Can my wood be TOO dry?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by meat hunter, May 9, 2009.

  1. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hello all. Well some of you may know that I just did my first brisket, and my second smoke on my homemade reverse flow. First time, I know I did not build my fire big enough and had many problems. Lots easier this time, had a good fire, and maintained temps. But it seems to me, that I went thru allot of wood. I see some people on here say they can build their fire and it holds a steady temp for hours. I was adding about every 45 minutes to an hour. I was burning Maple the whole time. I also pre-burnt all the wood I was using. Maybe its just me, but the Maple does not seem as dense as oak. Should I switch to oak and add other sticks for flavor?
    Or is this the norm when using a stick burner? Or should I consider using lump?
  2. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've only done one cook so far with my Horizon and what you state seems to fall in line with my experience. I was using red oak and cherry.
  3. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I ain't a wood burner....yet....but, from most a what I have read the fellers use oak an the other woods fer flavor.
  4. pinkmeat

    pinkmeat Smoking Fanatic

    This is the main issue with smaller horizontal wood burners. You have to introduce almost too much air to keep something burning that you burn right through it because of the smaller size of the split.

    That's why I love the Lang. I can add big splits and actually wait a good 30-45 minutes between checks, keep things burning strong, and not get too hot.

    My advice is to make sure you're using small splits. Don't preburn, but rather warm them up to the point where they start to smoke on top of your firebox. Then when you add them just leave the door open til they ignite and then manage the air intake.

    When I was preburning splits I agree with you. I used a TON of wood and it was a constant battle to have a lot of coals ready when I needed them. I wasted a lot keeping coals on hand.
  5. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    When you say small splits, what do you consider small? The splits I was using were about the size of a the fat end of a bat and about 16-18 inches long. My firebox is 20x20 and the main chamber is 24x 36. I think another thing I was doing was I had the idea in my head that I should have a bed of coals, instead of trying to maintain a "small manageable" fire. I did see a difference when I did have a small flame going rather than a red coal bed, but it never really dawned on me until now thinking back on it. I will stack the splits on the firebox next time. I did that in a practice run before I smoked anything and it does get hot, one of them ignited. Thanks for the input. I learn allot everytime I do a new smoke.
  6. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    When I did mine I made sure there was always a small hot fire going at all times.
  7. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    With my Lang I do not preburn. I try and use magnum beer can size sticks and usually once stable temps are reached add 2-3 of these each hr. If the wind is really blowing and its cool outside I may have to add every 45mins. Preburning with a reverse flow is imho a waste of time. You may get some white billowing at first add but she should quickly settle down into the thin blue. After you wrap if you do who cares?
  8. pinkmeat

    pinkmeat Smoking Fanatic

    What I had success with in a chargriller size firebox is about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of what you're saying, and only about 12" long. Really works good if you get them to the point they start smoking on top of the firebox.
  9. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Being a devoted stick burner,I can say that ,yes it DOES take a little more fuel than Lump or coal. But the benifits outweigh the extra usage...

    Adding warmed up sticks to a good coal bed is great,but, there are some nasties given of in the combustion process than I don't care for;thus the Pre-burn. Besides, on a nice night it is nice to have a fire going to keep bugs away in the summer or the cold in the winter. I like to sit around the fire and watch it pop and crackle while enjoying a lively conversation ,a good drink and the comradery of my guest.

    The pre-burning can take place in a barrel modified for that purpose or in a fire pit(with ring and all the bells and whistles). On my barrel,I have fitted an expanded metal top to it for double duty-it controls the sparks that occasionally fly up, and I use it for doing grillilg over wood as opposed to using the Gas grill.It is useful for keeping beans going, coffee hot,hot water if needed and lots of other applications one could think of.

    Keep playing with the Stick burner thingy, don't give up so soon,Old School is the Best!!!!! :)-
  10. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use Maple(in answer to your wood usage)as a "mostly" heating wood. It is softer than Oak,Hickory and some fruit woods and there for goes quicker. In the area I am in ,Maple is prevalent and mostly free for the asking. Therefore I gather all I can when I can(even if it's a half a P/U load, and stock it. The Hickory, Oak, Apple,etc. I buy at orchards and farms in the area.It's cheaper for me to obtain fuel this way than to "buy" lump; it is always too crumbled up for me and that increases the cost!!!!!

    I don't knock anyone's use of anytype of fuel,I just like the challenge of ontroling a fire and the results of a good, well maintained fire with that ever so longed for TBS.[​IMG]
  11. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That would be the plan I use!

    A few different kinds of maple make a difference too. Hard maple will burn alot longer than the soft maples.

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