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Fire question

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Ok here is how i normally get started. I get lump charcoal going then put a few sticks of wood on top then let it burn down to coals, then i add another stick or two of wood. then start cooking. do you guys burn your wood down to coals then put them in the smoker or do you just throw the wood in. ? also my grill likes to stay around 235-250 is this too hot. I know 225 is what most people say.
post #2 of 6
Hi Guy - I also use lump charcoal and have tried various methods of getting my fire started. Just read a post by CinnamonKC that has a visual of his modified minion method. Take a peek and try this ...

Modified Minion Method by CinnamonKC

Not sure why you're pre-burning wood with your current method? You want to place the wood of choice on the hot coals to get the TBS started.

Depending on what you're cooking, 235-250 can be fine. If you're cooking brisket, butts, shoulders, or anything that might take some time, you'll want to maintain 225-235 temps to ensure the meat doesn't dry out.
post #3 of 6

Th answer to your question (and one you probably do not want to hear) is do what you like best. In any event, what I do is build a nice mound of charcoal (not instant light kind) and fire it up, let it burn to a nice gray, then put the chunks or logs of wood over that so they may catch on fire and begin to burn and smoke and cook the meat and make my happy and feed my folks...and, well you know the rest!

I know some folks who disdain charcoal completely and will only start a fire with wood. Ok, no worries. Others that make me grin, refute charcoal, yet will douse their wood with starter fluid and go from there. OK, go figure. Anyway...

Get your fire going and yes keep it around 225 -250 if at all possible. It is impossible (barring a high performance unit or incredible skill) to maintain this range without spikes and dips. What I mean is, that you will go higher in temp and lower intemp depending on the consumtion of the fuel (wood) you put in. For example: You're fire is chugging along, 225F, and the wood starts getting used up, the temp will begin to drop.

You put in more fuel (another stick of wood or a couple of chunks) and slowly the temp begins to rise as that wood begins to burn. Then...OH MY GAWD....the temperature is spiking! It is beyond 250F. Well, no worries, that's okay. You have just added a bunch of fuel to the fire and it has begun to burn. What you do is choke down (close off the damper) the air vent leading into your firebox and reduce the airflow to the wood. After the temperature comes down, slowly open up the damper again. It is a see-saw action essentially.

Smoking is an interactive "sport". If one does not want to monitor and participate in the process, then smoking and barbecuing is probably not for them.

Do not get discouraged and don't worry about spikes or dips. Think of averages and you will be fine! Good smokin' and don't be afraid to ask for help either.
post #4 of 6
I prefer to preburn the wood. It makes getting the tbs far easier, and with less risk. I always have a few good hot coals in a galvanized bucket beside the smoker. I try to anticipate the need for more coals/wood, and pour more lump/wood onto the hot coals. When burning good (15 min or so) I have a scoop to put them in the firebox. Works great with a SnP.

Some will complain about the galvanized, but heck, I'm not sitting with my head in the bucket. Besides, it's mostly burned out by nowPDT_Armataz_01_27.gif

Plus, with this method, spikes and dips are minimized because you control the amount of coals you add. So, the air vent stays open the same amount all the time, and if it starts cooling, add more coals.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks alot from what you said my method of smoking isn't much different from yours. I will try to get a few pics of my smoker up tomorrow (i'm not at home i'm visiting family for mothers day) Boy am i proud of it. Its a hand made vertical smoker with an offset firebox. it stands around 6 feet tall. I have had 4 racks of ribs and two boston butts in it with a little room to spare. Now if i can just get my experiance level where it should be lol. Any by the way this is the best smoking info on the web.
post #6 of 6
Good luck. We always love to see peoples toys around here.

I'll admit, my method is a bit more user intensive, but it's fun. I know some folks use a charcoal basket and swear they can get 5 to 7 hours out of a single load.
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