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Minion method in small firebox, is it worth it?


Joined Jun 7, 2016
Hi all,

I own a Charbroil 430 offset smoker. It was cheap and has the size that I need. I have smoked beef and pork with OK results but always struggled with fire and temp management. I knew that this smoker was going to give me trouble but I took on the challenge of making it work. I figured if I learn with this little guy, it will be easy when I buy a good one in the future. Because of ash would build up after 4 hrs and choke the fire I decided to build a charcoal basket with an expanded metal sheet. Not only was the basket a lot of work (which I enjoyed) but also ended up being small (7x 7 x 4) an holding about 35 % of the charcoal the firebox w/o basket would. I started the fire on one corner of the basket, but even when the whole basket was lit temps werent climbing above 200. However, I would then add a couple of wood chunks and it would get to 225-30 in 15 minutes.

So question for your guys.

Is there a good way to have long lump charcoal burn in a small firebox????

Should I remove the bottom grate and somehow scoop out ashed through the main door as I add more charcoal?

Should I find short logs and just burn wood? What about burning only wood chunks? Would it be too expensive?

Thanks a lot.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 13, 2015
Start with a lit chimney of charcoal/lump dump in the firebox then add a couple splits.
Maintain your fire by adding splits whenever needed.

There is a slight learning curve to fire management.


SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Nov 12, 2010
In order for the minion method or any good fire /temp control to work, your smoker needs to be air tight...   From the Fire Box through the Cook Chamber...   That's so the only air entering will control the fire and the temps you are wanting...

Then, upper and lower air inlets, on the FB, will control the heat nicely....   Lower air to regulate the fire output....   Upper air to move that heat through the CC....

Below are 2 examples of adjustable upper and lower inlets...

....And a maze for the minion method.......



Thread starter
Joined Jun 7, 2016
hi all
thank you for your input. unfortunately i dont have a large firebox that can hold a large amt of charcoal so i may need to do what hardcookin suggested; split on lump. it may be the easiest way. like i said, i think my basket is so small that defeats the purpose of trying the minion method.. dont you agree?
i will be looking for a place to buy short (9 in) wood splits this week.
if u think of anything else, let me know!

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