Charcoal Snake Method

If you want to cook slowly with charcoal but do not want to spend more money, try a charcoal snake method to convert your smoker into a charcoal grill. The snake method is an indirect heat method. Using this method, you can cook your meat like a pro pitmaster.

The method gives you delicious food without spending money and effort. It is a practical, reliable, and easy method that allows you to cook food quickly for hours. Many people ask how long a charcoal snake burns. It depends upon many factors that I have discussed in this article. Besides, we have discussed in detail the charcoal snake method.

Snake Method For Cooking delicious Food?

Lay down the 2 to 3 layers of the overlapping briquettes around the snake side of the grill. It is an indirect heat method that will last up to 5-20 hours, depending upon the size of the smoker, in which you have to keep your food away from the heat. In other words, you must smoke your meat at a low temperature.

Then, place the hot briquettes on the other end. The fire will make its way in an hour. You should learn a lot about the snake method. It is the required method to convert the charcoal grill to a smoker. I recommend that those persons learn this method to become professional grillers.

charcoal snake method

How Does The Snake Method Work?

You must make a circular charcoal ring around the charcoal grill’s edges in the snake technique. Then, place a few briquettes on one side of the snake or call that will continuously keep the remaining briquettes rising. Under gradual lighting, the charcoal gives a controllable and low temperature for a longer time. 

It will be ideal if you want to smoke your meat in the smoker without adding more charcoal. The advantage is you can quickly get long-term heat and fire up the smoker. After setting it properly, you will not need to add fuel repeatedly, as it can last up to 12 hours. It is useful in dedicated smokers and grills because they have no insulated wall for stability and heat retention. 

The snake method is beneficial for the grills like Weber Kettle. The heat cannot be stabilized by the insulated walls of a thick rolled steel smoker but can be stabilized with the water pan and heated charcoal. Generally, the snake method will help you the most with the circular grills and Weber Kettle.

Which Coal Type Works Best?

There are many types of coals that you can use, but I recommend you use charcoal briquettes because of the following reasons:

  • Lump charcoal burns hotter and faster, which is the main disadvantage of it, while charcoal briquettes burn slowly and longer. 
  • The lump charcoal burns quickly without any consistency, while the charcoal briquettes burn with consistency. So, they make it easy to stack the briquettes. 
  • Unlike lump charcoal, they burn evenly as they have a uniform size. So, there are many differences between the charcoal briquettes snake method and the lump charcoal snake method.

How To Use The Charcoal Snake Method for Smoking?

These easy steps will utilize charcoal smoke method for smoking: 

What You Will Need To Build A Charcoal Snake?

You do need not buy too many accessories while building a charcoal snake, but the following types of equipment are necessary: 

  • Your favorite wood chunks
  • Charcoal chimney starter
  • Water pan/Aluminum pan
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Weber Kettle grill(or any other similar grill) with a lid

How To Setup The Weber Smoking Method?

Follow the following steps carefully to make sure that you have set up your snake accurately:

  • Using two rows of briquettes, create two half rings, one inside the grill and the other around the outer side of the grates. These two rings should be linked to each other. To get good results, pack the bricks neat and tight. 
  • Now, apply the second layer of the briquettes on the peak of the snake. You must finish with a half-circle two bricks high and two bricks wide. 
  • Place 4-6 pieces of wood chunks on the top of the snake separately at a distance of one inch. 
  • Leave about 5 inches of space before placing the wood chunks. Both the wood chips and wood chunks work perfectly. 
  • Place the water pan at the center of the charcoal snake. Fill the 3/4 water in the water pan. The main benefit of the water pan is that it controls the temperature and moistens the area.
Charcoal Snake Method

How To Light Your Charcoal Snake?

You can light up your charcoal snake in two different ways: 

Use A Chimney Starter

The chimney starter method is the easiest. After getting hot coals from the chimney starter, place them in the space that you have left in the snake.


Make A Pile Of Briquettes

The other way of lighting up your snake is to make a pile of 6-10 briquettes at the bottom of the grill. Make sure that the briquettes are far away from the snake. Now, add light and a few paraffin cubes. 

Do not allow the briquettes till you get light gray color coals. When they turn light gray, place them on the 5-inches gap that you have left on the top of the snake. 


Setting Up Your Drip/Water Pan

You will use hot water because you have to keep the temperature inside the grill the same. Fill up the disposable aluminum or foil pan three-quarters with the hot water. Keep the pan in the center of the snake and close the lid.


Getting Ready To Cook

Place the cooking grates over the area where the disposable foil pan and snake are placed. Close the lid and ensure that you have set the thermometer. Purchase an ambient thermometer so that the temperature will be controlled easily.

Adjusting The Temperature Of Your Charcoal Grill

To adjust the temperature, you must encourage the vents’ airflow. Below I have explained how to control the temperature:

  • Open the vents at the start.
  • Now, wait until the temperature reaches 210 degrees Fahrenheit; after some time, you can close the vents to reduce the amount of oxygen. 
  • To obtain your required temperature, close the vents slowly. The internal grill temperature should be between 220 and 260 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add your Meat To The Grill

The meat should be placed in the center of the cooking grate. Do not place the meat over the snake. The indirect heat of the briquettes will smoke your meat. If you have placed your meat over the snake, then there is a chance that the meat will burn as the snake cooks more rapidly. As the snake cooks quickly, if you do this, then after some time, you will relieve meat that will be raw internally and burned externally.


Maintaining Your Grill Temperature

To ensure the temperature is between 220 and 260 degrees Fahrenheit, check the temperature every 20 minutes. If the temperature has become low, open the vents to make the airflow rapid so that the temperature increases. 

Note: Use the probe thermometers to make sure that the cooking temperature is right.

The Finished Product

Different types of meat cuts contain different internal temperatures. For example, I want to smoke the briskets at 203 degrees Fahrenheit while it is necessary to smoke the pork at 145 degrees Fahrenheit. After smoking the meat, let it alone for some time. If you have smoked pork or brisket, leave it for about 25 minutes. Thus, smoking on a square charcoal grill is very easy.

What Factors Can Play An Important Role In Controlling Temperature?

Many factors can be essential in controlling temperature, so let’s discuss them. 

Smokers Material Quality

If you have a smoker made up of lousy craftsmanship and low-quality materials, you have to know that it will be very difficult to control the temperature. The construction quality of the grill, the thickness of the walls of the grills, and the metal quality will play an important role in temperature control. If you have good-quality material, most heat will be absorbed instead of deflecting. Thus the heat will be the environment. 


Amazingly, it is a fact that the altitude of your smoker will play an essential role in controlling temperature. The higher the length of the smoker, the less the amount of oxygen, which makes it difficult to control the temperature. 

Ground Conditions

The environment and ground conditions are essential factors in controlling temperature. For example, the damp the environment, the more heat absorbed from the grill. It causes more briquettes burnage. If the climate is dry and hot, you need not pay full attention to the temperature. 


The weather will affect the way of burning briquettes in different ways. The briquettes will rise in the speedy airflow instead of being calm. Thus, there will be a waste of more briquettes. 


In a humid environment, it is complicated for you to control the temperature. If you are smoking in a moist climate, then you need more briquettes to control the temperature.

What Are The Benefits Of Using This Technique?

Avoid Clutter

As you can smoke on your grill, you need not purchase a smoker. This is not much to know about where and how to maintain, clean, and store it. 

Low Maintenance

The thing that you should do is to check the meat that is close to the fire as it will cook rapidly. But, if the outside temperature is low, there is no need to pay attention to it. To avoid it from burning, you can use foil as a protective sheet. 


It is the best advantage of the charcoal snake method. In this method, very little charcoal will be used. For example, one bag of charcoal will last for many smoking seasons. 

Frequently Asked Questions

According to many pitmasters, your charcoal snake will last 12-14 hours. But I have checked it and concluded that the charcoal snake could never last long, about 12 hours. Typically, a 22 inches Weber kettle in a 2:1 arrangement with Royal Oak briquettes at a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit will last about 8 hours. Though, it depends upon so many factors.

The snake method is a method that works when a long ring of charcoal briquettes burns outside the weber. Then, you can control the temperature for an extended period by placing some lit briquettes at the end of the snake.

The basic principle while using charcoal is that the more coal you use, the hotter the fire. A good thumb rule is to use 50-75 briquettes for Kettleman grills and larger barrels and 30 briquettes for portable or smaller grills. This amount of charcoal is suitable when the weather conditions are normal, but in the cold, you will need more charcoal briquettes. 

Final Words

I intended to misquote Shakespeare here, but you know what I am trying to say when I say, “A roast by any other name.” It may have a strange name, but you cannot resist the lure of smoky goodness. There are more than a dozen ways of using the snake method, i.e. from the wood choice to the food marinade. If you are trying this method for the first time, tell me your experience in a comment.

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