Propane or Wood?

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by gsmoke1511, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. I am new to this whole smoking thing, haven't bought a smoker yet. I want to get into this to give me something to do over the summer before I go back to school. I was wondering what are the positives and negatives to each types of smokers mostly for propane and wood ones. What are good prices for smokers, what gives better taste, how much does wood cost.

    Pretty much I am looking for what smoker I should start out with and will it be able to produce good results for my first time. Thank you very much.
  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If your decision is strictly on a cost basis, propane is much more efficient (cheaper) than coal or wood fired rigs. Wood dust, chips or chunks are cheap or free (I haven't bought smoking wood in years -- I scavenge fruit and nut woods from friends and family constantly).

    The exception to the cost of fuel in light of scavenging firewood is that your wood fuel could be entirely free if you generate your own coals in a burn barrel. IMHO, this method produces the best smokes; however, it is much more labor intensive. Essentially, you're managing 2 fires during each smoke.

    Otherwise, Your decision will depend on how detail-oriented you are and how good you are at managing a fire. Propane is very simple to use: turn on the flame, settle into the temp you want, then add the food and chips for smoke. Wood and coal fired rigs take more time to learn how to manage temps and smoke production, but if you are used to grilling with charcoal, then you'll be producing fine Q in no time.
  4. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF glad you joined us, We have members produce some great food with about every type of smoker. I personally use propane and wood fired smokers. The wood requires more attention and usually costs more to buy. The propane pretty much runs by itself once you get the temps adjusted other than adding water to the water pan and adding chips/chunks once in awhile. Personally I think the wood fired smokers produce the best smoke flavor but they are also the most expensive and most time consuming smokers.

    I moved your thread to the Roll Call section so you can get a proper welcome to SMF
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  5. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    All great advice.

    I started with a smaller Cabinet style vertical smoker, 3405GW and then went with the GOSM 3605BGD Big Block.

    Then I built a reverse flow offset.

    I use both, depending on what I am cooking and the circumstances at that time.

    Now looking back...If I had to do it all over again...I wouldn't change a thing

    Propane is easier and cheaper to operate, if you do not have access to free wood, also with a Stickburner you need to babysit, store wood, and may need a chimney starter,and Lump.

    Cleanup is another consideration, it's a bit more labor intensive...all of which I do not mind, but may be a bit much for others.

    From what you said in your original post, " I want to get into this to give me something to do over the summer before I go back to school", looks like propane would work best for you.
  6. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome Gsmoke, glad you joined us.

    Charcoal/wood smokers give the best flavor. Propane is more user friendly.

    In your case I would say go with the propane.

    Good luck and Happy Smoking
  7. Thank you all for your help. Any suggestions on nice starter propane smokers? and pricing?  
  8. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.
  9. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here ya go G,

    It's a great smoker and you can't beat the price.
  10. dodgeguy

    dodgeguy Newbie

    UDS - Ugly Drum Smoker. You can find a section on here that has UDS builds. Cheap to build with minimal tools. Can scavenge grates, lids, etc from old Webers. I have a little over $10 in mine. I was fortunate to have most of what I needed on hand.

    It works extremely well, holds temps consistently, and uses less fuel than I ever imagined.

    I use Full Circle 8.8lb lump @ $4.99 a bag and I get about three smokes from a bag depending on what I'm doing.

    Wood for smoke: Ask around, maybe someone you know has access to fallen trees/limbs. I have a cherry tree in my backyard that's not doing so well, I've been pruning the dead limbs and using those at the moment. Home Depot has bags of chips or chunks for 5-7 dollars. I'd go with the chunks.

    I started with a little electric Brinkman smoker and the difference between the two is night and day. Once I get the temp dialed in I can just leave it alone.

    Best of luck and hope this helps.
  11. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Personally, I've never tried it.

    It looks like a good smoker at a great price.

    The differences are subtle and either one would be a great place to start.
  12. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    [​IMG]   Glad to have you with us!

    My vote goes to a Weber Smoky Mountain Smoker. Easy to use, & charcoal wood flavor.
  13. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Welcome to SMF, Glad to have you with us.

    This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

    Many of our members have years of experience in smoking meat.  They are more than happy helping Newbies learn the art.

    We have members who cure there own Bacon, Hams, Jerky, Snack Sticks, Make Their own Sausage, etc. if you want to learn,
    this is the place. 

    Don't be afraid to ask questions of them and follow their advice. You won't be sorry, you will be making great Q in no time at all...

    Just remember, when curing your own meats follow the instructions included with the cure to the letter, this is not something to experiment with.  

    Never use more cure no mater if it is Tender Quick or Cure #1 or Cure #2 than the manufacturer says to use, this can be very dangerous.

    Tender Quick and Cure#1 or Cure #2 are not interchangeable, neither Cure #1 interchangeable with Cure #2 or vise versa

    Sign up for Jeff's 5-Day eCourse.   Click Here

    Tips For New Members.
    1. Go into your profile and Under Location put where you are.
    2. City & State or Area & State will do. This will help members when answering your questions.
    3. Go to ROLL CALL thread and tell us a little about Yourself (A Name We Can Call You) and Experience & Equipment.
    4. Do Not Post  your other questions and smokes in the Roll Call Forum.
    5. Post your questions and smokes in the Proper Forum, Beef, Pork, Sausage, Electric Smoker, Charcoal Smoker etc.
    6. Use the Wiki Section, many of our members have posted great tutorials and instructional threads so take advantage of them.
    7. When you can't find an answer ask plenty of questions, we have some highly experienced members willing to help you.
    8. When posting about your smokes be sure to post plenty of Qview (Pictures) Our Moto, "No Pics, Didn't Happen".
    9. Get a good Probe Thermometer, Don't Depend on the Built in Thermometer in your Smoker (They are notorious for being off).
    10. A good choice for a remote dual probe thermometer is the Maverick ET-732
    11. Remember, We Always Cook by Temperature and NOT BY TIME...
    12. Don't Take Chances, Always Follow USDA Safety Guidelines When Handling Meat.

    13. If you are wanting to get into curing meat, there are many members here more than happy to help and give good advice.

    14. If you are unsure of a procedure ASK, don't ASSUME, It will make your Smoking experience much more pleasant...
  14. africanmeat

    africanmeat Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to SMF  I am glad you joint us

    You are in the right place the folks here are help full and knowledgeable

    Don’t forget the Qview          
  15. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower

    Since I'm an electric smoker user, I had to chime in.

    Don't count out the electric smokers. I think of all the smokers they are the easiest to use. And the price of an El Cheapo Brinkmann (ECB) makes it a definite candidate for you. Not much easier than plugging it into a wall outlet and adding some wood chunks/chips!
  16. Thank you all I think I will be picking up a propane smoker in the next day or so and maybe start a project for the weekend. Thanks for all of your help.


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