Should I stir charcoal while smoking?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by smokin canuck, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. I have a Weber Smokey mountain smoker, fired it up for the first time today. Should I stir the coals in it while it is cooking to remove the ash that is forming on the coals or add more charcoal? The temp has fallen a few degrees from where I wanted it and all vents are open at the moment and the temp is not rising. Just wondering what to do next.

  2. I like to fill the ring with unlit and add lit on top. How much lit I add is determined by how much food I am cooking and my desired pit temp. Sometimes I might give one of the legs a nice love tap with my foot (closed door) to dislodge ash but I rarely if ever stir them (open door). Stirring can cause ash dust to fly into the cooking area and get on the food.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  3. I just used your "give one leg a nice love tap" method thanks Bama BBQ and added a couple handfuls of more charcoal. Temp is up to where it should be. Thanks for the info
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I never stir the coals unless I have a smoke that is going longer than 16-18 hrs. Usually you will notice the chamber temp start to drop a tad around that 16-48 hr. mark and that's when I either tap the side of the bowl or very, very gently give them a slight stir with my fireplace ash shovel. That lets me keep it running at 250° for another 3-4 hours without any worries.
  5. WOW!  I'm surprised.  You have 2 well respected knowledgeable members saying no.  I have always stirred the coals no matter what smoker I have used.  Even when using the minion method I will stir the lit coals and move them to the unlit briquettes.  I only do this once the temp starts to drop.  I am surprised to learn others do not.  Maybe it is a WSM thing but I fail to see how.  Hopefully someone will enlighten us.  Keep Smokin!

  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Part of it is that when you stir charcoal after it has been burning for a long time it is fragile and you risk breaking it up and having it fall out of your basket/grate and into the ash which extinguishes it. Also when you stir it it lets more air hit the hot part which flares the heat and burns the fuel faster... so if your temps are doing OK best not to mess with it at that point. Finally as stated above stirring runs the risk of ash getting on the food.

    I only stir when I absolutely have to and as gently as possible.

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