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Wood Smoking

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I hope I am not starting a previously discussed topic, but I have been thinking about smoking with hickory/oak logs. I own a chargriller duo with the side firebox and as far as I understand I can burn wood in it.

What are the main advantages of burning wood over burning charcoal. Is there a difference in flavor between using charcoal with hickory chunks or just using hickory logs?
post #2 of 5
Depending upon your source burning wood is much cheaper over the long haul. Reason being is it burns hotter and longer in most cases than charcoal or even lump.
Don't know that you will notice much difference in burning chunks over wood flavor wise. Smoke is smoke in most cases. Although I will say hickory is a rather strong smoke flavor and smoking in a all hickory fire over a long smoke might be a little much. You may want to find a more nuetral wood to use as your main fuel. Red oak is perfect for this is you can find it.
I use a combination of wood/charcoal/lump. I start with a chimney full of Kingsford. Dump that into the firebasket. Then I lay 3 to 4 good sticks of red oak on top of that (hard to find hickory in this part of the country but red oak is everywhere) Once they are burning good I add another 4 pieces or so and let that burn down to coals. Now you will have a good coal base to work with. This is usually enough to run my smoker for a couple of hours depending upon ambient temp. Then as I need a little more heat I will add a handfull or two of Royal Oak lump.
If I want more smoke flavor I will add another stick of oak or apple, cherry etc.

It like anything else to do with this hobby it is a learn as you go trial and error. Everyones smoker is different and acts differently. Always many different variables to deal with. Hope this helps.
post #3 of 5


There is a world of difference in flavor.
First , you get on :yucky" petroleum flavor". then there's the"see,I'm a pro. I don't need no stinking charcoal,syndrome" and the charred wood you get from the stores is usually dust by the time you get it.
The wood you burn can ce gotten free... just be sure it is cured and weighs a little heavier than it looks.
Different woods give diferent subtle flavors...i.e.
Cherry goes well with pork(esoecially Ribs)
Oak and hickory are good for Beef. Apple is good for most anythine .
Try using different wood mixtures and find one you like.
Here's a good guide to get you going on burning wood in any unit:
Remember, small hot fires are easier to control:

Fire Control in the Offset Firebox Smoker

As a stick burner, I tend to have more hands on during my smoke sessions than the Electric, Gas or Pellet Smokers. But ,then that’s what I enjoy. The involvement in feeding the fire, controlling combustion, and just being close to my Pit. Conversation and friendships flourish in this environment; beer(or other drinks) are definitely in order, as are the snacks you will be creating as you monitor the progress.
And , the result of “showmanship” ensures only YOU are the GO-TO GUY for BBQ in your neighborhood.LOL!

O.K. Say you want to go with just wood. What is first?
Build a fire, be it with a chimney, gas support(weed burner), or the old Boy Scout way.
Let this fire burn until you have a good bed of embers(1 hr. or so). Next, adjust the intake to the temp . you want(your exhaust should be wide open and left that way the entire cook).Do the adjustments slowly and wait between moves.It takes a few to do it.Drink something.
(firewood. Should be about one year old, have no mold or bugs on it, and split to a size your smoker can handle.)

Size of your wood is a factor in maintenance of a fire.
In a smoker the size of “FLO”-(20”X40” with an upright) SFB I can use 16” sticks, split twice or appox. 4”X4”.

however in my New Braunsfeld-(16”X30”)SFB

I use 8” sticks , about 2”X2” in size.

What does this do for me?
I use a thermometer at the grate level of the smoke chamber and one in the thickest part of the meat I am smoking. This gives me a visual of what’s happening, tracking both the IMT(internal meat temp.) and the cooking level temp.
I try to keep the cooking temp. at 220*F to 225*F-giving me a window to work with when things start to change.
I watch for a 5*F to 10*F changes on the grate level therm. When I notice it going down, I add a piece of wood and open the intake just a wee bit, watch and shut it back down when stable. When it increases in temp., I’ll close it down, in increments, until stability occurs .This change can happen quick so be aware. If it gets out of hand you could be fighting an hour to stabilize it…
It takes a little more effort this way , but you will notice a great difference in the taste of your “Q”. I know circumstances call for alternate methods and different strokes for different people, but as for me……………………….
Hope this helps,
Keep the Smoke Blue and Light.
Stan aka Old School
post #4 of 5
thanks guys for this post and replys. i have a sfb new braunsfel that i have been burning charcoal in. this spring i want to start using a mix of coal and wood and eventualy using all wood. i am thinking about building me a burn barrell to keep ready hot coals. yawl just answerd about every question i had about the process.
thanks again from ga.
good smok'n
post #5 of 5
I am in the process now of making a burn barrel. I have a snp as my smoker. The construction of these are not as heavy duty as say a Lang or some of the other pro types that were designed as stick burners. I think a burn barrel will add a good deal of life to my firebox on my snp.
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