Hankll, if u can find STUBBS briquets try them with no lump. If you want a good hot fire go all lump with no briquets. There should be no reason to mix them. Drippings on the briqs should pose no problem. It sounds like u don't have temp control down yet. All holes except ball valve are for cource temp control and the valve is for fine control. I can dial in what ever temp I want with mine(and no diffuser)200,225,250,275,300,325,350,375,400,ect just like my kitchen oven.