Adding Charcoal

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by cajunsmoke13, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. cajunsmoke13

    cajunsmoke13 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Question for some of you q-xperts. I usually start my Brinkmann Pitmaster Deluxe with 2 Chimneys of Charcoal. When the temp starts to drop and I get all I can out of it, I usually fire up another chimney and dump it in, but my temp goes high for awhile before I can bring it down. Can I just throw some new charcoal onto the fire that is already going? Will it give a bad taste to the meat if I don't let it white over and burn a little. As always, thanks for your input.
  2. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have done it that way, just a few at a time. No problem. As long as no fluid on them, should not cause any problems with taste.
  3. You can also make a charcoal basket, if you don't have one already. Put unlit coals on the bottom, and dump lit on the top (Minion Method). Will give a longer more consistent burn. I was doing the unlit on top of the lit at first, and this worked fine, but I was going through more charcoal that way and had to tend the fire more frequently. Plus the temp had a tendency to spike as the unlit coals started to burn.
  4. smokin' dick

    smokin' dick Smoking Fanatic

    I have a Silver Smoker and made up a charcoal basket for it out of expanded metal. I fill it about 3/4 full with the lump pushed off to the chamber side and add a chimney of lit beside the unlit. When that burns down, I push all the lit coal towards the vent end of the fire box and add more unlit beside it. Works great and no bad smell or taste. Easy to maintain temps also.
  5. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I agree with babyback on this one. Heat will always try to rise. If you put any amount of unlit coals on top of lit coals, it will try to ignite them until they are gone. When you use the minion method (unlit below lit), the surface contact of the lit coals with ignite the unlit. As the coals continue to burn down, the next layer will evenly ignite. While some people say that putting unlit coals in a fire will impart a nasty flavor, I've never tasted it, and the minion method is the only way to fly; very even temperatures, for very long runs.
  6. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If it did the gravity feed systems (Stumps [​IMG] ) would we worthless.

    I must admit though, that in trying different brands of charcoal, some are better suited to this than others........when I was testing different brands, there was more than one that I threw in the garbage.....briqs, not lump. Stick with lump and you will be fine without a doubt.
  7. cajunsmoke13

    cajunsmoke13 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the info. Going to do a search on the minion method. Knew there was something better and would find it here. When I would add the chimney of charcoal, I would have a hard time keeping it below 250 and would take a few 10 minutes to get leveled back off. Thanks again
  8. mrsb

    mrsb Smoking Fanatic

    So let me be sure I understand. I always start with unlit in my charcoal basket and then add the lit (from my coffee can :)) on top of that. But when I need to add more I normally just put a few chunks of lump on top. When I need to add more, is it better for me to push the lit ones aside and then add the new? Should I attempt to put the lit ones on top fo the new I added or just leave them side by side?
  9. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Agreed. When I cook on my horizontal, that's exactly what I do. If keeping low temperatures, I move the lit coals towards the smoking chamber (towards the flow of air). If cooking high temperatures, I move the lit coals towards the air intake (against the flow of air). Then put fresh coals in the void. When I said earlier that the fire will burn up, what I really should have said is that it burns in the direction of the air flow; in a horizontal, that direction is left and right (although, it still burns straight up, so that thought still applies if you put fresh coals on top of hot coals)

    (I think I've confused myself, so I'm not sure how much help I've provided here.)
  10. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    Question for geek. This is pretty much what i do. When you add your coals are you adding lit or unlit coals?
  11. fireguy

    fireguy Smoking Fanatic

    I always dump unlit lump to the smoker side of the sfb and lit to the air intake side of the sfb. when they burn down and need to add some, I use an old coal shovel to push the remaing coals to the air intake side of the sfb and add unlit to the smoker side... the air flow will gradually burn accross. most often there isnt much of a fluctuation in the temp either.
  12. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    Hmmm interesting, this may be why i use a lot of charcoal. I've always scooted the existing coals towards the smoke chamber and then added lit lump to the vent side of the sfb. May just have to try this out on my next smoke.

    This is what i love about this place .... always learning new things [​IMG] .
  13. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yep, I always add unlit coals. Mostly to keep temperatures even, but I can see that your efficiency would be better than preburning coals. (sorry I haven't responded sooner, I've been having a hard time hitting the site from y Sprint card.)
  14. coyote

    coyote Master of the Pit

    this method works for me also..the coal basket is is one of the best mods I did on my smoker.
    I fill the bottom of the basket about half way up with un lit lump hard wood coal. the larger pieces and try and fill the gaps with the correct size. then dump the lit chimmeny on top I then add hard wood I normally use sticks cut to the basket length.But from this forum and I believe richtee I now cut the wood about 3" thick circles If you will, they fit good.and just let em flame up and smoke.
  15. dennisdocb

    dennisdocb Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    To add to the confusion this is the method I use. Just start a chim full of lit and pour into the can and pull the can out. (use a pair of pliers the can gets hot quick). As it burns down jsut add unlit on the chamber side. I get approx 3 hrs before having to add more fuel. (for a 225+ temp)
  16. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    I normally do the minion method to begin with. Start with a chimney full of unlit in the basket, then dump on about 1/2 to 3/4 of lit. Temps come up quick and hold for a decent time. But from then on i'll always add lit. Didn't want to risk the temp drop. Guess i need to try this way out to compare.

    Dennis ... i can see just why you would do that. I do have a large amount of empty coffee cans taking up space in my basement. Maybe one will have be donated to trying this out.

    Thanks for all the ideas.

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