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Lump, Briquettes or Wood for small smokers

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by marlin009, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. I thought briquettes were bad but I see a lot of people are using them. I know match light and anything like that is out.

    I've only used some briquttes in the chimney to get the lump started. The only wood we have easy access to in quantity is oak, not sure I want that as my primary source for a whole smoke, I have used some pieces. I have been using chips so far but ordered some apple, pecan and cherry chunks today. It's a little pricey to use for the whole smoke. So are the natural wood briquettes ok to use? Do they have the issues with a lot of ash? From reading it sounds like they are slower and more consistent burning and the lump is more apt to spike. I've been using Cowboy lump, the Lowes here has Stubb's briquettes, I have noticed several people mentioning Royal Oak. I have been considering getting a WSM so the fuel questions and ash issues have been popping up as I research.  

    A little confused here. [​IMG]

    What are you using and why?


  2. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have used briquettes, because they were given to me and they were fine. But I do agree, not to use the quick lights or any kind of starter fluid.

    There's a lot of variables between fuel sources and smokers.

    Different brands or types of Lump, charcoal and wood will give you different results as well.

    The only constant I have found in a fuel source is Gas, there is also electric.

    For my stickburner "RF" offset, I have used Gas, Wood, Lump and charcoal, all have their own unique characteristics.

    I have had a lot of success with wood, and prefer to use wood over other sources of fuel.

    Nothing wrong with Oak, You can use the oak for primary fuel and add other varieties of wood for different flavors.

    IIRC oak is a mild wood.

    You will get all kinds of useful information here, but its up to you on how to use that information!

    I would experiment and draw your own conclusions.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  3. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Personally I don't use briquettes. They make way too much ash for my liking, even the ones that are all natural. IMO, even the crappiest lump charcoal is better than any briquette.
  4. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For the most part, I'd have to agree on lump over briquettes for the same reason.
  5. coacher72

    coacher72 Smoking Fanatic

    I have a SFB smoker and use lump. I started out with briquettes on my first smoke but there was way too much ash. So I agree with the others that recommend lump over briquettes.
  6. Thanks for the info. One of my employees "does" ribs on the weekends. They're OK but I've noticed a taste, hard to describe. Could be the creosote I've read

    described here. I don't believe he does the low and slow, more grilling maybe. It's not an offset smoker, just a single tank. He uses oak exclusively and I thought

    that taste may have been the oak, but maybe not. I'll give that a better try, it would be the most economical.  
  7. redneck69

    redneck69 Smoking Fanatic

    something that has worked for me.  i built a expanded metal fire box for my char broil smoker. 12" long 12" deep by 6" high. i fill it up about 3/4 of the way with lump coal and i dig out the center to place a smoking hot chimney full of briquettes. the heat and fire off the briquettes will slowly ignite the lump coal.  one thing that is nice about the basket, i can slide it 3" one way or another to help adjust the heat in my chamber if it gets a lil out of wack.  i also have a small fan i can adjust on the intake side of the fire box on the calm days if i need to get the heat up.

  8.  Your comment about gas made me start looking around at propane and I came across your Big Block blog. Very informative. That was about six months ago that you posted it, thoughts on it now?

    I can list several pro's to one, what are the con's? How much gas does it use?

  9. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Marlin, I love my GOSM and it has its place,

    I will continue to use that along with my reverse flow.

    I have recently been experimenting with electric in it for Jerky and it does well.

    I have been primarily using my Reverse Flow in an effort to master it as quick as possible, my estimate for this is about 2 years.

    The GOSM is a no brainer to operate and is not being replaced as I would not replace my Grill.

    I am still a little leery of doing ribs on my RF because of the tremendous success I have had on the GOSM.

    I guess you could call the GOSM my comfort smoker and as far as cons go, I have not found any yet.
  10. I appreciate the feedback. Thanks.
  11. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you get the WSM you can use either lump or briquets both work fine. I like to use lump on any cooks under 10 hrs. or so, especially poultry where I want that higher heat. On really long burns like brisket or a big pork butt I prefer briquets, they burn slower, lower, and longer with very little in the way of temp. spikes. On really long burns you have to just remember to stir the briquets about 10-12 hrs in (or tap the bottom of the WSM with the toe of your shoe a few times), just to knock the ash off of the outside of the briquets.