Questions about Using Coals/ Maintaining the right temperature (I live in Canada its cold)

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Original poster
Jan 19, 2014
Montreal, Canada
Hello Everyone,

I am a newbie at the whole smoking business (although I am currently studying Culinary Arts in Montreal). I just bought a Brinkmann Barrel Smoker and really cannot wait to use it!

I wont lie I am the type of person who likes to have all the facts before getting down to doing something. With that being said, I have absolutely no clue how to cook using coals (born in the 90s/ parents only used Propane) and how the heck am I going maintain heat.  The Brinkmann manual states that i can use coals on their own, a coal/wood mixture or wood on its own in the barrel.

What is the best in your opinion? How do I make sure I maintain a constant regulated temperature? 

Thank you,

I am no expert, but I have a weber smokey mountain charcoal that I have used a few times. You will regulate temps based on your air dampers (mine there are three located on the bottom) and how far open you have them.  More air (further open)...more fire, more heat.  It takes some practice and you have to check on it regularly to make little adjustments in my experience.  good luck!
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Joey, morning...... check out the link to "minion method"..... There are pictures of "how to" and pics of baskets to hold the charcoal.... and pics of the method being used in all types of smokers......
First of all, a smoker that is sealed up really well, so the only air inlets are to the Firebox, so you can control the heat... Is probably the most important attribute to the smoker....
If this is a smoker with a water pan, nix the water in real cold temps and use Playbox sand instead. Dampen it if it needs it and foil the pan first and add the sand. Cover with a sheet of foil and you can redampen it and use it several times. Sand will get you higher and more constant temps than water, which will evaporate on you. Sand will not. If you need more moisture, then spritz the meats with something like an apple cider/apple cider vinegar mix. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.