Could I use Wood Instead of Charcoal?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by david peel, May 19, 2010.

  1. I have a new question for you guys. I have the Char-Grill Duo with the SFB and added a charcoal basket. The cost of Hickory Chunks is rather expensive ( $5 for a small bag). I was wondering if you could use charcoal to start and then add short Hickory split logs to add smoke and also help fuel the smoke? I can buy like 1/4 a cord of seasoned Hickory locally for like $100 and wondered if I could kill several birds with one stone.
  2. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    I'm very new to this too, and I was wondering the same. If so, what should/shouldn't I do?
  3. flagriller

    flagriller Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Short answer, yes! I've done it all the time just be careful you don't oversmoke. Make sure the wood fits correctly.
  4. I would use charcoal as the heat source...The hickory chunks (or whatever) as seasoning wood...Think of it as just another layer of flavoring....Salt, Pepper, Flavoring wood, garlic, etc. HTH

  5. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    Care to elaborate a tiny bit? Can you use "dried" wood, or does it have to be seasoned wood?

    I experimented this morning, since I'm getting ready to go pick up a few things for my smoke around 1pm today.

    I used 1/4 chimeny of lump, and put on about a 2.5" thick x 5" long piece of oak, and it smoked quite a bit. A LOT more than the few smokes I've done using a flavoring wood for smoke and charcoal/lump as the main source.. And it was thicker than the TBS I was getting before. In fact is was mostly a thicker white smoke. I'd say about 2x as thick as the TBS I am used to seeing...
  6. mudduck

    mudduck Smoking Fanatic

    dried wood is seasoned wood
  7. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If any thing get your 1/4 cord of wood and cut it up into chunk size and you will have a ton of chips/chunks to add to your basket and not have to buy the small bags.
  8. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    Oh. [​IMG]

  9. garretthall29

    garretthall29 Fire Starter

    I have the exact smoker. I always start with a chimney of charcoal to get things going and that is all the charcoal I use. From there I use nothing but split hickory logs and mix in cherry and apple if I have them. It does require a little more tending, but whats the fun in never getting to play with fire. I have never oversmoked my meat doing it this way and I do it that way all the way to pull temp.
  10. hdsmoke

    hdsmoke Smoking Fanatic

    The key to not getting the thick smoke is to have a small hot fire burning cleanly. Not a choked off fire smoldering. Its harder to keep steady tems burning just wood but you will lear to pick up on small decreases tipping you off to add another split and catch it before it drops 50 degrees.

    Oh yeah, thats a long answer version to yes you can.
  11. flagriller

    flagriller Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Sure, I usually start with a starter full of lump. Then add the wood a few pieces at a time for the rest of the smoke. I have, and you can add some lump as you go to mix it up. The wood I have used was the bagged stuff you get at ACE HArdware which is the perfect size. You'll need to play around a bit with it because each smoker is a little different. I was using a modded GharGriller Pro w/SFB. On the smoke thing, adjust the damper and stack damper to limit the air flow. HDsmoke makes some great points. On the smoldering thing, well thats why I add some lump as I go, to keep it hot. When burning wood you should see hot embers. The key I believe is the size of the wood itself. Oh, I forgot, when I first start the fire I place a piece of wood on the back and front of the SFB and put the initial lump in between. Front and back meaning as it looks when you open the lid.
    Have fun with it, let me say I have personally made some great food and have ruined alot trying new things.
  12. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for replying. I appreciate it. :)
  13. flagriller

    flagriller Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    No sweat, listen e-mail or PM me anytime if you need help. Oh, where in Florida are you? I guessed Fl because of your screen name.
  14. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    I appreciate the offer. :)

    Orlando area. ~100 miles each way...
  15. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

  16. raykar

    raykar Newbie

    I set up my fire box using the 'ring of fire' technique. lay a 2 or 3 layer ring of charcoal perimeter around the edges of your fire box, tray or basket. I use a mixture of standard hickory wood charcoal and regular briquettes. Start your charcoal chimney with both wood charcoal and regular briquettes. Once white hot dump your chimney contents inside and within the 'ring of fire'. Add your apple, cherry, or hickory wood (I buy mixed 1/4 chords and saw the logs in half and then split them) to maintain your heat and smoke. As the smoking of meat progresses the edges of the ring of fire are lit and maintain your temps extremely well. Continue to add chunks of wood to your liking. I find that every time I need to baste or rotate or add different meat the temps lower when opening your door. So I add wood chunks prior to opening my door. It catches up back to temp quicker and easier. Good luck.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
  17. I've got a bunch of red oak splits I could use in my BTMLE, but it has the bark on it. Recommend removing the bark before using in the smoker??
  18. raykar

    raykar Newbie

    I am a purist. I split my wood and then use my ax to remove the lower end of bark, flip it over and chip  off bark from the other end. It is not completely clear of all bark but bark holds moisture and mold. However, if your wood is very dry the bark usually falls off anyway when you split it. 
  19. vaquero01

    vaquero01 Smoke Blower

    This is all pretty much on the money...Raykar.....good point about the bark. Bark contains tanins that will impart a bitterness in the smoke, dry or not. The only thing I would disagree with is someone mentioning controlling the "Stack Dampener" I am pretty sure most will tell you not to play with the stack is to be let breathe freely. You control the heat on the intake side and allow the exhaust to exit as cleanly as possible. This will eliminate excess creosote build up, stale smoke, and help control the temp more consistently.

    Good Luck!
  20. bigtexun

    bigtexun Newbie

    Depending on your smoker, I find that you must control the stack as well on windy days.  As the wind blows across the stack, it creates a greater pull, and on some smokers that can make the temperature difficult to control.  Reducing the stack opening will reduce the effect of the wind.  But this is probably for gusty conditions.  If the wind is strong but steady, it may not matter as much.

    As for using smoking wood for a heat source, I have seen great success, and awful results both from doing that.  I have done apple wood over lump charcoal on a egg-type (Kamodo) grill set-up for low indirect heat, and the results were inedible.  On the other hand, I have had excellent results with raw oak in an offset type smoker.  So I think it depends on the wood you use, and how strong it is.  I season my oak a year or more, but the apple wood was from a package, and was probably fairly fresh. 

    If I have a strong smoking wood I want to use, I'll usually not put the smoke wood in the fire intil the surface of the food is fairly warm.  That way the bitter flavors in the strong smoke don't immediately condense on the cooler food and over-smoke it. And the kind of fire matters a lot as well.  Often in an offset smoker that is not well sealed, the fire is a hot flame fire, so much of the smoke is burning up.  In a cooler smoldering fire the smoke doesn't get a chance to burn at all, and it is easier to get too much of the most bitter part of the smoke flavor building up on your cooler food.

    But regardless of the advice anyone gives you, your cooking conditions are different, and only you can do the work to try the different methods until you find out what works for you.  The only way to know anything for sure is to get in there and try it, and adjust your method for the type of meat, the length of the cook, and the desired flavor.

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