View Full Version : distance from heat and meat

10-21-2012, 09:33 PM
Yet another beginner's question from me. I'm thinking about making a drum smoker and was just curious about something.

Hypothetically, let's say that I use 5 coals and the food grate is 5 inches from the heat. Let's say it's at 200 degrees. Now, say I use 15 coals and place food grate 12 inches from coals and it's also 200 degrees. Would that matter on how the food turns out? It's both 200 degrees but I'm wondering if the distance has anything to do with it.

What would be the ideal distance the food grate should be from the coals?


10-21-2012, 09:52 PM
When it is 100 degrees outside do you care if you are standing on a soap box ?

J'ville Grill
10-21-2012, 10:08 PM
Theoretically if the temperature is the same than the distance from the source would be irrelevant.

10-21-2012, 10:40 PM
Radiant energy does have a different energy level depending on the distance from the source to the meat, even given constant temperatures.

Mean radiant temperature - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

However, depending on whether you are using briquettes, lump or wood, the energy levels can vary.


I hope this helps.

(good question!) LOL!


10-22-2012, 12:08 AM
Ok perhaps I was a bit terse in my answer, for simplicity.

So lets look at the two questions closely....

What you seem to be asking is the potential heat energy of five coals ( I will assume kb charcoal bricketts for this) at four (changed to better illustrate) inches different than three times the bricketts at three times the distance?

Well no, three times the potential to create heat over that short a distance, in an enclosed area is not enough to dissipate the additional heat energy potential.

But what you really want to know is how distance plays a part of smoking.

Since you are looking at a drum smoker and probably have seen the worlds largest and most complete UDS thread HERE (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23436)..... That your head is spinning and you want to figure out the physics and science of it all .... Save that for your 2nd drum and find norcorednecks excellent thread on the redneck UDS build HERE (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=43943). Build it! And get on with the science of it all once it is built!

But if you really want to know how the three forms of heat energy; radiant, convention, and conductance, act on your cold meat in a smoker to cook it, I'm sure this place has the chops to explain it for you.

Short answer. As long as you have enough fuel ( heat energy potential ) to effect cooking ( heat energy transfer) for long enough, your brisket will be probe tender. Unless of course you waste all your heat energy heating up the great outdoors! That why son, you need a smoker!

Build a UDS and get on with it!

Then you will have real questions like:
Fat cap up or down?
Diffuser or no diffuser?
Water pan ? With water, sand or empty
Chunks or chips, soaked or dry
Lump or briquettes
Flip or no flip
Hot and fast or low and slow
Slather or not
Sugar in my rub
Salt in my rub
Why baking soda
Who is this pitmaster T guy?
How do I smoke 800 lbs of moose
Is smoking fatties legal?
I have a big butt and its been sitting at 150 for hours, what did I do wrong
Foil or not to foil
Can Bigabyte show me how to make a foil hat too?
Why don't my cooks ever look like cowgirls?
How did I spend all my time before I found the woodpile
Why does the Bailee's tub smell like wet dog
Why am I taking pictures of my food

Look into a mini WSM too. I get the feeling you like to tinker with things to see how they work.