New WSM 22.5 question about fuel consumption

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

  1. michaelpm

    michaelpm Newbie

    Hey Everyone,

    I bought a Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5" last week used it for the first time yesterday. I noticed I burned a lot of charcoal, very quickly and had extremely poor temperature control.

    I know there must be a few factors but what concerned me the most was the amount of charcoal briquettes that I had burned through. I must have put in at least 10lbs of charcoal. I had a 7.5lb bag which I then added another half of a 7.5lb bag throughout the cook.

    Instantly I was getting pretty high temperatures and finally brought it down. I was trying to stick to 220. Now yesterday was very windy. I think this has to have 95% to do with how much trouble I was having. I was up on my deck, and we were getting 50mph gusts of wind yesterday. I did as much as I could to block the wind from hitting it with lawn furniture etc but obviously, with wind that strong there's not a whole lot you can do.

    Also I had the water pan completely full. I started this at 9:15am and by 6pm I found myself taking my pork shoulders off and throwing them in the oven. I was getting about 9 hours out of a bag and a half of charcoal and found there to be hardly anything still lit inside. My water pan was near dry by the end of it as well.

    I know wind effects are intake/outtake in drastic ways but would that cause it to burn charcoal at a fast rate and the smoker receive no benefit of the fuel being burned off this way? I had used the minion method as well for this.
  2. big twig

    big twig Smoking Fanatic

    How are you running your vents? I run 2 closed and one partially opened with the top fully opened. I also fill the water pan which I know helps maintain temps. My temps stay pretty consistent even on the 1st smoke it ran a little hot but they were consistent. It also seems like every time I fire up the WSM it is windy so I know how that battle can be but I never have gone through that much fuel for that little time and my water pan always has tons of water left over. Also are you using the dome thermometer because those are anywhere from 45-75 degrees colder then the actual temp which could be why the water evaporated.
  3. michaelpm

    michaelpm Newbie

    Well i've cooked a few shoulders now and never had them be at such a low temp in that period of time. I was using the dome thermomemter. Which also filled up with condensation pretty quickly. It seemed odd for me to have used as much charcoal as I did.

    Maybe it's just the type i'm using. I was using Rooyal Oak charcoal, not self lighting with fluid inside of it. But i've used that charcoal for as long as i've been smoking food.

    The wind was really bad, for me to have gotten the temp up to 220 I kept going back and forth with the vents, but by mid day since the wind was so bad I had two wide open and the top open. The only one I had closed was the one taking the full force of the wind.
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are cooking a butt you need to start witha full ring of unlit charcoal (approx. 20 lbs.) with some chunks of wood nestled into the charcoal. Then light about 1/4-1/2 chimney of charcoal and once it is fully lit dump it in the middle of the ring. All vents are 100% open at this point.... put the middle body section on, wait about 5 minutes and put the lid on. When the lid therm gets up to about 200° fill the pan with HOT water (approx 8 quarts), close two vents, and adjust the 3rd vent to 50% closed. Keep an eye on the lid therm, you should steady out around 225-225 °F, adjust the third vent as needed to achieve your target temp. You should be able to run for 16+ hrs. with no problems.

    Almost any smoker does not like high winds, so if there is a lot of wind either move the smoker to a less windy area or build a windbreak out of plywood panels. WSM's will generally tend to run hot the first 6 smokes or so till the residue on the inside builds up and seals up all the little cracks.
  5. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    This site has tons of info.

    I would suggest you spend some time reading all the different forums and the WIKIs.

    Then use the handy dandy search tool for specific interests!!

    Have a great day!!!


    Also..Sign up for the oustanding E-Course...
  6. Try packing the charcoal ring a bit tighter and get a probe thermo to read chamber/meat temps.  I just found out that my dome temp reading of 200* actually resulted in top/bottom grates @ approx 240*.  Wind, misleading temps and a new shiny WSM interior would be my guess at why you burned soooo much fuel.

     Patience & practice. Congrats on the new smoker as well!

    Happy smoking,

  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Listen to Johnny, he knows that WSM.
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sssshhhh...your gonna ruin my impression of incompitance that I have cultivated around my wife. Easy to get out of chores when she thinks youll break stuff....heh-heh.
  9. michaelpm

    michaelpm Newbie

    Yeah the wind was pretty ridiculous it hasn't stopped yet it actually caused a fire to burn through 2/3rds of a small town not top far from where I live. I bought a new house so I probably won't be using my smoker again for at least 3 weeks. Can't wait to try it with favorable conditions. There's just so few things that cam go wrong with it.

    The thing that struck me as odd was the fact the water pan had cooked itself to a bubbling slop of drippings haha. But the wind easily
    Could have just been blowing the heat around under the water bowl and never getting a proper chance to rise. When I would hold my hand over the outtake when the heat would come through it was very hot. I've used an offset smoker for awhile now and never burned through so mch charcoal. It had the worst gaps and air leaks on it too. Can't wait to
    Give it another go though.

    Thanks for the responses!
  10. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you but a 4x8 sheet of plywood, cut it in half so you have two 4x4 sheets, put a couple of gate hinges and some handles on it you can make a windbreak that folds flat for storage and can be positioned as needed.

  11. You live up near Slave Lake?  That's pretty horrible, eh?  I've been dealing with wind all spring down south here.  I can't even do work on my shop because I can't handle the sheet lumber in the wind.
  12. michaelpm

    michaelpm Newbie

    Few hours away in lousy old Edmonton haha. I know what you mean though I hear it should die down in a few days. May long weekend is usually crap weather and I'm hoping it gets nice to go camping. Insane about those fires though.

    Last summer did you get hit with all that smoke from the fires in bc? That was brutal. Couldn't even see street lights a block away out here.

  13. Yeah, even as far away as I am we got a lot of smoke last year.  Good luck with camping, it's supposed to rain here all week and through the weekend.  I just hope it doesn't snow!
  14. rp ribking

    rp ribking Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Congrats on the WSM!!! This is what I built for windy, rainy and snowy conditions. I lay plywood on top for a roof. I have a 6" whole in the back also.[​IMG][​IMG]   
  15. That looks great!  I think if I build something like that the roof will be hinged so I can flip it back if necessary but still not blow away in the wind!

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