• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Question about use of wood for smoking

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
When I first started smoking, I was using mostly lump charcoal and now I have switched to using primarily oak.  For you guys that are using just wood to smoke with, how do you keep from oversmoking the meat?  Obviously when adding more wood to your fire, it has a tendency to smoke up.  This became really apparent when I did my last brisket a couple of weeks ago.  Felt it was too smokey.  Typically I open the firebox all the way and crack the door to my smoke chamber until it is fully burning.  Is there something else I should be doing?  Thanks.
 

venture

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
6,949
72
Joined Aug 1, 2008
Most smaller smokers are not designed to be stick burners.

You could try pre burning your wood before adding it to the smoker.  That helps get rid of the billowing white smoke.

Good luck, and good smoking!
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
wanted to follow back up on this thread.  I know this is by no means the largest smoker, but I think it should be big enough to burn straight wood..That said, why couldn't you burn straight wood in a smaller smoker if you wanted too??

About a week or two back I did an experiment by using just lump charcoal along with some Kingsford briquettes..Up to this point I had been using primarily cut up oak. my maverick wireless said the smoke chamber temp was running between 225 and 250, usually right around the 225 mark.  really never got up much passed that.  I'm betting that if I switched back to straight wood I could get the temps up a little higher.
 

alblancher

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
4,166
62
Joined Mar 6, 2009
If you are using an off-set smoker there is nothing wrong with using both charcoal and small, dry splits as a source of fuel.  If you have to much smoke taste and not the nasty, sour creosote taste the problem may be that the food is in the smoke for to long a period of time for your tastes.

If you continually have thick white smoke coming out of your smoker you have a problem with the draft and/or the fuel you are using.  Make sure your splits are DRY.  Dry splits do not burn with thick white smoke for any length of time.  I like to use smaller splits and tend to add small amounts of fuel at a time, from the damper side of my firebox.  The heat in the firebox gets the new splits burning quickly and moves any initial white smoke through the smoke chamber quickly.  You can stack your splits on top of your firebox to let them warm up a bit and dry up any external moisture.

Make sure the meat you start with is dry.  Wet meat acts like a sponge to absorb smoke and can come out greasy.

Don't be afraid to pull the meat out of the smoker and place in the oven to finish cooking. 

I do any number of things to moderate smoke chamber temps.  Small off-sets are a pain in the neck for temperature regulation but a little bit of effort on your part produces some great meals.   

Hope this help,  sometimes it just takes practice.
 

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,653
138
Joined Jun 5, 2009
I assume your smoker is the one shown in your avatar picture? If so it isn't really designed for doing just wood..... unless you pre-burn the wood as Venture mentioned. A small home smoker usually does not have enough internal cubic footage and the straight wood smoke ends up being concentrated in a relatively small space - even with all your vents 100% open for max air flow.

Pre-burning is usually accomplished in a small firepit or burn barrel. Basically you light a fire and burn the wood down to coals (lit charcoal) then transfer them to your smoker, repeat as needed for the length of your smoke. This way all the volatiles in the wood that create the white billowy smoke have a chance to burn off before it is put into your smoker. If you have a large wood supply and a place to do this it can be a great way to fuel you smoker on the cheap, if not then just buy lump charcoal and call it good.
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
Thanks, I had been using dry oak splits, but maybe not dry enough.  Good suggestion about sitting them on top of the fire box..I'll definitely try adding the wood through the damper the next  time.  Still getting used to this smoker, there are a couple of tweaks I'd like to make with the design and I may carry it back to the guy who built it to do a couple of mods..
If you are using an off-set smoker there is nothing wrong with using both charcoal and small, dry splits as a source of fuel.  If you have to much smoke taste and not the nasty, sour creosote taste the problem may be that the food is in the smoke for to long a period of time for your tastes.

If you continually have thick white smoke coming out of your smoker you have a problem with the draft and/or the fuel you are using.  Make sure your splits are DRY.  Dry splits do not burn with thick white smoke for any length of time.  I like to use smaller splits and tend to add small amounts of fuel at a time, from the damper side of my firebox.  The heat in the firebox gets the new splits burning quickly and moves any initial white smoke through the smoke chamber quickly.  You can stack your splits on top of your firebox to let them warm up a bit and dry up any external moisture.

Make sure the meat you start with is dry.  Wet meat acts like a sponge to absorb smoke and can come out greasy.

Don't be afraid to pull the meat out of the smoker and place in the oven to finish cooking. 

I do any number of things to moderate smoke chamber temps.  Small off-sets are a pain in the neck for temperature regulation but a little bit of effort on your part produces some great meals.   

Hope this help,  sometimes it just takes practice.
That's is my old smoker, this is the one I have now.



There is a decent amount of space in there, but you may be right it might not be enough to keep the smoke from concentrating.  I'd thought about doing the pre-burn thing but it just seems to be too much of a hassle.  The lump charcoal I've been using seems to burn up so fast, maybe I need to switch to a different kind.  Like the Green Egg brand or something.  better yet, maybe I'll just get myself a bigger horizontal smoker...now there's a thought.
 
I assume your smoker is the one shown in your avatar picture? If so it isn't really designed for doing just wood..... unless you pre-burn the wood as Venture mentioned. A small home smoker usually does not have enough internal cubic footage and the straight wood smoke ends up being concentrated in a relatively small space - even with all your vents 100% open for max air flow.

Pre-burning is usually accomplished in a small firepit or burn barrel. Basically you light a fire and burn the wood down to coals (lit charcoal) then transfer them to your smoker, repeat as needed for the length of your smoke. This way all the volatiles in the wood that create the white billowy smoke have a chance to burn off before it is put into your smoker. If you have a large wood supply and a place to do this it can be a great way to fuel you smoker on the cheap, if not then just buy lump charcoal and call it good.
 
Last edited:

smokebuzz

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
1,769
29
Joined Jul 14, 2006
You should be fine with staight wood with your smoker. I burn wood in my WSM with out any issues, just cut the wood smaller or burn them in half.
 

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,653
138
Joined Jun 5, 2009
I would use some expaned metal and make yourself a raised charcoal basket no matter what fuel you decide to use. That way as your fuel burns the ash can fall out the bottom and not smother your fire - which will also help it burn cleaner with less smoke.

I would build this basket with some feet on it to stand it up off the bottom of your firebox by about 3-4 inches: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/forum/thread/89796/i-call-it-the-20-20-charcoal-basket  

For feet you could take some 1/4-20 or 3/8-16 bolts and some washers and nuts to make adjustable height legs. You put one nut and a washer on the bolt about 1" from the end, then put the bolt under the basket with the head of the bolt on the ground. Put on the other washer and the other nut from the inside of the basket, creating a sandwich of nut/washer/basket metal/washer/nut. Run the threads up and down as needed to level the basket and then tighten it all down - lock washers would work best.

You will get much better airflow through your firebox and it will only cost you about $25 bucks to make.
 

alblancher

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
4,166
62
Joined Mar 6, 2009
Good comments JRodriguez

Definitely need some air space under your fuel.  Increase temperature and improves draft.
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
Appreciate all of the input.  I have a grate(not shown in the pic) that sits on the bottom of the box, it has angle iron legs. Thinking it might not be quite high enough off the bottom. I'll snap a pic this weekend.  Oh and thanks for the link JL, I'll be making a trip to Home Depot this weekend..That basket looks to be exactly what I need.
 
Last edited:

pineywoods

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
Staff member
Administrator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
OTBS Admin
Group Lead
26,632
859
Joined Mar 22, 2008
Personally I would try a raised grate and smaller wood splits. The down side is you will need to add wood more often since you are using the smaller splits.
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
Thanks Piney, I have a grate, it's just not cutting it..I think it's sitting to close to the bottom of the fire box which is causing the fire to get smothered out once the ash builds up..You're right though, I may have to go down in size with the splits I'm using.  Currently they're anywhere from 12 to 16 inches long and various diameter.  I'll take a pic of what I've been burning this weekend.
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
ok, just made a trip to Home Depot to get the material to build the basket per eaglewing's thread..I have my weekend project now!!
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
Built the charcoal basket..Here is a pick of my smoker with the grate I got with it and then with the basket in there. I could have made the bends a little better, but it should get the job done.. Still think I need to raise it up a little to get it closer to the damper. 





 
Last edited:

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,653
138
Joined Jun 5, 2009
Build the little feet I mentioned in my first post, using some 4" long bolts, washers, and nuts. Then you can adjust the height to whatever works for you.
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
I got the bolts and washers for the feet, but what I may try first is some pieces of brick to lift the grate up off the bottom.  I think that might do the trick.
 

alblancher

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
4,166
62
Joined Mar 6, 2009
I would probably be careful about going outside in the garden and digging up your wife's garden boarder.  Not only will you  hear it from her but I would think that standard brick laying around outside has a lot of moisture in it.  Keep the firebox door closed because you may have some snap, crackle and pop from the brick.  Maybe a piece of new firebrick will work for you. you'll probably be ok but the firebox does get hot.

Al 
 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
I'm going to give this set up a try for my next smoke.the pavers give me enough clearance to get my shovel in there so I can clear out the ash if I have to.  Also did a bead of the high temp RTV around the door to help keep the heat in..we'll see how it works.





 

jeremymillrood

Smoke Blower
99
18
Joined Dec 22, 2009
lol..I definitely didn't dig up the garden border. Picked up some new from the local hardware store..I'll check around for the fire brick..do they have that at Lowes?
 
I would probably be careful about going outside in the garden and digging up your wife's garden boarder.  Not only will you  hear it from her but I would think that standard brick laying around outside has a lot of moisture in it.  Keep the firebox door closed because you may have some snap, crackle and pop from the brick.  Maybe a piece of new firebrick will work for you. you'll probably be ok but the firebox does get hot.

Al 
 

shoneyboy

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
1,895
55
Joined Nov 3, 2010
Great thread and a lot of good ideals...Thanks to everone, I have enjoyed the thread....and all the ideals. I'm looking to build a new smoker soon and keep everones ideals in mind when thinking about what I want and what I need from my new smoker. Shoneyboy
 

Latest posts

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.