Keeping fire temp

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by torkey, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. torkey

    torkey Newbie

    Hey guys, im new to the forums and actually even newer to smoking lol. I just picked up an "old country" pit a few days ago, and tonight went to season the pit a bit and have a test run at keeping the right fire temp. Here's how the process went....

    Started with lump charcoal, an OK amount, lit it, got it to an ember, threw a piece of wood @ like 225 or so. The small log, it burned pretty good, got up to about 325 or so. Took 2 logs, put them on the grate above the fire (for direct grilling) and closed the lid. Of course i learned quick that this was a stupid idea as the wood started burning ( i know next time to prehead, ill just stick on the lid of the firebox.
    So that piece i put in burns a bit, maybe i didnt let it burn long enough, but i put another piece of wood down (the intake is about half open) and i come back in a few mins and im over 400 degrees!..come back later, after cutting the air even more (pretty close to closed at this point) and im over 475....and there is a full out fire burning in the firebox...

    Any coaching, and tips would be greatly appreciated..i have 2 days to get this right lol
  2. scpatterson

    scpatterson Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Add your wood in small amounts......Dont make huge adjustments, do it slowly. I have not used your type smoker before so I cant really tell you specific on your only from mine.

    Mine burns splits way beter and I leave my door open a bit for the first few minutes to let the wood catch up.I keep my exhaust wide open and control with my intakes. once I get my coals built up I add only 1 small split at a time and about every 30-45 minutes or so. Now if you are cooking at it gets to hot...Open the lid let the heat out, it only a temporary fix but cold save your food.

    So take it easy on ole girl, dont rush her, be nice and get her some flowers, keep her clean and talk dirty to her. Say things like I lke the way your BUTT looks, the way you glisten in teh sun on a hot day just makes me want to pull your BUTT....As you get to know her more things will get easier...I always play Al Green while Im cooking and it seems to relax her while I try to heat her up....Im in a good mood today, sori
  3. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    If you were using lump to start with, were you adding wood as extra fuel? Or you adding it for flavor? I ask because you say you added "logs" to it. If you are using lump as your heat source, there is no need to add logs. If you want flavor and are using lump as a heat source, just add some small fist sized chunks for flavor, it does not take much at all. How big are the logs you are adding to it? Like mentioned, make small changed until you get a feel for how your smoker reacts. What kind of wood were you adding to the firebox?
  4. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  5. torkey

    torkey Newbie

    Thanks for the input. The lump was the heat source and the wood I want to use for flavor. im doing a practice run with some hickory right now, and on thursday i plan on using pecan logs (or chunks if need be) and some cherry chips. If I can get away with using JUST wood, i would, I like that method that Rick posted. The logs im using are about the size indicated there, about a foot long, maybe 2 1/2- 3" diameter...although some of them are a bout 8" long and like 5" in diameter.

    This is my setup here:

    btw, patterson, last paragraph was classic hahaha
  6. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That rig looks quite a bit like the Horizon, the method I linked to will work great in that pit. Ya have to make sure you have well seasoned wood.
  7. torkey

    torkey Newbie

    hmm..i dont know about well seasoned..the wood i bought was some smoking wood that i bought in a big bag from academy in the grilling im assuiming this is adequate?
  8. scpatterson

    scpatterson Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Its good!!!!!!! Seasoned well
  9. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That's a sweet rig you have there. Well like I said earlier, if your using lump for your heat, I would not add too much wood, especially a wood like Hickory. It is a very strong wood and a little will go a long ways. The same goes for using wood as a heat source. A good neutral wood like Oak is an excellent wood for heat, burns hot and long. Adding small amounts of flavor wood to give what ever cut of meat your are smoking a nice taste. You mentioned that you are going to smoke this Thursday? Are you smoking a turkey? Just curious.
  10. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have cooked on wood stoves, fireplaces,campfires,dutch ovens and every other wood fired device you can think of. It just takes practice. Go easy and build your fire slowly so that you are in control of it. It really is quite simple. You will learn the quirks and quarks of your particular smoker in no time at all. You already been given the best advice which is to make only small adjustments at a time.

    A couple of runs in the next 2 days should be enough to get you in the right ballpark.

    Also you might consider a burn barrel, adding live coals every once in a while instead of fresh wood is a great way to keep the temps more even throughout a long smoke. Check out this Sticky.
  11. torkey

    torkey Newbie

    Thanks again for all the input! Meathunter, I was using the hickory basically as a test run at heating and maintaining temperature. You stated to use a milder wood such as oak..I plan on using pecan...and throwing in some cherry chips (chunks and logs are not available to me right now). But is that pecan mild enough to not have way too strong of a taste if using it for the entire smoke? (Yes, it is turkey I will be smoking BTW) Also, if using the chips, how often should I put them on? Every time I throw on a pecan log? and is it better to soak the chips so that they dont catch right away and burn up and increase temps quickly?

    Also, on a setup like this, do most of you use a water pan in the main chamber or is that not really necessary? Thanks!
  12. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't use a water pan but do use a convection plate. Both help stabilize temps through out the smoking chamber.
  13. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Meat hit it on the head. For a horizontal offset, using lump as your heat, then your flavor wood should be 1-2 fist sized lumps added every 45-60 minutes for the first 3'ish hours. When you add the chunk of wood you will get some white smoke for about 3-5 minutes then it will settle down to a nice thin blue.[​IMG] If your temps start to drop, add another chimney lit lump. Just keep practicing and making small adjustments till you get the results you like.
  14. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    With that size pit the OP could easily use all wood for fuel.
  15. torkey

    torkey Newbie

    I plan on trying the all wood method throughout, just starting with a little coal to get it going. So the pecan wouldnt impart too strong of a flavor using it all the way through, correct?
  16. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Pecan is a fantastic mild-medium wood.If you keep the TBS you will have no problem with pecan.I have used many years on poultry for its mildish flavor...

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