Opinions, Thoughts and Input

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by helljack6, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. helljack6

    helljack6 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I've been thinking about different ways to control how fast/slow wood chunks/chips would smolder given the use of applications. My first thought, going back to KISS, is obviously just use wood chips in a foil pack, simple and to the point. (Bear in mind I use wood chips/chunks based on what's available at the time).

    My Setup for visualization:
    Twin 55 Gal UDS built identical to exact standards
    Cowboy Lump
    Apple Chips/Chunks
    Cherry Chunks

    So here's what I know so far, limited in knowledge as I am. Out of all my cooks on my UDS, the ONLY cook that I had absolute temp control without wavering +/- a couple of degrees was my first cook. All other things considered, the only thing I did differently from the first cook up to the present was the following:

    1. Used Kingsford Original Charcoal
    2. Used Wood Chunks v. wood chips
    3. Put the wood Chunks more towards the outside edge of the basket

    Since this cook, I've varied between charcoal and lump and chunks strategically placed, and wood chips just scattered aimlessly all over the fuel basket.

    Now, since we know that if you double wrap wood chips in foil and set them on heat, they smolder nicely. Can the same ideology be applied to wood chunks? Can you in fact wrap wood chunks in foil, get the same amount of smoke produced and further extend the life of your wood chunks?

    Placement seems to play a pretty huge role in the whole production of smoke. I read from many who partake in this ritual that for the most part, they just "toss a few chunks on the fire" or some variation of that statement. I even read on one website that the wood chips were placed in a pile BELOW the heat source and the falling ash is what produced the smoke. Is there in fact, a right way or a wrong way to add wood to your fuel to extract that mysterious thin blue smoke?

    Just thought I'd throw this out and see what everyone thinks.
  2. Just a thought ( I have not tested this). Why not (to start off the cook) burn some lump down until it is about ready to be replaced (20 - 30 minutes prior) and then throw on the meat and add the wood chucks. Temps will be up and the chunks should burn at a much slower rate. Then double foil wrap some soaked wood chunks for the rest of the time. If you try it let me know. I'll try it next weekend on my next smoke.
  3. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like we need comments for our resident UDS experts. I would think that with wood chips in a foil pouch you would have more surface edges that would be able to smolder vs. the relatively fewer surface edges of the wood chunks.
  4. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    After several smokes of pork butts, ribs, briskets, etc. (if that's what we are talking about), I've had good luck by loading chunks....always chunks.... of whatever wood I'm using on and around the top of the charcoal, then dumping my full chimney on top of those. It doesn't take long for the charcoal in the basket to start going and shortly after that, the chips smoking. I like allow 10 to 15 minutes lag time after I dump in the lit coals as it takes a bit for the drum to warm and stabilize. If it starts to smoke then....fine....or later, also fine. It's not rocket surgery. Where I put them, they are going to start smoking shortly after the meat goes on, if not before.

    Also, most of the benefit of the smoke, in my opinion, comes in the first couple hours. After that, what goes on in there is mostly cooking. I'm leaning towards heavier smoke up front and not much at all later on. Lots of times, too much smoke is worse than too little.

    Smoking sausage or something.....cold or hot.....at much lower temps would be a different breed of cat.
  5. herkysprings

    herkysprings Smoking Fanatic

    I've noticed a lot of white smoke when I:

    1) Mix wood chunks in with the charcoal in my WSM
    2) Drop the lit chimney on the charcoal, and assemble WSM with Meat.

    I get a lot of white smoke (20-30 minutes or more) then TBS for another hour or so. Everyone says my flavour is good, but I've got too much white smoke for my taste.

    Would it help to assemble the WSM without the meat, get it to temp, then drop in meat / wood chunks?
  6. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I guess the only wrong way would be if it never smoked at all. Any time you get good smoke, I'd guess you did it right.[​IMG]

    What he said.[​IMG]

    One of the things about the UDS is you don't have that much exact control over smoke production or timing because a UDS is a little different in that you build your fuel/wood load, light it and whatever happens happens. You can influence it to some degree by where you place the chunks. Some people bury the chunks in the charcoal so that they will burn later in the cook. After trying it a few different ways, I have ended up placing them at the outside edge of the charcoal basket. At the end of the cook, anywhere from 6 to 9 to 16 hours if its a big brisket, I usually have well charred but not completely burned chunks which tells me that they were active throughout the smoke. My nose tells me when they start smoking which is usually within 15 or 20 minutes or so of dumping the lit charcoal in the center of the unlit pile. I like to give my drum plenty of time to warm up and stabilize (sometimes 30 to 45 minutes) so the timing works for me.

    The UDS is kind of like a parachute. You pack it carefully, jump, pull the cord and hope for the best. There is not a lot of opportunity mid-cook to make adjustments to the fire. Oh, it can be done but it is kind of a pain to unload the meat and mess with the charcoal basket. And usually if you give your drum that much excess air after its lit you'll never get the temp under control again.

    One thing I have learned after having smoked for awhile is that the meat really doesn't care if the smoker temp is dead on 237.5° for the duration of the smoke or not. My smokes are a lot more relaxing when I don't fight the smoker. If it wants to run at 240° great. If it wants to creep up to 260° or even 270° it really doesn't matter that much because I am cooking to a certain finish meat temp anyway and even 270° is considered a pretty low cooking/roasting temp.

    Same thing with smoke production. Now with the SnP, I can make adjustments all smoke long to keep the smoke going just how I like it. But in the UDS, I just load it up and let 'er cruise. I've cooked chicken and tri tips on it with no smokewood -- just charcoal and the flavor is still incredible. So when I do use smokewood, I really don't worry too much about what the exact start and stop times of smoke production are.


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