Whats easier to maintain temps: hardwood lump or charcoal?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by mrad, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. mrad

    mrad Smoke Blower

    Hey guys,

    tomorrow will be my first big attempt with a wood smoker (cheap Brinkman with a side woodbox). I will be smoking an 18 lb turkey that I plan on starting around 5:00am for a 1:00 meal (will have a brisket on the MES). I will try to maintain temps between 300-325.  I've posted a few other questions and had lots of helpful answers.  For the past two days, I have been playing around with charcoal and hardwood chunk trying to figure out the best route to maintain temps. The  other day I tried some duraflame hardwood biquettes. I did hit close to 400 degrees for a brief period of time. However, the the price was about $12 for 15 lbs, and for a 7-8 hour smoke, it looked like I may need two bags. today I am using kingsford and adding a couple chunks of hickory and apple wood. Temps range from 225 to 340. Seems pretty finicky. I should mention that I am not filling the smoke box with charcoal/wood. I start with a chimney starter about 3/4 full of charcoal or hardwood. When I dump, I add a couple chunks of wood and then monitor/ do chores. Should I bee adding more fuel to the smoke box?

    Would a hardwood lump( I have cowboy brand that I used in the weber for camping) give me more heat?

    I guess I a little confused on how much of a fuel load to start with. Should I start with a lot and then use damper to control?

    Any links that can provide answers would also be appreciated.
     
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bump..... cause I can't answer this.....   Dave
     
  3. pthefree

    pthefree Fire Starter

    I have recently switched to stick burning. I'm moving on because I feel I have got coals down pretty good. From my experience, you can get a pretty hot fire with charcoals. I have used all sorts of brands of both types of coal. By far, my favorite is the regular kingsford charcoal. I like it because each coal is consistent with the next. This makes it easy to develop a method for your cooker. Lump coals come in ALL shapes and sizes and will certainly burn hotter than briquettes, but the temp will be more difficult to control. They will also burn out quicker, but with less ash. If you are weirded out by the binder in the Briquettes then you can buy the Kingsford Competition briquettes, which have a lot less in the way of binders and they are all uniform in size. Hope this helps. Happy Smoking!!!!!!!!!!
     
  4. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    To answer your question on temps, charcoal burns longer and more consistent while lump burns hotter and shorter.
     
  5. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Now to answer your question on size of fire start small/hot and go bigger if necessary. Colder climate lump will give the heat you need but nothing wrong with mixing charcoal in for a long duration cook. Look up the minion method especially for a long cook.
     
  6. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi So what did you do to get the temps you wanted..Inquiring minds would like to know.

    Dan
     
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Vent control and leak control.  If one has a leaky pit and leaky firebox then controlling temps is a big challenge...and usually the pit wins. 
     
  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I find that lump responds more quickly to the opening and closing of the intake vent on my Weber kettle than briquettes do, making it a bit easier to control. JM2C.
     
  9. dwsmith43

    dwsmith43 Fire Starter

    I have a cheaply new braunfels offset and built a 12"x12"x10"H basket for my coals. Use a pretty even mix of Kingsford championship briquettes and lump coal. Fill about three quarters full unlit. Fire up some in the chimney and top off. Cooks at a steady 235 -250 for about four hours before needing more coal. Then I just throw in handfuls of lump every hour after. Hope that helps put.
     
  10. I usually start out with a larger fire then use my damper to bring it down.  I usually use old blue bag kindsford mixed with wood splits.  It is important to keep the ash raked out of your pit to keep airflow going.
     
  11. comosmoker

    comosmoker Smoke Blower

    I, too, start out with a large fire then bring it down.  I have converted to more stick burning recently because I like the flavor and I could control the temps easier for some reason.  My fire starts with either blue bag Kingsford or Royal Oak Lump...which ever is on sale.  I fill my basket 3/4 full, throw in a few sticks or chunks, then dump the hot coals on top.  Then add sticks or chunks to maintain heat.  But, yes, sealing the firebox and smoking chamber is essential in keeping and regulating temps.  You don't have to seal them, but then it takes a lot of babysitting and tinkering.  Keep ashes cleared and be sure to leave your smoke stack wide open and control the temps with the intake.  Good luck and happy smoking!!!!   And remember..... [​IMG]
     
  12. I use half a starter of cheap charcoal, sometimes one of those "cheap match lite" little $5.00 bags,  Then switch over to wood.  I used to start with a 20lb bag of kingsford, but found it was easier to just start with and finish with all wood,

    [​IMG]
     
  13. comosmoker

    comosmoker Smoke Blower

    Awesome looking rig there, Ribwizzard!!!  [​IMG]
     

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