Adding Charcoal To Smoker [2 Easy Methods]

Adding charcoal to smoker is an easy process, and you can do it in two ways. You can either use a chimney starter or unlit charcoal to add it to your smoker.

In this article, we explained how you could add charcoal to your smoker, whether you can add it in the middle of your cooking, how to add more charcoal to the smoker, and many more things. 

adding charcoal to smoker

So, sharply keep reading this article, and you will surely learn the A-Z details of this issue. 

Can You Add Charcoal While Cooking?

Yes! While you are cooking, you can add charcoal. Before adding the charcoal to your smoker, it would be better if you light the charcoal first.

add charcoal while cooking

The previously lighted charcoal will ensure a consistent cooking temperature. However, many people often search for “can you add unlit charcoal to smokers?” The answer is yes.

Lit or unlit charcoal, you can add both of these to your smoker while you are cooking. The lit or unlit charcoal has a minimal impact on overall cooking.

How To Adding Charcoal To Smoker [2 Easy Methods]

While using and cooking with your charcoal smoker, you can add charcoal to your smoker following the below two easy ways throughout your cooking:

1. Use A Chimney Starter

Take the amount of charcoal you want to add and refill your smoker’s chimney starter using it. Then add a natural firelighter or newspaper to the charcoal and get it burning.

chimney starter

Once the burning becomes complete, and the charcoal is ready to use, evenly pour this charcoal onto your smoker’s coals bed.

2. Use Unlit Charcoal

Carefully remove the grate and meat from your smoker. Now, evenly and perfectly place the charcoal’s single layer on the lit charcoal.

When the coals are already burning, you don’t require to add lighter fluid to them. 

The unlit charcoal will not take much time to catch the burning coals. Until the entire combustion begins, keep your smoker’s vents open to ensure sufficient airflow to your smoker.

Adding Unlit Charcoal While Cooking – Is It Okay?

Yes! If you are adding unlit charcoal while cooking, it’s okay. However, you should avoid using quick-light charcoal.

You should avoid the chemical additives of quick-light charcoal because this charcoal can be burnt off after lighting.

Always use high-quality unlit or lit charcoal with 100% natural briquettes for smoking or cooking.

If you use unlit charcoal, an easy way to light it is to distribute the charcoal into a single layer.

Over your burning coal’s top, evenly spread the unlit charcoal, and it will reduce the risk of losing out on the temperature.

After lighting the charcoal, ensure a consistent temperature in the smoker. Whether you are smoking low or slowly or at a high temperature, it should be consistent.

How To Add More Charcoal To Smokers While Cooking

Adding more charcoal to smokers during cooking is very simple and easy when using the indirect heating method.

add more charcoal to smoker

Add more charcoal at the snake’s end while you are using the snake technique. Then extend the cooking by returning the meat to the smoker.

While using the 2-zone method, you can use the chimney starter first to light the charcoal or avoid doing it.

It’s up to you. Or simply on the burning charcoal’s top, you can add a single layer of extra coal. However, the best charcoal for smoking should be quick lighting, natural and long-lasting.

Why Should You Add Charcoal To Your Offset Smoker?

You should add charcoal to your offset smoker because of its design, as it has an intense carbon level and it is denser.

Charcoal is an excellent option for your offset smoker as it is hotter naturally, and consistently it burns longer. However, the more specific reasons for adding charcoal to offset smokers are the following:

1. Fire Management

While using the offset smoker, both the most rewarding and most challenging job is fire management. The fire management process includes:

  • Adjusting vents
  • Checking the temperatures (Whether they become low or high)
  • Fire restocking and
  • Ensure the smoker is not producing the dirty smoke

Your temperature control job becomes more manageable if you add charcoal to your offset smoker. Compared to wood, charcoal burns faster and hotter.

Using charcoal, you will not suffer from temperature issues. Moreover, you can raise your smoker’s temperature by opening the vents or dampers.

2. Strong FireBase

When you start cooking the meat in your smoker, ensuring a clean and robust fire is crucial because usually, the meat absorbs more smoke in the cook’s first half. Before the bark’s formation, the clean smoke in the cook’s first half is essential.

If you use charcoal in your offset smoker, your smoker will be ready to smoke by quickly catching up with the high temperature. Use a charcoal chimney to light the charcoal. Add charcoal to it once the chimney becomes ashy, white, and ready to use.

3. Consistency Between Cooking and Temperature

Keeping the smoker’s temperature constant becomes more manageable if you use charcoal briquettes.

Compared to wood, keeping the smoker’s temperature constant is easier using charcoal. Charcoal reduces temperature fluctuations and quick response to hood closing and opening.

How Much Charcoal Should You Add To Your Offset Smoker?

The answer to how much charcoal you should add to your offset smoker varies depending on the charcoal type and brand. Also, the heat retention efficiency of your offset smoker affects the charcoal-using amount.

If you add the charcoal’s half-load in your smoker, it will last between 4-8 hours, and this time is enough for a consistent and proper fire to be built. The charcoal’s half load is enough to make the bottom tray’s single layer in your smoker’s firebox.

For building the smoker’s base, this charcoal amount is enough. Over a few hours, this half-load of charcoal will start to ignite the log’s initial loads. However, you can easily add more charcoal while cooking if you require it.

Can You Add Charcoal To An Electric Smoker?

Yes! To your electric smoker, you can add charcoal. A tray is available almost in every electric smoker, and the tray holds charcoal and wood chips. You can easily smoke meat in your electric smoker using charcoal.


Does adding more charcoal increase temperature?

Yes! Adding more charcoal to your smoker increases the temperature. The added charcoal produces huge smoke and raises the cooking area’s temperature. 

How do I make my smoker hotter?

If you want to increase your smoker’s temperature and make it hotter at first, open its intake damper. Ensure the smoke is appropriately existing from the chimney and partially keep the exhaust damper open at all times. 

How long will charcoal burn in a smoker?

The average burning time of lump charcoal is 4-6 hours and 8-10 hours is the average burning time for charcoal briquettes. The offset smokers then open grilling last longer in an oxygen-restricted or slow environment. 

How much charcoal do I need for 225 degrees?

For getting 225-250 degree temperature in your smoker, you require five lit coals on average. The smoker’s cool grate’s side is evenly spread and distributed to the unlit coals. 

How do you keep charcoal burning for hours?

Oxygenate your smoker’s fire by closing the smoker and adjusting the top and side vents. To produce maximum temperature, you can open all the vents away. If the ducts are halfway closed, the charcoal in your smoker will burn longer. 


Hopefully, the above article was informative enough for you, and now you know all the aspects of adding charcoal to smokers. You now have an idea of when and how much charcoal you have to add to your smoker while cooking.

If you have any further queries on this issue, comment and let us know. We will definitely answer your question. 

About William

William is the founder of He has real life practical skills in fixing smoker & heating appliance issues. He loves to share his knowledge & helps others in fixing their appliances & saving their money. William firmly believes that anyone can repair his or her unit with the correct guidance & knowledge. See more at about us.

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