Splits NOT burning???

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by danbono, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi I started the last time with a small amount of Kingsford Blue, then added the one white birch.

    I did pick up some Oak and Cherry double splits, going to give them a try next time. Also going with some lump at the beginning.

    Thanks Dan
  2. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Is there some reason that you won't just try WOOD alone?

    Maybe some other stickburners will chime in here, because I don't know what else to say.

  3. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi How do I start with just wood. I don't have any thing to get the wood started.?

    There are lots of  smokers out there with offsets like mine using wood for fuel.I was hoping they would chime in also.

    I got some racks of BB's and a 4# Underblade Chuck Roast to smoke on Sunday.

    THanks Dan

    PS I do have lots of small branches that I use when I start a fire in the fireplace.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Using a hatchet, split some splinters off of the splits... about pencil to thumb size.. then use a weed burner to start the fire...
  5. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi That is the problem no weed burner.

    Thanks Dan
  6. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    well then.. just use kindling and start from scratch...
  7. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    a weed burner is nice but you certainly dont need one

    I have always used a small amount of lit charcoal in a little pile to start

    But if thats not working for you then cut up a piece of 2x4 and use that for kindling since it burns easily

    another thing that works well is the weber starter cubes.

    I think you are using too much charcoal and spreading it out like that is choking off the oxygen

    Let the wood burn a good long while and use smaller splits 

    its really no different than starting a campfire,

    I am sure you have done that before

     the lit charcoal method is just a shortcut to get you some nice hot coals
  8. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Agree 100%[​IMG]!!!
  9. Really good advice above. I've tried all kind of briquettes and lump, but my go to stuff is kingsford competition briquettes. Light a chimney of that and make sure it's good and hot, until it's ashing on top. Dump that in you're basket and add splits as needed. If you have a small fan you can place that 2-3 ft from fire box vent or if you're firebox has a side door you can open that if you need extra air.

    Less amnt of charcoal burning hot and splits burning.

    More charcoal and not burning hot and clean leads to splits smoldering.

    When I use kingsford competition briquettes I get the best of both worlds. I can load my basket up for a longer smoke and get clean burning splits.

  10. Okay as a rookie I'm going to add my 2 cents.  In my inexperienced opinion if those splits are what you are using during the smoke with the amount of charcoal shown in the second pic,  I think your fire is too big.  Too much charcoal and too much wood.  The volume of one or the other needs to be reduced.  Think small and extremely hot fire.  When wood is added to the fire it should be so hot that it literally bursts in flames.  It should be burning before getting your hand out of the firebox.  When wood or charcoal smoulders the smoke carries incomplete combustibles that coat the meat, turns it black and gives it a heavy smokey creosote taste.  If charcoal is going to be your predominant heat source the splits should be no bigger, really just a tad smaller than a coke can both in length or diameter.  Anything larger will just smoulder before it ignites.  A very small amount of wood will give you a good smoke flavor.  The smoke coming out of the smoker should be hard to see. 

    Right or wrong, this is what works for me.  I use charcoal as a predominate heat source. I also happen to have a band saw which makes cutting the splits really easy. 

    I start off with a chimney full of lump charcoal plus spillage when I pour the lump in it.  Once this is going I pour it out up against the CC wall in the FB.  I then add briquets, 2/3 of what you have shown in pick 2 on top of this with a large split I cut in half.  These splits are big fireplace splits;  not what you buy at Kroger or Academy.  At this time the FB door, lid and CC lid are open.  Once the wood is fully engulfed and I have a clean fire blazing away with flames higher than the top of the CC, I shut the lids to both the FB and CC.  The FB door is still open.  Once the temp reaches 350+, I shut the FB door and open the vent so I have no more than about a 3/8 crack at its widest on both top and bottom.  Now I wait for the fire to settle down -takes about 10 minutes to stop belching smoke and get down to that nearly transparent smoke.  Before I put the meat on I will add about 2 handfuls of briquets and 2 small coke can sized pieces of wood.  I will leave the FB lid open, put the meat in the CC and then shut the FB lid. By this time those wood pieces are blazing.  I will add a dozen briquets at the far end of the FB as far away from the fire as possible.   Every 45minutes +/- I will push those briquets to the rest of the fire,  add 2 more of those small split pieces, rake out ashes,  plus another 12 or so briquets in the FB as far away from the fire as possible.   I do it in that order so by the time I have the new briquets in place the wood in blazing and no heavy smoke is ever produced when I shut the FB door and lid. 

    The only other thing I would recommend is replacing the grate you have with a large piece of heavy gauge 3/8" expanded metal.  It looks like the gap in your grate allows the briquets to fall through to the bottom prematurely blocking good air flow.  The expanded metal smaller openings allow just ash to fall through.  For a five our rib smoke I use about 8lbs of charcoal about 1 split cut into small pieces.  For a 15 hour brisket, 12-15 pounds of charcoal and 2 splits cut into small pieces.

    I also use oak for preheating and smoking.  Makes great long lasting coals and has a mild taste that my family likes.  Small and hot is the way to go.  The pics are what comes off my smoker using this method.  Notice very little smoke in the pics.

    good luck
  11. jburn244

    jburn244 Fire Starter

    Cut your splits in half as probably already mentioned, and just add the 2 small pieces at at time. They catch quicker and burn better. I don't think you need less charcoal as long as you are running at half or wide open. Just don't choke it off and you'll be fine.

    Although now that I'm looking at the picture of your firebox that inlet damper seems waaayy too small. I don't see how you'd get enough air in there even with it wide open to keep your wood from smoldering. You may just need to stick to charcoal and the bagged chunks. 
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  12. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All Another try at stick burning and pretty much the same results..This time I tried small splits 6x3 and medium & larger splits, with the same results.The splits would flame as long as the FB door was open or cracked a Little, once closed the splits went into smoldering mode.

    Also the temps were fluctuating all over the place, when flaming the temps would go sky high, when the flame when out the temps went way down. I thought I had a good bed of coals, but I guess not.

    At times I had to put the paper from the Lump bag, under the FB grate in order to get things going again. I definitely have some kind of air flow problem. My FB grate sits 4" from the FB floor, I'm wondering IF that could be the problem.

    At this point in time I'm ready to go back to charcoal/lump and use the 6x3 splits just for flavor.

    Thanks for all your help

  13. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    I have an idea Dan

    Do you still have those tuning plates and firebricks in the cook chamber?

    I see foil in the under the cook grate in another in your thread on the brethren

    If you still have that stuff, get rid of all of it

    I had a similar issue on my OK Joe, I took out some of the tuning plates and it was much better

    I bet all that extra stuff is choking off your air flow!!
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  14. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Hi Dan, As others have said your splits are to large. One inch square is as large as you should be using. Your much better off using four one inch square splits than one 1X4 split. The larger the wood the harder to control the temp and it takes more heat and air to get it to burn. Use several smaller cut sticks at one time.
  15. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Hey Dan This pic looks like the fire box is sitting on a solid piece of metal

    If it is that would block the air flow.

  16. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Baffle going into the CC

     Lately I've been using this. Charcaol grate cover in alum foil, with small holes by the FB and bigger ones to the far end.

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  17. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    If effects it because its choking off the airflow 

    remove all that stuff

    I bet you a brisket you will have a flame  then

    I had the exact same problem

    and buy an axe to cut up the splits. You can get one for $10-15
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  18. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  19. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Hi Dan, Well if making you splits smaller is the problem I use a hatchet I purchased at a yard sale three bucks. I put the hatchet where I want it split and smack it with a hammer. Saves the fingers. Start at the outside edge cutting slices off and work to the center. If you don't have a hatchet use any sharp chunk of steel. I use a splitting wedge and three pound hammer on larger sizes. I don't split except for smoking. Ya wear safety glasses.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  20. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi I brought a 1 1/4 lb hatchet at Harbor Freight for $7..Didn't make a dent in the oak or cherry. Started at the smallest end got some cherry to split but only once.When it came to the thicker part, I couldn't make any head way with the hatchet..I was using a hammer to hit the hatchet with.

    Waiting on getting some smaller splits 8 x 1-2" before I try again.Looking for some one in North NJ to get smaller splits from.Would get a chain but at 72 I DON'T feel comfortable using it.

    Thanks Dan
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014

Share This Page