Just getting started with smoking....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by james0816, Apr 1, 2016.

  1. james0816

    james0816 Newbie

    I've had my grill for two years now and have finally decided to start up with smoking.  I have the Char-Griller Duo with side box.  I believe these are called off-set smokers.

    I plan my first smoke this weekend.  Going to try my hand at some ribs.  So leading up to it, I had a couple of test runs so I can gauge the temperature and try to keep it steady.  This is a pretty tricky process I see.

    I have a few questions.  I use coal to start the fire and will probably use something like apple wood to continue the fire/smoke and have coals on stand by if need be.

    I think my biggest question at this time is when I add a piece or two of wood, do I let it burn down a bit to coals before closing the fire box lid or do I just drop them in and play it by ear?

    How much smoke should accumulate or does that matter?  In my test runs, the cooking side never really bellowed out the smoke but maintained a small amount of blue smoke.  At one point the smoke went white after adding a piece of wood and I just opened the fire side to let it burn down a bit before closing it again.

    With minding temps, I know when it starts dropping, I need to add more coal or wood.  I let it get to 200 before doing this.  After adding the new coals/wood, it wasn't uncommon for the temp to jump to 300 and I would have to open the fire box to let things cool down.  Is this normal?  will the temp fluctuation bother anything?  I believe the goal is around 225-250 right?

    I'll stop there for now to catch a breath.  lol.

    Thanks again for the assistance.
  2. 3montes

    3montes Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds to me like you have a pretty good understanding of what needs to be done. Now it's just a matter of learning the little nuances of your smoker and how it reacts to wood being added.

    Have all different sizes of splits available for your use. I have splits from 6 inches wide all the way down to just slivers of wood. I split up a bunch of various sizes before I start and then as I go along. Once you get things rolling along you can use smaller splits. I use large splits to start with to get a good bed of coals. Then I go to smaller splits during the actual cook.

    A very large split can actually choke your fire and cause too much smoke. Then you have to open the fire box door to get it to flame up and then you create a heat spike.

    I use briquettes to start the wood. Let it burn for awhile and get a good smooth draw going on your smoker and your temp has stabalized. Once you have a good bed of coals you should be able to add wood and just close the door and it should burn no problem.

    Let us know how things turn out!
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
  3. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    3Montes has you started very well. I would try to use a heat/cook wood like oak for a basic fuel and add the apple for flavor. As far as the temp swings are concerned, I really like to pre-heat my splits before they need to be put in the FB. This allows them to ignite quickly and with quick ignition, there is very little white smoke until they are fully involved. There will be no need to leave the door open and/or let the wood burn down. Also, with the 300* surge, it should calm down without the door fully open. Actually, your smoker may be more comfortable running in the 300* range. If so, I would add splits at about 250* instead of 200*. That way your smoking range will close to around 250-300*. All you need to do is tweak your cook times to the new temp range.

    I hope this isn't too long or ramble too much. Just take it one step at a time. Good heat management is a learning curve and there is no need in rushing it.

    Good luck, good smokin' and let us know how it turns out for you, Joe

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