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Trouble with fire - may be the type of wood?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm having trouble with fires starting in my wood box when I use woods that I've collected myself from trees (as opposed to chunks or chips that I've purchased). It has happened to me twice already - once while using some small branches of hickory and yesterday when I tried to use some small branches of pecan - by small branches, I mean sticks that are maybe 6-8 inches long and maybe a half inch in diameter. Both times, I've seen smoke billowing out of my smoker and have been able to quickly pull out the wood box before it ruined the food. Both times I've just replaced the wood with chunks, which seem to do fine.

Anyway, my question may be best suited for anyone with a cookshack or another similar electric smoker. Has anybody else had this problem? In both cases, the wood was extremely dry, which I thought was a good thing to prevent creosote. Should I maybe try soaking the wood? Here is what the wood looks like...

post #2 of 9
In order to understand the problem, we need to know "what makes smoke?"

Wood is about half carbon (fuel) and the remainder is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. When wood smokes, it is expelling anything that isn't carbon. The hotter the fire, the less smoke because the waste byproduct (smoke) is consumed by evaporation.

The electric smoker's element doesn't get hot enough to ignite wood. The necesary temp is approx 800 degrees F. Therefore you are going to get nothing but smoke. Without fire to consume the carbon and some of the other particles, you will end up with lots of smoke.

Sorry for sounding all scientific on you. I just feel that if someone knows why a certain reaction occurs, they can better come up with a resolution.

I suggest you break out a pocket knife and whittle some chips or use smaller pieces or less sticks. Without a flame, your going to produce a lot of smoke.

Good luck and keep on Smokin!
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks RaceyB. I'm not the most scientific of minds, but I think I understand what you're getting at and I have possible solutions that I'll work on. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
post #4 of 9
Please follow up and let us know how you solved it. icon_question.gif
post #5 of 9
Similar to what RaceyB said, follow the old boy scout fire starting method. Use really small pieces/shavings first and slowly add slightly larger pieces to get the size fire you want. If you stack all your wood in first, and then light it you are more apt to get the creosote. Adding takes a little longer, but the results cant be beat.
post #6 of 9
[quote=tsywake;370650]follow the old boy scout fire starting method. quote]

post #7 of 9
It sounds like you need a weed burner. Jerry has one and it a cool toy. He said we could come play with it when he does his burns after hunting season.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hey guys...told some that I'd post results to figuring out this little problem. Luckily, I figured it out and had a tasty pecan smoke yesterday. Upon suggestions here, I whittled down some pieces of the wood into smaller sizes like so...

I then put a few of the chunks this size into an open piece of heavy duty foil that I had shaped like a bowl and I put the whole thing into the wood box. I'm not sure if the foil really made a difference, but...it worked! So, thanks dudes for helping out. SMF does it again.
post #9 of 9
No, that's Boy Scout Water, used to put that or Kero into Indian Pumps and soak down the bonfires before lighting them up for ceremonies.
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