adding additional charcoal, lit or unlit?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by delarosa74868, May 16, 2011.

  1. Im trying the charcoal with wood chunks thing instead of strait wood for a change.  I was wondering how yall ad more fuel.  I was trying to keep it simple and add unlit, but Im worried about the binders in charcoal making my food taste funny.  Seems like it would be easier to control temps by adding lit charcoal.  Also, how much charcoal are you adding each time, full chimney?
  2. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I always add unlit. How much depends on your rig. What do you have?
  3. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I alway's go with lit charcoal otherwise I can taste the charcoal
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL... now to really confuse you.... I add mine half lit. To avoid the ignition smoke you get from charcoal, I find if you fill a chimney, light it and let it get about half lit, then all the nasty smoke has finished before you put it in the smoker.
    burgi likes this.
  5. Second this option.... do the same, lit, 1/2 ready, insert to smoker fire box.
  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I always add unlit. This brings up a question. If you say there is a charcoal flavor you don't like when adding unlit, how does this differ from the minnion method? With the minnion method your essentially always adding unlit charcoal to the fire.
  7. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I usually have my smoker running for approx 20-30 minutes before meat goes on. My thought is that even though a lot of charcoal has not lit it has gotten physically hot, and that heat helps to drive out anything that is going to off-gas a large amount of white billowy smoke. Which is why I half light my chimneys, just enough to get everything hot before it goes in with the meat....... Course I may be completely wrong in my assumptions, wouldn't be the first time.... just ask my wife! [​IMG]
  8. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    If you're adding hardwood lump charcoal, you can add it right in without pre-burning.

    If you're using briquets, uhh.... get rid of thew briquets, go get a couple bags of hardwood lump, and follow the previous instruction. You can't add briquets without a pre-burn, and by that time you've wasted 30% of the available energy AND left yourself with a clay mess in the bottom of your firebox!

    Personally, my last many smokes have started with a full chimney of hardwood lump, poured over a basket of lump. When that starts needing new fuel, I toss in split logs of whatever hardwood I have around. Oak, maple, cherry, apple, pecan... it's all good. And the product comes out great. Even on the Weber kettle I've gone to logs for additional fuel, i handles them just fine.
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  9. kjlued

    kjlued Smoke Blower

    Why not just add more wood chunks and not worry about it. lol
  10. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Uh, am I the only one that's getting confused?  Maybe it's just my meds.  Got some new ones to play with the old ones....[​IMG]

    The following is given:

    1.  There is the Lump only and forever camp

    2.  There is the Briquette only and forever camp

    3.  There is those of us who are trying to wade through all the propaganda and favoritism to find a happy medium.

    I think I've just gotten a successful run of a modified minion method (ring around the outside)(Stubbs hardwood Briquettes) with a fair temp hold (about 245, top grid, 215, bottom grid, 205, above charcoal grate), although certainly not any 10 hours like some I hear about on this site, but still 6 is a good start.  Remember, this isn't a WSM but a Smoke EZ on a Weber 22.5 OTG.   I've got lump available (I don't know why but some people, SWMBO for one, call me a hoarder [​IMG]) so my next training run will be with lump exclusive and subsequent runs will probably be mixed.  Hey, I'm expanding my horizons, what can I say?  When you're newly retired, you get to do things like this.........Gives you something to look forward to, doesn't it? 

    So, where were we?  Oh yeah, adding additional fuel.  If I prefire the briq or lump, aren't I going to get a temp jump? (sorry for the poor english, I hear Mary Bond Lash (High School English Comp, centuries ago) coming after me right now with ruler) Or is this just a temporary thing that will even out in the long run, over the hours of the smoke, averaging in the temp drop you'll experience while adding the fuel to the chamber?

    See my quandry?  So far I figure I'm good for the 6 hours (knock on wood) but if I'm looking at, oh let's say, a briskie........  in a stall......  now that might be the time to add the additional fuel, right? 

  11. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL... yeah Dave we are picking at nits here. [​IMG]  (don't ask me what a nit is... haven't a clue, lol)

    You are correct in that if you add partially lit or fully lit you get a temp spike, but if your smoker is sealed well enough you can controll it. On my WSM I close off all my intake vents and the spike lasts for about 10 minutes, then it settles down.

    The main thing we are talking about avoiding is the initial ignition smoke you get from charcoal, it is worse with briquets than it is with lump. It is not creasote, but it also isn't the most plesent tasting thing to add to your meat either. If for some reason I have to add charcoal mid smoke (a very rare occurance with the WSM), my preferred method is to half light a chimney, that seems to reduce the ignition smoke significantly, but not cause a giant temp spike. About the only times I have to add mid-smoke is in the winter when it is cold and windy, if I have temps above 65° and minimal wind then I can run 20+ hrs. on a 20 lb. load of charcoal.
  12. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I want some of what NW Dave has. I have to agree with Al and the minnon way of thinking.

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