New Smoker from Kansas City

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Original poster
Jul 15, 2006
Kansas City
I consider myself a pretty decent griller but I am extremely ignorant when it comes to smoking meat so I was thrilled to find this form. I recently purchased a smoker from Lowes, nothing fancy. It has a regural cooking surface and a side firebox. I figured this would be a good one to start with.

I am tempting to conduct my first smoke tomorrow and need some starting advise. I have done some research and found a rub for my ribs which has been applied and is not resting in the fridge.

My big question is wood. I have purchased some hickory wood and can not find any information about the firebox. Should this wood be soaked in water, apple juice or something like that and then put in the firebox with the charcoals to generate the smoke?

Any help is appreciated and I am extremely glad to find this informative site.

If you are burning the wood then I would not soak it however when I use wood chips in my electric smoker often I will soak the chips.

What I would do if I were you would be to not soak them.

Maybe someone else can weigh in on this too.
I am obviously a novice and this may be a stupid question, but I thought I would put charcoal in the firebox and set the wood on top of it to generate the smoke.

Is that an incorrect way to smoke?

What kind of meat are you smoking?

I have found that the hickory can be a bit over powering if you are not careful. I try to make sure that I do not use a lot of it or use a fruit type of wood like apple.
Hello Mark,

You are on the right track. Build your fire with charcoal (lump preferably) and add your wood chunks to the fire for smoke seasoning.

Don't soak your chunks, it only cools off your fire.

Be very cautious on your temps. Smoking is a lot different than grilling. Don't trust the thermometer on the front of your smoker :!: . Try to keep your temps around 225 - 250. Check it with a digital thermometer.

If you are doing ribs, Do the 3-2-1 method and everything should be fine 8)
Welcome to the forum,

As a new user myself, I hope you find posting here as helpful as I have. As to your question with the charcoal. The method you are suggesting will work and pretty well but a lot of people here will suggest against this. It becomes confusing so maybe I can shed a little light. There are in general two type of charcoal, so if you see people writing about charcoal they usually ALWAYS mean lump hardwood charcoal. Then there is briquets, you know the kingsford kind, which is what I was assuming you meant by charcoal.

At home depot you can buy lump hardwood charcoal right out of the bag, but really just burn some wood in the firebox and limit the amount of air into the air intake, this will provide a low oxygen enviroment so the wood won't flame up and turn to ash, it'll become charcoal. The major reason that people here suggest against using briquets is because they are made with fillers and things we don't even know about. Lump hardwood charcoal is the purist way. But don't feel like you must do what your told. Just have fun with it.

As to the next part of the question. You should get your coals heated up, whatever your using, and if your making your own coals by burning hardwood there is no need to soak them. Then have some more lump hardwood, not burnt yet, soaking in water for at least 30 minutes. When your ready to start the smoke pull the wood out of the water and allow to dry alittle bit just so they are not soaked and dripping all over the fire. Put a few pieces on and you'll get smoke! There are some discussions about soaking though which probably will have much better information then I can provide. Best of luck.
Thanks for all the advise. I have already purchased a digital therometer. I am going to start by smoking beef ribs. I purchased some hickory wood and briquets.

I was going to soak the wood overnight in water/applejuice and then put it in the firebox next to the briquets. Based on the information here maybe I should rethink that?

Mark, with a small offset cooker, charcoal and chunks of wood are a great way to get started.

First off don't soak wood for a non gas or electric smoker ever.

Second-Smoker is just a term used for a BBQ cooker. You NEVER want to see smoke billowing from you cooker. This is an indicator of "bad smoke" (white is bad and dark smoke is awful) and an improperly combusted fire.
The desired result is "sweet blue" smoke that will be pale blue to completely invisible. The smoking effect comes from burning chemicals in the wood.
When white or dark smoke is present, other impurities in the wood are not being combusted and will leave a bitter, acrid nasty taste on the meat and even can leave soot (dark residue) on the food.

You avoid bad smoke by having a small but very hot fire. The high heat in the fire will burn off the impurities producing the desired sweet blue smoke.

Never use lighter fluid in a smoker. Get a chimney starter, spend the extra $$ on a Weber, the cheaper ones just don't last nearly as long.

Light up a chimney's worth (maybe 3/4 full) of charcoal (briq is fine) when it's hot and ashed over dump the charcoal in the firebox and add a few chunks to the fire (2 or 3 fist sized chunks) open the dampers wide and let the cooker heat up.

This will take 30-45 mins maybe a little less in the summer. Set another 2or3 chunks (more if they're smaller) of wood on top of the firebox to preheat.

You'll need to add fuel every 30-60 mins, add the preheated chunks and put more on to preheat.

After an 2-4 hours your coalbed will begin to dwindle. You'll need to add more charcoal and begin the process anew. Lump charcoal can be added directly to the fire, briq needs to be pre-lit in a chimney before being added to the cooker.

Best of luck, I've pm'd you my phone# feel free to call if you have any questions. I hate to see anyone not enjoy Q'ing because they can't get good advice to get started.
MarkG-Welocme to SMF. You have received some great advice here to get you started. You may want to look into tulsajeffs' 5-day eCourse. It has alot of information worth knowing. Good luck on you smoke and let us know how it went-good or bad-

Thanks for the help. I am off to try my first smoke this morning.

Hopefully it will be something I can eat.

Thanks again, this is an awesome forum is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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