How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal? - BBQ Central

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Old 03-14-2010, 05:05 PM   #1
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How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal?

Hey Guys,
So when it comes to charcoal grilling, I'm a newbie. Been Gassin for a long while. My problem is never knowing how much charcoal to use to achieve certain temps. Is this just a trial and error thing or is there a method to this madness. For example, if I want to smoke a fattie at 250-270, how much lump should I be using? Do I use my charcoal chimney as a gauge? If I want to grill a Ribeye, same question. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I am not liking the fact that I am wasting lump by pulling out of grill and dumping into a nearby bucket of water to lower my temps. Thanks.
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:05 PM   #2
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Re: How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal?

On my kettle, I usually use a chimney full for everything I cook.
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:53 PM   #3
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Re: How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal?

If I'm grilling I use a chimney full of lump charcoal. If I'm smokin', that's a lot different.
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:05 PM   #4
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Re: How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal?

How do you guys regulate your temp? Vent control?
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:00 AM   #5
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Re: How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal?

To lower the temps, you'll need to use both the top and bottom dampers to regulate. If you want to get it bbq low, you might also want to try a water pan as well. What I have found is that using a kettle to bbq is kind of tough over the long run...always having to add fuel and battle somewhat higher temps...with ribs and chicken its fine but brisket and pork butts would be a hassle given the amount of time you need to cook them.

If you are looking for 250* or so, try closing the bottom to 1/3 open and the top by half...see what it settles at...then make your adjustments from there.
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Old 03-15-2010, 12:06 PM   #6
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Re: How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal?

In addition to what Greg said you might also want to start with just a few lit pieces of charcoal (maybe 10 or so) and adjust the vents as you get close to your target temps.
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Old 03-15-2010, 12:59 PM   #7
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Re: How Do You Choose the Right Amount of Charcoal?

You didn't say what kind of pit you are using if it is a Weber kettle I would suggest the Smokenator http://tinyurl.com/m9cn8a. This guy has it down to a science at how much charcoal is need to get what temperature. I used this before I got my WSM and while not as easy as the WSM it gives you the versatility of having a kettle and a smoker.
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