How to Use a Charcoal Smoker

Steps on How to Use a Charcoal Smoker? Good Tips

Steps by Steps on How to Use a Charcoal Smoker? Good Tips in 2023

Charcoal smokers are a great way to cook delicious food. They provide that smoky flavor of the grill, with less hassle than gas grills. Cooking on charcoal is also easier on your wallet and better for the environment. In this blog post, we will show you how to use a charcoal smoker. We will also share some tips on the best way to get started with it. Enjoy!

How to Use a Charcoal Smoker

1. What is a Charcoal Smoker?

Charcoal smokers are known as one of the easiest smokers to use. Their ease of use is what makes them a favorite among many smokers, from beginners who have never smoked before to experienced home smoking enthusiasts.

In this article, we’ll show you some tips on how to properly use a charcoal smoker and provide some simple suggestions on things you should smoke on your charcoal smoker. Plus, we’ll share with you a few recipes and ideas of what to cook using a charcoal smoker!

2. Steps by Steps on How to Use a Charcoal Smoker.

What You Need Before Starting:

Before getting started with your smoke, make sure you have certain materials ready. Here’s a list of what you need:

– Charcoal Smoker.

– Charcoal.

– Wood Chips (Purchased or homemade).

– A container for water (or another type of liquid).

– Heatproof gloves.

How to Use a Charcoal Smoker

Step 1 : Start the fire in the middle.

It is best if you start by lighting up some charcoals first. If possible, use pure hardwood lump charcoal as opposed to briquettes. Lump charcoals are made from compressed wood, while briquettes are composed of sawdust and other fillers.

To start the fire in the middle, spread the coals over it evenly. Once you have done this, place a few charcoals on top of these coals.

Step 2 : Prepare the water pan.

After 40 minutes or so, once your fire is ready to use, put in your heatproof water pan. Fill it up with some water or another type of liquid that will generate steam inside your smoker . Make sure not to pour any water over those coals as this might extinguish the fire.

Step 3: Add wood chips.

After about 20 to 30 minutes, once the coals are white and burning well, add a few wood chips. Place them directly on top of the coals. Once you notice that the smoke from the chips has been reduced significantly, this means they have been fully burned up. At this point, make sure to replace those used chips with new ones before continuing with your smoking process.

Step 4: Place your food over the pan.

After about 2 hours or so, when you’ve added all your food items onto the grill grates over the water pan, place a sheet of aluminum foil at a 45-degree angle just behind it. This will deflect heat and prevent any drippings from hitting your charcoals and extinguishing the fire.

Step 5: Add more wood chips.

After about an hour, when you notice that there is no visible smoke coming out of your smoker, add some more wood chips. If possible, avoid adding too many at once so not to extinguish the fire. Just follow this simple rule of adding only 2 or 3 pieces every 30 minutes.

This process will all depend on how hot and smoky you want it to be in your food!

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3. How do I know when my meat is done?

When cooking various meats using a charcoal smoker, they are usually fully cooked through after about 6 hours depending on the size and thickness of your cuts. Most people recommend using a digital probe meat thermometer to tell when your meat is fully cooked. This way, you can get it off the grill immediately afterwards to prevent overcooking.

4. Best Meats for Smoking.

There are many types of meats that are perfect for smoking! Just take note that these meats have to be fatty in order for them to be best served using a charcoal smoker. The fats will help prevent the meat from drying out while it’s being smoked over heat and also add flavor into them instead.

Some examples of the best kinds of meals fit for smoking include beef brisket, pork shoulder, ribs , chicken thighs/legs , turkey legs/thighs, whole chickens , boneless skinless chicken breasts or steak. You can even try some vegetables by smoking them!

This technique is best used for meats that are fatty like pork butt , ribs, chicken legs/thighs, brisket and sausage . When cooking these kinds of meat, just make sure to cut your cooking times in half compared to what you usually do. This will allow the fats inside them to render properly before the meat cooks completely.

5. How many type of Charcoal Smoker are there in the market now?

There are many brands of charcoal smokers available in the market now. Some are small units that are portable, while others are built with heavy-duty materials for durability. There are also electric and pellet smokers available on the market today, but they’re best used if you want to smoke salmon or fish instead.

Pellet Smokers:

This is probably one of the newest types of smoker that have become available on the market lately. They work by using hardwood pellets that have been compressed together to produce heat and smoke just like a regular grill would do.

The difference here is that this unit hyper-concentrates the heat and flavor inside it because all components in this machine tightly seal off any moisture from escaping outside your grill. This also includes the smoke, which is why it’s a lot easier to precisely control the heat and flavor of your food!

Gas Smokers:

This is probably one of the most common smokers around. It works by putting wood chips or chunks inside a burner box with a gas line attached on it and then heating them up until they start producing smoke.

On smaller units though, you will need to manually light up these wood chips using an electronic device that looks like a lighter . This method can be difficult because lighting these wood chips may require extra attention on your part to avoid burning out the flame before enough smoke has been produced.

Wood Fired Smokers:

These types of charcoal smokers use real firewood as their source of fuel instead of gas or electric. They usually use a firebox on the bottom or outside of it for this purpose, and sometimes you can also find some with wheels so you can carry them away from your home easily.

The great thing about these smokers is that they don’t need electricity to work, making it easier for you to smoke food in places without these appliances around. But be aware though that this type of smoker will require more work on your part compared to others because controlling the heat inside them may take some time since the flames are not enclosed in any way.

You already know How to Use a Charcoal Smoker as above. Now, let’s see some Tips and Guides on Using Charcoal Smoker as below:

Tips and Guides on How to Use a Charcoal Smoker.

How to Use a Charcoal Smoker

1. How to clean a Charcoal Smoker?

To clean your charcoal smoker, you will need to take the ashes out first before cleaning it. This is very important because leftover ashes may cause heat retention that can potentially damage or rust some parts of your unit!

After removing these ashes, then proceed by brushing away any food debris stuck inside its racks and walls. Finally, to prevent rusting, apply a thin layer of cooking oil (or melted shortening) on the entire surface of your smoker.

1.1. You should always use lighter fluid when lighting up your coals for smoking meat. It’s best to avoid using “match light” charcoal in this part because they have been infused with petroleum-based chemicals designed to help them catch fire easily. This chemical can potentially add a bad taste to your meats, so it’s best if you just stick with using lighter fluid for this instead.

1.2. If slow smoking your meat is required, then you should use a “low and slow” cooking method. In this type of smoking process, you need to control the temperature inside your smoker between 200 degrees Fahrenheit up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Near the end of each smoke session though, be sure to increase the heat near 300 degrees Fahrenheit before putting food on its racks . This will ensure that enough heat has been concentrated around these meats before removing them from your machine.

1.3. Before placing meat in the racks of your smoker , place a foil-lined baking sheet underneath first as an added safety measure. After removing those meat from the racks, it’s a good idea to pour a cup of water on this foil-lined sheet before replacing meat back for another round.

1.4. To prevent food debris from flying everywhere while smoking meats, use a small fan in your corner when cooking these items inside your machine.

1.5. Avoid placing heavy smoke ingredients like wine  or beer  on your charcoal smoker because they can potentially damage some parts of it with their chemical composition. Instead, opt for lighter fluid instead when lighting up wood chips or chunks. Also remember not to leave your lighter fluids near any source of heat without proper ventilation because it contains chemicals that are flammable in nature!

Key point: A clean grill is always better than one full of debris. If you don’t want to clean your grill after each cooking session, then it’s a good idea to prepare for that before cooking anything by lining its racks with aluminum foil. Not only will this make removing these sticky substances easier, but it will also prevent them from losing their shape overtime!

2. How long to smoke meats?

You should be able to put food inside your smoker after covering it with aluminum foil 15 minutes or so . It shouldn’t take more than 2 hours for chicken and 3 hours for ribs , which is the time needed if conventional smoking methods are required.

However, if you plan on using the “low and slow” method as mentioned above for this type of smoking process instead, then expect those times to increase up to 8 hours for chicken and 12 hours for ribs. Key point: If possible, keep your smoker’s door closed while cooking meat inside it. This will help trap the heat inside your machine and distribute it evenly to all parts of meats you’re cooking there.

3. How should I maintain my Charcoal Smoker?

Always remember to brush away any leftover ashes from its racks each time after a smoke session . After doing this, apply a thin layer of cooking oil or melted shortening on these racks before using them again. While applying a new coat every time might seem like overkill, this is needed in ensuring that rust will not form overtime due to condensation from these ashes!

Also make sure to close your smoker’s vents after each use to prevent rusting from occurring on them! Aside from that, always keep your smoker clean by washing its parts with dish soap and warm water after each cooking session.

Key point: A layer of grease or oil can help prevent rusting in places where condensation forms like vents and grates. However, don’t overdo it when doing this because applying too much grease will make removing leftover ashes difficult without properly draining grease first.

4. How do I maintain my Gas Smoker?

Maintaining a gas smoker is easier than charcoal ones because you won’t need to deal with lighting charcoals and disposing ash afterward. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning the machine itself, especially when dealing with smoke stains inside walls and grease deposits near grease pans.

As for lighting gas smokers, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions first on which buttons to use and how long time should pass before starting it. Key point: Always refer to your gas smoker’s manual when cleaning its parts or dealing with smoke stains.

5. What precautions should I take?

Smoking meats inside certain types of smokers can potentially expose you to cancer-causing agents like benzopyrene  in large amounts! Remember that smoking meat is not the same as cooking them, because this process involves exposing meats to longer periods of heat than usual at lower temperatures instead!

Key point: If you’re trying out new recipes using your smoker , try applying low and slow method for type of process first if possible ever since it involves more safety precautions.

6. How to maintain my Smoker?

If you want your smoker to last for a long time, make sure to clean the machine properly after use by disassembling its parts and washing them with dish soap and warm water. Try avoiding the use of abrasive brushes or cleaners during this process as these can damage certain surfaces or even rust some areas on your smoker if not used carefully!

If food items get burnt easily inside your smoker, it’s a good idea to lower its heat first before putting meats inside it! Key point: Make sure that ashes are properly drained from grates after cooking meat inside it so as not to prolong exposure of these leftover residues. In conclusion, smoking is an excellent way of adding flavor to meats while also retaining their moisture during the process.

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However, make sure that you take proper precautions when doing this like keeping your smoker clean and maintaining its parts properly, especially if you want it to last for a long time. If you follow these steps carefully, then smoking meat in your own backyard will soon become one of your favorite ways of preparing scrumptious dishes that are highly-flavored without being too salty!

Key point: Always refer to your smoker’s manual when cleaning it after use.

Key Point to Remember: Proper maintenance is needed for smokers so they can last for a long time. Cleaning them regularly is advised to prevent rust from occurring on their parts while following manufacturer instructions closely is important when dealing with residual ashes and smoke stains.

If you’re a beginner, then using the low and slow method for smoking meat is highly recommended to avoid unnecessary accidents like burns or charring. Lighting charcoal can be dangerous if not done properly which is why it’s advised to also keep smokers clean in order to avoid rusting from occurring on them.

Finally, always refer to your smoker’s manual when dealing with grease deposits near grease pans or cleaning grates after use for optimal results!

Key point: Always consult manufacturer instructions before disassembling certain parts of your smoker and follow proper cleaning procedures after each usage so as not to damage its materials in the long run!

7. Some Tips on Using Charcoal Smoker.

If you are using charcoal smoker, it is important to light the fire in a certain manner. To do so, light up some charcoal until they are ash-covered but not burning. Then place these coals on one side of your grill and also place an aluminum tray full of water at another side.

The coals will slowly burn off their wetness over time which can then be used for producing smoke that adds flavor to your meats! Key point: Make sure that the heat under food items is low when smoking them inside your smoker!

8. What precautions should I take?

When handling hot grates or other parts of charcoal smokers, make sure to use mitts or gloves to protect yourself from burns especially since its materials may become hot quite fast.

If you’re going to use massive chunks of smoke wood, then remember that these can also burn off rather quickly once they are ignited which is why it’s advisable to soak them in water beforehand to reduce their smoking time while also reducing chances of burning food items on the smoker!

Never place your hands too near hot grates when cooking meats on top of it since steam coming from steaming meat juices can result in scalding if your hand fits over grates for too long! Finally, make sure to keep smoker clean by removing all ashes or leftover residues after each use so as not to prolong exposure of certain materials while extending its life at the same time!

Key point: Keep your smoker clean removing all ash deposits before putting it away to prolong its life!

9. How do I prepare my smoker?

After preheating it, you should then apply water-based liquid cooking oil over grates so as to keep them from rusting while also adding flavor to foods since the fats within the liquid oil will slowly drip into coals below which will then produce more smoke once heated up!

It is important that you avoid placing too much meat inside one rung of smoker racks to prevent flaring especially if the above area is too crowded for coals below to effectively burn off! Finally, always refer to your smoker’s manual when dealing with grease deposits near grates or cleaning grates after use for optimal results!

Key point: Always refer to your smoker’s manual when cleaning it after use.

10. Should I soak wood chips for charcoal smoker?

Using soaking wet chips will produce a lot of smoke that has a strong taste which is why it’s important to pre-soak wood chips in water at least 30 minutes before placing them on coals below. This will also prolong the amount of time desired for your meats to flavor properly inside smoker!

Key point: Always soak wood chips in water before using them when creating smoke for smoking meat!

You can find more information about smokers here, charcoal smokers or electric smokers . You may also want to check this page with tips on cooking pork ribs in smoker and this one with helpful tips on smoking food.

11. How often do you add wood chips to a charcoal smoker?

This will depend on the type of smoker being used, but wood chips should be added onto coals every hour during smoking to keep your meat moist and flavorful.

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Key point: Remember that large amounts of rain falling down may force you to increase the number of damp wood pieces needed inside your charcoal smokers!

12. How often do you clean a charcoal smoker?

When cleaning a charcoal smoker, it’s important to remove all ash deposits before putting it away so as not to prolong exposure of certain materials while extending its life at the same time! This will depend on how often you use your smoker though so follow manufacturer’s instructions for specific details.

Key point: It is important that you avoid placing too much meat inside one rung of smoker racks to prevent flaring!

13. Can you put wood chips directly on charcoal?

Yes, but only when using a charcoal smoker is to ensure that it does not pollute its flavor with burned materials! This is why soaking wet chips are recommended since these produce stronger smoke which encourages more flavors on meat without burning down too fast!

Key point: Always refer to your smoker’s manual when cleaning it after use.

14. How long can you keep food on the grill?

You should only keep meats on top of the grate for up to 4 minutes on each side before allowing them rest for at least 2-3 minutes while juices redistribute inside their core!

This will make sure that foods are cooked perfectly especially if they were placed above hot coals or flames in order to retain optimal taste while preventing overcooking. Remember this especially if making burgers, chicken breasts or thin steaks!

Key point: Always maintain a 4-minute cooking time on each side before allowing the meats to rest for at least 2 minutes.

15. How long can you smoke food?

The smoking process will depend on what foods are being used along with how much heat is applied, but it’s safe to say that you should keep your smoked foods inside the smoker for at least an hour after applying desired amounts of wood chips or chunks to properly flavor them!

Remember that not everyone likes their meats well done so always refer to meat type and personal preference when determining optimal level of doneness! Also, this amount should be increased during winter months since cold weather makes it easier for your meats to cook slower especially if you’re smoking large foods like turkeys or hams!

Key point: Remember that taking your foods out of the smoker too soon will result to soggy, undercooked meats so don’t be in a rush when it comes to serving your smoked goodies!

16. What wood chips are best for grill?

You can use any type of food-grade hardwood chips such as oak, maple, apple and more depending on what types of flavors you want to add onto meats. You may also choose fruit woods that don’t produce much smoke but help prevent your meat from drying out while adding lovely sweet aromas during cooking!

For cold smoking though, you can use pecan and nut woods even if won’t burn down fast and will produce very little smoke!

Key point: There are various wood chips that can be used for smoking – oak, maple, walnut and fruit woods.

17. How long should charcoal burn before smoking?

It is best to wait for at least 30 minutes after lighting up charcoal in order to let it burn down slowly before placing your foods inside for smoking purposes. This is because the flames will be able to last longer without burning down your wood chips or chunks which increases smoky flavors when cooking!

Key point: You can use either lump hardwood charcoal or briquettes depending on what flavor you want in your meats!

18. How do I make my grill smoke less?

You may spray it with nonstick cooking oil in order to decrease temperatures by 10 degrees while allowing more smoke flavors go into grilled foods. You can also reduce air flow by closing all vents until you reach desired temperature and only open again once done with grilling procedures.

Also, always soak your wood chips or chunks in cold water for at least 30 minutes before placing them inside to allow more smoke to be produced!

Key point: Always reduce air flow by closing all vents until desired temperature is reached.

19. What types of woods are great for smoking?

You can use any type of hardwood that fits your tastes while being safe to use with smokers! This includes apple, hickory, cherry and other fruit woods that produce bolder flavors which can mask strong meats like beef or pork if not added properly so please take note when using these!

Oak is also good since it adds lovely aroma especially when smoking fish or poultry while maple gives slight sweet taste on meat surfaces so it’s best used together with other varieties for optimal results when smoking meats!

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Key point: Always remember that wood chips or chunks produce more smoke when used with sufficient amount of water being added in order to prevent burning and charring.

20. Do gas smokers make real smoke?

No, a true smoker needs to be fueled by charcoal briquettes or hardwood lump charcoal which is available in most supermarkets. You can also use natural hardwood logs instead but it will take a long time before they start burning considering the size of each log. With these, you’ll need to provide oxygen tubes inside them if you want to produce enough heat for smoking purposes!

Key point: Fueled by hardwood lump charcoal or briquettes only – no electrical devices whatsoever!

21. How do I check if my charcoal is ready for smoking?

You must wait until the briquettes are covered with a thin layer of gray ash in order to be certain that they’re ready for grilling or smoking purposes! Anything else doesn’t indicate that they’re hot enough which will result to foods tasting bland and not smoky enough. In addition, you should add more wood chunks around this time since it will produce more smoke when lighting up your grill if done properly!

Key point: Only use cookware specifically made from stainless steel when cooking over a gas grill.

22. Common Mistakes when Using Charcoal Smoker.

– Using too much lighter fluid to light up charcoal. This is considered dangerous if you’re not properly trained on how to do this safely and could easily result to fire accidents.

– Not soaking wood chips or chunks in water for at least 30 minutes before placing them into the smoker grill. Doing this will produce more smoke when lighting it up since heat will be trapped inside wood instead of escaping which also results in lack of flavor while grilling.

– Leaving air vents open while cooking meats causing flames to escape which reduces smoky flavors resulting to bland tasting foods! You should always close air vents whenever using your gas grill until desired temperature is reached!

– Placing lit briquettes inside smoker without having hot coals underneath them can cause damage to your grill.

– Closing fire box cracks with aluminum foil is not a good idea since heat cannot escape from this area which can cause damage to your grill’s design! This applies to adjusting vents as well so please always handle these with care using the proper tools only whenever necessary – never use aluminum foil for this purpose or else you’ll risk damaging your smoker permanently!

Key point: Only use cookware specifically made from stainless steel when cooking over a gas grill.

23. Do I need to keep an eye on temperature inside the smoker during grilling?

You should always monitor temperature especially if you’re smoking beef or pork by inserting a probe thermometer near the lower side of meats in order to determine whether they’re done yet. If you’re grilling steaks or fish, these will cook fast and you don’t need to monitor temperature in order to avoid overcooking.

Key point: Always use a probe thermometer in order to determine whether your meats and fish are done!

Common Questions Related with How to Use a Charcoal Smoker – FAQs.

How to Use a Charcoal Smoker

1. Question: Can I use a gas grill as a smoker?

Answer: Yes, you can provided that it’s made from stainless steel on the inside. Just make sure to follow manufacturers’ instructions on how to do this properly in order to prevent damage which could void your warranty on specific parts! In addition, you’ll need access to an electrical outlet so consider using a portable generator if there’s no electricity available.

2. Question: Will my food taste good even if I don’t have a natural wood burning fire going?

Answer: It really depends on what kinds of flavors you’re looking for and how much smoky flavor you desire – especially for meats such as beef or pork. The good news is that smoking flavors can be developed using natural wood chips or chunks to produce these desired taste provided that you have a charcoal smoker with air vents in order to allow oxygen inside the grill which will result to this.

3. Question: How long should I leave meat on my smoker?

Answer: This again depends on each individual’s preference for smoky flavor since it can differ from one person to another.

You’ll need to check your meats periodically until they reach personal preference by inserting a thermometer probe vertically so you know when they’re done – if not, simply wait for them to turn brown and crisp-looking and make sure there’s moisture coming out of them before taking them off the heat!

4. Question: What kinds of wood should I use for smoking my food?

Answer: This will vary depending on which kind of meat you’re going to smoke. For example, if you’re smoking beef, go for hickory chips or chunks while apple wood can be used for pork and so on. In addition, don’t hesitate to try many kinds of wood chips or chunks since this is the best way to determine which flavor suits your taste!

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5. Question: What types of meats can I smoke in a smoker grill?

Answer: You can smoke any meats and fish as long as they’re not overly fatty since this type will produce excess oil inside the smoker which might cause it to malfunction thus resulting to fire accidents – these could also lead to permanent damage of your grill and parts!

6. Question: What would be the best meat to smoke?

Answer: The best meats to smoke depend on personal preference – some people like beef while others go for chicken or fish. Each type has its own pros and cons but if you’re looking for a healthy yet delicious meal, try smoking fish such as salmon – this contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which can prevent coronary heart disease!

7. Question: When using a gas smoker, how should I adjust the heat controls?

Answer: You shouldn’t adjust these manually since doing so could result in damage to your smoker’s components. Rather than adjusting temperature through knobs, simply switch on and off your burners after lighting up all gas burners in order to start up your smoker.

Make sure the gas is set on high for about ten minutes in order to bring it up to temperature before turning down your burners until your desired temperature range has been reached.

8. Question: What are examples of hardwood used for smoking?

Answer: Examples of hardwoods which can be used for smoking include hickory, mesquite, apple, pecan and so on depending on personal preference! Make sure you read all kinds of wood chips or chunks since not all varieties will be suitable for whatever meat you’re cooking – some might taste great with beef but fail to produce any nice smoky flavor when combined with fish.

9. Question: How do I use a water smoker?

Answer: First, fill the water bowl to its maximum capacity and then add natural wood chips or chunks inside it – be careful not to overdo this since adding too much will only produce excess amounts of smoke and might affect your meats negatively! After doing so, place smoking trays filled with meats on top of rack and close the lid before starting up your smoker.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to use a heat source other than gas for this type such as charcoal or electricity – make sure this is available or else consider using a portable generator if there’s no electricity available.

10. Question: What types of woods should I avoid for smoking?

Answer: Some types which should be avoided include those which are very resinous such as pine since these will produce a bitter taste which might alter the flavor of whatever meat you’re smoking. Another type to avoid includes fruit woods such as apple since these will only serve as an additional source of sweetness and might overpower your meats resulting in a completely different kind of smoky flavor!

11. Question: What is the difference between hot smoking and cold smoking?

Answer: Hot smoking is what people normally do when cooking meats while cold smoking involves exposing foods to vapor from burning wood chips or chunks at low temperature for long periods in order to add flavors, provide preservation and dry meats out before consumption.

Cold smoked food often has a bluish color and contains high levels of preservatives but usually tastes better than hot smoked food added with smoke flavors.

12. Question: How do I cold smoke food?

Answer: To cold smoke a variety of meats, simply place them inside a closed container where they can be smoked at low temperatures using wood chips or chunks – this process might take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours.

Whether you want to eat cold smoked meat as it is or use it as an additional ingredient for other recipes, make sure that it has been properly cured by keeping the meat refrigerated for the duration of time it has been exposed to smoke before consumption!


The best way to get a barbecue is by using a charcoal smoker. You can make the most delicious and juicy steak, pork loin, or any other meat you want with this machine. But how to Use a Charcoal Smoker? We have created an easy guide on how to set up your own charcoal grill for smoking right here at this post that will answer all of your questions!

Be sure to check out these guides if you are looking for more information about cooking food in a charcoal smoker. Please contact us if you need more information, we are happy to help you. Thanks for reading!

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