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Choosing which method to learn. Charcoal or Wood?????

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by islandqking, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

    I am new to smoking.  I have already seasoned my pit.  Brinkmann Trailmaster w/ mods.  I have a charcoal basket.  I have seen to minion method of mixing charcoal and small chunks of flavored wood throughout.  The snake method creating longer burns w/ wood on top.  Creating a bed of charcoal and then using logs or sticks on top for fuel.  As I am completely new to smoking.  Which is the best way to learn for smoking meat?  For seasoning all I did was fill my basket halfway up.  Clear out a hole in the center for the chimney starter.  After bringing the pit to temp I was placing 2x2 or 3x3 chunks of favored wood next to the basket.  It seemed like when I placed these smaller pieces on top of the fire they flamed and burnt out too fast.  I also had a hard time with the burn time.  The fuel seemed to go out fast.  I am looking for suggestions.  I want to smoke some pork spare ribs tomorrow to start off.   Thanks for the help .  
  2. I would say start with charcoal or lump charcoal. Learn to control your heat. If you can't control the heat. Your just along for the ride. Then with time start adding small splits and work your way toward more wood each time. After you learn what your pit likes to hold temp. Then you can go with which ever fuel you prefer.

    Happy smoken.

  3. raastros2

    raastros2 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    IMHO i also tell people to start off with charcoal first till you get to know your pit
  4. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    They are both exactly right, its easier to learn with charcoal. Its more easily aquired so you can get the basics first.

    Also don;t worry about it all at once. There is no law that you can't add more if you think needed. I would suggest you remember your inlet vent. Outlet open, regulate that suction vent to manitain your heat. Also it will surprize you how little heat you really need and how long it really lasts when regulated.

    Last but most inportantly if at anytime you feel the need, you can always wrap and use the oven to finish. Its always good to be able to eat the mistakes. All I eat is mistakes so don't worry.... someday I will hit the perfect smoke I know.... its why I keep trying. I get to eat alot of good food while waiting.

    Enjoy the smoke.
  5. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

    Thank you all for responses.  So here is my dilemma for todays smoke.  St Louis cut ribs.  Use the minion method in my charcoal basket..I mixed in split chunks 2x3.  I say 5 or 6.  Left open a spot in the corner of my basket.  Tossed in 15 lit coals to the side and topped off with a 3x4 chunk of apple wood on top.  Stack wide open, intake on firebox wide open. Got my temp to 250 or so and it held for 30 mins or so.  Added my meat and left my intake about half open.  I burned through that load of charcoal in an hour and my temps dropped to 200.  Closed my vent thinking I was burning through fuel due to too much air intake.  Heres the key.  I just added over half a chimney of lit charcoal and my temp hasnt moved in 30 mins.  Still at 200.  I thought about moving my tuning plates around.  However its fairly even side to side.  Would the chimney extension make the difference in temp and raise it up where I need it? I cant get my pit above 200???
  6. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

  7. It takes fuel and air to make heat.
  8. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

  9. radioguy

    radioguy Smoking Fanatic


    Start a little notebook, noting weather conditions, times and methods, charcoal type, wood fuel used.  This will help you make adjustments and remember what worked and what didn't.   Invest in one of those inexpensive wood stove magnetic type thermometers.  This will help you know the temp of your firebox vs. the cook chamber.  It's all about learinng how your cooker operates.
  10. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

  11. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

  12. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

  13. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

  14. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Looks good IQK.. I have an braunfel offset smoker and I have to load a fully lit chimney just to get her warmed up to 150. then I start another full chimney and add it when its fully lit and then add afew chunks of hickory near the air inlet to the firebox.. I get about 2 to 2.5 hrs before I have to add more lit charcoal.... as the meat gets hotter and the coals become more I add small pieces of firewood that are seasoned and they burn while I back off on the charcoal fuel... That what my smoker needs... The older braunfel are pretty heavy duty
  15. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

    Wow thats a lot of coal to be using for sure.  Each pit is different as they say huh =). Thanks for the replies folks..