WSM 18.5 heat control

Discussion in 'Mini-WSM' started by ryno037, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. Hey ppl!

    I just purchased a WSM 18.5. I did my first cook on Saturday an the first couple hours was horrible. I couldn't get the smoker pass 200 degrees and I had all the vents open! I did some research and some ppl said to add more lump charcoal, so that's what I did. once I did that and assembled the WSM back together the charcoal got in the way of the water pan and needless to say I lost the water pan at this point. with in 15 mins my smoker was up to temp (with no water pan)  between 235 and 250. I don't know what I did right and I don't know what I did wrong. Once I reached the temp I was looking for the cook went smoothly. I lit the smoker using the minion method.

    is it just me or is the water pan to deep?

    can someone explain to me what I did wrong?


  2. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Did you have water in the pan? If you did then that is the problem IMHO, if not then you probably did not use enough lit charcoal to start the fire. YMMV.
  3. nptwnsmkr

    nptwnsmkr Smoke Blower

    I've been smoking on a WSM 18.5 for some time and experienced similar issue's when I first got started. One thing I learned along the way was to add hot water to the pan. I have to agree with cliffcarter, how much lit charcoal did you start with and did you let it fully ash over when you added it? I generally use 1/2 a chimney when utilizing the minion method and water pan and can maintain 225-250 pretty easily with the vents. Any temp above that is usually poultry so I skip the water in the pan but line it with foil to catch the drippings. Just be patient, it takes little time to figure it out.
  4. robbq

    robbq Smoke Blower


    I as well Have been using the 18.5 for a few years now. In the beginning having the same issues. I received the best result with a mix of lump and regular charcoal . However have gotten the feel on jut how much. The main important thing is the red hot chimney full you light first before poring it on the cold ones. An thicker lump wood to smoke with.

    Personally speaking it made the difference for me. I never skip water in the pan. Lined or not. I am a firm believer in the hot moisture needed to attain juicy results. But that's just me, and I have never been l down. Starting with room temp or warm water does help. Like Nptwnsmkr said be patient It's defiantly a learning process. I will however be purchasing a blower unit I believe to help constant even airflow. That is something I am finding I need in certain weather conditions. 

    Good luck and smoke on!

  5. nptwnsmkr

    nptwnsmkr Smoke Blower


    One thing I forgot to ask- are you using the factory thermometer on the lid? These can be off by 20 degrees or more and don't truly reflect the temp at smoking level. There are many available digital thermometers available- Maverick makes very accurate devices and are widely used by the other members of this forum. If you have a turkey fryer thermometer you can insert it through one of the top vent holes and get a closer reading at the grate level (I did this until I discovered the Maverick ET 732). Be sure to check it with boiling water for accuracy. Keep posting questions-there is a ton of knowledge/experience on this site and plenty of great people willing to share it! 

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