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frodo1977
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I’m new to smoking and I bought myself a tower bullet smoker, as inexpensive and just to get going and gain experience. My problem is the bottom vent, which is situated directly underneath the bottom section in which the charcoal burns. The problem I’m having is that there is a build up of ash which blocks the vent thus not building up enough heat. The question I’m asking is would it be possible to move the vent to the side of the pan which wouldn’t get blocked with ash which would make controlling the temp easier?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Which Bullet smoker did you buy? How many bottom vents does it have?

I would not try moving the vent

A couple of quick suggestions to be getting on with. If you are getting that much ash try swapping to a better quality briquette/charcoal. Not all are created equal. What are you currently using?

Every half hour or so move your bottom air vent from side to side a couple of times to loosen the ash above it and let it fall through the holes. 

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Checking out your link now. I'm using a cruddy barrel BBQ £80 from Argos I've been cooking jerk chicken 3x a week perfecting my cook and recipe for about a year. I'm.there now and want a offset smoker to move onto joints of meat. 

 

I've added a book that may interest you. 

IMG-20210818-WA0057.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Wade said:

Which Bullet smoker did you buy? How many bottom vents does it have?

I would not try moving the vent

A couple of quick suggestions to be getting on with. If you are getting that much ash try swapping to a better quality briquette/charcoal. Not all are created equal. What are you currently using?

Every half hour or so move your bottom air vent from side to side a couple of times to loosen the ash above it and let it fall through the holes. 

Thanks for the link to your smoker. I've never come across Tower as I'm hell bent on a offset smoker but there is a place in my heart for a Bullet Smoker. I want several types of units by the tile I'm finished. 🤣

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I can see the problem. Having only a single air vent in the centre at the bottom is not a great design feature. Most bullet smokers have more than one that are located slightly to one side to allow the ash to collect in the bottom. All is not lost though. It is hard to see what clearance you have between the bottom of the fire basket and the bottom of the body where the air vent is but you should be able to help protect the holes from getting clogged.

Try making a dome using some fine wire mesh to place over the air vent and under the fire basket. Cutting the mesh from a cheap wire kitchen sieve should do the trick. Place several layers of tinfoil on the centre top of the mesh dome just above the air vent, keeping the sides of the mesh clear to allow for air flow. This should help the ash fall to the sides of the vend and not directly on top of it.

Alternatively...
I can see that there are holes around the edge of the fire basket - are there holes on the bottom too? If so you could simply place a heat resistant disk inside the fire basket over the holes directly above the air vent. This could be a small metal plate or even the bottom of a clay flower pot. Again this will help the ash from falling directly onto the central vent.

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@SprigIf you are looking for a budget bullet smoker then the one from Callow/Garden Gift Shop and at ~£110 is a great entry level smoker. If you are looking for something larger and are prepared to pay more then ProQ Frontier (~£350) is a great all-round smoker.

www.gardengiftshop.co.uk/bbq-smokers/premium-charcoal-bbq-smoker-grill

www.worldofbbqs.co.uk/proq-frontier-charcoal-bbq-smoker-version-4-0.html

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Wow!!! Thanks for this information. I know nothing else apart from the Oaklahoma Joe Highland Smoker, just because I've heard so much about it. If I'm able to fine a reputable alternative here in the UK I'll be over the moon. I'll have a look at your link now. I do know that the OJHS has a metal thickness of 2.5mm so anything that and beyond should hold steady when it comes to heat. I'll check the Pro Q Frontier also.  Many thanks. 

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34 minutes ago, Sprig said:

I do know that the OJHS has a metal thickness of 2.5mm so anything that and beyond should hold steady when it comes to heat.

The importance of the metal thickness is more down to the type of smoker and it is more important in an offset smoker than in a bullet. With any garden offset smoker you will get quite a temperature gradient along the smoking chamber. This is a result of the intense radiant heat from the firebox at one end and the loss of heat through the horizontal chamber walls. This is why it is important to turn your meat regularly when using a small offset to allow it to cook evenly. On larger offset smokers this can be mitigated by using reverse flow and by using baffles within the smoking chamber. Thicker metal reduces heat loss through the walls and therefore reduces the temperature gradient. The heavier gauge metal also helps create a more substantial seal around the edge of the lid.

With a bullet smoker the design actually minimises the temperature gradient in the vertical cooking chamber and the round pressed circular seals are very efficient. Some use thin metal for the side doors which can lead to a certain amount of heat loss through the door seal but this is often overcome by using stove rope. Bullet smokers are designed to be lighter. If you manufactured one using the same gauge material as an offset most people would not be able to lift it. 💪

The most important consideration regarding temperature when using any smoker is to keep it out of the wind and also out of direct sunlight - as these can have a significant impact on temperature stability.

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Thank you so much for this. I think with the offset I want the challenge of fluctuating temps and maintain consistency. I always only thought grilling was BBQ until I learn't BBQ is more than that by a long shot. I've exhausted most videos and channels on the tube and itching to get cooking varieties of meats. I went to Harvester and ordered their smoked Brisket. I sent it back to the kitchen, it was clear it wasn't smoked and challenged them to prove to me it had been smoked for 12hrs. There's was no bark nothing and resembled and medallion! They promptly removed it from my bill! 

 

I've taken notes of certain points you made going forward when considering my purchase. You've been a great help and can it hope you don't randomly disappear in the coming months. This forum in general seems like a ghost town with very few recent posts, it did make me wonder. 

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The main problem is that for the past 18 months none of us have had a chance to meet, cook together and generally enthuse BBQ. @Smokin Monkey and I own and run the forum and have noticed a general lack of enthusiasm on many of the other BBQ sites too. Now that the world is opening back up and the confidence is returning I think we will see things pick up again fairly quickly. 

It was great to get back to competition BBQ this weekend and there is a lot of buz in anticipation for the 2022 season.

I am trying to get back on the forum here at least once a day now and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ping me a message.

Cheers, Wade 

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5 hours ago, frodo1977 said:

I think I might have to check this book out! 

Believe me it's a worthy purchase ...it's more to do with recipes, how to work with the meats, cutting etc and and wealth of recipes for marinates and rubs but the content it has on outdoor cooking in general is more than enough. 

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I think I’ll try the cocoshell briquettes first to see if this has any effect on the temperature and duration off sustained heat with no drop off in temp. There are holes in the tray which holds the briquettes I covered these with a layer of tinfoil on one smoke. It stopped the ash from covering the vent so maybe the sieve with the tinfoil might be a better option than to start drilling holes everywhere.

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3 minutes ago, Sprig said:

Believe me it's a worthy purchase ...it's more to do with recipes, how to work with the meats, cutting etc and and wealth of recipes for marinates and rubs but the content it has on outdoor cooking in general is more than enough. 

Is this available on Amazon at all? 

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1 hour ago, frodo1977 said:

so maybe the sieve with the tinfoil might be a better option than to start drilling holes everywhere.

You really don't want to be drilling holes in the curve of the chamber wall as it is important that the air vent fits snugly so that it can effectively manage the air flow. 

 

1 hour ago, frodo1977 said:

I think I’ll try the cocoshell briquettes first to see if this has any effect on the temperature and duration off sustained heat with no drop off in temp. 

If you want to test whether it is the charcoal that is causing the problem buy a bag of Aussie Heat Beads. They are the hottest, longest lasting briquettes on the market. They are quite expensive but even if you don't continue to use them as your standard briquettes afterwards, they will certainly show you what your smoker can actually do.

The ProQ Coco briquettes are a good quality briquette too.

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A question with the cocoshell briquettes how much in general should I use? With normal charcoal I found I’ve been using about 6kgs. I’ve done 3 smokes and used roughly about the same amount every time which to me seems quite a lot.

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YB

On 8/24/2021 at 2:03 PM, Wade said:

The main problem is that for the past 18 months none of us have had a chance to meet, cook together and generally enthuse BBQ. @Smokin Monkey and I own and run the forum and have noticed a general lack of enthusiasm on many of the other BBQ sites too. Now that the world is opening back up and the confidence is returning I think we will see things pick up again fairly quickly. 

It was great to get back to competition BBQ this weekend and there is a lot of buz in anticipation for the 2022 season.

I am trying to get back on the forum here at least once a day now and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ping me a message.

Cheers, Wade 

Thanks for the background Wade. Pleasure to converse with the man himself. This is a great place 😊

 

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On 8/24/2021 at 8:39 PM, frodo1977 said:

A question with the cocoshell briquettes how much in general should I use? With normal charcoal I found I’ve been using about 6kgs. I’ve done 3 smokes and used roughly about the same amount every time which to me seems quite a lot.

Hi Philip - The answer is not as cut and dry as it may appear as it will depend on your smoker, the temperature you are cooking at, the meat you are cooking and the air temperature on the day. Having said that you need not worry.

Firstly you should look to use the Minion method for burning your charcoal. If you are not familiar with this method it involves placing most of the briquettes unlit in your fire basket, leaving a hole in the centre. Place your smoking wood/pellets on top of these briquettes. Fill the hole with fully lit briquettes (about 15-20 lit briquettes). This will allow the smoker to gradually get up to the desired temperature as more of the unlit briquettes catch. As the temperature gets up to about 2/3 of the desired temperature begin closing down the bottom vents. The top vents should be fully open all of the time.

Preparing the briquettes for Minion in a ProQ Frontier

1615844844_Minion1.thumb.jpg.983959d4683bb6423e5016f45cb96091.jpg 1163629611_Minion2.thumb.jpg.ba2b52f55b69c58b516fe86219820af7.jpg 118821850_Minion3.thumb.jpg.9aed2cf62f0d9c92fee56f4f7d40104e.jpg

The Minion setup in a Callow (Cook4All) bullet smoker. This shows the use of both lump wood and pellets and was an example from one of my BBQ training courses.

2032024361_ProQMinion.thumb.jpg.d1f7885e28529efecd43bd88348dcd75.jpg 

Be patient. The internal temperature will increase at an increasing rate. The trick is to manage this increasing rate of burn by closing down the bottom vents a bit at a time. As the temperature in the smoking chamber reaches the desired cooking temperature do not be surprised if the bottom vents are ALMOST completely closed.

The internal temperature profile over time will look something like this. This cook was in a Callow (Cook4All) bullet smoker and my desired cooking temperature was 105-110 C. The two temperature lines are the temperature on the top and bottom cooking grates. The 2 Kg of Heat Beads gave over 8 hours of usable cooking time.

671894748_CallowTemperatureLogCropped.thumb.jpg.88c31f7fe9e85efd755c526f812f8ee0.jpg

The increase in temperature at about 20:40 was due to the wind picking up and allowing more air through the vents.

Remember - it is easy to overshoot your target temperature than it is to bring it back down afterwards.

Back to your original question...
Fill your fire basket level using the Minion method and add 15-20 fully lit briquettes in the centre. The amount will depend on your specific smoker.
Let the smoker reach cooking temperature - this will take about 45 minutes. Cook.
As soon as your cook if finished, fully close both the top and bottom vents. This will cut off all of the air to the coals and they will extinguish. When they are cold, shake off any loose ash and keep the unburned coals in a sealed container ready for your next cook. These unburned coals are great for using as the lit coals in your next Minion smoke.

This way you only use the amount of briquettes that you need - which will be the right amount for your specific smoker / temperature / meat combination.

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Unfortunately this is a design flaw of BBQs that have air vents in the centre at the bottom.

The first, and easiest, thing to try is to place a disk on the fire basket that is slightly bigger in diameter than the air intake holes. This will cause the ash to fall around the vent holes and not directly over them. The disk can be metal, an old ceramic plate or flowerpot base, a disk of thick tinfoil etc.

The next thing to also try are briquettes/charcoal that produce less ash.

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1 hour ago, Wade said:

Unfortunately this is a design flaw of BBQs that have air vents in the centre at the bottom.

The first, and easiest, thing to try is to place a disk on the fire basket that is slightly bigger in diameter than the air intake holes. This will cause the ash to fall around the vent holes and not directly over them. The disk can be metal, an old ceramic plate or flowerpot base, a disk of thick tinfoil etc.

The next thing to also try are briquettes/charcoal that produce less ash.

I used the proQ cocoshell for a 6 hr smoke. Absolutely brilliant hardly any ash, great heat aswell. The previous briquettes were from Morrison’s and going by other things people have said and a few vids on YouTube it seems that they have a great deal of filler in them. I suppose you get what you pay for is right in this case! Again the knowledge your sharing is excellent and is very much appreciated 👍 

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