Cons of concrete smoker?

Discussion in 'Brick Smokers' started by wuzoo, Jun 25, 2016.

  1. Hello all.

    I am planning my first smoker build. Since there is lots to master I'm not really focusing on an amazing smoker just yet. I'm working on something practical that will teach me the foundations of smoking. I plan on building something that works similar and similar shape to a uds. I have three ideas. They will all be boxed shaped. Either forming a vertical rectangle out of refractory cement, making a basic concrete block smoker, or making a mini wooden smokebox big enough for a brisket or a couple butts.

    What are the cons to a concrete smoker? I have read they require more wood because there is more mass to heat up? and that the ground they stand on has to heat up too. Is this true? Any other cons to a concrete smoker I should be away of? Since I do plan to practice frequently I don't wanna waste unnecessary money on wood.

    I guess temperature control will be another issue since I don't get the several uds style valves that open and close to regulate air.

    Any thoughts about the refractory cement build? I will just for a cast and include the ball valves used in a uds if I go this route.
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I agree with Dave.  Concrete takes forever to heat up.  But, if you line it with firebrick,  you can heat it up in less then 20min. summer,  hour or so in the winter.    Love my brick smoker.   I can smoke a run of pork in a arm load of hickory.      Firebrick are very dense.  They won't absorb  moisture like block or concrete.   
    jim williams likes this.
  4. I've got a concrete block pit. I'm in Florida and the pit is lined with fireplace bricks. Mine heats up pretty quickly, I get it up to 350 degree's and then as I load it up I get the temp down to 200. I find the blocks and bricks hold the heat very well. I don't use much fuel to keep it going. I'm really happy with mine. I actually do long rows of charcoal and wood and it runs for hours without having to watch it.

    Good luck with your choice.
    wes w likes this.
  5. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    I like the idea of a concrete smoker.  Budster, can you please describe how you have your smoker set up?  Is your fire directly under the cooking grate or is it offset? 

    did you use mortar or just stack the blocks?

    do you have fireplace bricks as a base for the whole smoker?  I wasn't sure of the best base to use for a concrete smoker.  I have seen where people pour a concrete slab or lay blocks as the base, others just put down sand or stone, or clear the grass and just build the fire on dirt.   

    Thanks for any help you can give me.
  6. The base are thick pavers from Home Depot. The dem. of the pit are 49" tall, 37 " deep and 47" wide. Nothing is cemented together. I was going to do that after I got it working really well. Now it's working so well I don't think I will cement it together. I think the metal top is 1/4" which is not thick enough. My first cook and it warped a little. That's why all the blocks are on top.

    The opening in the front is where my fire pit is. In the beginning I kept the coals on the let side and the meat on the right side, but now I run a serpentine of charcoal and wood for three rows.It runs for at least 4 hours doing that. It doesn't use much charcoal to keep it at 225 degrees. I also preheat it to 350 to burn off the crud leftover and get the blocks heated up. I just have fireplace bricks inside. Around the edge of the walls inside I have a one row of bricks that the expanded metal sits on for the charcoal.Just using a piece of untreated plywood for the door.

    3 blocks up is the expanded metal for cooking on. It sits right on the blocks. Above the 4th row of blocks you can see some 1" pavers, that's to hold more racks. I just used one sheet of expanded metal for the cooking and fire surface. One block is turned sideways for my chimmey. It's at the opposite end of the heat source.

    Hope this helps. Did a rack of ribs and Jeff's chuck steak burnt ends on the pit Sunday.

  7. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    Thanks, Budster, for the reply and the pictures.  They help greatly to see how you have it set up.  The ribs and steak burnt ends look super.

    I did have 2 more questions for you.  You said you run a serpentine of charcoal and wood for 3 rows for heat.  Do you mean that you lay the charcoal out, with some wood on top, to kind of look like an S shape, and it starts burning at one end and burns along the row to the other end?

    You also said you preheat to 350.  Do you just use wood for that or charcoal too, and do you do that before you lay the serpentine of charcoal?

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