• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

WSM charcoal quantity

LexB89

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
107
26
Joined Apr 26, 2020
Hi,

I just bought the 22.5" Weber smokey mountain.

I'm in the process of my first smoke on it (Pork spare ribs).

The plan was a 6 hour smoke.

I was hovering on a good temperature and then got too hot very quickly. I have two vents closed and one not open much at all.

I think my issue is that I put too many unlite briquettes in.

Please could someone shed some light on how many briquettes I should have put in? Lite and unlite.

Should I just have one layer on the bottom or several layers?

A picture would be great.
 

wbf610

Smoking Fanatic
OTBS Member
507
226
Joined Oct 23, 2016
I have the 18”wsm. I normally fill the basket with unlit, then light 12-15 coals and put them in the middle. I run all vents open until it hits 200 on the dial, then close two and leave one open only an1/8. That will generally run at 225-250 for me.
 

lancep

Master of the Pit
1,421
359
Joined Apr 6, 2016
I also had the 18.5” and I’ve heard that the 22” runs a little hotter, but honestly, Exact temp is less important than consistent temp. As you get to know Your smoker you will learn where it likes to run what your estimated cook times are. Also, once you have put a few smokes through it and built up a layer of carbon on that new metal it will become more stable.
All that said, you most likely started with too many LIT coals, which once the smoker came up to temp, led to lighting unlit coals at a faster rate causing the temp to spike. We’re you able to get it back down? And more importantly, how’d those ribs come out?? Also, did you have the water pan full or empty. I know a lot of folks run empty and swear by it. I always ran full on low temp smokes and empty for high temp smokes. This gave me very consistent results but what is important is finding which method works best for YOU.
 

LexB89

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
Thread starter
107
26
Joined Apr 26, 2020
The ribs were great!

A good test of the new WSM.

I had the water pan half full. I think I will continue to use the water pan with possibly more water as I think it kept the temperature down and surely it keeps the meat moist.

I also think I should have shut the vents down earlier. I waited till I got to 225 to shut them when I should have shut them at 200.

Should I just have one layer of coals? I had a lagre pile (several layers). I will definitely use less lit coals because I used 20 briquettes.
 

lancep

Master of the Pit
1,421
359
Joined Apr 6, 2016
You should be able to fill the charcoal ring with unlit coals and then snuff it out when you’re done by closing all the vents. And yes, start closing you vents earlier before it comes up to temp. If it’s windy point one into the wind and keep it closed and just use the other ones for control.
 

noboundaries

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
8,889
3,323
Joined Sep 7, 2013
First, the amount of unlit (cold charcoal) is not the problem. I overfill my charcoal ring no matter how long or short the smoke, snuff it our at the end, and reuse the used charcoal.

Second, understand the "fuel-heat-air" fire triangle. Load it with fuel. How hot you want your chamber will determine how many hot charcoals (heat) you add. Then you control the air right from the start, not as you near your target temp. If you follow the WSM instructions and provide too much air at the start and try to close the air down to control the fire as you near your chamber temp, you've now got too much heat in the chamber. There's more, but trust me on this.

Every WSM burns a little different, but patience is a virtue. For a 250F chamber, load the cold fuel, wood buried, and add 10-12 hot briquettes. Set your bottom vents right then, about 1/16" open (top full open), and let the fire SLOWLY come up to and stabilize at your dried chamber temp. It can take up to 2 hours. Yes, you can get it there more quickly, but one more point.

When your chamber stabilizes at 250F with no meat, the chamber will APPEAR to cool when you load the meat. Nope. The fire is still burning at 250F, but the cold meat is absorbing available heat like it is supposed to. As the meat warms the chamber temp will rise back to 250F. It you mess with your vents to get 250F with cold meat, you are now burning a MUCH hotter fire that will become apparent as the meat warms and the chamber temp rises out of control..

Don't forget to post pics of your ribs!

Ray
 

LexB89

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
Thread starter
107
26
Joined Apr 26, 2020
Thanks for the help.

It sounds like the issues come down to having too many lit coals and not shutting the vents down early enough.

I'll try that this weekend.

Pork shoulder I think.

I'm working my way up to full beef brisket.
 

LexB89

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
Thread starter
107
26
Joined Apr 26, 2020
Smoked pork shoulder today.

I still had it running too hot.

I'm pretty sure it was just a lack of patience. I closed up the vents to start and added less hot coals as you guys said. The temperature was creeping up and I didn't think at the time it was going to get up high enough, so I opened the vents.

I believe once it's too hot there isn't much you can do about it.

Pork was still good though, and that's the main thing!
 

Attachments

lancep

Master of the Pit
1,421
359
Joined Apr 6, 2016
Nice pig! Remember, that thing is brand new. Get a few smokes on it and it will start settle down. Also, pork shoulder/butts are super forgiving. I smoked a small picnic the other day hovering between 300-325. My splits were thicker than usual and I was too lazy to split them down. Still came out great. What temp did it settle in at?
 

LexB89

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
Thread starter
107
26
Joined Apr 26, 2020
It settled between 290 and 310.

I think if I had left the vents where they were when I started I possibly would have been ok.

When the temperature got up a bit I only had 1 vent open a tiny bit. It ran like that for hours.
 

lancep

Master of the Pit
1,421
359
Joined Apr 6, 2016
Gotcha! You might look up the snake method also. A lot of folks running the 22 use that.
 

LexB89

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
Thread starter
107
26
Joined Apr 26, 2020
Thanks!

I'll have a look and let you know how I get on next time.

What is it you like to cook?

Ribs are my favourite so far
 

lancep

Master of the Pit
1,421
359
Joined Apr 6, 2016
Brisket, shoulder, ribs, whole chickens you name it. But my favorite is probably brisket.
 

LexB89

Smoke Blower
SMF Premier Member
Thread starter
107
26
Joined Apr 26, 2020
I'm working my way up to brisket.

When I can control the temperature a bit better I'll have a go.

A full brisket will cost me £50-£60.
 

noboundaries

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
8,889
3,323
Joined Sep 7, 2013
I never saw the advantage of the snake method. Too much work for me. I'm a dump and fire kind of guy.

For a couple years after owning my WSM I worked to get the smoker ready to load in an hour. Yeah, there might have been a little white smoke, but it was starting to thin. A blower helped it get it to blue smoke a bit faster, but I was still getting black, but not creosote-tasting, meat.

When I started making jerky, and needed low temps (150-170F), I started firing it up with the bottom vents all closed and using like 4 lit briquettes, no blower. I could run for hours and hours at that low temp and never get anything but blue smoke.

So, I moved the technique to higher temp smokes. No blower Starting with the bottom vents all closed or set where they need to be for 225F, 250F, whatever. It took longer to get to TBS, up to two hours, but I started seeing that beautiful mahogony color on my meat.

Zoom ahead a couple of years. I had to do an overnight smoke of two pork butts, but had a meeting at the time I'd usually fire up my smoker. So, I fired it up, all bottom vents closed, 8 hot briquettes, and went to my meeting. Came back 3 hours later. Smoker is cruising along at 200F with TBS. Loaded the meat, reset the vents, and went to bed. Woke up during the night and the WSM is cruising along at my target temp.

Next morning, opened the vents fully to raise the chamber temp to finish. The meat had the most beautiful mahogony color I've ever had on a butt that was never wrapped.

The lesson I learned; have as much patience with starting my fire and loading the meat as I do at the end of a smoke for it to reach probe tender.

The evidence, untouched, unphotoshopped. Black bark can be wonderful if there's no creosote taste, which I never had. But that mahogony color is a thing of beauty.

CIMG0043.JPG
 

lancep

Master of the Pit
1,421
359
Joined Apr 6, 2016
Hey thanks, I remember seeing people suggest the snake for the big one and thought maybe it was that the ring was much bigger. I had the little one so could never really try it. It’s really crazy that there are so many different ways to run that cooker that can all be rock solid. And yes mahogany is the most beautiful color in the spectrum.
 

splendorlex

Smoke Blower
80
50
Joined Jun 18, 2013
I would echo that things will change as your smoker gets "broken in." I bought a 22" WSM about a year ago, and it definitely took some time to get it locked in. I had to learn how to work the vents right, how to set things up, and when to use and not use water in the pan. Now I'm very comfortable with it and today had it humming along without intervention at 250-260 for my whole 10 hour cook. I also bought a gasket kit for it recently (that I haven't yet installed) that I hope makes it more efficient.
 

noboundaries

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
8,889
3,323
Joined Sep 7, 2013
I also bought a gasket kit for it recently (that I haven't yet installed) that I hope makes it more efficient.
It'll take you longer to clean the year's buildup off the barrel than it will to install the gasket...but it's worth it!
 

Latest posts

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.