View Full Version : Starting my WSM

08-01-2010, 12:50 PM
I am very new at this fiy. It seems when I start my WSM i have a problem with the billowing white smoke. I am using a chimney starter and the minion method. When i pour my coals on I then put my wsm together with water bowl full and all the vents opened. Then I have to wait like thirty minutes for it to stop billowing. Is this normal? Today it only stopped once I closed all my vents on the bottom. Also I am using lump. Thanks for any advice on starting the wsm

BBQ Grail
08-01-2010, 12:58 PM
Here's how I start mine using Kingsford and wood chunks.

Fill ring with charcoal and wood chunks. I make a slight indentation in the middle of the ring filled with charcoal. Into this indentation I had 8 hot briquettes that have ashed over.

The vents are all wide open. When the temperature raises to 180 degrees I start closing vents a little at a time. The goal is to hit your desired temp on the way up because cooling the WSM off is a challenge.

I prefer to cook at 225 degrees so I try to hit 235 on the way up, this allows for some cooling when I put the meat on.

Hope this helps.

Brian in Maine
08-01-2010, 01:02 PM
It will produce more smoke with the vents wide open. When you close the vents it reduces the combustion of the charcoal, so less smoke. Also if there is any moisture in your charcoal it can evaporate, and look like smoke.

Professor Salt
08-01-2010, 01:22 PM
Yeah, 30 minutes for the initial billowing smoke to ease up sounds about right.

I also light mine the way BBQ Grail describes above, except I don't wait for the lighted charcoal to ash over before adding it to the rest of the pile.

My rule of thumb is: light 10 briquettes in a chimney, dump it onto the unlit pile of briquettes a la Minion. I put the rest of the WSM assembly on top, but not the lid. I wait 10 minutes with the lid off so I can get a SMALL, CONTROLLED fire going quickly, then put the lid on. Like Larry said, you want to get control of your fire on the way to 250F, or else it's too difficult to cool off a raging fire.

Anyway- 30 minutes ain't nothing. I typically wait an hour, hour and half before I put my meat on. I want a clean burning fire with good smelling smoke.

08-01-2010, 02:26 PM
I've been using a full or 3/4 chimney for my 22.5" WSM, is that too much? Hmmm...

Smokin' D
08-01-2010, 02:47 PM
All the advice is spot on so far. 30 min. to an hour for me before putting the meat on. I do the Minion thing a bit differently than most. I put a fire brick on edge in the charcoal basket going from the edge to the center. Makes a kind of a C shape. Fill up most of the remaining space with lump and a couple of wood chunks leaving a small void at one end of the C. Into a charcoal chimney goes an old coffee can and then 10 briquettes into the can. When fully lit they get poured into the small void area at the end of the C. Put the WSM together with all vents full open and close them down slowly as the temp begins to rise. By the time the temp is at 225, depending on outside ambient temp, there is but one vent about 1/2 open. Will get a 10 to 12 hours burn this way. Works for me.