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Some rambling thoughts on PBC temps and lighting

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    Some rambling thoughts on PBC temps and lighting

    Some semi-thoughts on lighting the PBC and PBC temps. I’m mostly writing this as a way to organize my thoughts, and check to make sure I’m not backwards in my thinking. (Shockingly, it happens sometimes).
    Most (or potentially all) of this is probably common knowledge.
    In no way is this post meant to replace the work and insight of the more experienced PBC cooks here!
    Kathryn’s lighting 15-10-10 lighting method works, and it works consistently.
    The three major steps seem to be
    First – Get the chimney coals lit. (15 Mins)
    Then, get the chimney basket lit (10 Mins)
    Finally, let the PBC settle to temp ( 10 Mins)

    In regards to temp control and cook length there are really only three variables – amount of total fuel, amount of lit fuel and amount of airflow.
    The guys at PBC have set this thing up to turn all of those into constants, as long as you fill the basket completely, and make sure all of the charcoal gets lit. The default setting seems to run about 275ish (+/- some) for 8 ish hours. If you had to pick 1 default setting for ALL your bbqing – that’s not a bad default. (we can have a whole separate conversation about why 275 is a better temp to cook at than 225)
    For most people, that want to cook right out of the box, and not worry about “all the things” and make tasty food, this really is a winner. As an example, my father, who has grill chops second to none, doesn’t use the WSM we got him bc “there’s too many steps and grilling is too easy”.
    For us tinkerers that like to fiddle with everything, there aren’t any knobs to turn on the PBC. Some of us have added actual knobs. Cracking the lid, magnets over the rebar holes, foil around the rebar, attaching fans, adding 30 ft of plumbing….. all of these added knobs really only let us adjust airflow.
    But that’s only part of the equation if you want to adjust cook temp, or length of cook time.
    Maybe you DO want to cook at a lower temp, or do shorter cooks. Adjusting the amount of charcoal is probably a good place to start.
    My last cook I used less charcoal in the basket (60 briquettes) and in the chimney (30 briquettes) and shortened step 2 in the lighting process. (10-5-10). My goal with that was to have the temp under 250, so when I use a fan, it can bring it up to 250.
    The result was that the PBC ran right about 230 for most of the cook, and I got about 7 hours out of the charcoal. My gut feeling (which is totally not based on much) is that a 2:1 ratio of briquettes in the basket:chimney is a good to keep. But adjusting this could be the difference in hotter/shorter cooks vs longer/lower cooks with the same amount of charcoal. Shortening step 2 in the lighting process also should mean less of the charcoal will be lit when the PBC settles in.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I packet the basket entirely full with the OCD method, and added a full chimney on to light. Accidentally left the lid off 20 mins, (10-20 - ??) and temps were at 500 degrees. PBC settled at about 470 after half an hour. I shamefully had to use the garden hose to bring temps down below 300 range.
    Maybe someone has already played around with idea of adjusting amount of fuel and lighting method to adjust temps, but I think that’s another knob to turn.
    Or maybe, this is all crazy talk and I should stick with what has been proven to work. At the end of the day, having extra charcoal burning after tasty ribs are being served isn’t the end of the world.

    Very interested to hear your thoughts, and comments.

    I don’t know if the amount of charcoal in the basket will really affect the temp. The amount in chimney will definitely impact the temp though. More hot coals at the start will be more heat at the front and more coals subsequently lit. I vary the volume of coal in the basket based on estimated amount of time. Longer cooks get a full basket, shorter cooks get half or less. I’ve even done reverse seared steaks with only a handful of coals in the basket and ~40 briquettes in the chimney.

    Cracking the lid to raise the heat for chicken is the only time I mess around with the temps. Everything else is it at whatever temp it settles at

    I also don’t count my briquettes any more. I know the filling up my half chimney so it’s full with a couple more on top is around 40. And know what a full basket less 40 looks like now and then go from there.
    Last edited by shify; June 25, 2020, 05:48 PM.



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