Splits NOT burning???

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by danbono, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All My 1st try with wood splits/White Birch from HD, worked pretty good. Yesterday I started with a basket 1/2 full with Kingsford Blue & Royal Oak lump. When the basket got down 1/2 full I added a two cherry splits 12" x 3", could NOT keep them lit. They would burn/fire with the firebox lid open , but when closed they would just smother.. I tried going to back to the white birch that I used the last time with the same results..Also was getting lots of white billowing smoke.I'm thinking that for some reason there wasn't enough oxygen to keep the splits on fire.I had the vent door wide open. thought that might help. The splits were heated up on the firebox lid.

    Temps were anywhere form 225-300. Ribs came very black looking, using the 3-2-1 way.

    What could have gone wrong with the splits not catching on fire? Last time with the white birch I had a nice "clean" fire.

    Old thread. http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/156361/white-birch.

    Thanks Dan
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds to me you are not getting enough air into your firebox or your chimney is closed.  You are getting poor airflow.  Try a smaller charcoal fire when using splits, maybe.
  3. Wow Dan.  I feel like am trying to teach an old dog to suck eggs here!  I should just probably shut up and go away!.  Heck you know as much as I do!  I assume you are using the smoker in your avatar.  So here are the stupid questions:  you didn:t have ash build up so that the coals got no air?  I agree there seems to be an air problem.  If you are using that offset that seems to me to be the ONLY reason.  NOW! sometimes I have had to  turn my offset so that air is blowing into the fire box but I am sure you know that.  I feel like I am preaching to the choir here.  That's all I can come up with.  I hope someone else has a solution that will fix all.  We can learn together!  Keep Smokin!

  4. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Try smaller splits 8" long x 1" thick.
    Also if starting with charcoal make sure the ash isn't chocking it as has been suggested by KC5
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dan.... evening ...... what smoker are you using..... electric..... SFB..... How about a picture....
  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Cherry is a more dense wood than birch, as much as 33% more dense.  It will absorb more heat from the existing fire than birch will to reach ignition or clean carbonization. 

    A 12"x3" split is a pretty big heat sink in the form of wood.  You're cooling off your fire too much adding that large a split, especially with a denser wood.  Unless you are adding it to a flaming hot or a glowing, hot ember fire you're not going to get enough heat for it to ignite cleanly.  At night you can actually see hot glowing, coals grow colder when putting a new piece of cold wood of that size on the hot coals as they lose their heat to the cold wood. Reduce the airflow by closing the lid and you just further reduced one of the primary legs of the fire triangle that helps keep the fire hot.  Basically its just going to smolder the boundary layer of the wood, absorb heat from the coals, and make a lot of white smoke.  It could even make the fire go out.

    Definitely cut the 12"x3" split into 12"x1" splits, or split it in half and then cut it in half so it is 6"x1.5".  It reduces the heat sink of the wood, allowing the temperature of the cold wood to rise quicker toward ignition, carbonization, and thin blue smoke.

    Or grab a weed burner and help the added wood heat up and ignite.   
    robplumm likes this.
  7. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All

    Thanks for the fast replies.Here are some answers to your questions.

    All Ash is NOT the problem. My grate & charcaol basket are 4 " from the bottom, plenty of room for air to get thur.

    I'm smoking with a Brinkmanns Smoke N Pit that has been sealed.

    What gets me is that when I used the white birch the 1st time it lit with NO problems, and just kept on burning.

    Will cut the  splits and put then on a hotter fire next time.

    Thanks Again Dan
  8. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The wood could be too wet still? It's a thought.
  9. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

  10. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Dan lighting a half chimney of hot lump and dumping  on the splits with the door open you can't  go wrong to get everything burning good. 
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
  11. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Rounds does not ignite and burn as quickly as splits on all sides, you want to make sure you get through the initial combustion stage fairly quickly, think small hot fire.

    Make sure to have a good coal bed

    Feed smaller splits, more often as opposed to larger splits less often and you should be fine.

  12. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Dan great advice by Squib too.  Something else to keep in mind is what makes a fire burn which is...heat + oxygen + fuel = fire.  When you had some billowing smoke you could have introduced some more heat via a torch such as a weed burner from HF and it most likely would have taken off quickly. 
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dan, from the January pictures, it looks like you might think about sealing up the FB door.... Then you could add air only to the fire... Looks like the fire grate could use about a 3" raise so air went under the fire.... and in the pictures, the fire was close to the door and then close to the Cook Chamber.... did you get different results from those 2 locations...

  14. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All Dave I don't think they were my firebox pic's that you posted. I sealed the firebox with with high temp silicone.The pit was sealed with self stick gasket from BB Gasket.. I still have some small leaks, but much better before the sealing. The fire grate and basket are 4" from the firebox bottom, plenty of air circulation

    I think my problem was the charcoal was NOT hot enough, when I added the splits.The 12x3 white birch burned/flamed SO good the last I use them.

    Dave: Seems to me the closest the basket is too pit the higher the temps.. Will have to pay better attention next time when I move the basket around. I was thinking maybe next time NOT using the basket, just a layer of Kingsford Blue then a layer of Royal Oak Lump, get same good hot coals then start adding the splits. The splits will be on the firebox before going into the firebox.Smaller splits 6x3 maybe another way to go.

    Thanks Dan
  15. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dan 3" is pretty thick I strongly suggest thinner splits, you can use longer but thicker will cause problems.

    Your fire is ready when your first few splits have been reduced to red hot coals, at this point you toss on a few splits and after combustion toss on your meat and you are in business.
  16. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm with SQWIB, split the pieces to get sharp edges instead of big fat rounds. Having enough air includes not only letting enough air in, but also getting air next to exposed wood. If you have a whole 3" piece, that's a lot of wood in the center, that can't get air so it won't light. Take that same piece and split it down the center and hot air (and radiant heat) will contact more wood. Maybe allow a mix of sizes so you have a few smaller pieces that will light sooner and help ignite the larger pieces.

    And don't be afraid of using shorter pieces. My experience with longer pieces is that they'll light and burn through the centers and leave two stub ends that you'll need to boss back into the fire.
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Those pics are from the link in your first post.... "White Birch" and it says "Thread starter DanBono in the thread....
  18. Hi Dan, I will ditto what has been said about larger splits. I'm not new to smoking but somewhat new to a wood/charcoal smoking, I started on an LP verticle smoker. I have found that the smaller splits tend to catch quicker obviously. I began trying a year ago to start the fire with lump in the chimney and then put a couple of 3" or so piece of wood.. What I found was that my lump or charcoal was burning out and even though the large splits were catching it didn't catch fast enough with out holding the FB door open to get it really flaming and then it was a quick burn. I suppose I could have modified the FB to get more air but don't need to yet!  I was constantly adding wood and getting the same results with the fire wanting to die out before the wood caught enough to produce the steady heat I wanted. I do have minimal leaks in my CC but I think it would be better without the gasket. I have tried it both ways. On background, I have a BTMLE. I like and it fits my budget but it does have a smaller FB than say an Oklahoma Joe. I just try to feed it the fuel I think it needs. In the end, smaller splits make life easier for me. 
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
  19. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Dave.. that's Cliff's post (#2) with those pics... sorry Bub ...
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    WOW...... How did I screw that up.... I must be getting really old to do that.... Sorry....

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