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Giving Up Wood Burning

dave schiller

Meat Mopper
282
59
Joined Apr 7, 2017
After many unsuccessful attempts to smoke with just wood, I'm giving it up. As many times as I've tried, I simply cannot maintain the temperature I want AND get thin blue smoke at the same time. I'm using a New Braunfels offset that I rebuilt/restored. There are no leaks to speak of, so I should be able to control the prober burn with the door and damper but to no avail.

If I open the damper or door to reduce the billowing smoke, the temperature goes too hign. Conversely, if I damp it down to drop the temp, I get way too much thick white smoke. I'm burning oak and hickory splits that read about 5-7% moisture with my meter. I've watched every YouTube video on the subject but have not had any luck with applying the techniques.

I installed a BBQ Guru into the firebox and with a load of charcoal I can set the temp I want and leave it alone. So I'm going to go that route and supplement the fire with an occassional small split or chunk. I've used only charcoal before and got decent of smoke flavor.

Besides, I'm getting lazy in my old age and don't enjoy tending a fire for 10-14 hours straight. With the Guru and charcoal, I can dump a whole bag in the firebox, set the desired temp, and walk away. A tip of the hat to those of you who successfully burn wood. I wish it worked for me.

The upside of this is that I have a lot of dry hardwood splits that I'll be able to cut into chunks. Should last me a the rest of my life. :emoji_sunglasses:
 

fivetricks

Master of the Pit
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809
Joined Jan 7, 2017
I had that problem with one of my smokers before I took daveomak daveomak 's advice and installed an upper air inlet. Now it cruises.very reliably on wood only.
 

Hank R

Meat Mopper
194
171
Joined Feb 16, 2018
I am new to smoking also and I have learned so much from Daveomack I want to meet him and thank him myself.
 

daveomak

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The FB one member built, that works very well....


Smoker Exh and Intakes 2.jpg
 

Alphonse

Smoke Blower
127
78
Joined Dec 1, 2019
I am very curious about the science on that upper vent. How does it contribute to a better burn?
 

cliffcarter

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
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Joined Feb 28, 2010
I am very curious about the science on that upper vent. How does it contribute to a better burn?
More air to the fire. Not enough air flow and combustion is inhibited, hence the billowing white smoke. I added an upper vent on my CharGriller offset to help with airflow so I could burn wood as the fuel source. I think I posted a picture in the CharGriller Group section.
 

MikeFromTexas

Newbie
7
5
Joined Jan 11, 2020
Read Franklin’s book on smoke. Thin blue smoke is good but it isnt the holy grail. Just don’t get the thick white billowing smoke. He recommends to run the pit with stack wide open and door to firebox wide open. Control temperature with how much wood you put on the fire. For me, cutting the typical 16” pecan B&B splits in 1/3 lengths has worked well. I put one or two chunks. This has helped me control temperature very accurately but it requires constant tending. When I used to throw a full split temps would get to high. Keeping the flow path open allows fast moving smoke and that’s what cooks the meat best. Of course the wind (and orientation of pit relative to wind) rain, and outside temperatures impact the ability to keep temperatures. So I maintain temperature 225-250, and let the smoke be anything but the thick white. Don’t give up.
 

Motorboat40

Meat Mopper
249
372
Joined Feb 5, 2020
I always start with a bed of charcoal bricketts about 1 and 1/2 chimneya and just put wood on top of the coals to get my smoke on longer sjokes had to add a little more charcoal but not always once I get it going good just adding wood usually keeps it going well.
 

dave schiller

Meat Mopper
282
59
Joined Apr 7, 2017
Folks, I appreciate your comments and advice. But my post was not a request for advice; it was a statement of what I am going to do. And not do. I've made all the usual mods to the smoker (baffle plate and lowered stack intake). I'm not going to do any more mods like fabricating an upper air intake in the FB.

Case closed.:emoji_pensive:
 

Alphonse

Smoke Blower
127
78
Joined Dec 1, 2019
More air to the fire. Not enough air flow and combustion is inhibited, hence the billowing white smoke. I added an upper vent on my CharGriller offset to help with airflow so I could burn wood as the fuel source. I think I posted a picture in the CharGriller Group section.
Thanks for trying. I understand combustion of hydrocarbons. Perhaps my question wasn't clear and I will ask it again in a different way.

How does adding air at the top of the firebox help. The draft through the firebox is typically driven by an exhaust of the hot gases from the firebox into the cooking chamber at the top of the firebox. Adding air at the top of the top of the firebox is therefore a bit counterintuitive. If the inlet air vents are too small, wouldn't it be better to enlarge them at the elevation of the fire versus above it?

So that is why I presented my query for the science behind adding vents at the top.
 

daveomak

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
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Thanks for trying. I understand combustion of hydrocarbons. Perhaps my question wasn't clear and I will ask it again in a different way.

How does adding air at the top of the firebox help. The draft through the firebox is typically driven by an exhaust of the hot gases from the firebox into the cooking chamber at the top of the firebox. Adding air at the top of the top of the firebox is therefore a bit counterintuitive. If the inlet air vents are too small, wouldn't it be better to enlarge them at the elevation of the fire versus above it?

So that is why I presented my query for the science behind adding vents at the top.
In a firebox, the heat rises along with smoke.... The upper air inlets sweep the accumulated heat and smoke into the Cooking Chamber WITHOUT adding air to the fire....
Thus, the lower air inlets control the temp of the fire while the upper air inlets reduce the accumulated heat in the FB....
The lower air inlets act like a thermostat to control the heat.....
Upper inlets act like the fan in your home furnace, circulating the heat for a uniform temp in your home....
The upper air inlets also add oxygen above the fire for a secondary burn for creosote... For a clean smoke.....

5f0d0167_firebox-5.gif
 

daveomak

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
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Joined Nov 12, 2010
Folks, I appreciate your comments and advice. But my post was not a request for advice; it was a statement of what I am going to do. And not do. I've made all the usual mods to the smoker (baffle plate and lowered stack intake). I'm not going to do any more mods like fabricating an upper air intake in the FB.

Case closed.:emoji_pensive:
Hey Dave.... Read one more thread before you become a quitter...

 

daveomak

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
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Joined Nov 12, 2010
dave schiller dave schiller , one more thing.... Reading through your posts, I see you never built a smoker... What smoker do you have and will you post some pictures... FB, FB/CC opening, Exhaust stack, FB air inlets......
Might be able to give you a simple answer to your problem....
Dave
 

JWFokker

Smoking Fanatic
368
130
Joined Mar 5, 2019
Start with charcoal and chunks and work up to what burns well in your firebox. Nothing wrong with running half lump, half wood if that's what your cooker wants to burn. The results will still be better than a slow burning bullet cooker like a WSM.
 

cliffcarter

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
2,262
241
Joined Feb 28, 2010
Folks, I appreciate your comments and advice. But my post was not a request for advice; it was a statement of what I am going to do. And not do. I've made all the usual mods to the smoker (baffle plate and lowered stack intake). I'm not going to do any more mods like fabricating an upper air intake in the FB.

Case closed.:emoji_pensive:
I think the mods you made may have contributed to your billowing smoke problem when trying to burn wood, anyway, as you've moved on, this is moot.


Thanks for trying. I understand combustion of hydrocarbons. Perhaps my question wasn't clear and I will ask it again in a different way.

How does adding air at the top of the firebox help. The draft through the firebox is typically driven by an exhaust of the hot gases from the firebox into the cooking chamber at the top of the firebox. Adding air at the top of the top of the firebox is therefore a bit counterintuitive. If the inlet air vents are too small, wouldn't it be better to enlarge them at the elevation of the fire versus above it?

So that is why I presented my query for the science behind adding vents at the top.
Not counter intuitive in my experience, it works.
In smaller offsets, like the OP's NB and my chargriller, adding an upper intake simply puts more air to the fire, which in turn improves flow to the exhaust and allows for easier fire control when burning wood splits. Before I added the upper intake to the fire, I often had to open the ash drawer to get better air flow.
 

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