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New WSM owner - question about temps

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    New WSM owner - question about temps

    Hi All, long time AR guy, brand new to the PMC.

    I have always smoked on my weber genesis. Just picked up a used (2005) WSM off of Craigslist. It's in very good shape.

    I filled the charcoal ring halfway then put a full chimney on that and let it burn, just to burn things off.

    Now I did the charcoal donut and put beef scraps on both grills, covered the water pan with foil. This time I'm watching the temp, and with both air vents closed I can't bring it down below 289. Is this because I'm using too much charcoal?

    Planning to do a bunch of ribs and butts for tailgate tomorrow...I may stick to the genesis if I can't figure this guy out in time.

    Thanks for the help. I'll do a proper intro soon.

    #2
    What size WSM? My 18 and 22 both have 4 on the bottom and one on top. 290 is perfect for me, how low are you trying to get?
    Oh, and welcome.

    Comment


      #3
      I have the 14.5" WSM. I light only ten coals for it. You'll probably want to light 15 if you have the 18.5. I fill the water bowl maybe 1/3 with boiling water. This acts as a heat sink early in the cook. It also helps apply the smoke in that early critical stage. I go with the bottom vents 3/4 - 7/8 open and the top vent open all of the way. When set up this way I have found that it settles in the 220-240 range. Once the water evaporates the temps will start to spike and you definitely want the water to evaporate. It creates so much humidity that bark won't set on the meat. Once temps begin to spike you can close the top vent most of the way about 1/4 open. This will initially cause the temps to spike even further but then they will drop. Be patient through this phase and resist the temptation to make adjustments every five minutes. The temp will eventually settle and once it does you can tweak the top vent accordingly depending on what temp you want. The other reason I like water for the beginning of the cook is that it allows plenty of oxygen into the chamber which minimizes the likelihood of your wood producing bad smoke because the vents are wide open but the water prevents the temp from climbing too high. A couple of fist sized chunks of wood should be plenty. I have also found that I don't need to preheat the cooker. Just put the meat in after you've added the coals and water. This is the method I've developed over time and it has always produced great results.

      Comment


      • Beefchop
        Beefchop commented
        Editing a comment
        Great advice. I posted my experience below with my 18.5" model. I think it lets in more air than the 14.5" version because I only have to keep my vents open by 1/8 to a 1/4 inch, but otherwise I run my WSM they way you recommend with one exception: I use tap water at room temp, but using boiling water makes so much sense. Where are you from in Michigan?

      • JeffJ
        JeffJ commented
        Editing a comment
        I live in the Brighton area.

      #4
      PrincetonPitBoss You did a donut with a full lit chimney?
      I light 15 briquettes for my WSM 22.5. I leave all vents halfway open and adjust the cooking temp using the lid vent (Harry Soo way).

      Comment


        #5
        What JeffJ said. A full chimney is too much - I use that when I want to cook chicken or turkey hot and fast. I use a 1/3 to a 1/2 chimney depending on ambient temps. 1/3 for summer and spring and a 1/2 for winter and fall (this is Louisiana and Maryland weather mind you). The full water pan helps regulate temps as well and keeps your smoker from getting too hot. If you are in Michigan (my home state BTW) go ahead and try a half chimney with a full water pan. You should be fine for ribs and butts.

        Keep in mind that you still need to season the inside with a few cooks. A thin coat from smoke, fire and fat will insulate the cooker a little and will help keep temps stable.

        I run an 18.5" model. My bottom vents are set to be open by just a crack (1/8") and my top vent is about half open. This keeps my temps rock solid at 235-250 for hours. I just did a 12 hour overnight cook and the temps didn't move but 5 to 10 degrees once the fire settled in--steady at 235-245 all night.

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        Comment


          #6
          Thanks all. It's an 18.5". I did the donut with 1/2 chimney and that did the trick, stayed 225-240 for the whole cook. I used no water and covered water pan ala Soo's method. Went very smoothly. Ribs came out very different than the Genesis setup, much better bark. Same amount of wood is far smokier with the smoker (go figure). These were amazing ribs.

          Comment


          • JeffJ
            JeffJ commented
            Editing a comment
            Congrats on the successful cook. It's difficult to get much in the way of smoke with a gas grill because they are so airy which is a necessary safety precaution when dealing with propane.

          #7
          re: JeffJ "I don't need to preheat the cooker"
          Can any of the meat science people explain if pre-heating is necessary? I know that it's essential if you are following a recipe based on time & oven temperature. But if we follow Meathead's mantra of meat temperature, time is just a loose guideline. I find it much easier to skip the preheat. I guess the main questions are how this affects the smoke adhering to the meat while reaching cooking temp, and are there potential health affects since it will take longer for the insides to reach bacteria killing temp. Thanks --LW

          Comment


          • JeffJ
            JeffJ commented
            Editing a comment
            I can only comment on this as it pertains to my 14.5 WSM. I have found that pre-heating is a waste of time. The cooking chamber already starts off cold and adding cold meat to it doesn't seem to change that all that much. I have found that the temperature rises about the same when cold meat is in there to start or not. So, I just put the meat in there right away. Smoke sticks to meat that is either cold or wet. If anything, putting the meat in a WSM right away will only increase the amount of smoke adhesion as my WSM begins creating smoke pretty much immediately based upon how I have it set up.

          #8
          While it isn't for the intent of pre-heating, I DO run my WSM for while until the heavy white smoke changes over to the thin blue smoke. The heavier smoke is more acrid.

          So to the extent you are waiting for the white smoke to end, the WSM is pre-heating.

          Comment


          • JeffJ
            JeffJ commented
            Editing a comment
            Again, this is my personal experience in the 14.5 - I have found that I am getting good smoke right off the bat. Because I put some water in the bowl to start I am able to start the cook with the bottom vents open 7/8 and the top vent open all of the way. With all of that oxygen the fire is hot enough to create blue smoke pretty much immediately. Now, when the water evaporates the temps will spike and the top vent will need to be closed almost all of the way. But that's usually a couple of hours into the cook and by that time normally my wood chunks are all burned up.

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