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Taming the flame. The perfect fire

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi guys. I've been cooking in my reverse smoker that I've built for most of this year. I've never had this type of type of smoker before. I had a charcoal and propane vertical smoker that I loved and passed it on to a friend who wanted to try. My question to you is what should the perfect fire look like? I've experimented with pure splits and also charcoal and small splits. I found that if I make the flame too tall that my thin blue smoke starts making a heavy black smoke and harsh flavors to follow. Most of my fires that I make make almost no smoke out the pipe. The food tastes great but it's hard to tell much difference in the type of fuel I use. I have used what's available locally. I've been lucky to have oak, almond, peach, and cherry. Here are a few pics to show you my progress. Thanks for your help.
post #2 of 17
Thread Starter 
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Only oak wood used. Tested the best out of all the woods I've used. In all the chickens I used the brine recipe from hillbilly vittles. Temp between 265-300. All were around 6lbs. All cooked for 3 hours. the internal temp ended up being closer to 170 degrees. The skin was crispy and bird very moist.
Edited by OhDannyBoy - 8/26/14 at 11:12pm
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Only almond wood. Great flavor but the oak had a more rounded flavor. Both weren't overwhelming with smoke flavor.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

First attempt at a 13.5/lb brisket.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

The final product. No pic if the smoke ring. I got too excited sorry. I'll need help with this one. I smoked it for 15 hours. I got scared once it hit 165 and stalled for a few hours. I wrapped on foil and I blasted through the stall. Internal temp of 205. Wrapped in towels for two hours inside on a ice cooler. The taste wasn't I expected. It tasted like roast beef. I sliced it into deli slices and made lots of wonderful sandwiches ! Didn't waste a bit. Even saved the juice.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

Some oak and almond splits.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

This is how I heat the 5/16" metal on my 80 gallon smoker. I let this burn down to coals and add a chimney full of briquettes to even out the temp. Seems to work well but what would be your suggestion?
post #9 of 17

OhDannyBoy, some nice looking smokes there! I've recently started briskets myself and after reading a lot of stuff on this site and others I also came across some videos from Aaron Franklin. Having had the pleasure of eating there a few years back, I checked them out.


I found them very helpful, not only for his take on things but also in combining what I learned on this site. Putting it all together has improved my smoking. Now some like Franklins and some don't, but I ate there and found it to be worthy.


There are several vids, this is a good place to start learning about the piece of meat itself and some techniques you can incorporate with those on this site.


Good luck and happy smoking!

post #10 of 17

Dannyboy l check out my article on "StickBurning 101". ( couldn't get up today ,butit's there ).


May help ...


later  . . .

post #11 of 17
post #12 of 17

Once my fire is going, I just add splits to keep my temps where I want them. You'd probably be surprised how small my fire is. I agree with you on the oak. It is definitely my favorite. I like the smell and the smooth flavor it imparts in the meat.



About to add a couple more splits. I'm smoking at about 275 degrees here.




Some red oak on standby.

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Wow thank you for the advice. I have read stick burning 101 in the past but I read it again to refresh my memory. I have watched the videos from the bbq with Franklin. It's very informative. Does he add wood that is already lit to his smoker? I've been adding small splits to the smoker but never enough at one time to make ugly smoke.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

I pre warm the wood above the firebox. When I add it to the fire it immediately catches fire.
post #15 of 17

I think your fire looks just fine.


I really dont see what the problem is


You may try starting by putting some unlit briqs in the firebox, then add a chimney of lit, then put a few splits on top of that and let it heat up that way. Let that go for a good hour or so, if you need to add more splits don't be afraid to


then you will be starting with a nice coal bed, maintain it with splits from there on out.


I find  that the easiest way to go


One thing I do see is your firegrate does not look like a lot of air gets underneath it


how is that setup? Hard to see from those pics


this is what I have, allows plenty of airflow!! Airflow under the firegrate could be causing your black smoke problem. Not really sure


Edited by ButtBurner - 8/27/14 at 4:31am
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. I'll try to find a picture of the vents. All the air intake is below the fire grate. I guess if I needed more air flow I could just open my slide out ash pan then. It only makes black smoke if I stuff too much wood in the box and the flames are hitting the top of the firebox. Here's a pic of the slide out tray.
post #17 of 17

I see


I did not know you had a tray.


To test what I am saying, you could just try cracking it open and see what that does to the fire


you need air coming from under the fire grate for the best performance

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