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I seriously suck at fire management. Someone please give me some tips

Mcc_1972

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drives me freaking insane. If you’re in DFW I will pay you to come to my house and teach me. I’m at my wits end.
 

BigW.

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If you describe some of your issues, what smoker, fuel you are using etc folks will be glad to help.
 

banderson7474

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Yep what BigW said. Without knowing what your running and fuel, it's impossible to tell. Also, what therms are u using? Do you have probes that are in the smoker or do you use the ones that came with it?
 

chilerelleno

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For someone to help you you need to post your make/model of smoker, what fuels you're using, your methods for starting and maintaining the fire, vent positions and more.
 

Mcc_1972

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Sorry I was so vague. Just a standard 250 gallon traditional offset. I use seasoned oak. Just have a hard time getting a nice bed of hot red coals and keeping it that way. Seems like my wood will burn down about half way and then just kind of smolder
 

SmokinVOLfan

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Grab you a 12 pack and one Saturday afternoon go out there and mess around with it. Try different types of charcoal, how you light the charcoal, wood types etc...see if you can get and maintain a nice fire/smoke.
 

JC in GB

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Most offset pit masters use a bed of lit charcoal then put logs on top of that about one every 45 minutes. They also leave the door full open and don't use the vents in many cases. How close is that to how your are running your fire?
 

banderson7474

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Yep that's exactly what I do. You can see my door fully open on the firebox in my pic. about every 45 mins, I put a new log on. What I learned is after about 3-4hrs, if I didn't scrape the ash out underneath, it would bog down the fire so I bought a scraper tool that is rounded so it cleans the ash out nicely. I also leave the smoke stack fully open.

When I put a log on, one of my mistakes was immediately closing the firebox. After reading the tips in here, I learned that I should keep it open for a good few mins until the log has caught fire nicely.

Even with all that, there are sometimes that I will see that there is white smoke so I then will go and open the fire box again and make sure it's lights on fire again. That doesn't happen a lot but it does happen. (one of the joys of a stick burner I guess)

I also notice that if I use smoke logs that arent' split, it is harder for it to burn so I now try to get the bags of smoke wood where they are split. The only ones I know of off hand that are full logs are the ones they sell at Lowes so I don't get them anymore.

The last thing is I probably have my best bed of coals after about 2.5hrs. Even though I use a chimney of charcoal to start off and then add wood, it still takes a while for me to be burning just right.

As far as temp swings, I just took the advice of smokin al and put a metal tray of water on the grate near my firebox. Yesterday was the first time I did that. What I learned was the temp swings wasn't as dramatic when putting on a new split of wood. It also seemed to make the overall temp a little cooler.

Hope this helps. It's one of the pros/cons of having a stick burner depending on how you look at it.
 

JC in GB

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It really sounds like an airflow problem. Can you use a firebox fan of some kind? Just grasping here...
 

phatbac

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Private message me your email and i will make you a tutorial next time i smoke and email it to you....i use a Lang 48 rev flow as in my pic to the left.

Happy Smoking,
phatbac (Aaron)
 

tallbm

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drives me freaking insane. If you’re in DFW I will pay you to come to my house and teach me. I’m at my wits end.
Hi there and welcome!

I think the guys are getting you well covered so I'll take a slightly different perspective that may also help you.

While you are figuring out your smoker, smoke some meat that absolutely does not care what temp you smoke at so the fluctuations don't have an impact :emoji_sunglasses:

Pork butts don't care what temp you smoke at. Neither do full packer Briskets.
Throw one/some of them suckers on and let the temp go up and down from 200F all the way to 400F. These meats won't care!

You can play around with all of the suggestions here and when those cuts of meat are TENDER then you pull them. They are cuts of meat that are ready when they are tender.
At a meat Internal Temp (IT) of about 205F stab the pork butt all over with a kabob skewer and if it goes in like butter all over the pork butt is tender and therefore done!
For a brisket, measure the temp in the thickest yet center most portion of the Flat (NOT THE POINT) and when it hits an IT of 198-200F stab all over with a kabaob skewer and if it slides in like butter then the brisket is tender and therefore done, if not then let the IT go up a degree or two and try again until it passes the tenderness test and is done.

Finally, both of these cuts of meat can handle quite a bit of smoke pretty well so as you are learning how to manage your fire you may get good smoke and not so good smoke but chances are you won't overpower these big cuts of meat unless you run for hours upon hours of thick white (bad) smoke.

That is my 2 cents to help you out while you are learning your system :)
 

radioguy

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What type of wood are you using. What size logs / splits are you using. I found out by experimenting that I couls not use full logs. I use a mix of splits (fist size & smaller) and larger chunks (cantaloupe size). Think of it being fire size to control temp. 275f on my RF is a good bed of coals and 2 wood pieces burning. ( one shovel full).
Remember you are cooking with wood and temps will vary. Its more important to have a smokeless fire.

RG
 

JckDanls 07

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I say switch up... I never did like oak... couldn't get it to burn right (just like your experiencing) and the food was way to smokey for us ... so I tried hickory and never looked back... It's not a very strong smoke... it lights easy... burns hotter... just much better than oak in my opinion ..
Also.. lay some sticks on top of the firebox to preheat before throwing them in the fire... it helps them ignite quicker...
 

hardcookin

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The secert is getting a good bed of coals.
I crib my wood in different directions.
3 splits on the bottom
2 row 2 splits opposite direction
Row 3 opposite direction
Add some small kindling in the gaps.
I then light with a weed burner...and let all that wood burn down to pretty much coals. Then add 2 splits and smoke on.

If the temp your smoking at is 275 as soon as your smoker hits 274 add 1-2 splits and repeat.
You could be adding a reg split or maybe 2 smaller splits depending on your coal situation.

Pre-heat your splits, it will help them igniting faster.
 

banderson7474

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Actually i learned something. Why am i adding one split after my chimney of coal. Like he said i should add more to get a nice base
 

Heart of Dixie

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Consider a Kindling Cracker from Northern Tool. Small splits catch quickly and make fire management easier, but you have to add them more often. Pre-heating your splits on top of the firebox helps. Also is there an air gap under the wood or is it directly on the bottom of the F/B? If on the bottom, try a grate or some expanded metal so that you have about a 3" air gap and keep the gap clean of ashes. Have you checked the chimney width / length on Feldon's BBQ calculator? This can make a huge difference with the draw. http://www.feldoncentral.com/bbqcalculator.html
I start my fires with a large chimney of lump. When it is going strong I will add 2 or 3 small splits. This brings my offset up to temperature pretty quickly. I keep the grate level around 250 to 275. As soon as it starts dropping, 1 or 2 splits are added.
 
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