Should wood have flames

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by 66galaxie, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. 66galaxie

    66galaxie Fire Starter

    I'm not exactly sure how to word this.
    When you throw some wood on with your coals is it bad for the wood to flame up?
    How would you go about not having it flame up, if that was a bad thing?

    Thanks for any input.
  2. irishteabear

    irishteabear Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. 66galaxie

    66galaxie Fire Starter

    So, you just put the wood off to the side?
  4. irishteabear

    irishteabear Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's what works for me. The only time the wood goes up in flames that way is if the coals are too close to it when I lift the smoker.
  5. jamesb

    jamesb Smoking Fanatic

    When cooking on my offsets, I want a small, hot, clean burning, flames visible fire. I never want any smoldering wood... never. I get a good base of coals going and preheat the log splits on top of the firebox. When I add a split, it will immediately combust. I actually control the pit temps very easily by fire size and the amount of coals. The intake on my pits stays wide open during the entire cook. Smaller offsets, bullets and electrics etc. operate differently though.

    Here is a pic of a typical fire for me. This is in a 30" x 30" x 28" firebox constructed from 1/2" plate
  6. eaglewing

    eaglewing Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

  7. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    On my CGSP I want exactly the same thing when I put a stick on the coals. And I do the same method of preheating splits atop the firebox. The maple splits take a little while to get going, and emit whitish smoke for a few minutes - but they're not emitting creosote and it's delicious so that works for me.
  8. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Wood burning consists of 3 basic phases:
    1.) Water vapor cooks out during around 200-300 degrees
    2.) Wood vapors burn up to around 500-600 degrees
    3.) Above 600 is where the charcoal process starts.

    So, if you just want dry wood, put your sticks in a 250 degree cooker until the feel dry (a couple of hours, or until splits sound like a broken bat)

    If you want to burn the gases off (namely creosote) place them in a hot cooker, or in the firebox but not directly in contact with burning embers.

    Lastly, if you want charcoal, cook directly on embers until they char. Then extinguish.

    The problem is, you lose some quality smoke somewhere right before the char stage. Necessary for green wood, but a waste (and a shame) if you well season your cooking wood for at least 6 months.
  9. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    glad to have this topic going. I've had a question about this for awhile from things I read here in the SMF. This white smoke thing? Seems some say its not what you want, others say that's too excessive? I thought thats the smoke flavor I was looking for? I smoke with the white smoke & don't have any complaints, but I'm new & never had anybody else's?
  10. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    It seems to depend on the wood, to a degree (no pun intended). I have equally seasoned maple and cherry; the cherry yields blue smoke immediately, while the maple yields heavier white smoke for a few minutes before turning blue.

    There are pros out there who smoke exclusively with 'wet' (unseasoned) white hickory; they WANT white smoke.
    What it really comes down to is quality of the smoke. Many woods, if emitting white smoke, are also emitting creosote. You do NOT want that. Once you know what the smoke is supposed to smell like, you'll know whether that's happening or not... until that point, by all means stick with thin blue as your target.
  11. bman62526

    bman62526 Smoking Fanatic

    Someone who has been doing this a lot longer than me, said you want the wood to smolder - not burn. However, errrr - for lack of a more PC way to put it - I think that's wrong!

    Well, allow me to clarify...if you are using a wood burning offset, then you always want a small fire, not a large pile of smoldering wood.

    However, if you are using a bullet-type smoker and smoking w/ wood CHIPS (as opposed to chunks or sticks in a typical wood burner) then I guess you would want your chips to smolder...which is why a lot of folks will soak them first.

    Interesting subject...I'll stay tuned
  12. oregonsmoker

    oregonsmoker Fire Starter

    Great topic! I have learned so much being a member here. I went from putting handfulls of soaked wood chips onto hot coals creating white billowing smoke (yuk!) to using wood chunks that would catch fire when place onto hot coals to now using the following method in my ECB: a Weber chimney almost full using half lump and half briquetes, placed in kind of a spread out pile, then placing my wood chunks around the edges of the coals that slowly burn creating a nice consistant long smoke without burning them up. I have expiremented with both soaked and unsoaked chunks and have not really noticed a big difference. I love reading about the different ways everyone has their own techniques. The learning never stops!!
  13. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    coyote, sorry if this sounds stupid, like I said I'm very new. I never seem to get this thin blue smoke? Is that the very small smoke that come out after the white smoke that you can't really see? It kinda looks like fumes? As I'm reading all the post on this topic it seems I'm doing it wrong? I use big hickory SOAKED chunks & throw them straight on top of the lump? Should I even soak them? It seems for sure I should take more time & place them around the edges?
  14. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    Your questions are good ones. I'm by no means the most knowledgeable person here; some have already chimed in, and hopefully more will. But I'll share my opinion on what you've asked.

    1. Soaking should be limited to small chips. And then, they should be allowed to dry a bit so that you're not dumping water on your fire. That WILL generate creosote.

    2. Chunks ought not be soaked. Just scatter a few throughout your pile of lump charcoal, and put more in as needed.

    There's a pic somewhere on this board that shows two smokers; one is billowing white, the other burning thin blue. That thin blue is your goal. Also keep in mind that if you SMELL smoke, you're getting smoke - you don't need to see more than a wisp of it.

    Ultimately, the flavor of the food is the thing. If your stuff tastes good, then you're smokin'!!
  15. 66galaxie

    66galaxie Fire Starter

    Good info here.
    Thank you all for the replies and discussion!

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