FUEL...FUEL...FUEL! What kind of FUEL?

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Original poster
Mar 15, 2011
Eastern Washington
Hey everybody, thanks for the replies!  I've got charcoal, mesquite pellets, "Royal Oak" brand natural wood lump charcoal, real apple wood branches, cherry branches too! Some advice for my first burn on which fuel to use is best. A buddy named Bobby had a BBQ cafe and used Kingsford with lighter fluid and wet apple wood and it comes out fine. Jeff says "TABOO" on the fluid and charcoal is filled with chemicals, with which I agree...but some advice would be great.  I'm on my way out to get a lump charcoal "Chimney"?

  Starting first smoke in two and a half hours and I'm sure I can get through it with what I have but...advice would be great!

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Sounds like you have it nailed. RO and start it with a chimney. I wouldn't use pellets with charcoal. Your better off with wood chunks. As long as the branches are dry and they are not too small I would use them. You don't want them to catch on fire, just smolder.
Welcome to the SMF. Well, quite a lineup you have there to choose from. Most would agree, IMHO, that the RO lump would be the way to go. Burns a little hotter and natural. Your choice of wood for the smoke would be personal and slightly depend on what you're intending to smoke. I like mesquite on chicken, apple on pork and cherry on pork & beef. Some will use a mixture of types. You're going to have to play around with the types to see which you prefer. Hopefully, the pellets are 100% without lots of filler. Check the bag. I'm assuming your wood is seasoned and dry.  As far as lighter fluid since you're going after a chimney you won't need it. Paper in the bottom and in about 15/20 minutes you have coals ready to go. I have seen Myron Mixon on TV shows just douse his coal with fluid and fire it up...he loves the stuff and has won many a competition using it. Go figure, but I don't use it any more. I would suggest reading up on some past posts for the type of meat you'll be cooking, if you havn't done so already. Good luck on the first smoke...and we all love the Q/view
The lump charcoal is great. The chimney will get you going without any fluids.  here's a few threads that might help?  are your branches green or seasoned - might affect the taste.  Nice thing about starting with ribs, you can go by time and appearance rather than internal temps.

I'm sure there'll be a lot of good help coming along soon.  Good luck!





and of course,  beer...
When I'm not using my gas smoker I do like to use lump charcoal but it is not always available in my area.  I have made a lot of food with Kingsford charcoal and I never tasted any chemicals in the food.  One of my first smokes I used matchlight and that was a BIG MISTAKE, ruined about 20lbs of venison pepperoni.  The meat picked up that lighter fluid taste in the matchlight. I'll never use matchlight or any fluid to start a fire again, charcoal chimneys work great. Chunk wood works the best for me...

Got my chimney, works like a CHARM!   I'm an hour on the smoke.   Using the lump hardwood by RO. Thanks for the advice people I really appreciate it!  I'll Qview after results are in

Just a quick note for the use of the Chimney.  Now that I've started moving over to the dark side (lump, that is)  I did some research and stumbled across a hint to use pages from a phone book to start the chimney.  In the past I tried newspapers, found that to be messy and storing newspapers is a pain.  Evolved to using the propane torch but that's kinda, well, it works.  Now since my town and county are small in comparison to say, Seattle or Renton, the phone books are also thinner.  Great way to use the multitude of phone books you get each year and they're bound up into a neat package.  Just sayin'.

The observations about match light and all those other "lighter" fluids.  Excuse me but those are petrochemicals.  Those fumes can be toxic.  And of course, you've noticed the taste effect.......  It was bad enough working in Oil Refineries, I sure don't want to taste it in my foods.  That is my personal opinion of course, and SWMBO reminds me quite frequently that I have many opinions.
Thanks for that tip, Dave!  I bet it's easier to get phone book paper crumpled into the chimney, too, compared to thicker newsprint.  I went to all lump a few years back, so much better!  Now, if I could just convince my friends and family...   Got my brother a chimney last year, I think I'll give him a BIG bag of charcoal for his birthday this year (along with a nice pastrami).

Scandall, can't wait to see what you try next!  Do you have good probe and instant read thermometers? If not, that's your next important purchase. I use thermoworks small handheld w/ a probe for my instant, well worth the investment! 
Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.
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