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souroull 01-20-2013 09:41 AM

effect of cold meat to smoker temps
Topic says it all, was trying out the clay saucer method with a foil gasket for the charcoal bowl, as last time temps were really high and couldnt be dropped. This time, temp control via the bottom vents was responsive so i was happy. I only threw some lump in there for the test, but as temps stabilized at 240 it just so happened that i had 3 racks in the freezer...:)

Out they go and in the smoker after defrosting.... by the time i pop the lid, throw them on and close it back up, the damn thing wouldnt get past 200, so had to fire up another half chimney to give it some boost. It was again happily stable at 240 but with all vents half way open, vs running at 240 with only one of them cracked and less charcoal...

puzzling, how much drop would you say cold meat contributes to, and how much extra heat is really required?

IamMadMan 01-20-2013 02:54 PM

The basic law of convection / conduction is, heat is exchanged (absorbed) quicker than cold. Basically it takes more heat to to warm the meat than the amount of cold released from it. Now not only was the heat absorbed in exchange for the cold temperature of the meat, but now heat is required to cook it as well while the internal temperature of the meat rises.

Goddahavit 01-20-2013 04:15 PM

My wsm running dry i can add 3 butts and it would recover temps in 5-10 min or so, if i had all vents open 1/2 way id be running 400, i usually ran 1/4 inch or less open on all 3 vents.

souroull 01-20-2013 04:32 PM

There was only some 3-4lb of lump in there for a clay saucer test, and trust me, last time i tested with a proper load i couldnt keep it under 300 while empty no matter what i did with the vents:)

Even with that small load, i went from 2 vents just cracked @ 240 to having to add more coal and run said vents wide open, just by adding some ribs on the top rack. Naturally, it kind of surprised me that so much extra heat was needed to compensate for the meat

So, how much extra heat does it really take to compensate for a sensibly loaded smoker? 50 degrees or so? I imagine the requirement dwindles as the meat goes up in temp.. but what's the curve look like?

Bludawg 01-20-2013 04:46 PM

Your thermo probe is to close to the cold meat giving you a false reading.

garzanium 01-20-2013 04:48 PM

reading this siting here looking at the Maverick redicheck..great reminder to take the ribs out of the fridge,let them sit a bit before they go into the smoker:)

Sent from Galaxy tab

souroull 01-20-2013 04:52 PM

probes were not close to the meat. one on each rack and the bottom rack was empty

madman, any numbers you can throw our way?

Kirk 01-20-2013 04:53 PM


Originally Posted by IamMadMan (Post 2335157)
The basic law of thermaldynamics is, heat is exchanged (absorbed) quicker than cold...

Huh? I've heard of the heat transfer by conduction, convection and radiation but I've never heard of cold transfer via any of those means. Can you explain?

To the OP, I just put 4 good sized butts, just out of the fridge, into a 275 degree WSM with the water pan about 2/3 full (cooker had been at temp for 25-30 min). The temp dropped to around 210. I don't have time for a real slow cook today so to get the cooker back up to temp I cracked the lid, rather than add more coals. The temp came back up to 275 in 10-15 minutes and I was good to go from there.

I think you have a couple of things going on that are contributing to the drop in temp and then the need to close the vents down a little after adding more coals. I find that lump charcoal reacts to changes in heat load (the meat going in) and air supply more quickly than briquettes. The same is true when using the terra cotta pot base instead of the water pan. The pot base is not as good a heat sink as the water pan, and it doesn't have near the thermal mass. You're going to see more, and faster, temp fluctuation with the saucer vs the pan.


Originally Posted by souroull (Post 2335294)
There was only some 3-4lb of lump in there for a clay saucer test, and trust me, last time i tested with a proper load i couldnt keep it under 300 while empty no matter what i did with the vents:)

I find that my WSM does not like to have less than 2/3 full charcoal ring to start. I see in a previous post of yours that you had used some leftover charcoal from a previous cook. I never do that. I tried it and got nothing but unpredictable results. Charcoal is cheap enough to use fresh stuff every time out.

Also, how did you light the coals? Are you using the Minion method or are you following the directions that came with the cooker? The amount of charcoal you have in the cooker should have no bearing on the temp it will run at. It all depends on how much of that charcoal is burning at once.

One other thing about the WSM, don't worry about air leaks. If you make sure that the door fits halfway decent and the center section is round (which is easily coaxed into shape if didn't come that way), the gaps at the bowl and the lid will not be a problem. They will not contribute to temp fluctuation in any way. I guess what I'm saying is that you can probably ditch the foil gasket. In fact, as you use the cooker, the gunk that buils up will seal those gaps just fine.

souroull 01-20-2013 05:16 PM

Hey thanks for the reply. It wasn't a proper load as i only wanted to test temp adjustments using the vents after the foil gasket. What led me to take this route was 280+ degrees with all the vents shut.. and i think it kind of worked. I wasn't meant to cook any ribs at first but.. hey, ho :)

I usually drop 15-20 briquettes over an almost full ring of either lump, or lump/briq mix. I used to spread them out but now i try to keep them covering about half the diameter of the ring as the fire was spreading out too fast, too early.

Interesting that cracking the lid fuels the fire, i guess it creates a draft or something.. will have to try that out on the next cook. Your 65 degree drop was huge btw!

Kirk 01-20-2013 05:33 PM

The temp drop was exactly what I expected after putting 34 pounds of cold meat into the cooker. It's not real cold today, maybe upper 40's when I started but it is windy. Wind will suck the heat right out of a WSM and make it hard to maintain temps, but there's ways to deal with that. By cracking the lid, you will allow more air to the fire and therefore it will burn more vigorously. It responded nicely w/o having to add more lit coals. Because of this effect, I try to minimize the time the lid is off when using lump charcoal because the temp can really spike on you.

One other thing, did you make sure the lump was packed tightly together? It doesn't matter with briquettes because they are of uniform shape but lump is a whole 'nuther story. You have to fit it together tightly or the fire will not propagate through the pile the way you want. I love lump but I can do without the part of arranging it by hand.

El Ropo 01-20-2013 05:38 PM

There is nothing wrong with cooking ribs at 280.

As far as why your fire is dying down. Not nearly enough info provided to help us help you.

Kirk 01-20-2013 05:51 PM


Originally Posted by El Ropo (Post 2335374)
As far as why your fire is dying down. Not nearly enough info provided to help us help you.

Well, we know he started a dry cook with 15-20 lit briquettes on a light load of charcoal. I guess the only other things we need to know are A) How long was the cooker up to temp before the meat went on, B) what were the positions of the vents when the temps were down ,C) how long did he wait to see if the temp would recover and D) what conditions was he cooking in (temp, wind, etc...).


Btw, If I put 3 racks of ribs (babybacks or spares trimmed St Louis style) in a WSM that was stabilized at temp, I would expect to see a 15 degree drop in temp +/- 5 degrees.

J'ville Grill 01-20-2013 07:38 PM

What are you cooking on?

Kirk 01-20-2013 08:12 PM

I believe he was cooking on a WSM.

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