PDA

View Full Version : Wood vs Charcoal


Greg60525
03-12-2009, 01:56 AM
I use a Gator Pit offset smoker and have always used all wood,(Oak/Hickory/Apple in an even split, except that I use a load of charcoal to start it. I've always liked the flavor and it never seemed too much for me, however I only have 2 comps under my belt and I'm not sure what the judges are looking for, taste wise. Other than having a great time in my first comp, my scores were a disaster, the second comp was middle of the road.......which, I was quite pleased with.

Should I be using charcoal with chunks thrown in for flavor or straight charcoal or stay with what I'm doing?

Any advice or experiences that you can send my way would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

U2CANQUE
03-12-2009, 06:45 AM
most that I have encountered start charcoal, then use wood to continue....me, just burnin pellets.....grins......good luck, and stick with it!

Divemaster
03-12-2009, 06:55 AM
When you figure out what the judges want, please let us know.

I use a mix of charcoal & shagbark hickory through out the cook (aka charcoal for the heat & wood for the flavor). I find that I can control the amount of smoke flavor better that way.

I guess it comes down to a comfort level as well as economics for me. Wood is far more expensive @ over $125 a face cord for cherry and RO @ $4.50 a 10 pound bag.

Jacked UP BBQ
03-12-2009, 08:00 AM
There is no right way. Use what you like and think will do well. I did straight charcoal ribs once on a grill and they were amazing and they did well with the judges. Who knows. Do you. Good luck.

HBMTN
03-12-2009, 04:47 PM
Both can be correct. So I have read that there are pitmasters out there that can leave the intake/exhaust drafts wide open and control a fires heat by adding the correct amount of wood at the correct time and not wrap the meat or over smoke it. They be some bad BBQ dudes right there, wish I could, then again I've only read that it is done and never actually seen it.

Greg60525
03-12-2009, 11:10 PM
Thanks for the advice. I'll need to do more experimenting. One thing that I know is when I was smoking in the Weber I would just add small pieces of oak that I skinned off a split with a hatchet and it was more smoky tasting than a full 10 hour cook using all wood in the offset. I suppose it's that the offset has such a larger chamber compared to the Weber and the Weber has a small exhaust vent...........the smoke would linger more, before being expelled.
I always leave the exhaust vent on the offset fully open. I generally leave the intakes wide open too, and adjust temp with wood........sometimes I have to mess with the intakes.

Thanks again,

Divemaster
03-13-2009, 07:42 AM
Both can be correct. So I have read that there are pitmasters out there that can leave the intake/exhaust drafts wide open and control a fires heat by adding the correct amount of wood at the correct time and not wrap the meat or over smoke it. They be some bad BBQ dudes right there, wish I could, then again I've only read that it is done and never actually seen it.
Next time your in town swing by... I never foil my meat while it's on the smoker...
Thanks for the advice. I'll need to do more experimenting. One thing that I know is when I was smoking in the Weber I would just add small pieces of oak that I skinned off a split with a hatchet and it was more smoky tasting than a full 10 hour cook using all wood in the offset. I suppose it's that the offset has such a larger chamber compared to the Weber and the Weber has a small exhaust vent...........the smoke would linger more, before being expelled.
I always leave the exhaust vent on the offset fully open. I generally leave the intakes wide open too, and adjust temp with wood........sometimes I have to mess with the intakes.

Thanks again,
Do you 'Pre-Warm' the wood... my guess is that you weren't getting a clean combustion on the Webber and you were getting a ton of 'White' smoke rather than the 'Thin Blue' you see with your offset...

One of the tricks I found was warming my logs (yet another chance at getting a thread moved to Woodpile) on top of my fire box for 30 minutes before introducing them to the fire... Kinda gives them a step up... I should warn you though, if they find a hot spot on the fire box they may start fire before you're ready...:eek:

For the Webber remember that the cooking area is much smaller and you only need a small amount of wood to accomplish what you need logs for on the offset.

Just Smokin' Around
03-13-2009, 12:13 PM
I would keep doing what you're comfortable with. I have a Gator and I use mostly wood but also add some lump every now and then to help keep an even bed of coals for an even temp. I also preheat the wood on top of the FB or off to the side in the FB. If you're maintaining steady temps and are comfortable with what you're doing, keep doing it. I wouldn't change it unless you start to get feed back that the meat is too "smokey". I've only had heavy smoke issues with chicken, not other meats. Like you said, you got 2 comps under your belt - I wouldn't change too much right now. Your biggest improvements will probably come more with technique and consistency, not so much with the fuel ( as long as you have a clean burning fire ). Good luck.

BTW - which Gator do you have? I have a 24" Party Gator.

smoke showin'
03-13-2009, 08:23 PM
As a true bricks and sticks burner I use an even mix charcoal for heat and wood for flavor

The Pickled Pig
03-13-2009, 11:40 PM
Wood vs. coal is extremely pit and fire management dependent. When in doubt, always err on the side of less smoke.

Greg60525
03-14-2009, 12:34 AM
Do you 'Pre-Warm' the wood... my guess is that you weren't getting a clean combustion on the Webber and you were getting a ton of 'White' smoke rather than the 'Thin Blue' you see with your offset...

I do pre-warm the wood..........several pieces on the firebox and one inside away from the fire. I did have the wood catch on fire on top of the firebox once during the start-up phase. :eek: I only place the wood inside when the temp is in cooking range.
With the Weber, I soaked the wood in water.......maybe that's why it was too smokey. Actually, I never thought it tasted over-smoked.


BTW - which Gator do you have? I have a 24" Party Gator.

I have the BMS (Budget Mobile Smoker)............I think it's basically a trailered version of what you have. It's amazing how much food this thing can hold! I picked it up in Houston and towed it back home about 1200 or so miles..........I timed the pick-up with a visit with my daughter, who lives in Texas. Everyone pretty much thought I lost it once they saw it. :rolleyes: Now I'm getting into comps......that wasn't in the plans. My plans were for big cooks.........which, I did several.


Thanks everyone for the feedback!

HBMTN
03-14-2009, 07:17 AM
>Next time your in town swing by... I never foil my meat while it's on the smoker


Can you also cook the whole time by controlling temp without altering intake and exhaust from wide open, if so you da man!

Divemaster
03-16-2009, 08:28 AM
Can you also cook the whole time by controlling temp without altering intake and exhaust from wide open, if so you da man!
Depends on the cooker... BGE, yes without a doubt... Lang, minor adjustments, no large swings, but yes I do have to make adjustments..