# The distance between the charcoal and the grate.

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#### amron

##### Newbie
Original poster
I'm in the middle of building a drum charcoal smoker (there is a pic of it in my other post) and I would like to ask for your experience to let me know if there is a rule of thumb to determine the right distance between the charcoal trey/pan and the grate above it?

#### Marknmd

##### Smoking Fanatic
I don't know about rule of thumb but my classic 22" Weber charcoal kettle is very close to five inches. Hope this helps.

#### Colin1230

##### Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
Yep, five inches from charcoal grate to cooking great. That's the magic number, for grilling anyway.

Marknmd

#### thirdeye

##### Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
In most vertical drum smokers, the distance from the bottom of the charcoal basket to the cooking grate is about 24 in. Here is a good video from BPS that might give you some ideas.

#### Marknmd

##### Smoking Fanatic
Yeah, okay, I thought he meant for grilling. Some smokers do grilling too and you can raise the charcoal basket up.

#### amron

##### Newbie
Original poster
Hi , Thanx for the replies. I guess that I wasn't clear enough, I meant smoking only, and as per "thirdeye"s comment, the magic number is about 24". my concern is how critical it is since I found out that the distance in my drum is 16".

Last edited:

#### thirdeye

##### Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Hi , Thanx for the replies. I guess that I wasn't clear enough, I meant smoking only, and as per "thirdeye"s comment, the magic number is about 24". my concern is how critical it is since I found out that the distance in my drum is 16".
A lot of people have built drum smokers using smaller drums which would have less distance from charcoal-to-grate. And Pit Barrel makes a Jr model that is about 30" tall, so that would be less than the 24" too. Also, there are hanging racks for the Weber WSM smokers, so they too would have a shorter distance when used like a drum. There is also an option to make or buy a heat diffuser or vortex style charcoal basket, but I think this may reduce the flavor you get from the fats dripping into the coals.

It just boils down to playing around with your set-up, figuring out any hot spots and learning how to control the intake and exhaust vents. When hanging meats you may need to cut a pork loin or rack of ribs in half. For me, the simplicity of cooking in a drum and the unique flavor make them a great cooker.

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