How long can a WSM Go?

How long can you cook on a WSM for without refuelling? Longer than I thought!

In among all the competition at CraftedLive Orange, we ended up collecting some interesting info on this. Our primary fuel was Heat Beads Lump Charcoal but we ran one WSM on Heat Beads Original. While the lump gives the best flavour profile, the briquettes provide a longer run time with minimal flavour compromise. If you want the TL;DR, scroll to the bottom for the magic number.

We had a few reasons for wanting a particularly long run time out of one of our 3 WSM units:

  • Our pork needs ~10 hours cook time, sometimes that even pushes to 12, and the way hand in times were scheduled avoiding a refuel in the middle of the hand-in run was a priority.
  • With 5 turn ins and 3 BBQs, we were planning to use the same unit for the chicken a good 11 hours after it was lit.
  • We like sleep! While the pork as going on at 3am, knowing we had a long run time meant we could light the pit at midnight, let it start softly and get a couple of hours sleep before we stared cooking, then let it do it’s think until dawn while we got a bit more shut eye.

Not only were we going for a long to start but while ordinarily we’d choke the pit at the end of a cook and reuse coals for next time, but burnt fuel isn’t fun in the car so we let the pits burn out this time. So how long did we get? Here is a brief timeline:

  • midnight – lit the pit. Two full 4KG bags in the basket, enough to fill it.
  • 3am – pork goes into the cooker with some wood chunks. I head back to bed!
  • ~11 am – pork still cooking, chicken goes in.
  • ~midday – chicken comes out.
  • ~1pm – pork comes off and into the esky to rest.
  • ~4:30pm – still holding temp, checked the firebox and plenty of fuel left (see photo)
  • ~6pm – the heavens opened and there was a couple of hours of serious rain. The WSM was out in the open, vents open, and we figured getting drowned while we were over at the event presentations.
  • ~ 8pm – pit was still at @220F and we cooked up some cheese kransky  for dinner.

So that’s 20 hours after we lit the fire and we were still cooking. I was blown away!

At some point we may test out what max we can get from lump but there is no doubt the beads are the goods for longevity when you need it. Below are some photos from the day showing it’s progress.

Kicking things off around midnight.

Getting the pork underway at 3am. #Glamour # CompLyf.

The pit still had plenty at 4:30, more than 12 hours in.

My view of the storm. The WSM is in our camp behind the middle telegraph pole.

Still in cooking range 20 hours later!

Author: JD

The Doctor Cue Parsley boy, until he can convince someone else to do it. IT Ninja by day. BBQ God by night. There isn’t a recipe he’s found yet that wouldn’t be made better with bacon.

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