Problems with my fire in my first stickburn

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by johnnie2130, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. johnnie2130

    johnnie2130 Meat Mopper

    I'm hoping you guys can help here. Yesterday was my first burn with a stickburner and I don't think it went like it should. Started with three splits of oak in the firebox with propane assistance. Added a 4th when the temp was still around 150 about an hour later. It still didn't go up much although fire was burning good in firebox. Then I remember that you control the heat with the dampers on my stacks. (Hey, I'm new. I'm learning!) We opened dampers all the way and temp creeped from 170* to about 265* in about 30 minutes. I finally saw the thin blue smoke at times. 265* was about as high as I could get it, but it maintained for a while. A lot of white, puffy smoke had passed through the cooking chamber and out the stacks. After opening doors to check meat and take pics for Q-view, the temp started dropping fast. Maybe I should have added another split before I did, but I couldn't get it back to 250*+ even after adding a couple splits. Finally I turned the propane back on and after about 15 minutes the temp creeped back to 250 or so. I just finished the smoke like that. During the entire smoke we threw hickory chunks in the firebox, but the weren't big pieces. It was all I had. We're supposed to get a lot of rain from Tropical Depression Fay and the wind was very breezy. I don't know if this affected things or not. In another post somebody said to heat it up over 300* and then bring it down. I don't know how I could have gotten it to 300*+. Any suggestions on what went wrong?

    Final results
    Chicken came off after 3 hours and 45 minutes. I only had to cook chicken for about 3 hours on my MES. It was moist, tender and juicy. The problem I noticed though is that when we later took the chicken off the plate there was a good bit of black 'stuff' on the plate. I'm guessing it was all the smoke from the oak splits. This is another thing I need to figure out. Again, any help or suggestions here? I was hoping the entire smoke would go a little better!
  2. 1894

    1894 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Seems the stick burners are busy , so I'll make a few SWAGS (Silly wild a$$ guesses ) just to bump this to the top and let folks that know what they are talking about correct me [​IMG]

    Lots of steel in that cooker so I guess it takes a good bit of heat to get everything good and hot.
    So I would guess , a bigger fire to warm things up to start with would also result in a bigger bed of hot coals to keep the heat up as you go through your smoke.
    Gonna get some white smoke when you add wood , but with a good bed of hot coals , adding a smaller split or two before temps really start dropping will help keep the thin blue better managed.
    Trial and error is the best teacher , Take some notes each time you run your new smoker and you should start to see a pattern of what its needs are.

    ....... Hope some folks jump in and correct my guesses [​IMG]
  3. hey Johnie, if by stacks ya mean the exaust stacks , and you were trying to control temps. with em ,I assume you were not running em wide open the whole time. You should. Never control temps. with the exaust.The black on your plate was prob. creosite deposited on the food from un-circulating smoke that could not get out the stack(s).Go stuff a potato in your cars exsaust and see how she runs !!Same deal really.You will be fine with a little practice and dont feel bad, that is EXACTLY the way I used to do it before I found this great forum !![​IMG]
  4. cbucher

    cbucher Meat Mopper

    The windy day will also affect your temps. Makes it harder to get a solid air supply in to the fire box( at least on mine). I don't have gas assist so i made a basket to contain my coal bed. It takes me 2 good chimneys of lump and 2 good size splits to even think about being at temp. My smoker is also 5/16 thick so it takes it a bit. Just keep playing with it and it will get better.
  5. smokebuzz

    smokebuzz Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Get a big hot bed of coals, either with lump or burn some wood down. then add several smaller peices instead of 1-2 larger peices. wind will effect you greatly, gotta keep the air moveing from intake to exhaust, if this means turning the smoker around to get some air in the firebox intake, then spin it around. Don't turn the intake directly in to the breeze, get it at an angle. i have used a box fan on still daze at times.

    It will take abit to get the hang of it, but you will get to where you wont have to baby set it.
  6. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What gorrilla said. Keep the stack wide open to avoid creosote and control with fire box dampers only. Other than that I say to just play with it and go from there.
  7. johnnie2130

    johnnie2130 Meat Mopper

    Other than the very first part of my smoke, the stacks were open pretty much all the time. I found that it helped my temp rise plus it didn't trap the smoke in. I still had a lot of smoke pass through though. Maybe I need some smaller splits. I dunno. [​IMG]
  8. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Johnnie I was told shoot for splits about the size of a magnum beer can so I hope thats right cause I got lots to split
  9. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Johnny, Sorry to hear that your first stickburner experience wasn't so good. In good time, you'll be looking back and laughing about it.That chicken took almost twice as long as it should have. The black soot is from stale smoke. here is what I would do to make sure this doesn't happen again.

    Make sure your wood is well cured and dry when you start your smoke.
    I keep mine covered or in the smoke shack to keep it perfectly dry.

    try and split your wood into smaller splits, this helps with combustion.

    make sure that there is plenty of air around the wood in the firebox. You must have an elevated grate to insure that the fire doesn't get snuffed out by ash. The grate in my stickburner is over 2 inches off the floor of the box.

    always leave the exhaust fully open, always.

    hope these things help your next smoke session ![​IMG]

    Hang in there, it will get better.

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