How to Maintain Heat in My Fire Box for My Smoker

Maintaining heat in the firebox of your smoker is extremely important to prepare the food properly. The ideal internal heat of a smoker should stay between 200 and 300 degrees. It should never rise above 300 degrees. The keys to maintaining heat in a firebox is the main fire source, keeping the fire going and adjusting the vents on the bottom and top of the smoker. The air flow in the smoker plays a huge part in maintaining proper heat.

Adding the correct amount of wood to your firebox will help maintain heat in your smoker.
  1. Remove the firebox from your smoker and add at least 15 pounds of ready-light charcoal. Insert the firebox back into the smoker and ignite the charcoal with a match. Allow the charcoal to burn for at least 20 minutes until it's red and hot.

  2. Add a small piece of hard wood, approximately 6 inches long, to the hot coals.

  3. Place the food into the food chamber of the smoker.

  4. Adjust the air vents of the smoker (the vent on the firebox and on the smoker chamber) so that each are opened halfway.

  5. Watch the temperature gauge of your smoker to ensure that the internal heat is staying between 200 and 250 degrees. If the temperature exceeds 250 degrees, open the top vent of your smoker by a quarter-inch.

  6. Add another piece of hard wood once the first piece of wood has burnt down to a hot coal. Add more wood pieces approximately every hour or so. Keeping the fire burning in this manner will ensure that the heat of your firebox is maintained at the proper temperature.


  • Never use soft woods such as evergreen or pine because they will produce black smoke and make your food taste like creosote. Hard wood burns clean and is needed for proper smoking.