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Using hot coals

5-0 smoker

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So I've been throwing the idea around a bit lately and I'd like to get some insight from some more experienced smokers. I've got the three in one style grill (gas charcoal and smoke) with the offset smoker box. I've been using charcoal for heat and adding wood chunks/chips or small pieces of oak for smoke.

Has anyone kept a fire pit or fire ring going next to their smoker to use the coals from it, instead of adding charcoal for heat regulation? I've got plenty of wood, and it doesn't cost me anything. And a second question, if I do use the hot coals method, can I use poplar or another type of wood if I'm letting it burn down before putting it in the box?

Thanks in advance!

Zach
 

jasper7

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Yeah Zach, I've done that with my charcoal smoker.  Its really no different than using hardwood lump charcoal.  Poplar will work, any hardwood is fine.  Just don't use "softwood", which are woods from evergreen, cone bearing trees.  Basically, if it has leaves its a hardwood.  Hope that helps ya.
 

5-0 smoker

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That was my thought as well, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't off base. I'd never put anything soft on my woodpile. It's all mixed hardwood (for my woodstove in the house) so I can spare some wood for the smoker.

Thanks!

Z
 

crankybuzzard

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There are quite a few BBQ restaurants that do it too.
 

uzikaduzi

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I think what your suggesting is the preferred way to do it... I have done it but once wood is down to coals I don't think I personally get as much smoke using just the coals... I'm also lazy so I just use raw wood but if you don't keep it hot burning using raw wood it gives bitter smoke real easy which is likely why what your suggesting is preferred
 

5-0 smoker

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I think what your suggesting is the preferred way to do it... I have done it but once wood is down to coals I don't think I personally get as much smoke using just the coals... I'm also lazy so I just use raw wood but if you don't keep it hot burning using raw wood it gives bitter smoke real easy which is likely why what your suggesting is preferred
I'd just be using the coals for the heat and adding my chunks or chips for the smoke. I don't want to get overpowering smoke by using fresh wood the entire time.

-Zach
 

uzikaduzi

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I think your idea is going to give you exactly what your after. I misread that you would be also adding raw wood on top of pre-burned hard woods
 

rogerwilco

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..............................., any hardwood is fine.  Just don't use "softwood", which are woods from evergreen, cone bearing trees.  Basically, if it has leaves its a hardwood.  Hope that helps ya.
There are a whole lot of folks in Scandinavia who would disagree with this. If burned down to coals, even a Scotch pine can be used and will add a nice smokiness which can be a pleasant change from most hardwoods. I use cedar quite frequently.
 

SmokinAl

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My Son lives in Kansas & smokes all winter long doing just what you suggest.

He has a fire pit going & takes the splits out of the pit & puts them in his WSM.

It's the only way he can keep the temp up in the smoker.

He doesn't use any charcoal at all.

Al
 

5-0 smoker

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Thanks for all the responses, I'll be trying it this way with the picnic I found on sale.

Zach
 

smokenmyeyes

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I'm in the process of making a burn barrel and pre-burn my heat source ,hopefully this will help my issue with to much smoke. Just a question if u are pre-burning the wood does it necessarily need to be dried out.
 
Last edited:

5-0 smoker

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Joined Sep 22, 2016
I'm in the process of making a burn barrel and pre-burn my heat source ,hopefully this will help my issue with to much smoke. Just a question if u are pre-burning the wood does it necessarily need to be dried out.
All my wood is "dry" as it's used to heat my house and garage. Whether it's dry or not factoring in rainfall is dependent upon the weather. I wouldn't think it's a huge deal since you're using hot coals.

-Z
 

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