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Wood Smoker How To

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Have a question on wood smokers. How does one maintain a constant temp when using wood? Im new to this, but it seems to me that one would have to keep a watchful eye and pretty much check on it more often than electric or propane? Am I wrong? Im just thinking as the wood burns down, it puts out less and less heat. I know this is the way to go for the "true smoker" so any input is appreciated.
post #2 of 15
Well my smoker is 2 foot by 7 foot (cooking area) and i have to add wood about every hour. I have only used it so far in the winter so i'm thinking that in the summer it will take less wood. Thats my experiences. I really like how easy my smoker is to run. Well thats my 2cents. Pat

Hears my smoker http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/for...ad.php?t=24258
post #3 of 15

how much wood and when?

Hey meat hunter. The answer is, one stick @ a time. HA. There is some truth to that. A rule of thumb here would be 1.5 to 2.5 hours between sticks. The big rigs can go 3 maybe 4 or more witrhout refueling.
Good Luck,

post #4 of 15
I cook over a wood fire near 98% of the time, I use a good quality starter wood...well seasoned avocado wood. Then I add a good hard dense wood olive in my case, I let it burn down almost to coals and then load again with the dense wood and let go down to a good standing coal bed. I start mine 2 hours before I put anything on the grate, bringing the grate temp above 500* in the first hour. Never checking grate temp in the first 2 hours until about 1.5 hours in....gotta let the coals simmer a bit. There after just adding sticks ...in my cooker a stick on average is misc. chunks from splitting to 12 in. by 2 in. round. The first 2 to 4 hours in my bbq stay pretty stable ...adding wood every 1.5 hours...there after it ends up every hour. My cooker does take a constant eye...but I don't have to sit on it. Hope this helps!
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
No kidding, the bigger the smoker, the longer it can go without a refil. Now I would have thought the opposite. When you say stick, is there a certain size pertaining to a stick? A rough dimension? We have a boatload of suger maple around our place. Is that a good wood to use? Maybe I should focus on a wood smoker as well this Spring.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Heres another question for you. For those of you who live in colder regions, and have the offset firebox smoker, what if any problems do you encounter during Winter months. Can you still get the temps you get in Summer in the Winter. Are your smokers insulated or double walled?
post #7 of 15
Meat Hunter My cooker is smaller than the others who have spoke up, with a 24"X40" uninsulated cook area and about a 18" firebox/woodstove and Im gettin about an hour when adding 2 pieces after the initial 1 hour warm up. I like my splits to be about as thick as a beer can and about 8" long. I have found I get better looking smoke with 1/2 splits, full splits being 16" long typicaly. It also likes to have its fuel pre-heated on top of the firebox, if it somhow has too high of water content I'll pre-heat the wood inside the fire box but not where it will catch fire. The wether is usually mild here in the northwest but it does get below freezing several times during the winter(20*and lower this year) and I can hold 500* without any problem when I clean my pit. Or smoke at 125-150*when I'm "smoking" sausage, jerky, fish. It is challenging to keep the fire small and hot in the summer, the splits will go down to 1-1 1/2" thick. I usually do low-n-slo on my webber kettle in the summer unless I want the full on smoke flavor.
post #8 of 15

meathunter ;}-

I have a rather large Smoker:

and I use pre-burned wood sticks(Sticks are usually just split wood, and can be most any size-8",12",16",and so on...) I do this in a barrel :

After pre-burning and placing into the firebox, it should look similar to this:

Doing it this way gives me very good control of my heat; when I see a change of 10*F to 15*F change of my usual 225*F, I adjust what's needed and add more embers as needed.
Pre-burning produces a better smoke (IMHO)-no crud on the meat.

As for the Maple-YES, it's a VERY good wood,sweet,mild and is great on most anything you Smoke-especially when mixed with Apple on PorkButt.
I love to cook big... parties, gatherings for family and friends or just to get out and do something to freeze for later.

Hope this helps and you join me in the Fun of Smoking(tending it is where the fun is), and isn't "FUN" and stress relief the best part of BBQing?
Have fun and SMOKE HAPPYPDT_Armataz_01_28.gif
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
bbqfans and cacus, thanks to both of you for your answers. Definitely clears up some confusion. bbqfans, about the preburning, is that a common practice? How do you do that, just let it burn for a bit then extinguish it? Thanks guys, have a good one.
post #10 of 15

Or you could

go out and buy a Guru, Stoker or other similar device to control your pit:

Stoker: http://rocksbarbque.com/
Guru: http://secure.thebbqguru.com/Product...?idCategory=26

Homemade: http://home.comcast.net/~gailymvt/scats.htm

If you got the cash the Stoker is the best of them all.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks yankeerob, very interesting. I wondered how one could control a wood smoker. Pretty cool.
post #12 of 15
I agree with everything above. I always lite mine two hours ahead to get a bed of coals. Takes a while to heat up all that metal. If I am in a hurry I use a charcoal chimney to light some chunk oak charcoal. I will make a bed with this and then my oak and hickory one stick at a time. Cold weather doesnt afect mine much but the steel is 1/4 inch. Lighter weight smokers will be affected much more. I find a good tip is too turn the fire box into the wind for better airflow. That in turn help you control the temp better. I dont have to sit on my smoker. But in needs to be checked every hour.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hey beerguy. I have read posts here about using lump coal. Where does one find that? Also, what about using oak for the coals and maybe some chunk for flavor?
post #14 of 15

Lump charcoal

You can find lump charcoal in most hardware stores. Burns hotter and faster.

post #15 of 15
I use stuff called Ozark oak. It can be found at C-stores liquer stores etc. Its about 5 bucks for a big bag. Maybe thats just weird around here though.

I always use Oak for the coal bed. Then add others to that. You could also burn whole wood in another container and just pull the coals from there to the smoker. It uses more wood but it is always thin and blue!
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