Be Gentile, It's My First Time

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Fire Starter
Original poster
Jul 11, 2007
Like I said, "Be Gentile It's My First Time"
because I've never posted here and never smoked anything (except cigarettes with was a BIG mistake). I'm a 62 year old Kansas rancher and I just bought a Smoky Mountain 36" vertical propane smoker because I love any kind of smoked meat. Having never smoked before, I have a ton of questions so please don't get bored with my post. I know I have to season the smoker after I get it assembled and then I am going to start with a salb or 2 of spare ribs. Here are my questions:

1. The owners manual says to use small wood chips. I bought Mesquite Large Chunks. Will they work OK and should they be wet or dry?

2. The manual says to run the smoker at 225 to 250 degrees so do I heat it up before I put the meat in or start with it cold? Should I apply any BBQ sauce or dry rub to the ribs before I start?

3. I have a remote temp gauge and the manual says to cook them up to 160 degrees. Is that about right?

4. I am going to use the 3-2-1 method I've read about here on the forum so do I put the temp probe in when I start or do I wait till I get to the last hour?

5. Does anyone use a propane smoker and if so, how many hours will a tank of propane last and shuld I run the burner valve on High, Medium, or Low?

I'm sure I will have many more questions as time goes on but this will sure help get me started. I've been reading posts here on the forum nad it is great but I can't find answers to some of my (very stupid I'm sure) questions. Any other suggestions anyone can offer about smoking would sure be appreciated. Thanks in advance to everyone.

Welcome to the forums!

I'll try to answer your questions as best I can as I'm a lowly beginner as well.

1. Chips smoke more, chunks burn longer, I hear tell of people using a combo of both to get the best of both worlds. As far as the wet/dry part goes, all wet wood really does is add water to the environment, if you have a water pan in your smoker, just keep the wood dry. Thats my humble opinion.

2. It's best to preheat your smoker and get a good smoke going before you put in the food, that gives you a chance to get the air flow perfect so you don't blast your meat with clouds of white puffy smoke. You've no doubt seen refrences to the "thin Blue Smoke" this is what you want to look for, I kinda compare it to the smoke that comes off a cigarette. I prefer to rub my ribs with a dry rub before smoking, I rub it down a minimum of 2 hours pre smoke and wrap it in plasti crap and let it sit in the fridge. I know of nobody who puts ribs on to smoke naked (no rub or sauce).

3 & 4. If you use a remote thermometer, just leave it in the meat. no sense in opening up the smoker to look at something you can check remotely eh?

5. There are tons of people around here who use GOSM gassers. I couldn't tell you how long they last cause I dont have one...yet. I just got my lil pot smoker.

6. They are not stupid questions, at the risk of sounding cliche "the only stupid question is the one not asked"

Again, welcome to the forums, ask lots of questions (no matter how stupid you think they are), post lots of pictures, and have fun!
First off Welcome to SMF, it's a great place and you'll love it here.

I have a Camp Chef Smoke Vault, very similar to your smoker.

I use chunks, wet or dry doesn't matter really.

Dry rub the ribs as mentioned, lots of good recipes on the site or make your own.

If you apply a sauce, only apply it during the last hour so the sugars in it dont burn.

If it's a remote thermomer you can put it in at the beginning. Hard to find a place with ribs though. What you will need that you dont mention is a reliable thermometer to monitor the smoker temp. the one that comes with most units isnt relaible. A lot of people here use the maverick et 73 as it has 2 probes, one for the smoker one for the meat but you can use an inexpensive oven thermometer and place it on a rack.

A tank depends on what temp you are cooking at, the wind, outside temp many other variable, i think i got 40-50 hrs ot of my last tank.
You should get about 24-36 hours out of a regular 20lb. tank depending on cook temps and ambient conditions. A spare tank is a great idea especially if you still live out on that ranch. Running out of propane is not good in the middle of a cook. I bought a 30 lb. tank and keep a 20 lb. as a spare.

You really can't get much of an accurate reading trying to probe ribs w/ a meat thermometer. 3-2-1 will get ya there and isn't a bad way to start. There are several "tests" to know when ribs are done. How the meat is pulled back from the bone, twisting the bone in the meat, picking up the slabs in the center and seeing how they hang, and looking at the exterior surface and how it reacts when you pick them up just to name a few. 3-2-1 will get you in the park and keep you safe though for now as long as your temps and times are accurate. They will actually be quite a ways past safe eating temp unless they were very big untrimmed spares and even they would most likely be fine.

Edit to add: I forgot the most important thing. Welcome to SMF MLS!!!
Welcome MLS -

You've got a nice smoker there! Ribs are a good place to start and rewarding IMHO. Gotta love ribs! Monitor the temperature of your smoker not the ribs. Ribs are one of the few things your can't really check the temperatures on very well.

Rub your ribs or just sprinkle them with salt and pepper ad add a BBQ sauce during the last stage of smoking.

During stage 3 leave the ribs alone except to spray with apple juice or whatever you choose untill the end bones start to pop out of the ribs. This takes between 2 and 3 hours depending on temperature and fat content etc.

Once you get a bit of bone showing you can move to step 2 - wrapping the ribs. Leave your ribs wrapped for about 2 hours. Some people add a bit of apple juice to the foil pouch others don't - it's up to you - I don't but I spray them with aple juice before sealing the package.

After about 2 hours you can pull the ribs out of the foil package and put them back on the grate. This is when you'll want to mop with your favorite BBQ sauce if you use one or sprinkle a bit more dry rub on the ribs. When the sauce is sticky or the ribs look like ribs do pull them off. This could be 30 minutes to an hour or more.

Good luck!
Welcome to the forum, one thing you will soon learn is a lot of this is personal perference. For an example it is my oppinion that wet chips give off a weird flavor that I do not care for. Now that is for my electric smoker, with my charcoal smokers it really does not make a difference.

If you are just starting out try a pork shoulder as they are very forgiving.
Welcome from the capital city of Topeka! I really can't add to the advice given above. You will no doubt find a ton of guidance and wisdom here.

Don't forget to mark your location on the push pin map! I think we are getting quite a few Kansans on here! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads