question for all you wood burners

Discussion in 'Side Fire Box' started by mhchops, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. mhchops

    mhchops Smoke Blower

    I have a homebuilt smoker thats still a work in progress its an old grill that i added a char griller firebox to what id like to know is does anyone burn straight wood in this size setup or is it best to use charcoal with chunks? I have hickory available that i can get and prefer the wood but never used in a setup like this any info will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance and ill post some pics of my setup later this evening.
  2. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Have burned wood in all my charcoal grills. Secret is to cut the dry wood in very small thin pieces so it lights quick. You won't be straying far from your grill as wood won't last long but you won't melt your grill down while cooking. Produces a better flavor meat my opinion.
  3. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I start my fire using 2 chimneys of lump charcoal and warm up a couple of splits in the firebox at the same time, when I am ready to add the meat I add one of the splits, if the temp comes up to where I want it(usually between 250°-280°) then I am good to go. If the temp stays too low for my liking I add the other split-

    I usually keep one split warming in the firebox or on top of it. Add when needed-

    I use splits 9-10 inches long and 2-3 inches thick.
  4. mhchops

    mhchops Smoke Blower

    Thats pretty much what i was thinking but wanted to check with all you guys and girls here on the forum thanks so much for the info ive got some hiciry i can go get so im gonna be smoking with wood charcoal has its place but in my opinion its not for smoking
  5. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    When I used my chargriller.   I did it the same way.  Once going,  I added about 5 charcoal at a time to keep the fire from going out and heated with small splits. 
  6. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    I would advise against adding charcoal to a lit fire.  The time period between unlit and ashed over is when the chemicals all burn out of the charcoal.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those who are against the use of charcoal, I use it every time I fire my pit up, minion method style, but for me on my Chargriller, the best method I found was to intermingle wood chunks and charcoal in a basket made of expanded metal, then pour a half chimney of lit on top of the basket.  Once the fire got going good and I put the meat on, I only added wood (chunks and / or small splits) from there on out. 

    So, I guess the answer to the OP's question, is yes, you can burn straight wood, but I have always used a mix myself.
  7. goinforbroke

    goinforbroke Smoke Blower

    Using wood on a smaller smoker is a catch-22/combination of sorts.  It's pretty much how I do my thing, and the only way I can describe what I do is more-or-less starting with some charcoal.. just because it's a hot, realiable source of heat to get everything started.  I use lump for this, and after making a nice bed of coals I will, depending on mood, barometric pressure, jupiter being aligned with venus.. then transition to wood over the period that constitutes the 'majority of smoking intake',  eg, hours 1 to 6.   It's around the end of that time, if doing a large cut of meat (pork butt anyone?) that I'll start thinking about foiling.. ((or my new secret that a friend turned me on too..  (and since nobody's listening).. it's a paper grocery bag)) and use charcoal as a low maintainence heat source.   I'm starting to digress through.    the point is that I use each one for their best atributes.   Lump for heat, wood for smoke.. and after the meat gets unfoiled, or what I refer to as "her close up, Mr Demille", I might throw some wood back on, jsut because I know it will make flame and reinforce the crust I'm going for it this point.   This is where high art meets palate.    Bottom line.. use both and dance with each depending on what the DJ is playing and space on the dance floor.  Keep both small, glowing and red hot.. watch for too much flame after wood additions on a smaller smoker.. sometimes you'll need to choke it down.  Then come back to pet her nicely a few minutes lately.   It's high maintainence, but the results will be worth it. 
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
  8. mhchops

    mhchops Smoke Blower

    Im going to give this a good try this coming next wee after i get some good hickory but until then ive been playing with starting with charcoal and throwing some pecan i have in the firebox this afternoon also im playing with some tuning plates and just doing some test runs with an empty CC which i know will be different fully loaded with meat but all in all at this point the wood seems to be a more consistent heat source but eho knows as ive added the tuning plates since also im toying with the idea of turning this into a reverse flow but only after i see how it cooks a few times thanks everyone for all the great info
  9. mhchops

    mhchops Smoke Blower

    Ok guys here is the smoker im working on
    and here is a pic of the tuning plates im working on
  10. mhchops

    mhchops Smoke Blower

    If anyone has any suggestions id really love to hear them as this is all new to me thanks for looking
  11. having a nice coal and wood set up is what Ive been trying to figure out.  Thanx to the person who posted pics of their set up (helps alot).

    Id like to piggy back off of the OP if I may.  I have a CharBroil Horizontal, no mods or anything just right out of the box.  Basically I don't know if Im doing this "Correct" and im still smoking and trying different variations of coal and wood.   During my last smoke (2 whole chickens) I started the fire using Matchlight.  My think was they are all ready to go and if i need to add more during the smoke Ill just toss on a few more to get some fire going.

    I soaked my wood and probably used about 2-3 lbs worth of hickory chunks for the entire process bc I don't want to over smoke.  In my fire box the coal get nice and hot then i place my wood on a rack directly above the flames.

    Essentially my question is this. . . .

    When the heat source dies down, is it adviseable to add wood (wet or dry) or add more coals?   If adding more coals, should they be prepared in any sort of way or should I just toss another layer of coal on and let nature take over?

    Overall I've had some really good success with smoking being a newb, but im kind of "winging it" as far as regulating and maintaining my fire.

    Should i look into any tools like a fire basket? 

  12. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

     mhchops, in a side firebox, I use a fire basket filled with lump charcoal with wood chips mixed in.This keeps a fairly steady temp and smoke flow.

      Tweerkers, first ditch the matchlite!.Then add a fire basket.Use a good lump charcoal with wood chips mixed in. Much better results.

  13. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    OMG... he didn't just say he uses match light... did he ? and then you throw more matchlight on a hot fire ? If this is the case.. you HAVE to be tasting lighter fluid... BY ALL MEANS, ditch the match light.. get yourself a charcoal chimney and use briquettes or lump
  14. I was hesitant to say what i used last time, in my soul it didn't feel right using match light for smoker fuel.

    I repent and will give the remaining amt to the neighbor.
  15. mhchops

    mhchops Smoke Blower

    I did a test ru with straight hickory busted in small splits stated on kf blue in a chimney seemed to do real good. Im going to give it another shot before long and see how it does on a long smoke. Thanks everyone for the guidance

  16. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  17. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Tweek,  I think we all agree to ditch the matchlight.    I fire my smoker with a chimney of  kingford and add wood to get up to temp.   Once up to temp, I use mostly small wood splits. I only use seasoned dry wood.    I add about 4 bricks along just to keep the fire from going out, but still heating with wood.   Toward the end of a smoke you won't hardly need much heat because you cold mass is now hot.

    End of smoke.  Very small fire.  A few bricks and a split every so often.

    Hope this helps

    Last edited: May 17, 2013

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