HELP - WSM 22.5 Too little charcoal????

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by robitaillere2, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. robitaillere2

    robitaillere2 Fire Starter

    After months of moding, playing and producing some amazing food with and ECB I decided that I needed to upgrade for my birthday. Welcome the WSM 22.5 to the house! Sunday I did my first burn using the minion method and the WSM kept temps stable for more than 9 hours without me messing with it. Today, I wanted to do chicken wings (2 hrs tops) so I loaded up a snake method setup and couldn't get the temps to stabalize correctly. I'm assuming that the size of the 22.5 is just too much to not fill the basket. Do I need to fill it every time as if I am going for a long burn and just kill it when I'm one or is ther another way to skin this cat? Any help anyone can give would be greatly...GREATLY...appreciated. Thanks, Roger
  2. robitaillere2

    robitaillere2 Fire Starter

    or.....Is there any way to use one of the WSM 14.5 charcoal rings to get the same effect with less charcoal for less time???
  3. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    ok.. let me first say.. good choice on the smoker ... the biggest thing is gonna be "learning the smoker" ... as you found out, it's easier to control and it runs good empty.. once you load it up with cold food it's gonna act totally different ... as far as the amount of charcoal goes... this too will be a learning thing... what works for me is how much I let the lit coals get going in the charcoal chimney ... I always make sure i load up plenty for the whole cook and then shut down when done... use the left over coals to start your next cook... good luck with your new smoker... Thumbs Up
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Congrats on the WSM.  A GREAT smoker. 

    With the 22.5" WSM, dump load, bury some wood, add some wood on top, then dump 1/4 hot chimney for 225F, 1/2 hot chimney for 250F, and 3/4 hot chimney for 275 to 325F.  I don't minion.  Tried the minion method and didn't care for it.  Took too long for the smoker to come up to temp.  The rest below is just history.   

    I have had two separate smoking evolutions with my 22.5"  WSM; a leaky version that would not seal and a sealed version that is air tight.          

    First evolution: new, out of the box, leaked like CRAZY from the door and the lid!  Expected it to seal with use.  It didn't.  That didn't stop me from smoking though and the WSM liked to coast along wet or dry at 260-270F.  I could get it down to 225-235F but the bottom and top vents were practically closed and eventually the temp would climb.  When I loaded it with charcoal then shut it down (closed all vents) after say a 6 hour rib smoke, more than half the remaining charcoal would burn up.  I'd just shake off the ash from the remaining charcoal, carefully lift the loaded used-charcoal grate and ring out of the bowl, clean out the ash, put the loaded grate/ring back in the bowl, fill it up with new used charcoal, then add 1/4 to 3/4 hot chimney of charcoal depending on my initial target temp desired.  I'd go through 30-40 lbs of charcoal a month on 4-6 smokes.

    Second evolution: installed the gasket kit and a BBQ Guru after using the WSM for six months.  Major improvement!  Now very minor leaks. When I shut it down the chamber temp starts dropping immediately.  Got six WSM smokes and two 22.5" Kettle grilling sessions out of 20 lbs of charcoal.  I still stirred off the ash and cleaned out the bowl but basically only added 1/4 to 3/4 hot chimney to the used charcoal in the ring.  I swear, it felt like the amount of charcoal in the ring was actually growing (Kingsford Blue Bag).  Smokes ranged from 1 hour (shrimp) to 8.5 hours (stubborn chuckie).    Grilling sessions were 30 minutes each. 

    Since your WSM is new my only recommendation would be install the gasket kit.  Not necessary but it makes for one tight WSM and will extend your charcoal.  BTW, I had the gasket kit sitting on my desk for months and didn't install it because I was both busy and constantly smoking.  It has to cure for 24 hours. Before I installed it I stocked up on 480 lbs of KBB when it was on sale $10 for 40 lbs figuring it would last me a year.  Well, now it looks like it will last me two years.  Every time we walk in the garage and past the pile my wife says "how long did you have that gasket kit?"  I just smile.     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  5. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you don't want to use as much charcoal then yes you could use a smaller charcoal ring.... or make a small charcoal basket. The snake method you mentioned spreads out the pile so much that it makes it very hard for it to get proper air flow. The snake works well in the WSM for things like jerky or salmon, but would not produce enough heat for something like wings.

    I basically use two different loads on my 22.5" WSM, half full ring for all smokes of 8 hrs. or less and full ring for everything else. Only exceptions to that is the above mentioned low heat option. Also if you want to cold smoke I highly suggest one of the A-Maze-N-Smokers from Todd Johnson.
  6. robitaillere2

    robitaillere2 Fire Starter

    Thanks for all the feedback guys. I fully intend to give this thing as many runs as I can till i get it figured out.  Any more wisdom is more than welcome.

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