Charcoal Vs Wood ??????

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by xtexan, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. xtexan

    xtexan Meat Mopper

    Now that I have my new smoker I am trying to figure out the most efficient heat source. For those of you who have not seen pics yet, it is an 8ft smoker w/ a top baffel system, which really is irelevant to my question. I know that there are several factors that contribute to the cost of fuel: price of wood vs. charcoal, availability, etc.
    My question is: which is more effecient all the way around? Keeping in mind that I will need to pre-burn my wood before using it (time) vs. using charcoal ($$) what is the best heat source? Does wood burn longer than charcoal? I know charcoal usually burns hotter but longer??

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

  2. bossman

    bossman Smoke Blower

    Personally I would go with Lump Charcoal, it gives a longer burn and heats up a little more then plan charcoal. Throw in a few chunks of your favorite wood for smoke and call it good [​IMG]
  3. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If your talkin that new smoker ya just got, that's a wood burner all day!!
    I guess you could try charcoal if you can get a couple basket's made up but that's a LOT of charcoal!!
    Why would you need to pre burn your wood?? As long as it is seasoned, there's no reason for that!!
  4. xtexan

    xtexan Meat Mopper

    Hey bbq bubba,
    I agree that it is a wood burner, its just that everything I see on here says pre-burn, pre-burn..... I would like nothing more than to throw some sticks in there and be done w/ it. I am just having trouble keeping thin blue smoke. Should I split my wood more or simply get a bigger fire going so it can combust better? I cook w/ everything fully open (intake and smoke stack). I know this will take some experimenting, but I am open to suggestions.


  5. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would probably start with charcoal on the initial burn to get the heat up then switch to the wood once I was at my cooking temp preburnt or not.
  6. xtexan

    xtexan Meat Mopper

    Also, I did notice that there is moisture in the wood as it bubbles at the end of the logs when it is burned. So do you think my problem is simply unseasoned wood? What is the best way to tell if wood is properly seasoned (when you buy it, not after the fact)?
  7. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I know my wood is seasoned when i look at the end's and they're starting to crack or check.
    If there's moisture bubbling out, it's probably still not seasoned!
  8. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Texan, I have a 7' homemade horizontal with firebox on the side...that I burn wood in. I've had it for 16 years and I have great luck throwing in two or three sticks, I let them burn down to coals, add soaked chips for flavor. Then I add smaller sticks of wood every hour or so to keep things going. (without pre-burning)

    I control the heat with the air intake on the fire box....I've used it so long, I know what temperature I am going to get by how far I open the air intake.

    If I were you, I'd fire that baby up with a couple of logs to see how hot it's going to smoke. Then do a run using lump charcoal.....I'd do several trial runs to get the feel of the cooker.

    I think that all cookers are different, you need to get a feel for the thing.

    Just a suggestion.[​IMG]

    By the way, you're cooker is AWESOME!!!
  9. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry, didn't see this post, pre burn is for wet lumber, or for just adding heat IMO. I've never used a rear fed pit like your's but you are correct in saying that there's some learning to it! I'd split my wood to 3" dia. piece's, burn's better and season's faster.
    Start with a GOOD bed of coal's and add wood as needed to keep the coal's hot but also to keep your temp's stable. A small hot fire is better than a large, smokey fire, and learn how to regulate your heat with the intake damper only, never close the exhaust damper!!
    BTW, that's a really nice rig ya have there, plan on competing or catering??[​IMG]
  10. xtexan

    xtexan Meat Mopper

    Thanks!! Actually the pit has a side fire box much like a horizontal offset but w/ top baffle.Not sure if that is what you meant??
    Yes I do plan on catering, concession and maybe a competition or two.....
    I have to say it is a little intimidating w/ this big thing but it just takes time/ practice just like anything.....Also, when you are "dialing it in" you may use $20 worth of wood for a $20 brisket, because of it's size.
  11. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Bubba..ya really can't just load up a smoker full of fresh wood and light it. If it's a stick burner, you need to get coals in there for heat, and add small amounts of fresh for additional smoke. Starting with a box full of fresh <unburned, yet seasoned> wood ain't gonna taste like it should.
  12. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I hate to tell ya Rich but that is incorrect!!![​IMG]

    In order to get your bed of coal's, ya Do start with a box of wood, hit it with the weedburner till it's lit and let that burn down to coal's, THEN add your meat after it's come up to temp and add a stick of wood for flavor and to keep the heat goin!!
    There's no meat in the pit during the warm-up process, and i'm talking about a full blown wood burning pit, not your average backyard model!

    If you find this bad info, then there's hundred's of folks on the BBQ circuit that are doing it wrong!![​IMG]

    Yes you can use charcoal on smaller pit's as my off-set to get your coal base and then burn stick's but in the case of Xtexan, his pit is to big to warm up with charcoal or lump.......therefor a "stick burner" [​IMG]
  13. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's the way my cooker works too........I also use a weed burner. Heh![​IMG]
  14. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ohhh! Well, OK. Long as it's not a load of fresh, toss in a match and close the door on a smoker full of meat. Misunderstanding there. THAT would not taste so good.
  15. buzzard

    buzzard Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    my only point is this.....charcoal comes from wood.

    i used to get charcoal in the bag until i realized how silly i was for paying for something i pretty much already have.

    now i cheat, and for the first time will admit this on here and accept all the ridiculing i am about to receive (hell i figure its a way of showing friendship anyway!)

    if i dont start my fire like i would a campfire (wadded up paper then placing small sticks in a pyramid around the paper and making the sticks bigger as i make the pyramid larger, basic boy scout stuff) i use.....god i dont want to tell you all this.....match-lite. yes i said it i cheat and use match-lite to start my fire then when the coals are hot i place my wood in the fire box. its easy and mostly made of wood anyway. and you dont need a lot really to get it going like i have used with lump charcoal.

    i do leave open EVERYTHING, the door to the fire box the door to the smoking chamber etc. to keep the smell of the burning chemical out of my smoker.

    as far as preburning your wood, i think a lot of people do that to avoid any crestole taste you may get while the wood is heating up before it catches. you know what im talking about that thick white smoke that just dont look right as the wood is....really just smoldering befoer it starts burning. what i do to avoid this is place wood on top of my fire box to get it warmed up so it will catch quicker, this is not a perfect science by any means but it works for me. im sure not everyone has this problem and i am only talking from experience of my little smoker not a nice big one that you have so it may be different.

    for a while there i was using both to maintain heat like someone else said but if my fire is slowing down i now just add wood and adjust my firebox intakes.
  16. rip

    rip Smoking Fanatic

    Match-lite???[​IMG] I don't think I would have told that one. May as well use one of those starter logs for the fire place.[​IMG]
  17. buzzard

    buzzard Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    roflmao....i know RIP i should not have said that. but it is a lot easier and i usually have some laying around from a grill i use.

    its just sooooo easy.

    also....what is a weed burner?
  18. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    A non-regulated direct pipe-line to the interior of a propane tank! MANLY!
  19. rip

    rip Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah what he said......It's a torch!
  20. buzzard

    buzzard Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    nice nice. i want one now. my soon to be C.L. Wife is not going to like this. does it look dangerous? can i act like it is something else?

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