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Noob question on chunks vs. larger pieces of wood for Char-Griller SFB

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by rob27502, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. rob27502

    rob27502 Newbie

    Hi everyone -

    I'm a noob and am spending LOTS of time getting all sorts of info from this site and these boards, but I can't seem to find an answer to a question I have on the size of my wood fuel. It should be noted that I am also a noob to the world of smoking in general. Last weekend I picked up my first piece of equipment, a Char-Griller charcoal grill with the side fire box.

    In the Char-Griller owner's manual, it specifically says that larger pieces of wood are needed for the best results in the SFB. So my question is - How much does size matter? [​IMG]

    I would really like to smoke a pork shoulder over apple wood, but seemingly, the largest pieces of apple wood that I can buy are chunks. Are these typically big enough, or do I need to go chop down a tree? I'm assuming that the smaller the fuel size, the more fuel I'll need.

    Any hints on fuel size, especially in the Char-Griller line would be most appreciated. And of course, I will post pictures of losing my smoking virginity!
  2. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the forum! Don't forget to swing by Roll Call and tell us a little bit about yourself. [​IMG]

    Most folks make a charcoal basket that hangs from the upper grate rails of their fire box and use the charcoal as the main heat source. Then they add either a couple of golfball to baseball sized chunks of flavor wood every so often for the smoke, or they toss in a small split length of flavor wood (approx 3"x3"x12").

    If you do a search in the charcoal smoker section for "charcoal basket" you will pull up several threads showing various types and techiniques of charcoal baskets you can either make or buy. There are also several other simple cheap mods you can do the the char-grillers that make them a much better smoker.
  3. I second doing the mods, they are pretty easy and effective. Don't rely on the thermometer that comes with the unit, they are usually way off. Lowes sells a Taylor Digital with a probe for about $15. I have been using lump charcoal and chips/chunks in mine.

    Oh yeah, Welcome and good luck!
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  4. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    i have a chargriller also,you will love it.I use chunks of wood about the size of a big grapefruit that size will normally last about 3 hours or more   i would get yourself a new temp gauge the one that comes with the griller is junk...way off
  5. rob27502

    rob27502 Newbie

    Thanks everyone! I'll go check out the charcoal basket and the mods info.

    That makes sense to use the charcoal for heat and the wood for the smoke flavor.
  6. jftx

    jftx Fire Starter

    How long do you soak your wood chunks before you put them on the fire?
  7. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    I dont soak them. (Anymore)
    I put the chunk off to side of the coals not on top of them.
    Last longer that way
  8. jftx

    jftx Fire Starter

    I try to place the charcoal in the dead center of my FB.  I wonder if i put the chunk of wood on the far side of it underneath the opening into the smoker if it would help get the smoke into the smoker.  Does that make sense?  What do you think?
  9. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    The smoke should go into the smoker no matter were u put the wood but putting it on the side like that should let it burn slower .
  10. X2 on using charcoal as the heat and small amounts of wood for the flavor. I usually make a foil pouch and fill it with chips and squeeze it between my charcoal basket and the front of my fire box. This allows the wood to produce good smoke(TBS). Then once the chips turn black, dump and refill. Also experiment with lump and briquette charcoal and see which you like better. They say that lump gives you a hotter fire but I haven't seen much difference. The only bad thing with briquettes is you end up with a TON of ash and if you are doing a long smoke you have to watch the amount of ash. If you get to much in the fire box it will start choking out your fire. I usually scrape mine out with some tongs. I have tongs just for the grill that I never wash but don't use on food. Makes it handy to have em hanging there when I need to shake the charcoal basket, remove grill grates or empty ash. I also like using kingsford hickory briquettes with apple wood chips. I love the hickory/apple combo!

    Welcome aboard! Lots of good folks with lots of good advise here!
  11. Does anyone know the reasoning behind using two or three small logs, vice the chips or chunks?? I've always been warned about over smoking but I've seen a lot of videos of people adding a log or two to their offset fire box.
  12. tirrin

    tirrin Smoke Blower

    i find that its very easy with my chargriller to get too much smoke with using just one chunk of wood..depending on your basket and sfb, chunk placement is key..make sure to check the chimney often for too much smoke..you only need a little bit of blue sweet smelling smoke..you dont need a volcano..
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  13. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I start with 2 chimneys of lit lump charcoal, and place 1 or 2 splits(about 9"long by 3") in the fire box to the left of the fire next to the cooking chamber to pre-heat. When the coals burn down enough so that my temp begins to drop I add 1 of the splits to the coal pile. The preheated wood catches fire almost immediately. I also add another split ot preheat at this time. I do not have to worry about a smokey fire using this method. BTW I only cook ribs, chicken and sausage on the CG.

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  14. Thanks, I like how the wood can pre heat before using. Is there a particular reason you use splits instead of soaked chips?
  15. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I have an instructional in the Wiki section, it will give you an idea on fire placement and control. Even if you run charcoal...

    The main thing is to learn your smoker and see where it accepts your fire the best...front , back , one side or the other. Do you have a 4" area under the fire grate to insure airflow? Creating a draft is crucial too-leave the exhaust (wide) open at all times.

    Check out Stick burning 101, some good info.

    Have fun and...
  16. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have a ready supply of maple and cherry in both splits and chunks. I use the splits as fuel for the CG and chunks for flavor wood when using the kettle. IMHO soaking chips is not necessary, put them in a foil pouch or cast iron smoke box instead.