Originally Posted by Smokin' Greene
Must to the chagrin of traditional stick burners, I use a combo of both. I use a loaded charcoal basket(18 to 20 lbs) with 4" to 6" chucks of wood (minion method) to get long burn times with good results and less tending (insulated firebox). I use a traditional stick burner not a reverse flow.
It is always best to use the fuel that your cooker was designed for. A Lang RF cooker is a "stick burner" and wood is the fuel to use, charcoal is designed to burn slowly with very little air flow, for a cooker designed for that fuel such as a WSM, UDS, Egg, etc. unless you're using it to grill with. An offset cooker requires good draft and if you choke way down on the intake damper to get a slower burn from charcoal, you'll struggle to get the temps up and also get dirty smoke from any wood that is present because it will smolder instead of burn! If you open the pit up and allow the airflow that it needs, the charcoal will all ignite too quickly and you'll get wildly fluctuating and soaring temps until they suddenly crash as the charcoal burns up!
Wood burns hotter than charcoal and as long as it combusts it will give you plenty of heat as well as a thin blue smoke. So start your fire with a chimney of lit lump and a couple of splits, when the pit gets up to temp add a split every 45 min. or so to maintain it. From this point forward you are burning ONLY wood, your intake damper is anywhere from 1/3 to 3/4 open (depending on desired temp) and your exhaust is wide open.
You'll find that an all wood fire is MUCH easier to control in an offset than charcoal as the cooker is wide open, drafting well, delivering good heat and clean smoke to your food.
You shouldn't put gasoline in a diesel engine and likewise you shouldn't put charcoal in a stick burner!