New smoker question, ......

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by xtexan, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. xtexan

    xtexan Meat Mopper

    I just received my new smoker and I have a few question about the amount of smoke, size of fire etc.
    The smoker is an 8ft by 30" unit. I built a fire it in yesterday and smoked some ribs. The ribs were good but a little too smokey. I had a pretty big fire going w/ oak and added some hickory from time to time. I had to close the intake door to about 1/4" to keep the fire below 250*, this is when I started to see thick white smoke. I'm assuming the smoke thickened when the fire was not getting enough air to combust the wood. So my question is, is it better to have a smaller fire and leave the intake door open more to make sure that the wood is burning properly? Also, I have heard about guys pre-burning their wood, anyone know anything about this?
    I will post pics of the new smoker as soon as I.T. fixes my laptop.


  2. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep... smaller fire is probably the answer. And as far as preburn, I do this mainly for the initial stoke up and first hour, after that I'm only adding small amounts of wood per time, so I don't bother. If yer a pure stickburner, you'd want to preburn every load, adding coals. But I use lump, usually-that's my heat source.
  3. wilson

    wilson Meat Mopper

    First Congratulations on your new smoker!
    Now to try to help......
    Yep, white smoke is a sign of poor combustion.
    Did you leave the smoke stack open all the way?? Never close the smoke stack vent at all.
    It does sound like your fire was too big. I would try a smaller fire next time and try to go for a very clean burning fire as well.
    It's easier to start with a small fire and go bigger than it is to wait untill a big fire dies down.
    I know that some time depending on conditions, I will have to leave the door to my firebox, craked open to help the draw. Other times I have it shut and the vent almost closed. The more you us your smoker the more you will learn it's idiosyncrasies.
    Also try to pre heat your wood before you add it to the fire. Just before you need to add a log to the fire, lay the log you are going to use on top of the fire box for a little while before you add it to the fire.This will help the log catch faster and burn cleaner.
    Just my 2 cents.
  4. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'll second/third that.........smaller fire.

    Good airflow is crucial in smoking.
  5. xtexan

    xtexan Meat Mopper

    Do you start w/ lump and add chunks or logs? I only use logs but would be open to lump if it is more efficient and cost effective. I know that once the smoker heats up it holds heat very well w/ the 1/2" iron.

    So preburning is simply burning the wood and then extenguishing it and then burning it again?
    Please advise.

  6. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    preburning is firing the wood till it is approaching coals, then adding to your firebox. Ya wanna see some white edges on the wood at least.

    Sounds like yer stick burning- get a seperate 'burn barrel" and shovel out the coals in that case.

    With lump, you get a bed of coals going, and add wood a bit at a time thruout the smoke period.
  7. xtexan

    xtexan Meat Mopper

    Sounds like lump is easier and less time consuming which is what I will be looking for doing catering and concession. So you just use small chunks of wood on your lump, do you preburn your chunks? What do you think is most cost effective and best management of time? Also, do I want to preburn full logs, or split them up?

  8. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmm well, I guess that depends on the amount of food and such... but if ya use lump, you add wood for flavor. And I don't preburn then as I mentioned, as it's only a chunk or two at a time.

    Yer gonna have to play with your pit... I can only give general principles, unless ya stop up here for a few days and' we'll tune 'er up! :{)

    WARNING! I am fairly close to Ann Arbor LOL!
  9. greazy

    greazy Fire Starter

    I don't have an offset smoker, but I have seen two guys do very good work w one. One used a burn barrel and transfered coals to his firebox. The other burned sticks and used an incrediably small fire. Both used an oven-type thermometer constantly moving it around and knew exactly what temp any given spot on their grill was at any time.

    I already have so much stuff that I need to wait for a real deal, but an offset is now on my want list after seeing these guys.
  10. chris_harper

    chris_harper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The way I do it is this: I start a chimney full of Kingsford briquettes and when they are flaming good, I dump them in my firebox. Then I place a log or two in my firebox. I start off with liveoak. I use the oak for heat. I will add a bit of mesquite or pecan just before I place the food in the smoker. When I have the good 'ole TBS, I place the food in smoker.
    I then add ONE log of mesquite at a time, every hour or so. I will place ONE log of the oak every two or three hours, as needed to help with the heat. Mesquite burns hot, almost as hot as oak. Different oaks put out different BTUs. I *think* "blackjack oak" is the hottest. I got alot of liveoak, so that is what I use. I can get some blackjack oak, and some day I will go get it and try it. As always, YMMV.
  11. Any idea where to get some black jack in Massachusetts
  12. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ex-Texan , glad to have another Homeboy here in oihO [​IMG]  .

     I moved in '92 from Temple(Cen-Tex  -  by Waco), life long Texan.

    Try this to help with your problems ,

    I have great results this way... Pre-burning is also a great way to completely rid the Creosote (white smoke) . I strat out with a pre-burn and after I'm pumping out my 225*F , i warm my sticks on top of the FB. This tends to help in quick combustion.

     Burn barrel... fire

     a stick plced in and appox. 30sec. post placement...

    the resulting Smoke and...

     The results...

      Wood being warmed. It gets hot, sometimes it catches and starts to burn...

    have fun and as always .. . .

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