The WSM Setup tests

Ok, so now that I have had my Weber Smokey Mountain for about 5 months, I figured it’s time to experiment with different setups.

The Control

So my default setup is to fill the charcoal ring 3/4 full. I then light a full charcoal chimney with coals and light it up. Once lit, I top off the charcoal ring for a minion method cook.

My vents are fully open because I have gasket seals on the whole smoker. I also fill the water bowl with about 4gal of water. This evens out at about 225 – 240 degrees.

Experimental Setup #1: No Water

So I have read online that a few people will cook without water. They leave the water bowl in and cover it in foil. I took this method and modified it a little. I put in an 18in pizza stone in the bowl and wrapped it in foil.

I am using Cowboy lump charcoal with the same ratios as before. 3/4 full and a full chimney. I left the vents fully open but this topped at 350. I pulled all three bottom vents down to 15-25% open (you can’t really be exact) and the temp dropped to 275. This is perfect for a fast cook ribs.

The pizza stone did not seem to make a big difference. But I’m keeping it in there anyway.


I think for long term cooking at a lower temperature keeping water in the basin is the way to go. I have trouble getting the smoker over 250° when the basin is full. This makes it more difficult to burn my food. Now if I want to go hot and fast the new water is definitely the way to go. I think the foil and the pizza stone act is a perfect deflector so that the meat does not get direct fire. The real takeaways from this experiment is that you shouldn’t be scared try new things with your own smoker. Try throwing firebricks in the bottom or try new kinds of woods while cooking. You never know what you may discover by changing things around a little bit.

2 thoughts on “The WSM Setup tests

  1. Joseph Hoetzl

    Hi there – just found you and the site very indirectly through the man
    meat BBQ podcast – heard Josh “Big Stack” mention he talked to a NJ guy
    about BBQ…and it wasn’t me 🙂

    started smoking using the “snake”/”chain” method in my kettle and
    quickly realized it is a lot of work for not a great result. Got on
    with a 18″ WSM and am hooked.

    Would love to know where you source wood in NJ? I know the big box stores carry the usual suspects, but oak, peach and others are elusive and I’d love to try without ordering it online.

    Also – do the gaskets make that big a difference? I run mine with top wide open, and only two barely cracked to hold 220-240. If you have a post on the gaskets or can recommend some other reading on them, that would be excellent.

    Most of my cooking adventures and more are here:

    Thank you,

    1. Wayne Renbjor

      Hey Joseph, sorry it took so long to respond, I never saw the email that you made a comment.

      So as for wood, I just get hickory chunks from the store, nothing special. I do know a guy that owns an apple orchard in Canada and I am going to see about getting wood shipped down. If you are in the South Jersey area, try Johnson’s Farm in Medford, NJ. They have apple trees all the time and I am sure they have to take some out every once and awhile.

      As for the gaskets, My experience has been that they do make a difference. My friend and I both have the 22in and mine has gaskets and his does not. Mine holds more smoke in and keeps a more stable temp over time. This is the gasket that I got:


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