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Stick burning tips - smaller pits?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'd like to burn more wood and less lump. Right now I'm using chips and a few small chunks - added a few times within the first 3 hours of cooking. This method imparts plenty of smoke flavor for my taste. I'm getting a new pit soon that will be much bigger than the one I have now, but still probably on the smaller size of what one might think of as a "stick burner".

(cooking chamber is 24" diameter x 36"L)

Can anyone give me some advice on stick burning with a pit this size? I am thinking it could go something like this:

Start a FULL chimney of lump, burned to hot coals. Then dump it in the SFB, and add 2-3 sticks, each one being 8 - 10" L x 2-3" diameter. While these first 2-3 sticks are burning down to hot coals, I can pre-heat more wood on top of the firebox and then add as needed.

I know this method works on med. size smokers, but I'm not sure about smaller units. I have access to a ton of apple and oak, so I'd rather use more of that and less store-bought lump. The method I've described above is just what I've read, so I'm interested in some real life experience here...which is one of the GREAT things about this forum.

Can someone give me the rundown of how THEY would stick burn on a pit around this size, so that I make sure I'm not headed down the creosote-coated road to nasty meat.

post #2 of 19
I cook on a Chargriller. Im not sure if that is bigger or smaller than what you describe but most think of it as a charcoal smoker. but I use it as a stick burner.

The method you describe is pretty much what I do. Except i usually only add one stick at a time and from time to time add unlit coals to the fire. This way I keep steady temps, a good bed of coals, and can maintain a live fire. When I open the fire box I want to see flames. Sometimes they are very small flames but live fire delivers much cleaner smoke compared to smoldering chunks. Thats not just my opinion its a fact. take time to master the fire. The results will surprise you and all who eat your Q.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Awesome way to state that, Freak...I see exactly what you mean. Funny, I've read and heard that but it didn't "click" until just now icon_redface.gif

I can think back over the last 10 months I've been smoking now...and recall certain smokes that seemed a little "off". For some of these, I KNEW it was because I had too much fuel and was fighting the fire, rather than using it as a friend rolleyes.gif However, I still never thought in terms of what a small fire could do for me...as far as improving my Que.

I'll try and make that my goal for this weekend - to maintain a small fire.

Let me ask though, doesn't this require even a little more tending than say, the minion method using lump? I would think that w/ a horiz. offset - stick burning a small fire would take considerably more effort than the other method. Don't get me wrong...if it's worth it, it's worth it! Just posing the question. Thanks!
post #4 of 19
All of mine have been modified for stick burning. Just some baffle adjustments mainly, The Char-Griller seems to work the best with wood, I really don't see any additional tending time involved. The "New Bruanfels" silver I had worked the best with wood only as fuel and I could leave it alone for 2 hours at a time. The "Monster" uses wood only for fuel but it requires 1 full bag of charcoal to get things heated up and the logs burning, it will run 6 hours with a good base and a full load of logs. A 500,000 Btu weed burner works very well for preheating and lighting the fuel load.
post #5 of 19
Not sure if this is usefull to you, but many times when I am doing a short cook, like chicken or fish, I take wood chunks (usually apple or peach) and fill a chimney. When the chunks are burning well and the flame just starts to diminish, dump in the firebox and smoke as usuall. Add additional chunks as needed for temp.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Garlic and Geek - both great suggestions.

I'm learning some good tricks here...thanks!
post #7 of 19

Chunks and sticks

I have noticed when I add a stick or chunk to my off set I am getting a thick smoke so I am developing a damper to restrict the smoke while I vent it off until the heat comes back up and the smoke is thin and blue.
post #8 of 19
Yes, there are lots of reasons not to. Most of them revolve around the size of the firebox being too small to support a clean burning fire without the smoke chamber being too hot.

Several people do it though but as has been said -- if you want to do it, you goal is to maintain a small HOT fire, rather than a large smoldering one. If you can achieve this, you should be good. And yes, you will have to refuel more often to keep this going.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Can you elaborate on that? What do you have in mind for this kind of damper?
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Good point again...small hot fire seems to be the key. However, I don't think I'll mind the extra tending either.
post #11 of 19
Preheating the sticks eliminates this problem. I do it on my CharGriller Smokin' Pro. The unit works just fine as a stickburner, though you'll have to repaint the top of the firebox now and again.

I have the add-on warming plate, and put the sticks in the gaps between the firebox and the plate. They often get close to igniting up there! When they are starting to smolder, I put 'em in.... and then I watch for a minute or two. Most sticks work fine, but once in awhile a bad stick comes along. If it produces anything but thin blue smoke I pull it out immediately, and let it burn in my chimnea. It never goes back into the firebox.
post #12 of 19


I am placing a damper between the fire box and the cook chamber so if I get a sudden blast of dense smoke I can vent it off by opening my firebox then when it gets hot again and the wood is burning I can get back to thin and blue. I have the plan in my head and have started building. I just have to work out a few bugs.

It started like this when I bought it. Not enough heat!

I opened it up like this! (sorry I need to grind it!) Good heat lots of smoke!

This is the pattern for the damper. It will slide up and down. I am devising the catch system that will hold it in various positions. Maybe magnets.

post #13 of 19
Yes this will work for you. If you start to get some white smoke after putting wood in, open up all dampers and let the air flow increase. This will probably cause your temperature to increase for a bit, but better to have it hot for a bit than have bad smoke stuck in your smoker. Then after smoke has cleaned up you can shut down the intake dampers to bring the temp back down.

If you heat up your wood or have a hot enough fire you will not need to do this.

If you have a hinged top on you firebox, as I do, you can also just open that up till the wood catches.

Hope I made sense.

On edit- I bet 1 to 2 sticks will work better than 2-3, but you'll have to experiment to see what your smoker likes.
post #14 of 19
Here are some pics of my rig. Notice the firebox has a top and side door. I do most of my cooking in the vertical section which allows me to build a bit bigger fire than if I was using the closer horizontal section.
post #15 of 19


Here's my set-up, I pre-burn the wood(any size or type good for cooking on),then add the embers to my SFB. This has worked for me on my little NB REDRIVER and the Brinkman SnPro SFB's And as well in my Bulet water smoker(although I have sand in the water pan instead of liquid).

All works well and the size doesn't matterwink.gif Temps are a snap to maintain. Just leave the exhaust OPEN-stale smoke is terriblePDT_Armataz_01_07.gif
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 

That IS a sweet setup. I'm not sure if I have the supply of wood needed to pre-burn, but obviously that would be the way to go. I guess every time I take a trip to my folks place in Eastern Iowa, I should come home with a trunk full of wood...maybe create my own stockpile :-)

I'm also going to begin researching where to find it locally.
post #17 of 19
Well it seems there as many ways to maintain a fire as...Well what ever...

Any way what works for me might seem like too much work for another. I love tendin the fire an keepin it right. My daughter was home one day when I was cookin and said "It seems kinda tedious". I said its therapy. Im sure she doesnt understand but she do like the Q.

Find what works for you and keep on perfectin your own process. Master the fire and enjoy...
post #18 of 19

I agree

I agree.
I know many like "the Minion" I like it for overnight but when I am cookin I love to tend the fire!
post #19 of 19
If I didnt love tendin the fire.........

I would be usin electric.....

Not thats there's anything wrong with that.....
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