Proper Way to Start a Smoker

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by rpf41978, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. rpf41978

    rpf41978 Newbie

    This may not be the correct place to post, but I'm trying to figure out the best way to start my wood smoker.  I have a lot of trouble keeping the temperature constant on it.  I usually start with charcoal and then add 2 pieces of wood (hickory or mesquite).  It either goes to 300+ or stays below 165.  Help?

    Paul Foster
  2. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Sorry I didn't see this thread earlier. Try splitting the wood into smaller splits you can control the heat better. I use a propane weed burner to start my fire it works great and you don't have to mess with charcoal at all. You can pick up a weed burner pretty cheap at Harbor Freight
  3. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Is the problem

    1) starting your smoker

    2) maintaining temps

    3) all of the above

    place a full unlit chimney of charcoal in the smoker

    To start your smoker, start off with a chimney starter, fill 3/4 way full, place 3 crumbled up pieces of newspaper in the bottom (drizzle some cooking oil on the paper, not too much.

    Light the newspaper after about 20 minutes place on top of unlit coals, continue to add wood and coals as neede.

    This is what I do with my stickburner, not sure what you have.
  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    RPF, send us a shot of your rig so we can understand more of your plight[​IMG]

    Generally, a small 'HOT' fire is how to go,start however you do it, and bring the IT of the cooker up to your working temp. and let it stabilize. Now, watch your thermometers for a drop in temp of 10*F or so; adjust your inlet to open wider, giving more air to the fire. Add a piece of wood and it should catch almost immediately.[​IMG]Then after a few minutes , you will see the temp. rise again to your cook point.

    If you are using rather large pieces of the wood , you should pare them down to a more practical size;2"X2"X8" or so. The theory is that you have a larger surface area to catch and blaze.There is the secret-fast ignition= less smoke and your meat will have no bitter Creosote taste or color(black).It takes a lot more Butt time to watch the ups and downs,but to me-that is part of the fun[​IMG]  sitting, talking, poking the fire and just hanging with friends. That's my idea of a good time;good Friends, good drinks and good times[​IMG]

    I hope this helps you and always remember to, 
  5. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'd have to agree with the above posts...and give the rig details you're using for more input. When using my old charcoal ECB I was constantly adding about a 1/2 chimney full of lit coals to the initial batch to maintain temp control. Took a coupla times to figure out the pattern but it worked ok. When adding more coals I would add another small chunk of wood to keep the TBS flowing. I also filled the water pan with sand to help stabilize spikes. There's also the Minion method you might try...type it in the search bar.
  6. rpf41978

    rpf41978 Newbie

  7. [​IMG]Let the chunks of wood just smolder. They probably catch fire and that jacks up your temp real quick. Keep the wood chunks out of direct contact with the coals. Like was said above it would help us help you if we know what kind of smoker you have.
  8. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

       Here's a second thought about that...if you have no reliable thermerter,get one or two. The stock gauges vary too much. Then build a fire in a fire ring(it's fun anyhow),and get live embers for the smoker.Your temps. should be easier to control and leave the exhaust wide open,control by the inlet.

      This is how it should look...                                                                                                        

  9. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Info about your smoker would help us help you. [​IMG]
  10. smoking gun

    smoking gun Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


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