Last Updated on: 20th April 2023, 10:30 pm
Cooking in a smoker is a complex process which involves various minutiae which should be managed carefully to get the most out of your smoker.
One of these factors is fuel, which can run out during the process, so you might wonder if you can add more charcoal to hot coals.
In this article we are going to explain all the ifs and but’s of this question.
Let’s get started
Is it possible to add more charcoal to hot coals
The short answer to this question is yes, but there are some ifs and buts involved.
You can definitely add new charcoal to already burning charcoal to maintain the temperature, but it will require a little bit of effort to add more charcoal.
Before adding charcoal into the smoker, you should first decide whether you are going to add lit charcoal or unlit charcoal that will light up within the smoker.
It depends on the type of cooking method you are using and the temperature that you want to achieve.
Smoking is a low and slow method that requires a low temperature for a long time.
Unlit charcoal is added if you are using the smoking method.
The unlit charcoal is added over the lit charcoal in a single layer.
The unlit charcoal is burned slowly over time.
It’s important to use higher quality charcoal when placing it in the smoker without lighting it up.
Because if it’s damp or of bad quality, then it will take ages to light up and it will also affect the taste of the food being smoked.
Furthermore, the unlit charcoal should be placed in a single layer, so that each piece of unlit charcoal should come into direct contact with the lit charcoal to light up slowly.
The should be placed at some distance and vents should be opened for sometime to provide airflow for combustion.
Grilling requires a higher temperature for cooking, so we can’t take the risk of adding unlit charcoal, which might decrease the temperature suddenly.
So it’s better to light up the charcoal before placing it into the smoker.
Charcoal chimneys are usually used to light the charcoal before placing it into the smoker.
They can minimize the effort required to light up the charcoal.
When they get red hot, then you can pour them into the smoker firebox to maintain the temperature.
Adding more charcoal while grilling is more sensitive than smoking because smoking requires a low temperature, so we can add more charcoal without any complications.
But if you are grilling, then you should add another batch of charcoal to the charcoal chimney as a backup in case the smoker runs out of charcoal again.
How to add more charcoal to already burning charcoal
Charcoal is the main fuel source in most smokers.
It is usually added to maintain the temperature within the smoker.
The method for adding the charcoal into the smoker can also vary depending on the cooking method.
Adding charcoal while grilling
Grilling is the cooking of food at a higher temperature for less time.
You can follow this step-by-step guide to add the charcoal into the smoker while grilling.
- You need to light up the charcoal first before adding it into the smoker.
You can use a charcoal chimney to light up the charcoal before placing it into the smoker to avoid affecting the internal temperature of the smoker.
- After the charcoal is lit, you can remove the meat and grills from the smoker if you are using the vertical smoker.
If you are using an offset smoker, then you can simply open the firebox door and pour the charcoal in.
- After you have added the charcoal into the smoker, you should close the firebox door to avoid overshooting of the temperature.
You can provide airflow through vents if needed.You should keep checking in every 25–30 minutes to add more charcoal when needed.
Adding charcoal while smoking
Smoking is the cooking of meat at a lower temperature for a longer time.
Because it is performed at a lower temperature, it doesn’t require much effort to add more charcoal when needed because it can heat up to the desired temperature easily.
- When smoking, charcoal is added unlit to avoid overshooting of temperature. It’s added in a single layer over the already lit charcoal so that it should burn gradually over time.
- The charcoal should be of high quality to avoid affecting the taste of the food being smoked. If the charcoal is wet, then it will take ages to light up and thus will affect the taste of food.
You should also avoid using quick-lit charcoal because it contains chemicals that can affect the taste of food.
- If you are using a vertical smoker, then you should first consider removing the meat and cooking racks from the smoker to access the firebox.
Then you can pour the charcoal into the smoker and place the meat back in after that.
- If you are using an offset smoker, then it’s a huge relief.
You can just open the firebox door and place the charcoal inside the smoker.
After you have added the charcoal, you should immediately close the firebox door to avoid overshooting of the temperature.
- The charcoal should be placed in a single layer so that it can light up gradually.
If you’re using the snake method for generating heat, then you can just add the charcoal at the end of the snake.
- After you have added the charcoal, you should open the air vents for a while to provide the airflow for the charcoal combustion.
If needed, after the charcoal is lit, you can close the vents to smother the fire flames.
Can you burn charcoal twice?
The answer to this question will be yes on all three counts.
Reusing the charcoal can help you save money while also reducing waste.
But you should not ignore the quality of charcoal when storing it for reuse.
When the cooking process is completed, you can close the air vents to smother the fire in the firebox.
Then you can extinguish the charcoal and save it for reuse.
Most of the time, a large amount of charcoal is unused at the end of the smoking process.
Some pitmasters like to leave the unlit charcoal within the firebox to light it again when needed.
But we don’t recommend this practice because it can demage the build of smokers.
It’s better to remove the charcoal from the smoker and store it in a metal container.
Although charcoal can be reused, you should not compromise on the quality of charcoal because it can affect the taste of food.
The charcoal should be in a soiled shape to burn effectively when reused.
It should be kept in mind that used charcoal will provide less heat than new charcoal.
What can you use if you run out of charcoal?
So we have discussed whether we can add more charcoal to hot coals, but what if you run out of charcoal and don’t have any charcoal left?
Then it’s better to use wood as a substitute for charcoal for producing smoke and heat at the same time.
It should be kept in mind that wood will produce less than charcoal.
It should be of good quality because the smoke can affect the taste of food.
You should decrease the airflow of the smoker to avoid rapid burning.
Although you can use wood as an alternative to charcoal if needed, it can’t replace the benefits of using charcoal.
You should always keep a backup of charcoal for such situations.
Furthermore, wood can work well for smoking, but in the case of grilling, you will have to use charcoal to produce more heat.
can you add more charcoal while cooking
Yes , it is definitely possible to add more charcoal to your smoker if it ran out of coals during the process.
The process of adding charcoal can vary depending on the type of smoker you are using, but usually it is not much complicated.
One thing to keep in mind is that adding new coals on top of the already burning coals can result in slight decrease in temperature for sometime, until the coals are ignited and start to burn .
So the temperature will rise eventually.
If you want to avoid such decrease in temperature to avoid improper cooking, you should consider igniting the coals beforehand.
You can ignite the coals in a chimney starter and then place the coals the coal into the firebox.
We can add more charcoal to the smoker if it runs out of charcoal during the cooking process, but it’s better to take precautions to avoid facing such situations.
You should consider using a bigger charcoal basket to contain enough charcoal for the cooking process.
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