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Video…. Tom Horsman, no charcoal used in a gravity feed bbq cook.

RCAlan

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I see Tom Horsman posted a new video with a very creative approach to fueling his CG 980 as well as the Masterbuilt GF Smokers. No charcoal used… He loads his CG 980 completely with just wood chunks. Here’s the video…

Any thoughts or ideas about this approach? My first thought is, using to much wood and not being at the right/ideal temp might produce to much creosote, especially at very low and slow smoking temps. I might give this all wood chunk burn a shot on some spare ribs in the near future with my CG 980’s temp set at 275* degrees and taking notes myself. Seems very interesting. Anyone else tried this before? If yes, what were your results? Open discussion…

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clifish

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Interesting, just got MB gravity will be following.
 

912smoker

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Very intriguing. I've use a split surrounded by lump now to try all chunks !

Keith
 

RCAlan

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Very intriguing. I've use a split surrounded by lump now to try all chunks !

Keith


I’ve tried the hardwood split surrounded by charcoal in the charcoal hopper with good success. It definitely produces more smoke flavor profile then just adding a few hardwood chunks in the charcoal hopper. Using all hardwood chunks though, seems very intriguing... FYI. Hardwood and charcoal/lump charcoal are similar, yet burn very differently. Hardwood ignites faster then charcoal and produces more smoke, while charcoal produces more heat and less smoke then hardwood. Charcoal produces clean, thin blue smoke and some smoke flavor, while hardwood produces its distinct smoke flavor profile at the right set temperature, but can produce dirty smoke and creosote if burn at the wrong temperature. I’m looking forward to giving this all hardwood chunk bbq cook a try when I get a minute. I’m thinking of starting with just a few lit charcoals in the hopper to get the initial burn started and then top off the rest of the charcoal hopper with hardwood chunks. Maybe a ratio of 5%-10% lit charcoal to start and 90%-95% hardwood chunks to top off rest of the hopper, with a consistent grill set temp of 275* degrees. How much burn time using just hardwood will produce at the moment is anyones guess. I’m sure burning all hardwood will definitely produce a stronger smoke flavor profile then using a mixture of charcoal and hardwood or just straight charcoal. Also, I’m thinking bbqing at 275* degrees should produce a hotter burn and cleaner smoke then bbqing to low at 225*, that may produce creosote and dirty smoke. .02

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Smokin Okie

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I'm very skeptical that his ribs were " delicious " . Maybe to him, but I'm stick burner guy and I would not tolerate all that white smoke. That is smoldering wood. A stickburner operates with wood that is in flame. Its a much cleaner smoke.

Little wonder he had so much creosote. His ribs were probably coated with creosote.

And he discovered what I've found in the hopper, that wood burns at a lower ignition temp than charcoal. That's why the chunks were charred all the way to the top of the hopper. Same thing would've happened if he'd layered the chunks with charcoal in between, except the chunks would look the same but the charcoal in upper half of the hopper, would not be burned at all.

IMO, the best way to get close to a stickburner with either of these gravity feeds, is with wood chunks in the ash bin with a grate holding the chunks 4" off the bottom. They will burn in flame. And it will burn the paint off your firebox, the same as Tom found. Evidently, he had a chunk flame up in the ash bin. But to do this, you have to feed chunks into the ash bin maybe every 15 to 30 minutes.

But this also points out why, IMO, a GF produces such clean, thin blue smoke. Years ago on BBQ Pitmasters, the inventor of the GF, Walter " Stump " McDowell said the reason for clean smoke was that the " superheated air cleans the smoke " . When I heard that I was dubious, but after cooking with my MB560, I'm a believer.

Charcoal burns at a high temp than smoldering wood, as I said above. The smoke created by smoldering wood chunks, either in the hopper or in the ash bin, has to pass through the fully ignited charcoal to enter the cook chamber. Its very high temp, super heated inside the charcoal bed. And as Stump says, it cleans the smoke. It burns the impurities in the smoke.

Without using charcoal, the temps are lower inside the firebox and ya don't get the clean smoke. You get white smoldering smoke that contains a lot of stuff ya don't want on your food. The wood does not smolder at a high enough temp.

With my stickburner, I can't always keep the smoke thin blue. I get white smoke occasionally for various reasons. But over the course of the cook, 80 to 90% of the time, I'm running clean blue thin. A small amount of white smoke doesn't hurt. But 100% white smoke is gonna create meat with an acrid bitter taste.

I will always use charcoal in my 560 and if I want more wood smoke flavor, I'll add more chunks. What Tom did is not what happens in a stickburner.
 
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Smokin Okie

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. Also, I’m thinking bbqing at 275* degrees should produce a hotter burn and cleaner smoke then bbqing to low at 225*, that may produce creosote and dirty smoke. .02

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Char-Griller 980 GF… Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi

And btw, I agree that Tom should've upped his temps to 275 or higher, he would've gotten a bit cleaner smoke.

But its still smoldering wood.

Wood burning in flame burns at a high temp and it produces clean smoke. That's what I work for on a stickburner.
 

RCAlan

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And btw, I agree that Tom should've upped his temps to 275 or higher, he would've gotten a bit cleaner smoke.

But its still smoldering wood.

Wood burning in flame burns at a high temp and it produces clean smoke. That's what I work for on a stickburner.
I totally agree… Definitely cooked at the wrong temp and the creosote in his smoker looked terrible. The bbq couldn’t have tasted good. .02. I still might give it a shot though at 275* degrees and perhaps a mixture of 70% hardwood to 30% lump charcoal.

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Char-Griller 980 GF… Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi
 
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babydoc

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I'm very skeptical that his ribs were " delicious " . Maybe to him, but I'm stick burner guy and I would not tolerate all that white smoke. That is smoldering wood. A stickburner operates with wood that is in flame. Its a much cleaner smoke.

Little wonder he had so much creosote. His ribs were probably coated with creosote.

And he discovered what I've found in the hopper, that wood burns at a lower ignition temp than charcoal. That's why the chunks were charred all the way to the top of the hopper. Same thing would've happened if he'd layered the chunks with charcoal in between, except the chunks would look the same but the charcoal in upper half of the hopper, would not be burned at all.

IMO, the best way to get close to a stickburner with either of these gravity feeds, is with wood chunks in the ash bin with a grate holding the chunks 4" off the bottom. They will burn in flame. And it will burn the paint off your firebox, the same as Tom found. Evidently, he had a chunk flame up in the ash bin. But to do this, you have to feed chunks into the ash bin maybe every 15 to 30 minutes.

But this also points out why, IMO, a GF produces such clean, thin blue smoke. Years ago on BBQ Pitmasters, the inventor of the GF, Walter " Stump " McDowell said the reason for clean smoke was that the " superheated air cleans the smoke " . When I heard that I was dubious, but after cooking with my MB560, I'm a believer.

Charcoal burns at a high temp than smoldering wood, as I said above. The smoke created by smoldering wood chunks, either in the hopper or in the ash bin, has to pass through the fully ignited charcoal to enter the cook chamber. Its very high temp, super heated inside the charcoal bed. And as Stump says, it cleans the smoke. It burns the impurities in the smoke.

Without using charcoal, the temps are lower inside the firebox and ya don't get the clean smoke. You get white smoldering smoke that contains a lot of stuff ya don't want on your food. The wood does not smolder at a high enough temp.

With my stickburner, I can't always keep the smoke thin blue. I get white smoke occasionally for various reasons. But over the course of the cook, 80 to 90% of the time, I'm running clean blue thin. A small amount of white smoke doesn't hurt. But 100% white smoke is gonna create meat with an acrid bitter taste.

I will always use charcoal in my 560 and if I want more wood smoke flavor, I'll add more chunks. What Tom did is not what happens in a stickburner.
Spoken like a pitmaster. Fantastic perspective.
 

SmokinAl

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I agree with Okie, that is way too much heavy white smoke. The rig looked brand new & after only 1 cook it was covered in creosote. I tried to use a BBQ Guru with my Lang a couple of times & it just didn’t work, because if the fan was off then the wood would start to smolder & produce creosote. That is what seems to be happening here, when the temp gets too high the fan shuts off & cools the fire down, producing a smoldering thick white smoke.
Al
 

Smokin Okie

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I totally agree… Definitely cooked at the wrong temp and the creosote in his smoker looked terrible. The bbq couldn’t have tasted good. .02. I still might give it a shot though at 275* degrees and perhaps a mixture of 70% hardwood to 30% lump charcoal.

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Char-Griller 980 GF… Pellet Pro Austin XL and a few more mods... In SoCal and Always... Semper Fi

Harry Soo has won a lot of comps cooking on WSM's. He uses lump. He buries his wood chunks down in the lump. And he cooks at 275. I think all three of those help him get good smoke.
 

Chasdev

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Franklin's book has a detailed explanation of the science and chemistry behind "clean" smoke, at least the best I've come across.
Anyone who has ever managed to achieve clear blue smoke knows how much better the meat tastes compared to visible or dirty smoke.
 

Smokin Okie

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Franklin's book has a detailed explanation of the science and chemistry behind "clean" smoke, at least the best I've come across.
Anyone who has ever managed to achieve clear blue smoke knows how much better the meat tastes compared to visible or dirty smoke.

Meathead's PHD , I think his name is Blondie, also dives deep into smoke and the chemical makeup of smoke over at Amazingribs.com

This is directly from Franklin's book, Chapter 4 , Fire and Smoke, page 94 and read along with me ... hehehe

" A hot fire likewise incinerates many of the nasty volatile compounds that are being released at lower temperatures. Books like " Modernist Cuisine " and " McGees on Food and Cooking " agree that, to get the sweetest smoke, the best temperature for your fire is between 570*F and 750*F. Above that, the wood is releasing only the lightest and most subtle elements of the smoke, with the heaviest particles being incinerated. Good flavor can come from this stage too, but with less impact. Truth told, I don't measure the temperature of the fire itself. I'm more interested in the temperature in the cook chamber at the level where the meat sits. "
 

bill1

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The other thing Horsman did which seems questionable to me is he used scrap hardwood lumber. It's kiln-dried and comes from the heart of a tree, not close to the bark. I've never had good luck with lumber.
 

G8trwood

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My thoughts watching it is that he is both cooking and making charcoal at the same time. The nasty is coming from the charcoal making process. I was surprised it fed without bridging, if you could keep the chute gradient cooler it would probably work.
 

bill1

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...I was surprised it fed without bridging...
The hopper still looked pretty full to me, after a pretty long cook. (Granted there was a lot of combustion heat that went into making all that charcoal.) I'm not sure he didn't have some bridging halfway down. Might have been part of the reason his fire burned up so high.
 

Smokin Okie

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The hopper still looked pretty full to me, after a pretty long cook. (Granted there was a lot of combustion heat that went into making all that charcoal.) I'm not sure he didn't have some bridging halfway down. Might have been part of the reason his fire burned up so high.

My experience with my MB560, wood chunks high in the hopper will burn while the charcoal does not ignite. Wood chunks burn at a lower temp than charcoal.

I put a layer of charcoal, then chunk, then charcoal, then chunk ... and the chunks at the top of the hopper will be burned.

I've taken 14" split and split it again. I stand a piece vertically in the hopper and surround it with charcoal. Then take the other split and put on top of the first , surround that with charcoal. At the end of the cook, both splits will be completely burnt, while the charcoal only burns in firebox where it gets oxygen and ignites.

Seeing Horsmans chunks burnt did not surprise me.
 
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