Charcoal Basket Do's and Don'ts

Barrel smoker, SmokerBuilder, Uds, Ugly drum smoker -

Charcoal Basket Do's and Don'ts

So what does it take to make a

good charcoal basket?

Well, I tell ya... First of all we need to make sure that all the ash can render out without plugging up the air passages in the coal bed. I mean we aren't gonna have gaps between the coals but more like the powdery ash will have room to fall clear. This will help us have a clean burn with no smoldering in the coal bed. Next we want to make sure that when the ash falls clear, the area under the coal bed does not get restricted. I recommend keeping at least 3 inches or more between the bottom of your firebox to the bottom of the coal bed or log rack.

     The Charcoal Baskets in the pic above are used in UDS Drum Smokers. They have a built in ashpan and legs. In other types of smokers you might just use the bottom of the firebox and have rails to slide a log rack on.

     In a UDS Drum Smoker we use a larger than normal pile of charcoal that burns at a slower, more controlled rate for a long period of time. In these types of smokers we don't want to add fuel during the cook so we take extra care to ensure the correct amount of combustion air goes to the right place only as needed. This helps us control our cooking temperature. The charcoal baskets in the above picture have been designed to do exactly that!

So here are some Do's:

  • Keep at least 3 inches below your Coal Bed
  • Make sure you have plenty of holes for combustion air to come in through the bottom of the coal bed
  • holes should be between 1/2" and 3/4" typically so ash can fall out but the larger coals do not fall out
  • Use expanded metal or steel at least 14 gauge for charcoal only and 10 gauge for wood. Heavier is always better
  • Make sure your air inlets are below or at least even with the coal bed so cold air drafts do not skip around the basket
So here are some Don'ts:
  • Use galvanized steel or aluminum.
  • Don't place coal bed part of basket directly on bottom of fire box. Make sure and use legs.
  • Don't use thin steel or paint buckets. (Long Story)

     If you would like to see how our charcoal baskets are used check out this YouTube video...

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