Setting Up and Keeping Charcoal Burning While Grilling
One of the aspects of charcoal grilling that beginner grillers tend to find the most intimidating is how to prepare and maintain the charcoal in the grill, so we're going to discuss how to set up your charcoal and keep it burning for the ideal grilling experience.
Use a Charcoal Chimney for Lighting Charcoal
There are a few ways to light charcoal, but one of the easiest is using a charcoal chimney. Fill your chimney about three quarters full. Then place a fire starter on the grates of the grill. Light the fire starter and place the chimney on top of it. While the charcoal is igniting, which will take about 15 minutes, it's time to prepare the Side Fire Box and dampers. Find out more details in our BBQ 101 video on How to Light Charcoal.
Keep Charcoal Burning Longer
If you want to keep your charcoal burning longer, add some unlit briquettes to the left side of the Side Fire Box, closest to the opening leading to the main barrel. This way, when you add the ignited charcoal, it will gradually ignite the unlit charcoal giving you a longer burn time. Now, make sure both the smokestack and side damper are open about half way. This will help keep the main chamber of the Smokin' Champ at about 250 degrees. Once your charcoal has ashed over, it is ready to add to the Side Fire Box. After adding the charcoal, close the lid to the main grill chamber and Side Fire Box.
Once your charcoal is lit, you'll need to keep it lit. We recommend checking your grill temperature every hour or so to make sure it is staying where you want it.
Tips for Fire Management
Keeping both lids on the grill closed is the best way to keep the heat inside and prevent the charcoal from burning out too quickly. One of the most important things for maintaining temperature, specifically in an offset smoker like the Smokin' Champ, is damper control. Damper control is easy. Open for hotter, more closed for cooler. Make sure to five it about 10 to 15 minutes to adjust before you make other changes and don't forget to adjust both the smokestack and side damper.
If you find that your grill temperature is dipping, prepare another chimney of charcoal and add it on top of your bed of coals.
Grilling is a skill that improves with practice. Experiment with different techniques and charcoal arrangements to find what works best for your grill and cooking style. Preparing and maintain charcoal can feel daunting, but with a little preparation and practice, it is easy to get the results you need.