I like to load it up full, Get it roaring then back it off till the silver spring on the air valve stem is halfway hidden. This method requires that I only hang around for 15 or 20 minutes (assuming dry wood). This setting will let me keep pretty high stove top temps for 3 or 4 hrs. If I want to go away for 8 hrs or so I'll completely hid the silver spring on the stem have just enough coals for a hot start 8hrs later. I also have my own version of optimal for producing secondaries which is to get it roaring then shut it down all the way. I've seen posts on this forum that diss the "get it roaring then back it off" approach as being very inefficient. Anyone wanna volunteer an opinion on the optimal way to run the NC-30? You can caveat your method as being optimal for this or optimal for that if you like.