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Adding Charcoal in the Wood Pan

tuntrep

Newbie
3
10
Joined Dec 28, 2012
As for the actual smoke from the charcoal, I find it's best to get the coals heated up (if not burning) before adding any meat to the smoke chamber. Cold briquettes give off a very strong (and rather foul, IMO) smoke when they first get hot. Once that initial smoke has passed, you're good to go. I don't like to add cold briqs to the fire box in a charcoal smoker for this same reason. I get them at least to a partial burn in the chimney first, and this releases that initial smoke pretty well.

Eric
I wonder if someone would comment on what Eric said as it relates to using the Minion method.  With this method the fire is constantly igniting new charcoal as the meat is cooking/smoking.  

Doug
 
16
10
Joined Nov 10, 2011
I agree that cold brickettes add a petroleum odor and taste to your meat as they light, this is due to the binders that are used in making the brickette ( that's my opinion ) but you must agree that when someone lights a charcoal grill down the street you can smell it a 1/2 block away!

Why not try the same method with natural lump charcoal, start your coals in a chimmney then add natural lump in the same fashion as above, you will get smoke,but it's going to be from the hardwood and not the binder of the brickette, and the hardwood charcoal will burn hotter & cleaner!  I'm just say'n
 

forluvofsmoke

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
5,173
405
Joined Aug 27, 2008
As for the actual smoke from the charcoal, I find it's best to get the coals heated up (if not burning) before adding any meat to the smoke chamber. Cold briquettes give off a very strong (and rather foul, IMO) smoke when they first get hot. Once that initial smoke has passed, you're good to go. I don't like to add cold briqs to the fire box in a charcoal smoker for this same reason. I get them at least to a partial burn in the chimney first, and this releases that initial smoke pretty well.

Eric
I wonder if someone would comment on what Eric said as it relates to using the Minion method.  With this method the fire is constantly igniting new charcoal as the meat is cooking/smoking.  

Doug
Interesting observation, and deserving explanation, as well. While I was never very successful using the minion method, not due to using proper methods/technique, but due to not having air-tight construction of the fire box in my Snp horizontal, or Gourmet vertical, which would allow for optimum control of the burn rate, the few times I did attempt minion, I noticed an off odor and taste in the meat. I assumed it was from the constant ignition of cold charcoal briquettes, and when compared to smoking with a charcoal fire which I have added hot/burning coals to periodically, that off flavor and aroma disappeared.

For some (or many) who are successful with firing a smoker using the minion method, this odor and flavor may go unnoticed, as that's the method they have use for a long time, and it could just seem to be part of the normal flavor/aroma of the food when smoked. Or, a more likely probability, their method for assembly/building the fuel base and addition of burning coals to begin the minion may be so well orchestrated and developed for that particular smoker that the fire produced is very hot, but small enough to properly maintain chamber temps. In turn, this small and hot fire may be igniting the vapors/smoke from the nearby charcoal as it begins to heat up and burn, causing it's negative effect on flavor and aroma of the food to become so minimal that it isn't noticed at all. With the minion method, the fire is very close to unburned fuel, so the radiant heat from the fire will begin heating the fuel, and the close proximity of the fire to this fuel could engulf the fumes from the fuel and ignite them before they rise up high enough from the source to escape into the smoke chamber. Basically, the fumes are heated hot enough to transition from a visible smoke with an off-odor and taste though a chemical reaction similar to that which occurs with unburned fuel in your car's exhaust with a catalytic converter on your car's exhaust system...it reaches very high temperatures during normal operation, and in doing so, can convert certain toxins and unburned fuel vapors into something less harmful.

On the flip side, with charcoal added to propane or electric smokers in the location where smoke wood would be be used, the fuel (and smoke wood) is at a much greater distance from the heat/ignition source, so any fumes/smoke from the charcoal (or smoke wood) won't become ignited and burned nearly as easily, and will travel up into the smoke chamber in a more intact state, rather than becoming partially or fully burned before reaching that point.

So, how can smoke wood chunks added to a charcoal fire produce smoke, if this theory is correct? I place my smoke wood near the fire, not in it, as it will smoke more and last far longer than if added directly into the fuel-base or fire. If the smoke wood catches flame, it's done smoking shortly thereafter...just makes sense to me. With smoke woods added to the fuel base for minion method, how much do you add to get an acceptable amount of smoke to the food and dispersed throughout the fuel base in a significant amount to provide a relatively steady smoke for the intended duration? Probably 5-10 times more than if placed near the fire instead of in it.

Some questions to ponder...I don't have all the answers, only a few theories, based on personal experience and some thought on the subject. There is the seemingly never-ending list of variables which come into the equation as well, from ambient relative humidity and temp to burn temp of a particular species of hardwood lump vs a particular brand of charcoal briquette, not to mention the individual smoker and how the user set up the fire-base and controls the burn rate, smoker mods, etc, etc. Speaking of burn temps, those who have used both hardwood lump and briquettes know that lump burns hotter (much hotter), and this fact alone can give even better results with minion, I would imagine (just don't let that small, hot fire get out of hand with lump, or you won't cool it down easily). I never tried minion with lump, only briquette, but I now find myself wondering if that one factor could have given me far better results with fire control using the minion method, and, less off-odor/taste...I'm almost convinced now that it would have...hot enough fire to kill any off odors, which would be minimal anyway due to using charred wood instead of charred wood blended with charred coal, and held together with some obscure process involving chemicals, heat and water vapor...YUCK!!!

Anyway, hope that makes sense...
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On a side note, in my younger years, fresh out of high school, I worked in the packaging dept at a charcoal briquette plant...mined our own coal, blended in hardwoods shipped in from back east...the whole nine yards. Care to guess how many brands of charcoal briquettes we packaged, all from the same batch runs of charred coal/hard wood back then? 99, in 5, 10 and 20lb bags (didn't have 6s or 8s, or, match-light in those days), including generic, store brands, and the commercially used 40lb bags for restaruants, along with the widely known brands such as Kingsford and Royal Oak...yes, 99...I read our packing bag list one day when the shift foreman forgot it hanging on the wall next to the switch-gear room...blew my mind, especially when I realized that not all brands came with the same price tag. That was back in 1982, and since then, different drum presses were used to get the "K" on the front and "slash" on the back of a Kingsford briquette, and a few other variations for other brands available now, but other than that...well, I think I know what you're thinking...same basic thing, at least back then, with a different colored bag over it...one of the few exceptions to the rule "you get what you pay for". Now, sure, there are claims from some brands having a "natural" briquette, or whatever, and some may have theirs produced to certain proprietary standards while others use the same old processes and ingredients/materials that have been around since the briquette was invented...I guess it's up to us to decide what we want and what we're willing to pay to get it, after we find out what it is we're actually buying. Do compare your brands, though...you may be surprised what you find in the actual product, compared to something costing twice as much.
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Eric
 

aland

Fire Starter
54
10
Joined Oct 25, 2011
Hi Tony, I've been checking out MojoBricks site and I'm curious, looks like the minicubes  for grilling are $4.99 for 8oz. They say get the 2lb and save $3.00. Guess  the 2lb would be $20-$3= $17? There's not too much info on their site. How hard are they on the shipping? Might be costly shipping to western OK. Anyway, I am real curious about these cos I grill more than smoke lately. I have  the 6"x8" AMAZN pellet(and dust) smoker and the 18" tube smoker(which works well in the grill), but how long do the mini cubes burn or the larger cubes for low and slow smokes? Any info would be appreciated. And what kind of quantities do y'all buy for competition, if you don't mind me asking? You can e-mail me at: [email protected]

Thank you,

Alan D Hawkins(aland)
 
16
10
Joined Nov 10, 2011
Alan, if you go to the mojobrick web site they are doing a promotional right now 50% off your order and free shipping, I live in Little Rock, Arkansas and normal shipping is around $11.00  for competition I use the MoJoBrick which is the size of a brick and lasts up to 3-4 hrs, I have used the mini cubes and they will burn for about 30-45 minutes, keep in mind these produce clean smoke and not so much heat. I would reccomend calling Fred Grosse (president of MoJo BricksFire ) @ 773-398-1992 Tell him that Tony Lord / Panther Mountain from Little Rock AR said to call and he will awnser any questions you may have, As for the promo they are running, I would take advantage of it quickly as 50% off your purchase and free shipping is outstanding for this fine product, hope tis is helpfull
 
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