Fire brick?

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racerjohnbf

Fire Starter
Original poster
Mar 7, 2024
33
27
Virginia
I have always had a hard time keeping a consistent temperature going on my Lang 36. I've been reading some posts on here and watched a couple of videos on fire management and I think I now know my problems.

First I've been using too large of splits for small smoker. That's and easy fix. But my other problem is not being able to keep a good bed of coals because I have been using the grate that came with the smoker and the hot ash and small coals just fall right through.

20240310_152519.jpg

I'm thinking if I line the bottom of my firebox with firebrick and building the fire right on top of the brick that should solve that problem. Am I on the right track?

And would this be the correct type of firebrick to use?

 
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I've never used a Lang, but I would think if you build your fire on a solid surface. Then the ash buildup would eventually snuff the fire out. You may be better off getting another piece of expanded metal and making a second grate to go on top of the original. In the opposite direction so the holes for the airflow are smaller.

Chris
 
Not a big enough coal bed. In an off set, you are not managing fire as much as you are managing the coal bed. You need coals, and a lot of them to manage heat. Splits are added just to feed the coal bed. The coal bed is your heat source, not the fire of the split. It’s a learning curve but not a long one if you know what to look for.
 
Here is my coal base right now, cooking pork butt and a split chicken. This works for my pit, yours will be slightly different, but not hugely different. Think coals As a base, not burning wood. I started this fire with charcoal in a chimney. Then add wood to maintain that coal bed.

IMG_1918.jpeg
 
Yeah I've definitely been running my fire all wrong. I may try the extra layers of expanded metal to help keep my coals from falling through.

I'm still curious about the use or firebrick though. And if the bricks I linked would be the correct type to use?

I know when my parents used to the wood stove for heat they used to make the fire right on the fire brick but always left a little bit of ashes in there for a base.
 
Forget firebrick in a smoker. Just learn fire management.
That's what I plan to do this year. I don't cook on my smoker as much as most of yall probably do so that hurts the learning curve. I probably only get it out 4 or 5 times a year on a good year lol, I'm hoping to change that this year though.

I've gotten my smoke a lot better over the last several years, but this year I'm going to really focus on the art of the coal bed and fire. That will make longer cooks a lot less stressful if I'm not fighting the fire and temps the whole time.
 
Here are some examples of coal to split ratio.... From my perspective it should be a 2/3 coal to 1/3 split. Next a double layer of expanded metal helps on the bottom. However, the easiest would be to buy or make a coal basket and just slide it in. The basket will help concentrate the coals and that will help as well.
copperpot-fire4.jpeg
copperpot-coals2.jpeg
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Here are some examples of coal to split ratio.... From my perspective it should be a 2/3 coal to 1/3 split. Next a double layer of expanded metal helps on the bottom. However, the easiest would be to buy or make a coal basket and just slide it in. The basket will help concentrate the coals and that will help as well.

Thanks for the pics! What I'm thinking of doing now is to add a layer of expanded metal as suggested, shorten the legs of the tray a little and add some short sides to help keep the coals from falling off the edges.
 
My suggestion is the V-shaped coal basket... This works so much better in keeping your coals bunched together... Also cuts back a lil bit on wood usuage ... It's made out of expanded metal so this will give you your second layer of expanded metal when you set it on top of your current grate...
 
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My suggestion is the V-shaped coal basket... This works so much better in keeping your coals bunched together... Also cuts back a lil bit on wood usuage ... It's made out of expanded metal so this will give you your second layer of expanded metal when you set it on top of your current grate...
Thanks I'll look into that as well. I may just buy a little extra expanded to make that as well.
 
Thanks for the pics! What I'm thinking of doing now is to add a layer of expanded metal as suggested, shorten the legs of the tray a little and add some short sides to help keep the coals from falling off the edges.
The v-basket is very popular and became "a thing" after I built mine. The above example in my copper pot is an adaptation from Shirely smokers' boxes. I do like the design of a V shape, however, I like the solid sides because the reflect the heat and act as an insulator around the coal bed. I'm a believer of keeping the coal bed hot as I do this in natural fire with splits .... if a coal bed gets too much air it can struggle as well.

All that said either will work.....If it were mine I would put 4-6 inch solid sides with open on the door side and then slide an ash pan under the box vs lowering it......
 
The v-basket is very popular and became "a thing" after I built mine. The above example in my copper pot is an adaptation from Shirely smokers' boxes. I do like the design of a V shape, however, I like the solid sides because the reflect the heat and act as an insulator around the coal bed. I'm a believer of keeping the coal bed hot as I do this in natural fire with splits .... if a coal bed gets too much air it can struggle as well.

All that said either will work.....If it were mine I would put 4-6 inch solid sides with open on the door side and then slide an ash pan under the box vs lowering it......
How do you think just making kind of a \_/ to set over my existing tray would work. Solid sides like you said with expanded metal across the back, but no additional bottom. And with the V, it would look like you can only lay splits one direction is it not necessary to criss cross splits with this method?

Also my vents are on the sides of my firebox not the door. Would the solid sides cause air flow problems?
 
How do you think just making kind of a \_/ to set over my existing tray would work. Solid sides like you said with expanded metal across the back, but no additional bottom. And with the V, it would look like you can only lay splits one direction is it not necessary to criss cross splits with this method?

Also my vents are on the sides of my firebox not the door. Would the solid sides cause air flow problems?
I would recommend a hybrid V....I did a quick sketch. This will have some of both designs and allow for more option for placing logs....
FireBasket.PNG
 
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Civil... Not to contradict you... But I think the basket has to be narrower on the bottom so the coals don't spread out to far... I wouold do the whole thing in expanded metal.. no solid sides... I would also put expanded on the bottom to help keep coals from falling through...
As for crisscrossing splits... not really necessary during the cook as you only put one split at a time in... At start up I will X the splits (first layer) in the V basket on top of a half chimney full of lit charcoal.. Then one each side straight on top of them... Let all this burn down to coals and that should have the smoker all preheated...
 
Civil... Not to contradict you... But I think the basket has to be narrower on the bottom so the coals don't spread out to far... I wouold do the whole thing in expanded metal.. no solid sides... I would also put expanded on the bottom to help keep coals from falling through...
As for crisscrossing splits... not really necessary during the cook as you only put one split at a time in... At start up I will X the splits (first layer) in the V basket on top of a half chimney full of lit charcoal.. Then one each side straight on top of them... Let all this burn down to coals and that should have the smoker all preheated...
No hurt feelings here, the pic I posted has the narrower bottom (I think a little more space allows for a larger coal base for a higher base heat) and the double expanded. Based on the fire box burning (smoking and wood burning stoves) I have done, I personally believe the coals will retain more heat and be healthier with the two reflective solid sides. 3 sides from my perspective, is more than enough. I do this with my campfires, i.e. two protected coal sides (splits) with a double airflow path from each side as well. Additionally pushing the "fire base" up vertically if the "v" gets too tight can crowd the fire on the top side of the FB which can affect things negatively as well. It's a balance and this is a good discussion....However, I believe any kind of box and double expanded steel will be an big improvement from the existing.
 
I agree with civilsmoker, this is a great discussion! And I'm open to all ideas. The number one thing I'm getting from everyone is that my biggest problem is that I haven't been able to keep the coal bed together.

Since my air intakes are on the sides of my firebox would it make more sense to build whatever kind if basket I end up building so the splits go in sideways instead of straight in...
vent ‐- vent vs vent I vent? Or does it not matter?
 
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