WSM Gurus: Got a question about temp hikes later in smoke

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by nwdave, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I just did my 3rd major smoke last night .  Here's the details of that smoke.

    WSM 22.5

    Charcoal Ring:  Full to rim with Kingsford Comp.

    Small Can in center for reception of hot charcoal.  Can was filled to top.  Tall tomatoe juice can, by the way.

    WSM brought up to 200*, all vents wide open.  Upon reaching 200*, shut down bottom two vents, closed down third to about 1/4 open.  Top vent wide open.

    Temp coasted up to 232-235 (doing rotisserie chicken in the WSM, yes, that's with a rotisserie on top of the middle chamber of the WSM).  Temp held rock steady in the 232-235 range for 2 and a half hours.  Then it started climbing.  Nothing else had been changed, tinkered with or peeked at.  The temp rose to about 250-260 and held there.

    This has happened before, at about the same time point into the smoke.

    I closed down the vent further, to the point that there's barely a crack to be seen.  I've plugged the additional eyelets not being used for this smoke.  I even closed down the top vent to about half, to no effect.

    I'm glad I put wheels on the WSM, because the wind direction changes so much here in the Denver Metro area that I'm moving the WSM around to keep the opened bottom vent away from the blowing wind.

    During this time frame, I've had to resort to the burping trick to get the temp to drop, but that's just a temporary thing, due to the excellent recovery rate the WSM possesses.

    The small wood chunks weren't burning, just smoldering as I'd expect them to.

    I thought adding cold water to the water pan might help, but no, not even that had an effect.

    I've looked through the references on this as well as off site links and don't see anything that addresses this problem.


    I have a theory that as the charcoal ignition from the center, reaching outwards is igniting more charcoal by count then when it started out, that is to say, starting out, let's say the minion method of starting ignites an additional 20 briquettes, but as it progresses outward, more briquettes are being ignited.  Imagine each progress as a ring of briquettes, the ring gets greater in diameter, consequently the circumference gets wide, containing more briquettes.

    I question the validity of that theory because later on (3+45 or so), the temp drops back down to the 230 range.

    NOTE:  To clarify the 3+45 mention, for those never having been exposed to this form of time reference, it means 3 hours and 45 minutes from start time or Zero hour.  It's commonly used in the military for whatever project is time-based with subsequent steps being related to Zero hour.

    I know that the above statement is going around the block a couple of times but, hopefully you see what I'm trying to say. 

    I'm really impressed with the performance of the WSM and it's recovery rate (REALLY glad I made the jump to charcoal), but what am I missing at the 2+30 point that is kicking the temps up. 

    I've got the big family smoke-off coming up Saturday and I know that I'm giving the other smokers a big advantage because I'm learning a new smoker and the techniques involved.  I'm not to the set and forget stage yet.

    By the way, I'll be smoking 17 lbs of Beef Short Ribs.........At $6.69 a lb, I don't want to blow this one.

    And, btw, the chicken came out great.  Took 6+ hours.  I think the altitude has something to do with that.

    Thanks for any and all help.

  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    My own experience with the temp going up and holding for a while has been the same.

    I never close the the top vent.  I don't use water. I put a 12 inch flower pot plate at the bottom in the water pan.

    I found that the temp rises from taking the top off to do anything. And takes a long time to get back down where it is supposed to be.

    It even does it some when I add chunks thru the door.

    For me the best thing to do is not take the top off unless I am ready to move real fast.

    I also got a guru now and it seems to make life much easier.

      Hope this helps!!

     Have a great day!!

  3. terry colwell

    terry colwell Smoking Fanatic

    I agree with you on your thoughts about the minion method and burning to many coals," it just multiplies". Every time I have tried they seem to catch fire to easy and ignite WAY to fast. I have just gone to adding charcoal as I need it till I can get this issue figured out..
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Try the minnion method this way. Make a circle around the ring, but don't let the ends touch. Start with about 6-8 lit briquettes & put on one end. Here's a photo of what I mean.

  5. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member


    That looks like the answer.  It reduces the ignition exposure to just a few in each ignition evolution.  Question about the can in the center:  Is that just for chips to act as an additional smoke generator?  I sure hope so, because I've got a lot of chips from many previous "experiments" in smoke generation.

    Thanks Al.

  6. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Here's what works for me!!

     Starter coals in the can..

    Have a great day!!

  7. shooter1

    shooter1 Smoking Fanatic

    Dave, the WSM definitely runs hot when its still new. It tends to settle down after you build some gunk up in it. Not sure how many smokes that takes but I definitely noticed a difference after a half dozen smokes. As far as the minion method, I use the original method which has been modified a number of ways by various people. The original method, you fill the charcoal ring all the way to the top no matter how long of a smoke you plan. Wood chunks to personal preference. As far as lit coals the original method suggests 6-8 lit coals placed in various places around the top of the ring. This method has never failed me and I have a great deal of control over the burn. It does take quite a bit longer to get to the ideal temp but I never rush when I am smoking. I have found that if I use more than say 10 lit coals, the fire does get to hot as to many coals are getting fired at once instead of a long slow burn. I also believe the hollow can in the middle fires to many coals at once and as you've noticed it's hard to bring the temps down, but thats just my opinion. I also am using the 18.5 WSM and have a smaller charcoal ring and don't have as much experience with the 22 WSM.

    I just think that when you use the can/center method you are firing coals from top to bottom working its way outward, firing more and more coals. With the 6-8 coal method placed around the top of a well loaded ring it is slowly firing downward. Not very scientific but it works for me. Wind and opening the WSM also has a huge effect on the coals with the additional oxygen.

    Hope this helps. 
  8. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Yes Dave the can in the center will slowly smoke. I did that because like you I had a bunch of bags of chips that I didn't know what to do with. So I gave this a try and it works pretty well. It keeps the smoke rolling all the time & will last for hours. You still need to put a few chunks in the charcoal, but this will produce smoke when the fire gets between the chunks.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
  9. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    And as a followup:  I used Al's technique during a recent Family Smoke-off and it worked great.  Just as suggested.  A big thanks to Al.


Share This Page