Learning - Fire Management

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Its_Raw

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Nov 25, 2023
134
115
I smoked my first pork shoulder yesterday and it turned out well. While smoking, I did not fuss about the fire and got a lot of yard wok done in between adding wood - and it made it far easier For me.

After building a fire and getting the smoker up to temp, I set the alarm range on the ThermoPro probe that was attached to the grate in front of the meat to a range of 245 - 275. The fire never got above 275, and averaged somewhere close to 255 to 260. When the low temp alarm went off at 245, I threw some more wood on the fire and went back to work. I didn’t worry about keeping the coal bed all nice and neat and fussing with how the splits were arranged. I threw the wood on with some adequate spacing to allow some airflow and that was about it. In the end, I was not tied to the smoker and the temp range was fairly tight. The freedom away from the smoker was nice.

Just an observation from a new smoker.
 
I smoked my first pork shoulder yesterday and it turned out well. While smoking, I did not fuss about the fire and got a lot of yard wok done in between adding wood - and it made it far easier For me.

After building a fire and getting the smoker up to temp, I set the alarm range on the ThermoPro probe that was attached to the grate in front of the meat to a range of 245 - 275. The fire never got above 275, and averaged somewhere close to 255 to 260. When the low temp alarm went off at 245, I threw some more wood on the fire and went back to work. I didn’t worry about keeping the coal bed all nice and neat and fussing with how the splits were arranged. I threw the wood on with some adequate spacing to allow some airflow and that was about it. In the end, I was not tied to the smoker and the temp range was fairly tight. The freedom away from the smoker was nice.

Just an observation from a new smoker.
Old Country Brazo's is a very good smoker, shouldn't have to fuss with it much once you learn how it runs.

I had to fuss with my thinner cheaper OKJ until I mad a mod to the stack and learned what size fuel she liked.
 
Wood size is definitely something I am picking up on finally. Just on the eye opening stage, but getting closer to being able to guess what is needed. I just had a rick of oak delivered yesterday, so I have plenty of wood for practicing!
 
Now that Tatanka (my avatar) is home to roost I plan to do a nice long cook to learn it. Joel has given me a good base to start with now I gotta learn it. Gleaning all the advice I can from posts such as this.

Jim
 
Wood size is definitely something I am picking up on finally. Just on the eye opening stage, but getting closer to being able to guess what is needed. I just had a rick of oak delivered yesterday, so I have plenty of wood for practicing!

Agreed! I use to try and use chunks, many do and have success but I find thinner and longer splits work best for me. About 8 - 10" long and about 2 - 4" wide work best for my smoker. They catch pretty quick.
 
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A good fire doesn't like abrupt changes to amount of air or fuel because they take a while to react.... Letting the fire do its thing IE, like chopsaw chopsaw said learning how it wants to burn vs forcing it to burn like a clock is step one. Step 2 is a nice coal bed for a base heat and consistency then the rest is keeping the fuel load consistent...... Oh and knowing full well that a 50-to-75-degree temp swing is near perfect burning for a patio burner......
 
+/- 30F is excellent. I had to learn not to chase an exact case instant temp on my Lang too. Sounds like you are there
 
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I was fortunate enough to keep the temperature swing between 240 and 265 for the most part. I was more than happy with that and hope I can repeat it.
 
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I'm hoping I can get Tatanka to run that close! Gonna give it a run saturday night! I may be asking you offset gurus a ton of questions!

Jim
Jim, easy peezy..... light up a full chimney of coals (only needs to be 3/4s lit....then dump in VBox and put 2-3 splits that are 2-3 inch in diameter leave the door open till they get lit up good, the CC box will spike up but after they are fully engaged close the door and set the air intake to about 1/4 or less open....after 15-20 min it will settle in (you want a gentle flame)........Bingo your done....... then just add a split as the temp drops but leave the door open a bit when you do to get it lit up...about 2 mins........ once you get it running at 250 don't mess with the intake oh and leave the stack wide open the full cook, only adjust the intake......
 
Jim, easy peezy..... light up a full chimney of coals (only needs to be 3/4s lit....then dump in VBox and put 2-3 splits that are 2-3 inch in diameter leave the door open till they get lit up good, the CC box will spike up but after they are fully engaged close the door and set the air intake to about 1/4 or less open....after 15-20 min it will settle in (you want a gentle flame)........Bingo your done....... then just add a split as the temp drops but leave the door open a bit when you do to get it lit up...about 2 mins........ once you get it running at 250 don't mess with the intake oh and leave the stack wide open the full cook, only adjust the intake......
Great advice!

I do occasionally have to add some lump charcoal if my coal bed gets to low where my splits are not catching or smoldering. Don't be afraid to if you have a longer cook, having a solid coal bed will make running it that much smoother.
 
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Jim, easy peezy..... light up a full chimney of coals (only needs to be 3/4s lit....then dump in VBox and put 2-3 splits that are 2-3 inch in diameter leave the door open till they get lit up good, the CC box will spike up but after they are fully engaged close the door and set the air intake to about 1/4 or less open....after 15-20 min it will settle in (you want a gentle flame)........Bingo your done....... then just add a split as the temp drops but leave the door open a bit when you do to get it lit up...about 2 mins........ once you get it running at 250 don't mess with the intake oh and leave the stack wide open the full cook, only adjust the intake......
Good deal!

Jim
 
Great advice!

I do occasionally have to add some lump charcoal if my coal bed gets to low where my splits are not catching or smoldering. Don't be afraid to if you have a longer cook, having a solid coal bed will make running it that much smoother.
Agreed, I forgot to add this above but for longer cooks, ie over 5 ish or so hours I add 3-5 unlit coals with the splits to keep the coal bed healthy, for the shorter cooks the wood coals add enough but more is needed for the longer coals. The secret is to not add to many unlit at one time so they don't put off too much start up smoke.... My wife HATES that flavor and smell but adding just a few at a time doesn't effect the flavor.....
 
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