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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 09-05-2013, 07:57 AM   #1
NorthernMN
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Default Wood Moisture For a Stickburner

So I have been playing with building an effiecent fire to get the elusive thin blue smoke but have not gotten the results I have been hoping for. I have been using oak and maple which tests out at 10-15% moisture and there always seems to be white smoke until it gets burnt down to the coals. I have tried starting the fire with wood only and also with a chimmeny of lit lump and I can not get thin blue smoke unless I use only some hickory logs that I bought at the store that have been kiln dried to 6-7% moisture. I am trying to maintain a 225-250 degree fire which I have been able to do but I just need to get a clean fire. Any tips of help would be great.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 08:04 AM   #2
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have you been pre heating the wood?
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Unread 09-05-2013, 08:32 AM   #3
NorthernMN
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Yes I have once I get the fire going the next log goes on top of the fire box until its time to add it when the temp starts to drop.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 10:01 AM   #4
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The greener the wood the hotter the fire needs to be either cook hotter or season it longer.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 10:06 AM   #5
Fat Woody
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What size are your pieces? Try going smaller if you're using large splits or chunks.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 10:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Woody View Post
What size are your pieces? Try going smaller if you're using large splits or chunks.
Agreed on the smaller splits
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Unread 09-05-2013, 10:16 AM   #7
NorthernMN
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I have tried the smaller splits but maybe I need to keep adding lump to keep a good coal bed.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 10:17 AM   #8
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My wood got soaked in a sideways driving rain in the middle of the night before an early morning cook. The fire was kicking my a** until I pushed the fire all the way forward, and put the next piece in the fire box by the door, and the next two pieces on top of the fire box. So each piece went from top of FB, into the FB but not on the fire, then into the fire.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 11:08 AM   #9
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I get 3x3's ripped into 8 ft lengths at my local lumber yard. I then dry them in a controlled environment with about an inch between them to allow air to circulate. I then cut 8" chunks off as I need them. Usually burn 3 logs in 12 hours ($9), always burns perfect
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Unread 09-05-2013, 12:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernMN View Post
So I have been playing with building an effiecent fire to get the elusive thin blue smoke but have not gotten the results I have been hoping for. I have been using oak and maple which tests out at 10-15% moisture and there always seems to be white smoke until it gets burnt down to the coals. I have tried starting the fire with wood only and also with a chimmeny of lit lump and I can not get thin blue smoke unless I use only some hickory logs that I bought at the store that have been kiln dried to 6-7% moisture. I am trying to maintain a 225-250 degree fire which I have been able to do but I just need to get a clean fire. Any tips of help would be great.
After reading all the posts, the only thing that I see that hasn't been addressed yet is airflow. If you're building the fire too big and having to choke down on the intake damper too much you will get dirty smoke. Try keeping your exhaust damper wide open and then controlling the heat with only the intake damper. If your intake damper is 1/3 to 1/2 open and the temperature is getting too high, your fire is too big.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 01:25 PM   #11
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Sounds like you're on the right track; I build a pretty big fire to heat the cooker up initially and the coals from that are usually sufficient to keep the next split burning. But I also keep an unlit chimney loaded with charcoal - just in case the BBQ gods are looking the other way that day
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Unread 09-05-2013, 03:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat Woody View Post
Sounds like you're on the right track; I build a pretty big fire to heat the cooker up initially and the coals from that are usually sufficient to keep the next split burning. But I also keep an unlit chimney loaded with charcoal - just in case the BBQ gods are looking the other way that day
After starting with charcoal, you really shouldn't have to add any more during the cook. With the exception of occasionally having wet or unseasoned wood, the splits that you are putting in, (I average a split every 45 minutes or so) should maintain a coal bed. If you are cooking with an offset stick burner which I assume that you are, you should really be using wood as your primary fuel source. A small hot burning wood fire with plenty of ventilation is much easier to control in an offset.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 03:56 PM   #13
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What kind of cooker? Pics, particularly the firebox & inlet air control?
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Unread 09-05-2013, 04:02 PM   #14
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Also, oak is notorious for taking years to properly season. Split one of your splits and check the inside with a moisture meter. I'm guessing it's still a bit green. Split 'em small and stack loosely in an area where wind and sun can get at the pile.
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Unread 09-05-2013, 05:44 PM   #15
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I vote air flow issue. Have you tried leaving the firebox door cracked open and controlling temps by size of fire? Many people with stick burners never close the fb door all the way.
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