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Charcoal smoker vs propane?

pargeman

Fire Starter
50
12
Joined Jul 20, 2013
I haven't read a lot on this but smoking with charcoal my first 2 times seemed to go well...I have seen others using a propane tank to cook....Wouldn't you go through a whole tank in a 4-5 hour smoke using propane?? What advantages would there be in using a propane tank?? Helps with charcoal?? Thank you!
 

fwismoker

Master of the Pit
4,280
1,030
Joined Dec 31, 2012
It's an either or..

No propane will typically last much longer than that. I have both and prefer charcoal but some folks don't want to hassle with charcoal.
 

kathrynn

Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
9,452
117
Joined Jun 13, 2012
I have almost 30 hours of smoke time on one 20lb tank.  You don't crank the tank wide open.  I use a Camp chef smoke vault....24".  It sips propane.

I also grill/smoke with a 22.5 weber kettle...and love that too.

Kat
 

flash

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
5,293
42
Joined Mar 30, 2007
I haven't read a lot on this but smoking with charcoal my first 2 times seemed to go well...I have seen others using a propane tank to cook....Wouldn't you go through a whole tank in a 4-5 hour smoke using propane?? What advantages would there be in using a propane tank?? Helps with charcoal?? Thank you!
 I can get 4 to 6 smokes from my one tank, depending on what I have been smoking. I use propane in my fish fryer and gas grill so always have atleast 3 tanks around. Never run out, where I can't snatch one from another set up. I can also use charcoal in my Propane smoker to give me that charcoal flavor.
 

dirtsailor2003

Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
21,860
3,910
Joined Oct 4, 2012
I own both and each serves a purpose. I prefer the flavor profile from the charcoal smoker but that isn't saying that the propane smoker doesn't produce great smoked food. I primarily use the gasser when I know that I won't have time to tend the fire as much and when the weather is super crappy and I am cooking for a crowd and under a deadline. At times I use both if I need too. With my propane smoker I can maintain lower temps easier for things like sausage, but not as easily as electric.

If I had my druthers I'd have a big stick burner, but I don't.
 

smokinhusker

Legendary Pitmaster
8,182
76
Joined Oct 20, 2010
I have to agree with KathrynN and Dirtsailor, they both have a place.

I have an MES (which I love for sausage, jerky etc) for those low temp smokes.

I have a home built propane that I can use wood or charcoal in the side fire box (and not use the propane at all). So far I've only used the propane for smoking and love it. I've get about 25-30 hours of smoking at 275°-300° on my 20 lb tank (I have a 3 ring burner and a needle valve installed). 

We have a propane grill that we add charcoal to it. 
 

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Jun 5, 2009
Mostly it's a preferance of flavor, but if your charcoal smoker is cheap and has a lot of air leaks it can be a pain to keep the temps steady for a long time..... but if you have a good charcoal smoker it will run for a long time with no input from you. I have a 22.5" WSM, it holds 20 lbs. of charcoal in a full load, and provided the ambient weather isn't crappy it will run approx. 1 to 1.25 hrs. per lb. of charcoal (so I can run 20+ hrs. on one load).
 

pargeman

Fire Starter
50
12
Joined Jul 20, 2013
Thank you everyone....When I get time away from work I will look into this more...I do prefer charcoal if I have a long time to cook...My smoker is supposed to hold 10lbs of charcoal but I have not put that much in at once....I am buying a new gauge so I can see numbers and not words on it to judge temperature through the whole smoke...Again, thank all so much!
 

smokiedoug

Newbie
28
10
Joined Jan 20, 2012
I love propane..I use my tank for 14 hours (typical smoke time) then i throw it on my gas grill unitl it runs out. I weighed my last tank after I did a 14 hour smoke and it still had 2 gallons of propane in it. I see so many people with stick burners that have so much wood stuffed in them to get their temp up and they are just pouring white smoke out and ruining their meat. Gas is guaranteed heat
 

cansmoke

Smoking Fanatic
373
238
Joined Jul 21, 2012
I use charcoal only. There is the smoke from the charcoal that u cant get from propane or gas. However, I am going to stop as could cause WWIII on this subject.
 

bama bbq

Master of the Pit
2,353
70
Joined Sep 24, 2011
I also only use charcoal.  I imagine others only use gas.  I guess it's different smokes for different folks.  Kinda like foil or no foil.
 

so ms smoker

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
1,873
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Joined Dec 20, 2010
  My choices are charcoal vs electric. Just depends on what I feel like and how long of a smoke I am doing. Both have advantages and just depends on what I am cooking and how I want it to come out.

   ike
 

themule69

Epic Pitmaster
12,888
349
Joined Oct 7, 2012
I have a stick burner a coal burner or 2 or 3 a propane burner and a electric eater. I use differant ones for differant things. They all make HEAT, it takes heat to cook. After that most of us like smoke. You can make smoke with all of them. A AMAZEN smoke generator will make smoke on it's own. So figure out these things and you will know what will work for you..

how much do you want to spend?

how much hands on do you want?

what temps do you need? 100°? 225°? 275°? 350°? 500°? 700°?

do you have wood everywhere?

Do you live in a apartment?

how long will you need to smoke? 3 hours? 20 hours?

how many will you be cooking for?

Their is no one size fits all. I mean we all already own a stove and oven!!!!

Happy smoken.

David
 

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