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Charcoal+wood or 100% wood?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by delarosa74868, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. I was just wondering how everyone else smokes.  For starters, I use lump charcoal and pecan wood. I use my charcoal starter to pour one full load of unlit coal in my firebox, then I pour one full load of glowing coal on top of the unlit coal. I add two pieces of split pecan on top.  After 30 minutes or so, shes sitting at 250.  I add one scoop of unlit coal every hour along with a piece of wood.  I can hold the temp there for 10 hours(that was my longest try so far) with minimal effort.  I dont look at my smoker at all in between adding any more.  I have already changed my temp gauges thinking they were bad, but they werent.  I want to smoke with 100% wood now cause Im tired of having to buy lump charcoal. Im afraid of my food being too smokey, but I dont want to pre-burn my wood.  How do you 100% wood burners do it?
     
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Man I wish I had that kind of temperature control.  I'd gladly buy lump all the time if I didn't have to nursemaid my smoker to keep it in within a 20 degree range in the smoke chamber.

    If you have a small offset you can try using smaller, dry splits more frequently.  Store them on top of the firebox and let them heat up a bit to drive out some of the external moisture.  I end up using about 40/60 charcoal/splits with most of the charcoal going in at the beginning of the smoke and the splits going in once a good bed of coals has developed and the steel is good and warm.  I think the key to using splits is adding small amounts to an already hot fire.  If I slack off and let the fire die down to much I need to add charcoal to get the temps back up without developing a lot of white smoke.

    Looks like you got it going about as well as possible and I sure wouldn't going messing with it unless you need more smoke flavor.

    Al
     
  3. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Al gave you some good info use smaller splits this will burn cleaner but require adding splits more often
     
  4. I run my SFB exactly like you described.  I tried to burn straight wood, but I didn't like all the thick white smoke every time you have to add wood.  By the time it would get settled down, it would be time to add more wood.  Now i run a pile of lump with my splits sitting to the side of the main fire.  They put off beautiful TBS, and when they are done giving up the smoke, I just rake them into the coals and replace them.  A burn barrel would solve that issue, but I would rather just buy the lump than have to start two fires every time I want to smoke.
     
  5. I run wood, only except when its winter. Then I use coal to start my wood . I have never had a problem with bad smoke or low heat.
     
  6. Dutch

    Dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    For my Lang I use white oak for my heat and then for flavor I'll use hickory, apple, plum or maple or a combination.

    I'll lay my Oak in a 'log cabin' fashion-one lay of row of 3 splits-lay the next row of 3 turned 90°   on top of the 1st row but  and the last row of 3 laid 90° to the 2nd.  Hit it with the weed burner and let it burn 15 minutes toss on a couple of splits of my flavoring wood, closes the doors, adjusts the air intakes and let it burn for another 15 minutes. Food chamber is usually holding at 300° and then I put on the meat.  A couple or 3 splits about once an hour will keep temps in the 225-240° range.

    If your unit has a small fire box, you can set up a burn barrel and pre-burn your wood and then once you have good sized embers, shovel those into your fire box and add your flavoring splits.
     
  7. austexrod

    austexrod Fire Starter

    Is it safe to say that horizontal smoker are a bit more inefficient than vertical smokers? If that is the case at least it is easier to add more if you need to.

    My 20" FPDS was at 250 F for almost 24 hours without ever reloading. I looked in the basket the next day and still have useable lump charcoal left. Is this design, science or just dumb luck?
     
  8. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Just posted this in another thread

    I have been starting with a full chimney of lump then add wood splits. On occasion I have dumped a full lit chimney of lump on an unlit chimney then after a few hours start adding the splits.

    The smaller the splits, less of a smoke problem.

    Another tip is to place the splits next to the fire or on top of the firebox to help it through the combustion stage.

    The longer the wood is smoldering before the combustion, the more likely you can get creosote buildup, that is why some "preburn" their wood, but if you use smaller splits and feed frequently, this should not be a problem.

    Another potential problem can be heat spikes during the combustion stage of wood, again, if using smaller splits this will reduce that problem significantly.

    Make sure if using wood you are vented well.

    Do not use Green wood, processed wood, treated wood, painted wood or Connifers

    Check your wood to make sure it is a suitable species for smoking.

    Be ready to babysit the smoker you will not be able to "set it and forget it".

    I hope I worded all the above, correctly.
     
    tmax likes this.
  9. pperkins

    pperkins Fire Starter

    I'm getting ready to replace my old off-set battle horse with one of those big WSM. Very interested in this question of vertical vs horizontal as well.

    Thanks all!

    -Perry

    Perry P. Perkins
    Author
    "La Caja China Cooking"
     
  10. From A Forester!!! The moisture content is critical!! I strongly recommend that you buy a moisture meter, if you are a serious afficinado and can afford one- only $30 in Canada.  Just like flour wood has a humidity based retention  that has a genuine impact on RH- relative humidity. Most take the easy, or affordable, path and go with coal. This is generally due to attentiveness level, ease or compromise.Having a humidity meter is the one thing I have found to be missing in all the chats I visit. Especially for the thinner cuts and seafood. If you can maintain a humidity level of 30-40%.... you win big time. Humidity for cooking is a base of heat, moisture and reducing loss from the host. Just look at the smokers that now offer steam, cold and hot combinations. You can duplicate this very affordably and easily.

    Regards and Good Luck!

     
    jarjarchef likes this.
  11. Some thing I don't get. When I smoke my meat I always end up with white smoke. I have a little smoke box that I put my wood in for smoking and now I have to watch out for creosote?  I thought if you had white smoke coming out it was good. Can some one go in to this a little deeper? I guess I'm doing something wrong.

    Thanks Don
     
  12. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You don't want a heavy white smoke.

    What you are looking for is a Thin Blue Smoke

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is a pic that's been posted many times, think its Alienbarbecues pic, hope the owner is ok with me posting it.

    I love this picture

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
  13. busta b

    busta b Newbie

    I run my SFB exactly like you described.  I tried to burn straight wood, but I didn't like all the thick white smoke every time you have to add wood.  By the time it would get settled down, it would be time to add more wood.  Now i run a pile of lump with my splits sitting to the side of the main fire.  They put off beautiful TBS, and when they are done giving up the smoke, I just rake them into the coals and replace them.  A burn barrel would solve that issue, but I would rather just buy the lump than have to start two fires every time I want to smoke

    My name is and I have a lang 36 . What kind of smoker do you have ?
     
  14. busta b

    busta b Newbie

    I have a lang 36 to start out with before I go big I'm trying to use all wood to cook with
    Fore the first time but I can't get away from charcoals
    Can you help me out ?
     
  15. neumsky

    neumsky Newbie

    SFB...TBS...FPDS... I'm new and unfamiliar with these terms... where can I find what these acronyms mean?
     
  16. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    ACRONYMS
     
  17. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you have a good bed of coals going, the wood should ignite almost immediately, assuming you have proper air flow.

    Make sure your not choking your fire, open the exhaust 100 percent and open up your intakes.
     
  18. neumsky

    neumsky Newbie

    Thanx Sqwib!
     

  19. Thanks delarosa for starting this thread.  I am new to smoking and have been spending a lot of time on this website reading forums. This is my first time hearing about achieving TBS bliss. I thought the more smoke the better, so I have spent this week playing with coal and wood in my SFB. Thanks for asking the question.
     
  20. I've had good luck using 100% wood to smoke with by keeping a small "campfire" burning near my smoker, and 1/2 hr or so before adding wood, put the desired number of splits on your secondary fire, and let them burn until the surface has "coaled out" and has begun to check.

    This burns off the resins and drives off excessive moisture, thus getting that nasty start-up period overwith without exposing your meat to it. It also minimizes the temperature swings associated with adding the cold wood to your fire.

    Then, just transfer your already burning splits to your smoker adjust the air inlet accordingly to keep your temp where it needs to be.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011