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Old 04-18-2010, 11:12 PM   #10
Ron_L's Avatar
Join Date: 12-09-04
Location: Chicago 'Burbs

Originally Posted by KCMitch View Post
Since I've been having low temp problems, I go overboard. Lately I've been filling a Weber chimney almost all the way up and then putting a ring of unlit charcoals around it. That's probably why my temp jumps up to 350+ when I built the smoker.

Sounds like I'm probably wasting charcoal by filling my chimney so full. I'll try using less coals in the chimney to start w/ and let the temp slowly build.
OK... That explains the quick jump to 350 and then the drop. You're putting in too much lit charcoal and then when the temp spikes I'm guessing that you are closing the vents down too far and the unlit never has a chance to catch. Try filling the ring with unlit except a 6-8" hole in the middle. Some guys will put an empty coffee can in the middle and then fill the ring around the can then remove the can. Add some chunks of flavor wood into the unlit charcoal. Then start 12 - 15 briquettes and a chunk of wood in your chimney and when they are ashed over add them into the hole in the charcoal.

Now put the middle section on including the water pan. add HOT water to the water pan, put if the grates and then the top. Keep the top vent wide open and start closing the bottom vents as the temp rises.

Originally Posted by KCMitch View Post
Also, a lot of you are suggesting using something other than water to cool the smoker. I thought another benefit of the water was to provide humidity in the smoker which provides added tenderness/flavor/etc. Is that not the case?
The water isn't there to cool the smoker. It is there to add thermal mass to help keep temperatures more stable. Water works well but can be a pain to clean up. Some guys just use an empty pan, others will fill it with playground sand and cover the sand with foil to keep he grease out of it. Still others will use the clay base from a flower pot. All you really need is something to add the thermal mass to make temp management easier.
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