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Unlit Charcoal Use

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    Unlit Charcoal Use

    Maybe I'm not thinking about this correctly so hopefully I can get some help here.

    I know that I'm not supposed to put unlit charcoal in my WSM mid smoke because it gives an off-taste to the food.
    How is that any different than how I start a fire? Most of the low and slow methods involve putting small amounts of lit charcoal next to unlit charcoal so that the unlit charcoal eventually lights and keeps the fire going.

    How is that not imparting bad flavors to the meat? (not that I can taste the bad flavors). Am I missing something?

    It's a gradual, slow lighting of the subsequent charcoal. If you SMOTHER the already lit charcoal you will get some nasty oxygen-starved smoke that may or may not affect flavor.


    • HawkerXP
      HawkerXP commented
      Editing a comment
      #1. I add unlit charcoal when doing low n slow in the kettle with SnS but only a few at a time. Spread out.

    That is not a problem with a pellet grill.


      I have an 18” WSM. I use a Thermoworks Signals with a fan, but what I do will work with any setup. (If you don’t have a fan controller spend the ~ $200 or so now and you’ll thank yourself immediately. You can buy me a thank you beer or whiskey next time you see me.)

      I fill the ring with unlit charcoal. Using the door as the "front", I start by adding ~30 lit briquettes at the back where I place the wood. The fire burns from front to back. I setup the base so the fan is in the front, slightly offset of the door. As Jerod Broussard states, the fire burns through the new stuff slow enough that it doesn’t effect the meat.

      If the cook is longer than the charcoal (12-14 hours), I push the lit briquettes to the back with a Weber charcoal rake, and then add unlit briquettes through the door.

      Pellet smokers wish they had the ease, and taste, of a WSM.


      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        Haha, I had a Pit Barrel and still got a Pellet Pooper.

      • Razor
        Razor commented
        Editing a comment
        I started looking at pellet poopers and ended up with the WSM. For me the controller makes all the difference.

      If you start with a good all natural briquette, you will be fine. If your cheaper charcoal has a bad smell when you light it, look for something else. A lot of people like the blue bag but that smells bad to me. To many additives.
      i switched to Fogo for that reason. All natural.



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