Question about use of wood for smoking

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by jeremymillrood, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    When I first started smoking, I was using mostly lump charcoal and now I have switched to using primarily oak.  For you guys that are using just wood to smoke with, how do you keep from oversmoking the meat?  Obviously when adding more wood to your fire, it has a tendency to smoke up.  This became really apparent when I did my last brisket a couple of weeks ago.  Felt it was too smokey.  Typically I open the firebox all the way and crack the door to my smoke chamber until it is fully burning.  Is there something else I should be doing?  Thanks.
     
  2. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Most smaller smokers are not designed to be stick burners.

    You could try pre burning your wood before adding it to the smoker.  That helps get rid of the billowing white smoke.

    Good luck, and good smoking!
     
  3. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    wanted to follow back up on this thread.  I know this is by no means the largest smoker, but I think it should be big enough to burn straight wood..That said, why couldn't you burn straight wood in a smaller smoker if you wanted too??

    About a week or two back I did an experiment by using just lump charcoal along with some Kingsford briquettes..Up to this point I had been using primarily cut up oak. my maverick wireless said the smoke chamber temp was running between 225 and 250, usually right around the 225 mark.  really never got up much passed that.  I'm betting that if I switched back to straight wood I could get the temps up a little higher.
     
  4. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    If you are using an off-set smoker there is nothing wrong with using both charcoal and small, dry splits as a source of fuel.  If you have to much smoke taste and not the nasty, sour creosote taste the problem may be that the food is in the smoke for to long a period of time for your tastes.

    If you continually have thick white smoke coming out of your smoker you have a problem with the draft and/or the fuel you are using.  Make sure your splits are DRY.  Dry splits do not burn with thick white smoke for any length of time.  I like to use smaller splits and tend to add small amounts of fuel at a time, from the damper side of my firebox.  The heat in the firebox gets the new splits burning quickly and moves any initial white smoke through the smoke chamber quickly.  You can stack your splits on top of your firebox to let them warm up a bit and dry up any external moisture.

    Make sure the meat you start with is dry.  Wet meat acts like a sponge to absorb smoke and can come out greasy.

    Don't be afraid to pull the meat out of the smoker and place in the oven to finish cooking. 

    I do any number of things to moderate smoke chamber temps.  Small off-sets are a pain in the neck for temperature regulation but a little bit of effort on your part produces some great meals.   

    Hope this help,  sometimes it just takes practice.
     
  5. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I assume your smoker is the one shown in your avatar picture? If so it isn't really designed for doing just wood..... unless you pre-burn the wood as Venture mentioned. A small home smoker usually does not have enough internal cubic footage and the straight wood smoke ends up being concentrated in a relatively small space - even with all your vents 100% open for max air flow.

    Pre-burning is usually accomplished in a small firepit or burn barrel. Basically you light a fire and burn the wood down to coals (lit charcoal) then transfer them to your smoker, repeat as needed for the length of your smoke. This way all the volatiles in the wood that create the white billowy smoke have a chance to burn off before it is put into your smoker. If you have a large wood supply and a place to do this it can be a great way to fuel you smoker on the cheap, if not then just buy lump charcoal and call it good.
     
  6. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    Thanks, I had been using dry oak splits, but maybe not dry enough.  Good suggestion about sitting them on top of the fire box..I'll definitely try adding the wood through the damper the next  time.  Still getting used to this smoker, there are a couple of tweaks I'd like to make with the design and I may carry it back to the guy who built it to do a couple of mods..
    That's is my old smoker, this is the one I have now.

    [​IMG]

    There is a decent amount of space in there, but you may be right it might not be enough to keep the smoke from concentrating.  I'd thought about doing the pre-burn thing but it just seems to be too much of a hassle.  The lump charcoal I've been using seems to burn up so fast, maybe I need to switch to a different kind.  Like the Green Egg brand or something.  better yet, maybe I'll just get myself a bigger horizontal smoker...now there's a thought.
     
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  7. smokebuzz

    smokebuzz Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You should be fine with staight wood with your smoker. I burn wood in my WSM with out any issues, just cut the wood smaller or burn them in half.
     
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would use some expaned metal and make yourself a raised charcoal basket no matter what fuel you decide to use. That way as your fuel burns the ash can fall out the bottom and not smother your fire - which will also help it burn cleaner with less smoke.

    I would build this basket with some feet on it to stand it up off the bottom of your firebox by about 3-4 inches: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/forum/thread/89796/i-call-it-the-20-20-charcoal-basket  

    For feet you could take some 1/4-20 or 3/8-16 bolts and some washers and nuts to make adjustable height legs. You put one nut and a washer on the bolt about 1" from the end, then put the bolt under the basket with the head of the bolt on the ground. Put on the other washer and the other nut from the inside of the basket, creating a sandwich of nut/washer/basket metal/washer/nut. Run the threads up and down as needed to level the basket and then tighten it all down - lock washers would work best.

    You will get much better airflow through your firebox and it will only cost you about $25 bucks to make.
     
  9. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Good comments JRodriguez

    Definitely need some air space under your fuel.  Increase temperature and improves draft.
     
  10. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    Appreciate all of the input.  I have a grate(not shown in the pic) that sits on the bottom of the box, it has angle iron legs. Thinking it might not be quite high enough off the bottom. I'll snap a pic this weekend.  Oh and thanks for the link JL, I'll be making a trip to Home Depot this weekend..That basket looks to be exactly what I need.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  11. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Personally I would try a raised grate and smaller wood splits. The down side is you will need to add wood more often since you are using the smaller splits.
     
  12. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    Thanks Piney, I have a grate, it's just not cutting it..I think it's sitting to close to the bottom of the fire box which is causing the fire to get smothered out once the ash builds up..You're right though, I may have to go down in size with the splits I'm using.  Currently they're anywhere from 12 to 16 inches long and various diameter.  I'll take a pic of what I've been burning this weekend.
     
  13. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    ok, just made a trip to Home Depot to get the material to build the basket per eaglewing's thread..I have my weekend project now!!
     
  14. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    Built the charcoal basket..Here is a pick of my smoker with the grate I got with it and then with the basket in there. I could have made the bends a little better, but it should get the job done.. Still think I need to raise it up a little to get it closer to the damper. 

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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  15. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Build the little feet I mentioned in my first post, using some 4" long bolts, washers, and nuts. Then you can adjust the height to whatever works for you.
     
  16. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    I got the bolts and washers for the feet, but what I may try first is some pieces of brick to lift the grate up off the bottom.  I think that might do the trick.
     
  17. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I would probably be careful about going outside in the garden and digging up your wife's garden boarder.  Not only will you  hear it from her but I would think that standard brick laying around outside has a lot of moisture in it.  Keep the firebox door closed because you may have some snap, crackle and pop from the brick.  Maybe a piece of new firebrick will work for you. you'll probably be ok but the firebox does get hot.

    Al 
     
  18. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    I'm going to give this set up a try for my next smoke.the pavers give me enough clearance to get my shovel in there so I can clear out the ash if I have to.  Also did a bead of the high temp RTV around the door to help keep the heat in..we'll see how it works.

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  19. jeremymillrood

    jeremymillrood Smoke Blower

    lol..I definitely didn't dig up the garden border. Picked up some new from the local hardware store..I'll check around for the fire brick..do they have that at Lowes?
     
     
  20. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great thread and a lot of good ideals...Thanks to everone, I have enjoyed the thread....and all the ideals. I'm looking to build a new smoker soon and keep everones ideals in mind when thinking about what I want and what I need from my new smoker. Shoneyboy
     

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