- Apr 27, 2014
Spoken like a true Luddite stick burner. Yes you can get good BBQ with a stick burner but I can get just as good or better flavor with my gravity fed charcoal and chunk Assassin 28 without having to be a constant fire watcher. You did identify the physics of why a GF with charcoal has cleaner smoke than a stick fed, the higher temp of the charcoal burns off the impurities before it gets to the food. Your stick fed also has coals that put off creosote in gasses but inconsistencies in the fire make this less than uniform hence a less clean smoke. Good smoker hygiene is necessary in either type and quality fuel is key.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.