Preferred Fuel for higher temp cooks?

Discussion in 'Mini-WSM' started by sam3, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    Last night was my first cook on the mini. I chose to do meatloaf, a 2lb'er. 

    Filled the charcoal basket with Kingsford with 10 lit on top. Meat went at 250 degrees and it rose to 356 and hung there for a bit. 50 minutes later, it was declining. I pulled it and threw it into the oven when the mini hit 230 and the IT of the meat was 106.

    My question is:

    Should I be using lump for cooks 350 and up? With minion method?

    Pile the Kingsford well over the expanded metal basket?

    BTW, no wind and temp was @30 degrees.

  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sam, a question for you. What was your target temp for your smoker? Your method that you describe would have been how I would set up for a low and slow, 250° or less smoke.

    For higher temp smokes, whether I am using lump or charcoal there are a few things that you can do to help get your ambient temp up.

    1. Use a full chimney starter and let the charcoal (lump or briquettes) get super hot. Then dump that into you charcoal basket.

    2. For higher temp smokes you need to ditch the terracotta or other high mass diffuser (especially true when there is high humidity and temps lower than say 40° outside). Using the steamer insert as a diffuser during high temp smokes is fine.

    3. Leave the vents wide open until the smoker hits your target temp with the meat in the smoker. As the temp starts to creep above where you want it start closing vents. With the silver I start with the lower vent, then move to the side vents.

    4. I always allow the smoker to get 20°-30° degrees above my target temp before I put the meat on, especially when its a large cut.

    5. Both lump or briquettes can be used for hot smokes. I have found for my area that KF Blue will hold a hotter temp longer in colder or high humidity conditions.

    6. The other method of lighting that I use is Keith's method of lighting one side of the charcoal through the side vent with a torch. This can be used for high temp as long as there is no diffuser or just the steamer insert. I only use this method for high temp though when the ambient outdoor temp is above 40°.
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    These are just some photos to show what the briquettes look like when I do high temp smokes. Last photo I was lighting another chimney for my second mini.
  4. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the feedback Case.

    My target temp was 350, which I reached. It just didn't hold long at all. I had no diffuser of any kind in either, just some HD Foil on the bottom grate to catch the grease.

    So basically I should get a full chimney going and dump into the basket with no charcoal in there at all. Kinda what I do for my kettle set up.
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep that's what I've found works best for high temp cooks, especially when its cooler outside.
  6. c farmer

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

    I found #4 to be my problem when I first started with the mini.

    Something like a meat loaf will drop temps quick and cause a slow recovery.

    Waiting 20-30 degrees over target temp helps a lot.

    I never start with more than 1/4 chimney and temps come up quick with lump.

    I am always using lump unless I want a low and slow cook.  Say a over night cook.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  7. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    Are you saying you fill the basket with unlit lump and dump a 1/4 chimney of lit lump on it?
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014
  8. c farmer

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

    Yea.  I dump the lit next too the side of the basket and let it burn across the basket.
  9. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    Good info Adam, thanks!
  10. c farmer

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

    Wheres pics of this so called meatloaf???      [​IMG]
  11. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic


    I didn't load them into Photobucket from my Ipad last night. It came out OK.

    I'll do it later tonight when I get home.
  12. c farmer

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

    That is the only way I will do a loaf anymore, in the smoker.  I use hickory and apple wood.    We love it.
  13. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    High heat or low heat i just start a burn right at the edge of my basket...I'll get high heat no problem and it'll last for hours.    I've mostly gotten away from using the chimney. 

    By lighting the edge of the basket it just does a nice even burn from one side to the other.   Left over charcoal I'll just shove over to one side of the basket and then I add new charcoal next to the old....then light the partial burnt stuff. 
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
  14. sam3

    sam3 Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for that Keith, I see your using lump too.
    Looking at that picture, did you add any more lump to the basket? If not? How long did that last @350 with vents wide open?
  15. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Sam I have two mini's, a 14.5 and a 18.5....both of them can do 350* for several hours with out adding more fuel.   If it's cold out i just put a reflectix sleeve i've made for them on the outside.   I also don't have any thermal mass like a teracotta pot in it so they get hot quick.  The only thing in between the coals and the food is a holy diffuser like the steamer insert. 

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