Adding a gas burner to the Firebox

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Original poster
Jan 6, 2011
Jacksonville, FL
I am in the process of designing and building my first reverse flow smoker and am thinking of adding a gas burner to the firebox to aid in start up and a more even temp towards the end of the smoke. Any suggestions for accomplishing this? I am planning on having the propane bottle affixed to the trailer front with a gas line and regulator running back to the firebox. Just not sure how to tap into the firebox and what type of burner to use.
Well, I have decided to scrap the burner inside the firebox and use a weed burner instead. Simplicity in design.

I am planning on doing the same thing and my search has been very long to find the right thing. I currently use a weedburner to get the wood started. It works out fine and I will continue until I get my next build done. I am wanting to do a RF 500 gallon unit.

What I want mine to do is...... light off the firebox when it is starting off. Once it is up and going shut off the propane. When the wood has smoked for many hours and dies off.... then turn the gas back on and keep the temps constant?

I have been looking at pipe burners. Pretty simple designs but I have not built one yet to test it out. I am currently experimenting on my smaller smoker trailer as to what to do and not to do.

More to follow as things happen... unless I blow up?
I have thought about a burner as well but when that is sitting in a hot pile of coals I dont see that working out very well. Only thing I can think of that will work is a pipe burner. Like this...

It would keep temps constant but has more uses than just that. My biggest issue is if it is covered in coals and ashes that if I am going to have any problems with that
You lost me there bapos, if you are wanting to build a 500 gallon reverse flow smoker why would you have coals and ashes in the cooking chamber? 

You said after the wood burns out the propane would be used to keep temps constant, what I'm saying is put the pipe burner in the cooking chamber under the plate the directs the heat from the fire box to the opposite end of the smoker, what other uses would it have?

I started R&D on my smoker with the intent of placing a burner in the pirebox and came to the conclusion after speaking to a fella who did that it was more trouble than it was worth. Now His suggestion was the same one suggested by Just passing through was to run a a pipe burner in right under the reverse flow plate. He plans to make his plate a big tray to hold water. When the burners are fired up then the heat is transferd through steam.   This flaw in this design is the lack of smoke once the wood is discontinued and the gas started.

Depending on your outlook and many folks feeling that meat only takes smoke to a certain point this may not be a flaw.

The above will be used on my new build but in no way is my orignal idea.
I would not put one in the cooking chamger as it would not do any good to use as a wood starter but if your piped for gas you can start with a weed burner. I cant help but think  the ash and heaps of red hot coals would have to affect the piper burner to some degree over time? I know clogging is one issue. 

After reading about the burner on the plate... seems like a good idea. I will have to ponder on that one. I am not an authority by any means but one would think that after smoking so much time that there would not be anymore smoke to get in the meat (kind of like searing a steak) and it is just using the heat to finish it off any the end? Not sure what others thoughts are on that. I would like to know. I am sure since people cook different meats all on the same pit they want that flavoring to get to all over differen periods of time.

One alternative to the burner in the fire box would be section to a small part of the fire box so no wood could over flow in to there and have the same path opening up to the baffle that leads in to the entry of the cooking chamber? Not sure if that sounds right on print Ill see if i can draw something up to illustrate?

Good ideas guys keep them coming.

These are just my thoughts, but if I were to build a reverse flow smoker I would install a pipe burner in the cooking chamber to keep temps constant, if needed, or if I needed to bring the cooking chamber up to smoking temps quickly, say just after loading it to the gills and use my firebox for my primary heat source and smoke flavor.  If I were to use propane to start my wood in the fire box I would tee of the the pipe burner supply and install a valve and a orifice, similar to your weed burner, on the side of the fire box with the flame blowing down on the wood for ignition, I doubt there would be any problem of clogging from ashes in this position.

Like I said, that is just my idea on building one, yours may be different.


I am liking the ideas. Its given me food for thought for sure. I am a little torn on the internal piper burner but you can try it one was and see how it works. I think the add or removal wont take a lot of effort with the right tools to weld and cut.

Any thoughts on how big of a pipe to use ot how many BTUs? There are a lot smarter people on here than myself so sometimes I have to rely on them for some things. I am always of the mindset that bigger is better cause you can always turn it down?

Good ideas and thank you for adding.


Like I already said, a pipe burner in the cooking compartment IMHO could only be beneficial, for example, if you were to load 15-20 butts in that were less than 40° that is a lot of cold mass, I would think, from my experience with my WSM, that the temps would drop dramatically, I don't know I've never used a stick burner, but a couple of cold 15 lbs chucks in my WSM causes the temps to fall, then again maybe the heat in the smoker walls is enough to counteract the cold mass of meat, ...I'm just 'supposing' here.

As for the pipe burner itself you need to google the "Weld Talk Message Board," after you are there type in "pipe burner" in the search function and then the first choice should be a thread started by "boykjo," he has all the info and a step by step as to how to build a pipe burner.  (Sorry I don't know how to post a link)

When I was in the states I worked in a machine shop that built furnaces, furnaces for cremating, burning garbage and foundries, most of the time the orifice was just the end of the pipe, were talking temps of 2800°-3400°, for you fire box igniter you could drill a hole in the side of the firebox and weld in a 1/4" nipple with a brass cap and drill a 1/32" hole in it, if that is too small just enlarge the hole a little bit.

I forgot to say that the pipe burner on the welding forum is for a smoker, there are a couple of them there.

2nd edit:  I just dropped in the the welding forum, been a long time, there are a lot more posts, they got Q-view and SWQIB is even there, he built a pipe burner for his smoker!

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I have been looking into a gas assist for my reverse flow I am building. And  I found a guy online that had a pipe burner under his rf plate and he had a propane leak and when the gas ignited in the chamber the tank blew up like a bomb.  Aparantly he nearly died and he's a cripple today.  So Im a little leery about the propane in the cook chamber, however this doesn't mean Im giving up there has to be a safe way of doing this. So if the burner did go out or there was a leak propane gas would not fill up the cook chamber. This is what I have come up with but I think I would need a really big burner and Im still not sure if it would work, Look at the pic what do you think? would it work? Do you think this would make the cooker rust out from the inside, If so what if you just ran the burner after you were done cooking the meat to try and evaporate any left over moisture. If the water being heated would rust out the inside of the cooker, what if you just ran the burner for heat and didnt simmer any solution do you think it would have enought heat to keep it at 200 deg?

The only safe way I have found so far is to use a afterburner setup and somehow split your firebox, wood on one side and burner on the other.not what I wanted to do but if you have some sort of pilot light and control valve you should be completely safe. just my 2 cents
w WWvfbjksdfl;vnWow alelover, that burner is intense what is that from.  I thought of another design I want to know what everyone thinks about this do you think it would heat the cook chamer adequatly? check it out below.
I've been researching how to build a furnace for melting brass. That's one of the burner designs I came across.  I have a bag full of brass scrap from when I was a machinist that is about 10% pure platinum mixed in. I want to melt the brass so I can retrieve the Platinum. I figure I got about 2 oz. of pure platinum in there. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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