Wood and Charcoal

Discussion in 'Grilling Tips' started by meltyface, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. I couldn't find a place to put this so I'm sticking this here, it's a really noob question though.

    I know when you smoke you are supposed to use a combination of charcoal and wood, but what is the ratio for this? Should I use charcoal just to start the process then use only wood throughout the rest of the cook or what. Also I keep finding a lot of debate on weather or not to soak wood in water, I don't but should I? And does bark on the logs really make that much difference (I use 6" split wood).

    I'm just trying to find out all the basic stuff that that 5-day e-course hasn't answered yet.

  2. roksmith

    roksmith Meat Mopper OTBS Member

    It all depends on what type of smoker you are trying to use.
    If your smoker was designed to run on charcoal..then use charcoal for heat and add a little wood for flavor.
    My smoker was designed to run on wood, so I use a chimney of charcoal to start it, then burn wood thruout the cook.
    Based on your signature, you should probably be using mostly charcoal.
    I wouldn't wet the wood because that causes a smoldering fire.
    If it were me.. I'd use smaller pieces of wood and allow then to fully combust to get the cleanest smoke.
  3. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    yeah, it your situation you'll use charcoal and add a couple chunks ( and I do soak them. A damp piece of wood is not gonna cause rolls of smoke [​IMG] ) of wood every hour or so. You can use chips, but chunks are better.
  4. How much charcoal should I keep burning at all times (1 chimney full?) I seem to be using a ton of wood, but I guess that mainly because I hardly use charcoal.
  5. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'll probally get ostrisized for this but, I am a stick burner and don't use(yuk) bagger ANYTHING(unless it is chunks of real wood).
    Now, if you have a small cooker and no SB, then pre-burn wood to start.
    Get a bucket or better yet a chimmney starter(you prob. have one).Start chunks as if it were charcoal and use that.no need for the nasty taste of chars--t.When the coals get ready add them and watch the temp,this is a VERY easy way to keep temps. where you want it. And when temp starts to drop by 10*F or so,add another chunk.No,don't soak,as the wood already has enough moisture in it to do it's job.
    And try different woods,the flavor changes with each type,subtle,but different.
    Hope this helps and SMOKE HAPPY [​IMG]
    Stan aka Old School BBQ
  6. okie joe

    okie joe Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Start a chimney of lump charcoal( it is wood that has been burned) not briquiets pressed clay and binder added Stuff...and I add about 2 to three fist size pices of wood (not soaked) have you soaked a pice of wood over night and then split it .....not very much penetration of water,,,,this is hard wood we are talking about hickory,,,oak...pecan....if you smell smoke your smokeing.... you dont have to have it rolling white billowing smoke......my 2 cents but Im not OTBS so they will be along to help.
  7. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I always figured having to much available air flow is what causes wood to burn. Once I adjusted my side vents, then the chunks of wood stopped catching on fire. Whether they have some water on them or not, eventually they will probably catch fire for a bit. Wood burns ya know [​IMG]
    Since the water does not penetrate the hard wood that much, I figure the dampness helps to suppress any flames for a while longer than without water.
    Guess you'll just have to try each way and figure out what you like the best.

    OTBS member 117 [​IMG]
  8. Thanks for the input, if anyone has any other tips or tricks please let me know....I'm pretty much winging it right now (been successful so far though) [​IMG]
  9. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My main smoker is a chargriller with side firebox, for size reference. I add charcoal about every 3-4 hours, but add a hardwood split every hour, until the "magic" temperature is reached. A hardwood split is consists of about a 4" diameter, 10" long limb (usually of apple or peach wood) split in half. The "magical" temperature is different depending on what I'm cooking, but is generally about the 150 degree mark. By that time, the meat has usually obsorbed about as much flavorful wood smoke as it needs. It is commonly misunderstood that meat will stop obsorbing smoke at 140, but in fact this is the temperature that the wood stops aiding in the generation of a smoke ring; the chemical reaction caused by smoke, moisture, and the nitrogen in the air. I just feel that by about 150, anything more is too much. If I'm cooking ribs, I pull the smoke at about the 3.5-4 hour mark, because this is when I start foiling.

    Hope this helps,
  10. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    When I put in splits, I WANT them to burn a bit! Helps keep temps and cooking conditions right.
  11. Thanks geek that does help. Guess I'll use a lot more charcoal next time I smoke. I just need to find some place that sells real charcoal instead of these briquetes.
  12. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Try Wally World for your char. It's marked , you can't mistake it.....
  13. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    How much chunked wood would you guess you'd need to start with to bring a Brinkman bullet up to temp?
  14. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If ya use charcoal use lump. It is pure wood with no binders or fillers. I use lump in my grill and from time to time in a grill wok with one or two chunks of wood to maintain a low temp in my Lang for cold smoke. Air flow is important so keep the top vent wide open to prevent stale smoke allowing creosote to condense on the outer surface of the meat and make bitter tasting. I have never soaked my wood and found it not needed for me to get a stable thin blue smoke goin. Actually is seems to me that the Thin Blue doen't happen until the splits are chared over so soaking may delay the optimal conditions. Hmmmm. Gotta think about that one. Good Luck.
  15. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use a chimney full of chunks to start and add as needed, bought chunks are more expensive than my selfcut stock. One can do wonders with a saw(chain or not) and an axe. I really dispize the odor of charcoal and lighterfluid, the chiminey thig does well. I also use my weed burner when I get impatient...[​IMG]
  16. taterdavid

    taterdavid Smoke Blower

    i burn almost all wood, sometimes i'll use some charcoal but this summer i'm using almost all wood.i got lots of wood so its cheaper than buying some charcoal.

    i use a chimmney and chucks as mentioned above and splits in between, sometimes i use coals right outta the bonfire if i got one going. i use a old new braunfels offset and hope to move up to a lang someday

    i got all the wood i could ever need so i hate buying charcoal, that stuff is expensive.
  17. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Melt - I also have the Smokin-pro with the fire box. I find a minion with lump works fairly well. I bought one of the grilling woks at home depot to use as a charcoal basket, I took out the cast iron grates in the fire box, and I replaced the wire rack in the firebox with a heavy duty 17" chromed grill surface (also from home depot).

    Basically I load up the charcoal basket (the wok [​IMG]) with unlit lump. Then I get a chimney of lump up to temp and dump it into the unlit basket. I can usually get about 3 hours of good steady 200-225 burn time before I have to add another lit chimney of lump. Home Depot also sells a nice big bag of hickory chunks for about $10, its enough to do about three 6-8 hour smokes. I usually add about 3 or 4 chunks once an hour for the first three hours and thats it.

    I have been real happy with the results I get out of that set up. Best of luck!
  18. Thanks for the tips. I have been trying to figures out what to do about the crappy grate that's in the firebox, and a solution to the overflow of ashes in there as well when I do a long burn. I think I'm going to have to try this technique as soon as I get some cash to be able to buy that stuff.

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