Burn Barrel for "True" Wood Smoking!

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jul 3, 2005
Stuart and Palm Beach, Florida
Basically, you get your wood logs burning above the grate. As the wood turns to large ember chunks, it falls thru the rebar grate. I set mine up right next to my Firebox - so as heat is needed, I simply scoop it up with a flat shovel and add to my firebox!

This is "True" wood smoking! No adding of any other wood is necessary, as this method provides the best "Thin Blue Smoke" you'll ever use. If you truly enjoy tending a fire.....you'll love this! It is labor intensive, and requires attention (not for the "Set and Forget" crowd) but the end results are phenomenal!

Here is what mine looks like!



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Thats the way I saw it done when I lived in Fla.The guys I worked with would smoke whole wild hogs using your method,and it was some of the best pork Ive eaten.We would start about dark and tend the fire all night basting often with a kitchen mop.By the next morning what you had was truely wonderful,the meat could simply be pulled off with your fingers.I guess thats why they call it a pig picking.They always used oak as there was plenty of it in that area of Fla.
I understand with this method is adding heat when needed. Do you ever add flavored wood (misquite, hickory, apple, ect.) for flavor or is that added initially, and then when its burned off, thats all the flavor you will need?
The main wood I burn is Oak. You can use whatever combination you see fit. The beauty of this method is that no splits or additional wood is added during the cooking process. It is also the "cleanest" method of smoking, in that the combustion process has already taken place therefore there are no Phenols or Creasote involved.

I always use the Barrel when doing an "All Nighter". I start burning the Hardwood down around 9 PM or so, by Midnight when the Meat is ready for the racks, I have a good bed of real wood embers in the Firebox and a perfect temp of 220*. From there, I just add log or two to the barrel during the night (as the old ones burn down and fall thru) so I have a constant supply of red hot embers and smoke! It also gives you a nice Fire to sit around during the night while tending the Smoker!

yo boss jeff
i read this post thursday.
i had dreams of the barrel last night.

this is funny because i use a electric smoker.

i would luv to see one work.

Well, as they say, "The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways". After 3 Hurricanes in 13 Months, available wood abounds here in South Florida! Out of disaster, some goods things come!

i like the idea, but i was wondering if i burnt a couple bushels of wood just til it fell thru the grates then wet the large coals to put out the fire, spread out the coals to dry, wouldn't they be pretty close to charcoal, I want lump charcoal to use but do not want to go thru all the time making it.

In theory, yes, however the manufacturing process of lump charcoal is a little different.

Using my Burn Barrel technique is mainly for those with "Stick Burning" Smokers who want to experience true wood smoking. I highly recommend other Brothers on this site to give it a try........they'll be hard pressed to go back to charcoal and log splits!!!

We've used the method of pre-burning the wood in a camp fire when out at the deer camp with much success... At home I use the bottom of an old weber kettle sitting on old wire milk crates to burn down mesquite and then use a small shovel to transfer the coals into the bottom of my ugly barrel pit to cook brisket and such directly over coals... The taste is outstanding!

Here is a pic...

OK, so that ain't mesquite in the burn pit this time, but you get the idea...

Dang Jeff that looks almost as red neck and my cold smoker! It's great to see you back around I almost called you to make sure you were still alive. I'm in the middle of a all nighter right now and you just put some more ideas in my head.
Nice to see you back.
New to the forum.... Been thinking of trying this, now ,(after reading this post) I'm gonna do it. Got quite a few burn barrels around my place.
Jeff, what's the size of your burn barrel? Looks like a 50 gal., it's hard to tell in the pic's. Also, what size firebox are you feeding?

I have a Char Griller with a fire box about the size of a 5+ gallon can. I think a 50 gal. drum would be overkill for me. I'm thinkin aroung the size of a 16 gal. keg (drum) would probably work ok.

jeff, how do you get the wood started afire? i am about ready to build a burn barrel (supposed to get a barrel at work this weekend).
Chris, I went ahead and made one out of a 16 gal. barrel and it lit just fine by sticking newspaper under the grate and igniting it. Similar to the small charcoal can lighters.

i built me a burn barrel last night at work. i took a 55-gallon drum, and cut a hole, from the bottom "rib" to just off the bottom of the barrel, 15" wide. i cut 4 holes and put some round stock i found at work in there, and wire-feed welded the rods together. i made legs out of 1" angle-iron. three from the sides, and one under the hole. i put the rods ~18" high from the bottom. will try it out as soon as this 12lb turkey thaws out.
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