Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by chaosmunki, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. So I know a lot of you know I am new to the grill/smoker experience...which is good. I like to stay green so I can grow.

    Well, I would say I have smoked maybe 3 times since my gift in mid-January, and grilled a dozen. Here is my process...which yes, leads to a question. Just skip down if you want to cut through all this:

    When I smoke, I put a little bit of charcoal briquettes in the side stack, soak them in lighter fluid and after they are all nice and hot, put on my wood. I then put back on the two racks that fit above the wood, but beneath the lid (like cooking grills).

    When I grill, I stack a nice triangular shape of wood charcoal, saturate with lighter fluid, let sit 3 minutes or so, light...let stand for about 15-20 minutes to get the fluid off, even out, put the grill racks over, and grill.

    Today I noticed when grilling that the black surface underneath my grill was crumbling away. Just the black...leaving the nice metal surface underneath unprotected. And btw, it happened just tonight, but about 8" in diameter. I have a feeling it is from saturating the charcoal, and then it burning off directly on the bottom of the grill (and yes, i have a drip pan thing underneath where the charcoal goes...I guess it just runs out).

    Have I ruined my grill for long term keep? Is this normal? Does my grill just really suck that much? Is my process wrong?

    I swear, I want to know EVERYTHING! [​IMG]
  2. c2s

    c2s Fire Starter

    The carcoal pan right? The paint is gonna burn off. Mine did it and has lasted for years.
  3. yeah...the bottom of the whole grill, in the middle, where you might find yourself stacking the charcoal, but definitely on that piece. wish i had better terminology. when i stack my stuff underneath the grill, it is 2 inches above that! lol

    I have no doubt it will last some time, but doesn't the fact that the protective coating is gone allow for rust and other forms of corrosion to take place thereby making it last less years?
  4. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    Hi chaos, guess the first quetion is did you do the 5 day course. Lots of info to get you started. Also you don't say what your smoker is?

    I would definitely recommend investing in a good charcoal chimney and get a way from using fluid. The one i have is made by weber, will hold enough charcoal to grill for over an hour or for at least two hours of smoking. Also great when doing a long smoke. You just get the coals going in the chimney so they are ready to dump in the firebox when needed.

    I did have a similar thing happen with my char griller when using it for grilling. A lot of fat drippings had gottten under the charcoal pan and ignited when i put the coals in. It is still working fine some years later but is on my list of spring projects to repaint once we get some 50 degree temps.

    As for ruining the smoker, i doubt it. If you are worried about rust then sand off the rough edges and any surface rust ( if any) then spray with some stove or grill paint.

    Also have a good look around the threads. There is a wealth of information out there, and it's fun reading them [​IMG]

    Not sure we'll be able to tell you everything (some things just have to be learned) but we'll get you going in the right direction.

    Keep at it and good luck.
  5. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    Oh yeah the repainting is only on the outside ...... realised i hadn't said that. no need to paint the inside, as c2s said that'll burn off most times anyway.
  6. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    not quite sure what rig u have but like tee says never Use fluid-and sounds like your useing a-lot of fuel to smoke-if u havn't gone threw roll call do it-makes us understand better which we can answer better.
  7. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    o ta I see you have gone through roll call good-I think your to hot.
  8. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Won't hurt a thing. It's quite normal to lose the paint on the firepan.

    And I'm pretending I din't see you mention the starter fluid. [​IMG]

    Read a bit here- some of this has been covered within a week or so. Staying "green" as you say- is fine to a point. But don't eschew what the old trees have been thru.
  9. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I second that. Get a charcoal chimney. And some thick gloves for dumping the charcoal in.

    You will be glad you did.

  10. Ok, i am going to try and remember what you all said. lol

    um, I didn't mention lighter me. [​IMG]

    actually, good to know i shouldn't be using it. That is one of the reasons i wrote out my entire process for smoking and grilling. I will be picking up a chimney soon!

    as for ME staying green and growing, the only way i can keep growing is by looking to you older trees...don't get me wrong! That was my whole point! :D lol...

    Yeah, jumping into this whole "world" of grilling/smoking...i see so many different ways to go. mods, gauges, procedures, really is exciting.

    Won't be worrying about the outside paint. I will just do as you said, paint it when i get around to it (and since i have a Smoke N Pit from Walmart that came with a lame gauge hole, I'll be covering that up with metal so i'll paint that too--I'm an aesthetic person). I have much to learn, but thank you all for your experience.

    next i'll have to learn about tuning plates, baffles and maybe even some better sealing ideas (since my smoker has plenty of places it leaks its smoke besides the chimney). Don't worry, I'll be sure to post my plethora of questions here! [​IMG]

    BTW -- I noticed yesterday when I grilled, even though i used a generous amount of wood charcoal, when i put on the second batch of chicken, there was barely any heat left, so i had to finish my chicken in the oven. I have only ever been about to get one "round" out of grilling thus far. When i cured it, it seems like the reg charcoal i used lasted for hours. the wood charcoal seems to not like me? lol
  11. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Could be ash buildup causing the low temps after a while. Empty the pan thru a screen, toss the coals back in with some fresh PRE-LIT coals. Might as well pre-burn a couple chunks while yer at it ;{)
  12. see, now here comes another question. I know I was told the information is all throughout the forum, but...i really am no good at searches...just tried.

    so, never use lighter fluid (check)
    Regularly dump my ash pan (check)

    But what is this pre-lit coal you speak of? Do I buy it that way, or do i burn it in a charcoal chimney when making a batch for today's grilling (we'll say), then save some (what i'll then use for pre-lit next time), or what? God I hope that made sense.

    AGAIN, thanks for the patience and help!
  13. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    Wood charcoal takes a little getting used to. It will burn quicker and hotter than regular charcoal. For the longest time i stayed away from lump charcoal for them very reasons. It is more work but does give better tasting food.

    When you grilled your chicken did you have the coals in the main chamber or in the smaller box on the side? Rich could of been talking about ash build up in the fire box, which would snuff out a lot of the heat. i'm sur ehe'll correct me if i'm wrong[​IMG]

    When looking for longer grilling times plan to use at least one more chimney load. That is one of the nice things about a chimney, you can add more. When i'm grilling i'll regularly add coals by removing a couple of cooking grills, dumping my coals in and replacing the cooking grates.

    When Rich talks about "pre lit" he means charcoal that has been started in a charcoal chimney. To do that you stuff the bottom part of your chimney with crumpled up newspaper, fill the top part with charcoal and light the newspaper. Should take between 15 to 20 minutes for charcoal to be ready. You'll know when it is ready because the top coals should of started to ash over (turn white).

    I best get back to work. Will check back in another time.
  14. You exactly answered all my questions, thank you! Yeah, yesterday I ordered a charcoal chimney from Weber. Excited to start using this and getting away from fluid.

    This was a direct heat grill I was doing. Actually used a generous portion of lump charcoal, in the regular grilling area, center of grill. I think my mistake might have been that I hadn't cleaned it out from the last time. The lump charcoal tricks me. It looks black still in most areas, so I pour more right over it (plus I didn't know that it was faux pas to not clean it out). Though, it seems like a really good plan to clean it out each time. Just a pain. lol.

    So I have a thermometer I am going to put in the case, a charcoal chimney on its way (gonne go buy a glove at Home Depot), only wood to grill and smoke with, and a really crappy meat thermometer that my girlfriend's parents got me with a bbq set...which i'll probably upgrade to something nicer.

    This is the problem...when i DO look around the forums, I want to bite off WAY more than I can chew!!

    Thanks again!
  15. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    Hey, no problem. I learnt quite a bit over the last three years. Just wish i had found this site back then. Wouldn't of had so many "not so good" smokes.

    Totally understand the urge to jump right in. It would prob be a good idea when starting to use the side fire box to do something cheap and simple - ie fatty, boston butt. Just to get used to the way your smoker cooks.

    Good luck with whatever food you do.
  16. when i smoked the fish (the only thing i have smoked) i put it in the middle, but somewhat close to the firebox...but not in the firebox. I used alder wood (which caught fire almost immediately). The fish came out perfect. Yesterday, I removed the grill that came with the smoker out of the firebox (not the one the coals sit on, but the one that looks like it was made to hold food), and removed the heating grate that would pop up and back when opening the grill...less stuff in the way so i could put in a dryer vent...tho still not sure what it is for. I trust you guys and the mods you do..and since EVERYBODY is doing it (lol), figured i would just for better smokes.
  17. teeotee

    teeotee Smoking Fanatic

    When you extend the smokestack down to the grill, your smoker will hold heat and smoke longer. Heat rises and without the extension you lose a lot heat straight out the stack.

    My smoker came with one of them cooking grills in the fire box. I never used it.

    Glad we can help, keep at it.

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