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Wood chunks as main fuel source?

bobmc859

Newbie
5
2
Joined May 4, 2021
Hello, I'm fairly new to smoking and one my biggest challenges is maintaining temperature. I've been using an Oklahoma Joe's Highland smoker since last year and primarily using a variety of charcoals as my main heat source, different lump charcoal brands and regular briquettes . I would normally add a few wood chunks in at the start of the cook, these are the type you get at your local big box store, and after they burned out I wouldn't add any more. After doing more research for this year I see a lot of information that tells me most offset smoker works best using wood as the primary heat source, it could help with temperature control, among other benefits. I'd love to try this, but coming by splits or small logs of Pecan, Apple or some of the other types isn't readily available in my area so before I have this shipped in I wanted to get some opinions on using wood chucks as the primary heat source instead of splits or small logs. I would add that this past year in my attempt to help with maintaining temperature I did many of the recommend mods to the smoker. I added the clamps to better secure the lid, I added the tuning plate, I sealed the firebox, I put a seal around the inside lid door, and I purchased a basket for the firebox. While all that did help some, my temperatures won't stay steady for very long at all and I'm going through charcoal like crazy trying to get temps up and steady. I don't mind to ship in splits if I have to, but obviously chunks are more readily available but if they aren't really designed, at least the big box store kind, for that type of use I don't want to waste money, time or worst food, in experimenting so thought I'd ask.
 

mike243

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
2,621
1,060
Joined Feb 25, 2018
Welcome to the site. Any wood shipped has to be kiln dried, that said it burns quicker than non K dried and hotter, off sets have to be fueled when burning wood every 30-60 minutes , what part of the world are you in, most states have wood that works well for smoking, good luck on finding a good fuel/method
 

bobmc859

Newbie
5
2
Joined May 4, 2021
Welcome to the site. Any wood shipped has to be kiln dried, that said it burns quicker than non K dried and hotter, off sets have to be fueled when burning wood every 30-60 minutes , what part of the world are you in, most states have wood that works well for smoking, good luck on finding a good fuel/method
Thanks Mike, I'm in central KY and hickory is probably the most popular or at least most readily available in my area, but I have concerns using that in a long smoke, like brisket or pork butts as I've read it can be fairly strong. Though I suppose it certainly wouldn't hurt to try it and see if we like it or not..
 
19
12
Joined Apr 23, 2021
Welcome to the site. I also have an Oklahoma Joe's smoker. I use cowboy lump charcoal with cowboy wood chunks. For me 1 chimney of lump will get me in between 225°&250° where all the magic happens. I don't worry about keeping the exact temp the whole time as long as I stay between those temps. The vents help control the temp and I stay around the same 5° variance during the smoke. If you wanna use wood for your heat source try craigslist. I have had good luck there, people give it away as long as you are able to haul it away. The only thing with that is it usually needs to be seasoned so it's not ready for use right away. Hope this helps.

4am
 
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smokeymose

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
3,662
1,178
Joined Aug 13, 2015
Do you have a Lowes, Home Depot or Menards anywhere near? I get my Hickory and Mesquite by the bag at HD. Menards sells OK Joe brand. The only issue I've had is that sometimes the "splits" are bigger than I like.
. wood.jpg
I get Ash and Oak from my fireplace woodpile, but they usually need cut down to fit the firebox.
I like Hickory for Pork and Mesquite for Beef. Oak works for everything.
I only use charcoal to get the wood started. No "mods" except a couple of steel tuning plates.
You'll always be playing with the fire LOL! If I can keep mine anywhere between 260 and 280 I'm a happy camper.
 

bobmc859

Newbie
5
2
Joined May 4, 2021
Welcome to the site. I also have an Oklahoma Joe's smoker. I use cowboy lump charcoal with cowboy wood chunks. For me 1 chimney of lump will get me in between 225°&250° where all the magic happens. I don't worry about keeping the exact temp the whole time as long as I stay between those temps. The vents help control the temp and I stay around the same 5° variance during the smoke. If you wanna use wood for your heat source try craigslist. I have had good luck there, people give it away as long as you are able to haul it away. The only thing with that is it usually needs to be seasoned so it's not ready for use right away. Hope this helps.
Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately my variance is seems much more than that and never really stays steady throughout the cook, for very long anyway. I will check out Craigslist though, maybe I'll get lucky there! Thanks again!!
 

bobmc859

Newbie
5
2
Joined May 4, 2021
Do you have a Lowes, Home Depot or Menards anywhere near? I get my Hickory and Mesquite by the bag at HD. Menards sells OK Joe brand.
I do have a Lowes in town, a HD only 30 minutes away and I've seen them offer the splits, but was hoping I could stick primarily to Apple and Pecan, which they don't seem to offer. I may just have to give Hickory a try, but my only concern is I've heard it can be pretty powerful, though I just need to really try it and see for sure. Thanks!
 

daspyknows

Smoking Fanatic
641
456
Joined Jun 9, 2020
Check on Craiglist for bbq wood. You might find a local wood dealer with fruit woods or other woods that work, Wish I could get hickory out my way but have found lots of other options this way.
 
19
12
Joined Apr 23, 2021
Thanks Mike, I'm in central KY and hickory is probably the most popular or at least most readily available in my area, but I have concerns using that in a long smoke, like brisket or pork butts as I've read it can be fairly strong. Though I suppose it certainly wouldn't hurt to try it and see if we like it or not..
Hickory is good for beef. I just did a brisket with hickory yesterday and it came out awesome. Less smoke flavor is better than too much, you still wanna taste the meat. If you're worried about the flavor being too strong don't use as much. I typically only add wood chunks when I put in a new batch of lump coals, sometimes a chunk to get the heat back up.

4am
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