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Why does my charcoal smoker go cold so fast?

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    Why does my charcoal smoker go cold so fast?

    I used a chimney to start the coals. Loaded them into the bottom of my barrel type smoker. Watched the temperature probe register up to 240, and within minutes it was back down below 225. I added more charcoal on top and after about 10 min back to 200. What am I doing wrong?

    #2
    Unlit coals go in first, then the lit ones on top.

    Comment


    • LA Pork Butt
      LA Pork Butt commented
      Editing a comment
      When I used my old bullet smoker I loaded one chimney of unlit coals with a chunk of wood on top. Then I topped it with a chimney of lit coals. It held constant for about 8-10 hours, and then I needed to add coals to finish the low and slow of 12-14 hour cook.
      Last edited by LA Pork Butt; January 15, 2022, 08:35 PM.

    #3
    I don't have a barrel cooker, so I can't help, but welcome to The Pit. Someone will be along shortly who can help.

    Comment


      #4
      First guess is not enough oxygen

      Comment


        #5
        Yup, fire needs to breath to burn & get hot. Agree with bmillin .

        Also, a big welcome!
        Last edited by FireMan; January 15, 2022, 07:43 PM.

        Comment


          #6
          Welcome to The Pit!
          If you could tell us what brand of smoker you have, that will get you better answers. Pictures of the smoker will also improve the quality of the suggestions. Is it a Weber Smokey Mountain, or something else?
          All that said, I'm +3 to the answer of "air". You have heat and fuel, so the only thing that can be missing is air to keep the fire going.

          Comment


            #7
            Hello from NW Oregon--The Birthplace of the Pellet Grill.
            Amazing Ribs, the amazing place to learn and continue education.

            Comment


              #8
              It is a Brinkman Smoke N' Grill style like the Weber Smokey Mountain (Brinkman went bankrupt and so you can't get these.). The bottom is completely open, and the coals sit in a bowl. I can't imagine there is not enough air in there.

              Comment


              • rickgregory
                rickgregory commented
                Editing a comment
                Silly question... is there a top vent? If so (again silly question) - are they open?

              • LA Pork Butt
                LA Pork Butt commented
                Editing a comment
                I used an old Brinkman smoker which I bet is similar to yours. Here is how I used it. When I used my old bullet smoker I loaded one chimney of unlit coals with a chunk of wood on top. Then I topped it with a chimney of lit coals. It held constant for about 8-10 hours, and then I needed to add coals to finish the low and slow of 12-14 hour cook.

              #9
              No top vent, but the top has a pretty good gap between the body and the lid

              Comment


              • jsaniga
                jsaniga commented
                Editing a comment
                Harry Soo talk about how he manages temperature only using the top vent on his WSMs and leaves the bottom vents open; you manage 1 vent versus 3. He also talk about how the the heat escaping the top vent forms a natural convection "suck" that draws air through the bottom vents. I use this method on my WSMs and it works great, though I have to watch I don't scale back too much on my op vent. You say you have a gap up top; d o you have anything blocking airflow at the bottom?

              • jsaniga
                jsaniga commented
                Editing a comment
                Also, what size chimney are you using? I got the smaller chimney starter at the beginning my of my smoking career. I use it on rare occasions now, because the bigger chimney hold more which is what I need for poultry cooks and seems to fire up the coals faster than the small one. And, are you ever re-using coals?

              #10
              I had one of those years ago and still have PTSD (Pathetically Terrible Smoker Disorder). You're never going to get much more out of it than frustration. Because the coals sit in a closed bowl the ash chokes the fire out, and because of the way the airflow works it starves the fire for oxygen since it doesn't draw air through the fire which just kinda stews in it's own combustion gases.

              There's a few hacks you can do that'll help a bit, but honestly it's not worth it. The time and money you'd spend turning a bad smoker into a marginally mediocre smoker just ain't with it.

              Comment


              • LA Pork Butt
                LA Pork Butt commented
                Editing a comment
                The one I had had no vents, but held constant when I put a chimney of unlit coals in the brown and topped them with a chimney of lit coals.

              • leenorman18
                leenorman18 commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks mnavarre - that makes sense. I'm going to try the minion method today to see if that works. Otherwise, to the scrap heap!!

              #11
              Been there. I subscribe to the minion method. I fill up the charcoal ring with charcoal and then I pour my hot coals over it. Number of hot coals depends on on what my target temp is, what I am smoking and what the ambient temperature is. Mainly wind. That’s my Achilles heel.

              Comment

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