let them touch in the middle sort of like a teepee frame or tripod would look.  I would not suggest you try the 6 butts until you are very very familiar with how the temp control in a WSM works.   That's a lot of meat mass to deal with.  I used my BBQ Guru power draft both times I did 6 butts, and have not tried it without a power draft.  I did use more fuel on the 6 butt smokes than on the 4's. Also very large butts can be too tall for stand up like that so take that into account when buying meat. 

    But 4 butts is plenty for most gatherings (and if I had not retired, I would have bought a 22.5" to supplement my 18.5" for the office parties which were at least once a month).  Unless you have a family larger than 4 people, the 18.5" should be plenty large and tends to use less fuel (longer smoke time on a load of charcoal) than the 22.5". 

    The one thing I don't like about a 18.5" is a full rack of ribs is too long to lay on the grate without bending (curling) or cutting into smaller sections.  But that was not a good enough reason for me to get rid of the 18.5" and was my only complaint about the 18.5" model.  The flip side of getting a 22.5" which will let you lay the full rack of ribs on the grate, is it will also use fuel faster and takes more fuel to fill the ring in the first place.  They did not make the 22.5" when I bought mine, but knowing what I know now, unless I had a very large family to feed on a regular basis, I would still probably go with a 18.5" instead of the 22.5, but that is just my take.

    Also I know they are pricey, but I highly recommend the BBQ Guru power drafts for a WSM owner.  Like Craig, I have a DigiQ model and once you use one, you wonder how you ever got along without it.  It's as close to "set it and forget it" as you will ever find in a charcoal smoker especially on those long overnight pork butt smokes.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  11. Thanks for the input. I'm going to get the 18.5. There are maybe only two times a year when I would cook more than two butts. So I can't justify getting the 22.5", I'm going to take that extra $100 and put it toward a BBQ guru.

    I had planned to get one all along and you guys just reinforced my belief that I "need" (want) the DigiQ.
  12. I really want one of these WSMs with the DigiQ.  I am still torn about which size to get.  I do have a small family but I also do a lot more ribs than other meats. Got some soul searching to do I guess? 
  13. great post for the new WSM owner.  ...but I hope the new owner or prospective owner doesn't think they need an ATC for the WSM to stay within set temp range.  I used to have an ATC but found I can set the lower vents and the cooker will stay within a few degrees for very long cooks -- even overnight.  No doubt the ATC(s) are cool.
  14. Good post.  I was wondering how long a 18.5 will cook on a full load of charcoal?  Do you ever have to add charcoal for longer smokes?
  15. I have the 22.5 inch and wouldn't trade it for anything. We go to Costco and get a immense amount of meat. 6 butts or 9 slabs of baby backs. There's just my wife and I so that seems like a lot, but we cut the cooked meat into serving size portions and bag them in the Food Saver seal-a-meal and freeze them. During the week when we both get home from work we just throw a bag in the microwave and it's just like it came off the grill
  16. How do you reheat meat in the nuke machine w/o it getting hard and tough to eat?

    I've been wanting to turn a big webber kettle into a WSM using a 55 gallon Barrel.  Does any one know of any threads where this has been done successfully?
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  17. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I leave it in the vac pack and warm it up...

    Check here for the build question...
    16+ hours using KB..never had to add any...
    Yup..thats what we do here too...
  18. If you seal your leftovers in vacuum bags you can boil water to heat them up.
  19. I like this ider ;)
  20. rwa2012

    rwa2012 Newbie

    Interesting, am I correct in assuming that you have both ends of the soup can cut out?

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