How to Use a Firebox Basket
A firebox basket is an accessory for your smoker that contains the coal in the center of the firebox, ensuring that air can flow above, under and around all sides of the fuel. Better airflow means a better smoke, and that makes better barbecue.
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Load charcoal into the firebox basket to the halfway point (approximately 200 briquettes). Start off with a smaller load and build up from there, as needed.
2. If you’re using fire starters, wedge a couple into the charcoal just under the top layer of charcoal. They will light the charcoal from the top and slowly burn down.
3. Lay wood chunks on top of the charcoal or arrange in a couple layers of charcoal and wood chunks. The layering method gives you more consistent smoke as each layer lights and burns rather than just having smoke at the beginning.
Hot TipA firebox basket allows more steady cooking temperatures because the fire spreads through the fuel at an even pace.
4. If you’re using logs or sticks, wedge them diagonally so that one end is under the coals and the other end extends above the top of the coals. Another option is to add the sticks first (diagonally from the bottom of the basket to the top), then pour the coals on top of the sticks. As the charcoal burns down, different sections of the wood catch fire, giving you a slow, controlled smoke all the way down.
5. Set the firebox basket into the firebox and light.
6. When your fuel starts to burn down, shake the basket to knock off excess ash. Then use a long-handled spatula or tool like our Blacksmith Rake & Brush to bank the remaining fuel and live coals against one side of the basket. This leaves about two-thirds of the charcoal basket empty where you can pour in more charcoal.
With regular use of a firebox basket, you’ll use it as a gauge or measurement to plan your cooks in terms of “this cook should take about three-fourths of a firebox basket of fuel.” While the fire is burning, you’ll note a consistent refueling point, i.e., “when the fuel gets down to about one-third full basket, it’s time to refuel.”