Briquettes vs wood

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jun 30, 2016

I've been trying to read up on fire management here on the forums but thought it would be best to just start a new post and see if anyone could give me advice for my individual smoker.  It's a side fire box smoker my brother in law made.  I have had some good success in the summer months but have really struggled maintaining a steady temp now that the cold weather has set it in.

What i'm curious about is using briquettes vs wood splits.   Currently i have been using primarily hickory wood splits bought from my a local retail store.  Have gotten pretty good flavor but maintaining steady temps is sometimes tough.  If I were to use some briquettes would it be easier to maintain a steady temp?  Also, what's the best advice for using them.  I've seen that you just let them get a nice bed going then lay some splits on the top for smoke.  I'm just trying to find the best use of for my smoker.  Also, wouldn't mind maybe saving a little money as each bag of hickory splits is $16 and I tend to go through at least 2 bags per smoke.  Any and all advice is welcome.
I don't think your going to get the heat you need from just charcoal.

Most of us do as you said, get a good coal bed with charcoal, then switch to splits.

How thick is the steel & do you have leaks that could be sealed up?

You may just need to throw a welding blanket over the smoker to give it some insulation.

Are your temps too low or too high?

Don't seem to have any leaks.  Everytime I add a split or two the temp will spike up pretty high.  Wondering if I use coals to really get a good bed going then add splits if that may help with this problem
I have a similar problem and have resorted to using a charcoal bed; splits to get the smoker up to temp and bring a lot of initial smoke and then chunks of wood  (or a small split) occasionally to throw some more smoke on when it has been reduced to just coals. I will occasionally add some more charcoal if I need to keep the fire going for an extended period.

My offset will use half a bag of charcoal; 3 - 5 splits of hickory and then about half a bag of hickory chunks for a 6 - 7 hour smoke.

I get the splits, and chunks at Bass Pro Shop and, yes the splits cost around $16 a bag.....
I have ad a stick burner for almost a year now and there are few things along those lines i have learned.

First for starting the fire i do what a lot of people do and light some charcoal and let that light the wood.I use a charcoal basket i purchased from amazon for my firebox. i put some wood in the bottom of it and put hot coals on top then some splits on top of that.

to manage the fire i have noticed to run a smaller fire takes smaller splits. the first load of wood i bought i had to split again when i went to use the wood. so i talked to the man i bought the wood from and asked if he could split the wood to about the thickness of a coke can and the length of your forearm. He said he could but would charge me extra. i said OK and he brought me the small split like i need.(it was only $15 extra for about half a cord making it $90 for half a cord delivered and stacked, oak and hickory)

So with the charcoal basket and the small splits i can throw a couple splits on the fire every hour or so and run around 265 degrees. I generally use more wood when its colder but i keep an eye on the pit temp and put wood on when it starts to dip. i also keep an eye on the fire  and have a good idea where the dampers need to be for my pit.

find out how your pit runs at the temp you want it and adjust fuel and dampers accordingly.

here is a pic of my charcoal basket on my firebox

for more pics of my smoker (Black Betty) there is an album below

Happy Smoking,

phatbac (Aaron)
First thing is to recognize that an offset stick burner is made to cook within a range, not at an exact temp by any means. Deviations of 10-20* is normal, sometimes more. Always keep a good bed of coals throughout your cook. This is best begun with a good lump charcoal. Then use dry, seasoned splits that have been pre-heated on top of your FB. Pre-heating splits will allow them to ignite quicker and will offset temp drops when adding.

If you can hook up with a tree trimmer or landscape guy, you can get a good supply of wood to cut and split yourself. Seasoning will take 6-12 months and you will be ready to go. If you know anyone with an orchard, that's a good place to get apple, pear, cherry, etc. This will save a lot on wood cost.

Good luck and happy wood hunting, Joe is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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