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Usual story- newbie considering first smoker.

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by Rathog23, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. texomakid

    texomakid Smoking Fanatic

    Welcome - Just get a smoker and get cooking! My guess is when the bug bites you'll own more than one cooker (as most of us do......) Hey, I resemble that 230 lbs comment made earlier by someone :(
    wbf610 likes this.
  2. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    Looked at a lot of WSM vids on youtube last night. It seems like there is some work initially in getting it started but, once they're warmed up, they're pretty much hands off.
    And besides, it shares its initials with the Grand Ole Opry radio station. How's that for tradition ?
    There are a couple on CL here in KCMO but not great deals.
  3. wbf610

    wbf610 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Really not that hard to get them started. Fill the ring with coal, mix in some wood chunks, create a divot in the center, open all three vents. Start around 15 individual coals in a chimney, and dump them in the divot when they are hot. Assemble the smoker, and wait for temps to come up. When it gets 20-30 degrees from target temp, close down the lower vents to 1/4-1/8 open. I close two completely, and let the third about 1/4 open. That will hold 225 in mine.
  4. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome aboard.....I have 2 MES 40" and 1 - 30" both electric. There is not a right or wrong smoker, each has it purpose. Find the one that works for you and learn from there. Pro & Cons from electric to gas each has their pluses and minuses although I feel if I lived in a colder climate I would choose propane for faster recovery in cold/cool weather. Good luck and many smokes to ya!

  5. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    EVERY smoker has a learning curve. The nice thing about a WSM is you never have to worry about electronics failing, wrong programming, a power failure, etc. Electrics can deliver great tasting Q, but it won't have the depth of flavor of a WSM or a stick burner, but it can get pretty dang close with an AMAZN pellet tray.

    With the right briquette charcoal (Royal Oak) in a WSM, it will burn hands off for 12-14 hours before you have to stir to knock off the ash, and burn for 18-20 hours or longer. I bury my wood in the charcoal so it preheats, burns cleaner, and applies smoke longer. Most folks don't use water in the water pan, choosing nothing, sand, etc. The water pan is just a heat deflector.

    If you get one, there are lots of WSM'ers here to help shorten your learning curve.

    It's Spring, and charcoal will be going on sale at any minute. Cheap, and easy to stock up.
  6. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    One thing I wonder about with the WSM is low temp smoking on items such as scallops. I know you can use the Amazen tube or maze for cold smoke on items such as cheese and nuts. Can the WSM do around 140 degrees ?
    The more I read and see on youtube about pellet and MES fails, the more attractive the WSM becomes.
  7. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes, but it takes a little practice and a denser briquette like RO or Weber, not the lighter KBB. And you start a full load of cold charcoal with only 3-4 hot briquettes. All lower vents closed and let the smoker SLOWLY come up to temp, like 90 minutes. It will usually stabilize around 125-135F. If the temp starts to climb further, don't be afraid to close down the upper vent a little. That upper vent will make quick changes and only needs to move like 1/8".

    I smoke cured beef jerky at 150-165F using the above process. Got a batch marinating as I type.
    Rathog23 likes this.
  8. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    Which brings up the question of how much charcoal is used per cook and the comparable cost between electric and charcoal. WSMs seem to like Kingsford and the videos I've been looking at look like you use a good part if a bag each time.

    It seems like you have to do a full heat to use a WSM as opposed to being able to just turn an electric on for a short while.
  9. texomakid

    texomakid Smoking Fanatic

    You know Ray is right. You can't beat Charcoal when it comes right down to it. The WSM is a great cooker. I'm fixing to knock the dust off of mine and it's going to get the dog waddle used out of it.
  10. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I can't compare electric to charcoal cost, but I can address charcoal use and cost.

    I've stopped using KBB because the formula changes make it burn faster. A full load of Royal Oak briquettes, about 12-13 lbs in a 22.5" WSM, will burn for about 20 hours at 225F. That's about $3 worth of charcoal. If you only do a 6 hour smoke, you smother the fire, knock off the ash before the next smoke and reuse the existing charcoal.

    I go thru about 30-60 lbs of charcoal a month in 4-6 WSM smokes of varying lengths and 4-8 grilling sessions on my Kettle.

    I buy my RO charcoal for the year in the Spring when it goes on sale at Lowes for $4 a bag, or about 26 cents a lb. Home Depot will have 2x20 lbs bags of RO on sale come Memorial Day for $9.88, or 25 cents a lb.

    If you only use your smoker a couple times a month, no big deal. If you plan on smoking year round and often, stock up time is right around the corner.
    Rathog23 likes this.
  11. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    Well, I'm sure glad I posted here before buying. I'm leaning more towards the WSM for a bunch of reasons. For one thing, the bottom can always be used for a basic grill if necessary, either for finishing chicken or in a power outage.

    Cheese and other cold smokes can be done with an amazen smoker tube.
  12. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    Next hurdle. About made my mind up on the WSM but, darlin' wife wants smoked salmon and I've been hearing about the alleged funky odor left behind by some fishies .

    Problem for backyard smokers or just competitors ?
  13. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    No problems with funky odors smoking fish. We do allot of salmon and trout on the WSM. Both cold and hot smoked.

    Go for it.
    Rathog23 and fivetricks like this.
  14. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    I haven't even bought one smoker yet and I'm already thinking I need 2 :-) . I like the low and slow charcoal capabilities of the WSM but, I think there will be time when an electric would be more convenient for a short smoke, like just a couple of small pieces of salmon for dinner. Also, it seems more efficient to use an electric for things like cheese and nuts that just take an hour or two rather then heating a whole batch of coals.

    I've considered the Big/Little Chief smokers but, none of the local stores have them in stock and I really want to actually see whatever smoker I get before I buy. Unfortunately, many of the electrics such as MES and Smoke Hollow seem to have reliability and quality of build problems when i read reviews.
  15. Jim kraatz

    Jim kraatz Smoke Blower

    Anybody who’s got any kind of a smoker, and smokes something with it will always produce better product than one who is so concerned about the intricacies and vagaries of the process that he never actually applies smoke to meat....
    Rathog23 likes this.
  16. JAEBR29

    JAEBR29 Fire Starter

    Well I just bought a second hand wsm and I've felt I'm failing at controlling the temps in it. Its still early but I haven't got to set it and forget it.
    With that said, I'm still 2 for 2 in good food made. And it is kinda fun getting everything all set up for the smoke. Todays smoke was frustrating due to paranoia, but it was also delicious.
    Jim kraatz likes this.
  17. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    Have you studied any of the various videos on youtube regarding temp control on a WSM ?
  18. Rathog23

    Rathog23 Fire Starter

    webernew.jpeg Went with the WSM :-) First will probably be the beginners chicken from TVWB. As for seasoning, the consensus seems to be to just go ahead and start smoking.
  19. I've got a Big Chief. Picked it up from a buddy for $30 and in my opinion that is all they are worth, tops.
    There is no temperature control on the heating element.
    It is not an effective cold smoker. I consider it a low temperature cooker-smoker.
    If you're looking to only smoke (not cook) fish, it is too hot. It smokes AND cooks fish.
    It melts most cheeses unless you watch the cabinet temperature and unplug the element.
    The wood pan will produce billowing clouds of smoke if you use chips. Chunks reduces the smoke, but you don't get thin blue smoke unless you unplug to prevent the chunk from catching fire.
    You need a heat resistant table or stand to make it operator friendly.

    Now, after I learned the quirks, I have smoked many pork butts in mine. Couple hours of smoke then moved to either oven or Weber kettle to cook the butt to 200 degrees.