First Butt/Smoke - Wood catching on fire - Please help

Discussion in 'Pork' started by brandonb, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. brandonb

    brandonb Fire Starter

    Hi All,

    I have an ECB gas propane smoker. I'm doing my first butt today. I wrapped 3 chunks of hickory in foil and placed them on the lava rocks. After about 30 minutes, I noticed the temp was too low. I turned it up and noticed that it kept going up. The wood chunks caught on fire. I sprayed them off with water, started it again and they caught on fire again. I read not too soak them but is that my problem? Are they too dry? It's producing way too much smoke so I am trying some wood chips for now. Do I need to soak them before putting them in the foil?

  2. brandonb

    brandonb Fire Starter

    Also, does on fire/burnt wood create bad flavor or too much smoke flavor? I've transported the burnt wood to my grill for now, but once it dies down could I use it again?
  3. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Once it dies down you can use it again.
    Still no need to soak. Seems like the wood is just too close to the heat source.
    I have also found (for me anyway) that if I burn my wood before adding it to the heat it reduces that initial white billow of smoke that comes when it begins to burn.
    Don't have propane myself but I'm sure someone more familiar with it will be able to help you out.

    Also, did you add all 3 chunks at once? I would only add 1 at a time.
  4. kheper

    kheper Newbie

    You need to soak the chips. It is only the moisture which keeps them from combusting.

    Chunks burn more consistently and more slowly than chips. You may want to try them.
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Im with fire you don't need to soak your wood you just need to get it alittle farther away from the flame. Maybe you can try to put your wood around the edges or maybe in a heavier pan I use a cast iron pan for my chips and chunks.
  6. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Chunks I don't soak. But if you're using chips, soak them. Brinkman says to soak either.

    Are you putting the lava rocks in the base pan, and are you putting the chunks on top of the lava rocks? Also, are you using the water pan? if not, is grease dripping down onto the rocks and chunks?
  7. brandonb

    brandonb Fire Starter

    The lava rocks are on the bottom grate and the wood chunks are on top. The water pan is over that and the meat above the water pan. (There is a grate that goes between the lava rock and the water pan that I removed as it didn't allow enough room for wood chunks.

    I've got the wood wrapped in a few more layers of foil and it's working better for now.
  8. albeesmokin

    albeesmokin Newbie SMF Premier Member

    ECB owner here (charcoal). I have messed with chips, chunks, soaked and not.
    I never soak my chunks, as fire-it-up says, add them one at a time.
    If you are using chips try the smoke bomb method. Take an empty, clean tin can..(tomato can,etc) Open on 1 end, put in a handful of chips in it, fill with water and allow to soak for a few hours. After you get up to temp on your smoker, drain the water out of the can, leaving the chips inside. Take the can and place it on your coals (lava rock). It seems to burn a bit more even and keeps the heat a bit more indirect.
    Works great in a campfire too :)

    One thing I did was "season" the can the 1st use by basically letting it heat up without any food in the smoker. Just a bit of caution I use to burn off any coating on the can.
  9. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    I thought I knew your model, but I guess I don't. I thought you had a base pan that goes over the flame, and the rocks go in that. You're putting your rocks on a grate, and the wood on the rocks. I'm not surprised the wood was burning. Is your base pan missing? Or does your model not have one?
  10. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    I must have missed something over all of the years I have been smoking, call me stupid but when wood is put on or nest to charcoal sometimes yes it is gonna catch on fire. All it takes is 415 degrees farenheight. as long is it is of the proper type and properly dried that is what it is supposed to do and that is where the flavor comes from or else I have to call Ben Lang in the morning and tell him he sold me a defective piece of equipment. But the wife is always telling me I am wrong so I could be again but I dont think so[​IMG]
  11. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I had the same problem in my Masterbuilt propane turned NG. I tried everything suggested but I still ended up with my smoking wood burning up. I'm sure the answer lies in putting the wood far enough away to smolder and not close enough to burn up. Trial and error. I got tired of trying and installed the smoke daddy generator and I've been a happy camper ever since. Soaking the wood sounds good but in a hot environment the moisture in the wood is going to be gone so fast it really makes very little difference.
  12. brandonb

    brandonb Fire Starter

    I'm looking at the instruction manual. There is a base grate that you put lava rocks on top of. Then the water pan is above that and there is a grate that rests on top of the pan (to catch drippings I presume. Finally you have the cooking grate on the very top.

    In the smoking instructions, it's says "place flavoring wood on top of lava rocks." I think I just need to use either a smoker box, thicker foil, or a coffee can.
  13. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Brinkman has a bunch of stuff out there, all with slightly different characteristics.

    I have an add-on propane burner for my ECB. The instructions say to use a coffe or juice can 1/2 full of chunks, and to lay the closed end on top of the burner. The open end goes away from the flame and is supported by the burner frame. That creates real nice TBS. If it gets too hot and catches on fire, I cover the open end with foil and poke a thumb sized hole in it, as per the instructions.
  14. kheper

    kheper Newbie

    This thread is turning into a real dissertation on chips.

    My experiences with chips follows.

    In a smoker with a propane burner as the heat source, the chips when soaked and placed directly on the lava rocks in small pile with the valve on its lowest setting, the chips usually do not burn up.

    In a smoker with an electric heat plate as the heat source, the chips either dry or soaked do not burn. For me however, the chips do not throw enough heat as chunks do, which is why I avoid using them.

    In a smoker with charcoal as the heat source, the chips burn either dry or soaked if placed directly on the coals.

    The probability of the chips burning is due to alot factors: the amount of heat thrown by the heat source, pile size, amount of water saturation of the chips, amount of air flow, direct or indirect contact with the heat source, etc.
  15. brandonb

    brandonb Fire Starter

    I was using wood chunks when this happened. I then thee on a couple of weld chips after I removed the burnt chunks to try something different.
  16. kheper

    kheper Newbie

    Maybe the burner is throwing too much heat. I used to soak my chunks when I had a propane burner as well. I never had a chunk burst into flames on me.

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