Charcoal basket logic?

Discussion in 'Mini-WSM' started by hoochiemama, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. hoochiemama

    hoochiemama Newbie

    So thanks to all the great information around I've decided to build me a min wsm. I'm way early in the process after reading a bunch. The only piece I have so far is an imusa pot (not even an sj yet:)).

    Anyways I keep reading that it's almost more than optional- more like highly recommended to make a charcoal basket with expanded wire. However I'm not sure I understand the reasoning. Why is this part so important? It seems that without it you would be able to fit more fuel for longer smokes. I know I'm missing something but just not sure what.
  2. rmmurray

    rmmurray Master of the Pit

    The charcoal basket allows you to stack the charcoal higher and closer together to allow it to burn slower for a longer period of time. I just completed a charcoal basket for my mini. I've never used it without the basket modification, but I'm sure there's a good reason for it. The worst thing you can do is cook without it and see what happens. Congratulations on your choice to build a mini, you'll love it. Just building it is half the fun!
  3. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to the board! One thing about the expanded steel, don't use galvanized because zinc + heat = bad
  4. hoochiemama

    hoochiemama Newbie

    I'm looking forward to it! I think I may need to learn about some thermodynamics or something :). How do you usually set up your coals and light them? I've seen a couple different methods like a donut of coal then add lit ones to the middle. Or fill it up and add lit ones on top etc...
  5. rmmurray

    rmmurray Master of the Pit

    That's it! I use a large green bean can with both ends cut out. I line the basket and fill the can with unlit. I light just the ones in the can and once they are going, I remove the can with tongs.
  6. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I fill my basket and lite it from the side of the basket. That way it burns across the basket. I use a starter cube or 5-6 briqs in the chinmey.

    Yes a basket is needed in a mini. You wont be sorry you made one.
  7. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm no expert in thermodynamics, or really anything for that matter, but I do have a mini WSM. I've run it both with and without a coal basket. My experience is that the coals burn more consistently and completely with a basket. Temps are easier to regulate and higher temps are much easier to achieve with the basket in place. In addition, when running lower temperatures, longer burn times with more complete consumption of the charcoal happens with the basket.
    Without the basket, the fire only burns in the direction of the side vents. ( I have the gold, by the way, no experience with the silver. )
    I have had the fire go out long before all the coals are gone.
    With the basket in place, since the coals are getting air from all sides, the fire burns more evenly and completely.
    I hope this makes sense. My best advice would be to try it without the basket a time or two, then make a basket and try it that way. They're easy and cheap to make, so it's no big deal. Then you can decide which works best for you. The mini certainly will work without a basket, I've just found it works better for me with a basket.
    I keep calling it a basket, but what I have is just a ring made of metal mesh about 3.5" tall that is the same circumference as the coal grate and just sits on top of it. I had made a basket, attaching the ring to the coal grate, but I like to be able to remove the ring so I can spread the coals out if I just want to grill.
  8. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    See Minion Method....Do a search in the tool bar above or just on Google...heck, I use it on my 150 gallon reverse flow pit as well.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
  9. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The basket solves the problem of coals snuffing themselves out in their own ashes.

    You get better airflow and a cleaner burn.

    Also, a well designed basket can help you in temp control.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  10. hoochiemama

    hoochiemama Newbie

    Thanks all! Great info makes a lot more sense now.
  11. rmmurray

    rmmurray Master of the Pit

    Very good. Now get your butt online and order your Smokey Joe Gold! :grilling_smilie:
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
  12. aggie94

    aggie94 Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks Venture that explanation helps.  I made a basket and tried it and temps stayed really even, but I kept thinking I'm losing all that space on the outside of the basket.  So I came here to read why people liked them, better airflow is a good reason.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015

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