First of all, to anyone that responds, thanks for taking the time to help out. Could someone explain the pre-burning process? I have alot of red-oak and hickory, but I'm a little unclear on how to pre-burn the wood and how to tell when the coals are ready to use in my smoker. I've read that you should start out with lump hardwood charcoal, but I would rather use the wood I have, if I can. Can anyone help?