First time using a wood smoker - I've got questions!

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by bigjonbbq, May 18, 2010.

  1. bigjonbbq

    bigjonbbq Newbie


    I just purchased a 250-R from Bubba grills which is comparable with a Lang 60. Can you guys tell me....

    1. If you are using only wood, how do you keep it Thin & Blue and not Thick and White?

    2. How many splits of wood do you use while smoking?

    3. Should I mix wood and charcoal, or go with only wood? (I have a propane starter built into the firebox)

    4.While I be ok burning only Red and White oak with a few sticks of hickory? Will that cause an overly strong smoke flavor in the food?
  2. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well I got a Lang and have seen the Bubba in action. In my Lang 48 I use 2-3 magnum beer can size splits about every hour after a good bed of coals is established. I will sometimes use lump charcoal to get a coal bed going but it takes minimum 45 minutes to get optimimum stable heat going.
    When introducing new wood you will get a few minutes say up to 15 of whiter smoke but will settle down after that or should. Hope this helps.
  3. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  4. woodsman

    woodsman Newbie

    Just my opinion here, but wood seems best when dried 3-6 months. Soda can size diameter burns hotter with less smoke than larger pieces. Use what you need to maintain heat. I use all oak (red and white) for the most part, with a little apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite or whatever else you like.
  5. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The 2 options I would recommend are: (1) use a bed of charcoal with wood chunks for the smoke -- minion method is a great idea here; or (2) use a burn barrel with 100% wood, which is essentially a hot coal generator for your smoker. Search "burn barrel" on the SMF to learn more.

    The coals from your oak will create that thin blue smoke we all strive for and make heat management pretty easy. This is more labor intensive and uses more wood, but it sure makes for a nice, stable, smoke! The bonus is you get to tend TWO fires!

    Different foods do better with different woods for smoke flavor. Personally, I think pork and beef can take just about anything. I prefer fruit or nut woods for poultry and fish. Trial, error, and personal preference are the deciding factors in the end.
  6. woodsman

    woodsman Newbie

    If its like a lang, you can preheat(predry) your wood on top the firebox before putting it in. This does help a lot.
  7. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Congrats on the new smoker. I would suggest Pm'ing BAMAFAN as he just got a Bubba Grill not too long ago. I think one of the first things he found was that his did not come with a grate for the wood to sit on in the firebox.
    This is important as to allow air to get under the fire and a way for the ash to drop away from the burning wood so as not to smother it.

    I would suggest log splits the size the others have stated above.

    I would burn straight wood it will work fine.

    As for the amount of wood burned per smoke I couldn't tell you but I know BAMAFAN used very little wood when he smoked at the Gathering.

    Red oak and white oak are both good for smoking and have a flavor a little more mild than hickory. Cherry and pecan are also very good if you have any in the area
  8. bigjonbbq

    bigjonbbq Newbie

    Thanks for the help guys. I searched the forum last night and read a few other threads along with the answers you guys gave and I think I'm going to try it all out this weekend. I'll start with about 4 pieces of wood and wait til that is burned down to Embers then throw 2 pieces of wood on at a time to get the flames and the smoke going. I have heard the Bubba grills are great at holding heat, so we will see!

  9. bamafan

    bamafan Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    As a bubba grill owner, I can tell you how I do it. First amd foremost you need to build a grate in the fire box. Learned this at the gathering which was the first time I used it. If I want to get meat on soon I use a bag of lump royal oak and 2 good chucks of wood and let mine get up over 300 degrees to get a good coal bed. (I then spray mine with water to steam clean it) Use mine a lot!(Thanks for that tip Piney). After all the metal gets warms I can maintain 220-240 very easy with only a couple of splits per hour. Did Lonnie talk to you about curing it? You can PM me and I'll give you my cell number if you want to talk about it. Some things I love and some not so much. For the short time I've had mine it's been buring everyweekend. Had a grease fire in it today cooking for the military boys on base but that is another story for another day!
  10. bigjonbbq

    bigjonbbq Newbie

    Thanks BamaFan. I'm planning on making some kind of grate for the firebox this weekend. I didn't get to talk to Lonnie (he was out that day) but they had used the smoker I bought to win a BBQ event the weekend before. So not only is it already a winning smoker [​IMG], it was already cured/seasoned in!

    For the price, I think the bubba grills a great well-built smoker!

  11. bamafan

    bamafan Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I'm pretty happy with mine. I know those guys use a lot of Kingsford, but I don't like it. I've been very sucessful with the lump method getting it up fast. I'm cleaning mune as we speak. Scaped all the crud off the reverse flow plate and reoiled. I'm only using wood and it has taken me over an hour longer getting it up to temp (300 degrees). Really I plan 2 hours of prep time before I put any meat on. Hope you enjoy it!
  12. You guys have made some good comments about the time it takes to bring your smoker up to temp. I am about to start a 250 gal RF build and have heard of people putting a propane burner in the tank to help it warm up. It supposedly helps if the weather is very cold and windy and you are struggling to maintain temp.
    Is this something that is common or even worth the trouble? I guess I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
    If you do run a gas line, would it be on top of the RF plate?
    Is there enough oxygen in the tank to keep it lit?
  13. bigjonbbq

    bigjonbbq Newbie

    On the Bubba Grills, the propane sits on the tongue of the trailer and it has a line that runs along the inside of the trailer beam to the back. Then they put in a regulator and stainless steel flex going to the firebox with a small burner in the front left side. If you look at the pictures on to get an idea. Lonnie's nephew told me that they throw the wood in and get it going with the propane, then turn it off. He said if their temps drop (i'm guessing by wind or weather) they will turn the propane back on to get a "kick" of heat going.

  14. What is the little door on the right side of the tank for? Is it only to access the tank under the RF plate for cleaning?
  15. coacher72

    coacher72 Smoking Fanatic

    This is just my 2 cents. I purchased a Yoder offset early spring and was having some of the same questions about the white smoke. From this forum I modified what I was doing and it helped a lot. What I do now is prepare a pile of lump charcoal using the minion method. While the smoker is heating up I place a wood split on top of firebox to warm it up. When the smoker reaches cooking temperature I place the warmed spilt next to the pile of lump and not directly on it. This has produced the thin blue smoke that is desired. Occasionally the smoke will start out white but will settle down a little quicker than what I experienced before. The splits seem to last a lot longer. For a 6 hour smoke I may use only 1-2 splits. The person I got this idea from uses a charcoal basket and then wedges the wood split between the basket and the wall of the firebox. I'm looking at making or purchasing a charcoal basket this summer. I maintain temp. by adding a chimney of lit or partially lit lump charcoal to the firebox. Like I said I've had a lot better luck with this method then what I was doing earlier. Good luck, let us know what you decided to do and how it worked out for you. Always looking for a better way.
  16. bigjonbbq

    bigjonbbq Newbie


    That little door is for cleaning off the RF Plate and for adding more charcoal if you are doing direct heat on top of the RF plate. I probably won't use it very often, but it's a nice addition.
  17. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

       Bigjohn, is your wood cured? How big is it cut? You may have to re-cut/split some of your wood.I have a Tejas2040CC and it uses 8"X3" sticks and does incredibly well.I have a gas ignition to begin and then it is cut off,same bottle for

       When you get a good coal pile then-

    let it get to heat and watch the therms. for 220* ,I have also placed some fire brick in the firebox to help with heat retention/transfer.Watch for temp. changes of 10*F to 20*F of your target temp. then do the appropriate corrections.It takes what it takes to get it there,then just watch,and be there for the addition if needed.Keep to exhaust OPEN and control with the inlet. The woods you have are excellent,smooth light flavor and good heat.The amount of wood you use depends on your diligence and wether or not you keep opening the door! Keep some sticks on the top of your firebox for easy ignition(should almost start as you put it in the box.The secret to a BLUE smoke is a small-HOT fire.Yeah, more work, but do you want quality?

       Hope this helps and,

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