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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 01-15-2009, 08:12 PM   #16
Hachie Qer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigabyte View Post
The most common mistake, especially in offsets, is adding too much fuel and suffocating what may have been a clean burning fire. The heat in the firebox is greatly reduced as the energy is transferred into the unlit fuel. Also, if there is too much fuel you can restrict airflow in your firebox. An offset firebox should have a small clean burning fire in it. It is basically impossible to have a full firebox burn clean because there is not enough airflow able to come in to burn the fuel and the released gases at the same time (remember to account for the volume the gasses require to burn).

Another mistake some people make is closing down the exhaust. The exhaust should always be wide open. The gases released need to escape, you don't want them building up inside your cooker or else you will get thick deposits on your cooker walls and meat. I have never owned a cooker that I could not leave the exhaust wide open for any cooking session. If a smoker exists that does require this, then I would suggest it is a bad smoker design.

Another mistake you can make is at the beginning of the cooking session when you add lit coals to unlit fuel for the Minion method. If you add too much lit fuel at the beginning, more than the intakes/airflow can support, then the fire will slowly suffocate down to the level where it does get the proper airflow for it to burn. This results in an extended period of heavier smoke.

Any time your fire gets too hot and you reduce the air intake is going to cause heavier smoke because you are suffocating the fire to reduce it. The trick is to cook with the fire you create, and to create a clean burning fire that runs at the temp you want, and refuel appropriately to maintain it.
So, you're saying that with an offset firebox filled with fuel for a long burn, it's not possible to have the right conditions using the minion method or any other way? Only way is to refuel?
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by redaub View Post
I never thought the mad scientist thing was meant to be taken literally. WOW!!
With this level of knowledge, there is no wonder, why this is the BEST FARKIN forum, ever!!! Hats off to bigabyte!
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:29 PM   #18
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Well, it's not absolute, but generally that way.

I have seen people post pics on forums before where they said the meat was nasty tasting and the smoke was thick. The pics posted showed how they added fuel to the firebox. I remember one in particular in a smoker similar to the ones in the pic earlier on this thread, where the charcoal and wood filled over 3/4 of the total volume of the firebox. It is difficult to imagine that much fuel burning cleanly in such a constrained environment, let alone sucking in enough air through the intakes.

I have a small offset similar to yours, and I use the Minion method every time. The first thing I did was raise the charcoal grates so there was about 6 inches clearance below, which also gave me more surface area for charcoal (double sweet). Yours may already be this way, but if not do yourself a favor and make this change. I took a perforated stainless steel paper plate holder which I bought from Ace Hardware and set it up in the hole between my firebox and cooker to keep flames from being able to leap in to the cooker. I have seen others do this same thing with a perforated pizza pan. With this in place, I would put the lit coals on the charcoal grate against that "baffle", or looking at it another way I put them on the grate and shoved them as close to the cooker chamber as i could with a fireplace shovel. Then I backfilled to the intakes with unlit charcoal and let the fire burn backwards toward the air intakes. I get consistent 90 minute burn periods with Royal Oak lump doing this. I would not add a really thick layer, just a good layer with decent coverage, probably about 3 inches thick or so. I would put 4 to 6 chunks (depending on size) on top of these coals evenly scattered from front to back and side to side. When it was time to refuel, I would shove all the remaining lit coals to the side nearest the cooking chamber, and backfill the same as before and put on some more wood chunks as before. I ran about 240-270 this way, with 90 minutes between refueling like clockwork.

Larger offset have larger and deeper fireoxes, and some have charcoal baskets designed for a snaking Minion method type burn, and they can go quite a while without refueling. For the smaller offsets though, you're gonna have to refuel.
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:34 PM   #19
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Bigabyte, that is one hell of a good explanation. Thanks!
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hachie Qer View Post
I was about to agree with you, but I googled it an sure enough there are different kinds of creosote, one of them being wood creosote produced by choking off the oxygen to a wood fire.
http://hearth.com/econtent/index.php..._and_solutions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creosote
I think we need re-read that.

"Wood creosote is created by high temperature treatment of beech and other woods." "Wood creosote is a colorless to yellowish greasy liquid with a smoky odor and burned taste."

If are smokers/Grills were full of creosote I believe we would be very Ill. I still believe it is a Carbon Build up.
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:40 PM   #21
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If you want a long burn with minimal refueling (end even minimal fuel for that matter), then check out vertical smokers like WSM's, UDS/BDS, Stumps, Spicewine, Backwoods, etc. You can go all day or night without refueling at all, holding a steady temp and only using maybe 10 pounds of charcoal. For my small offset, a 12 hour cooking session would use over 30 pounds of lump.
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:44 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigabyte View Post
If you want a long burn with minimal refueling (end even minimal fuel for that matter), then check out vertical smokers like WSM's, UDS/BDS, Stumps, Spicewine, Backwoods, etc. You can go all day or night without refueling at all, holding a steady temp and only using maybe 10 pounds of charcoal. For my small offset, a 12 hour cooking session would use over 30 pounds of lump.
If you do the math on that, and do one cook a week, the WSM pays for itself in less than a year with charcoal savings over an offset like the Brinkmann SnP Pro. That is how I talked my wife into the WSM in the first place
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:44 PM   #23
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Bigabyte, I concur that you have provided a great explanation. I have been puzzled why everyone it seems is able to set and forget temperatures for 10 hours on their cooker and I have been fiddling with my offset's firebox every 30 minutes. It sounds like if I follow your approach I can at least stretch it out to 90 minutes or so. For a small offset, how many lit coals would you start with?

Thanks
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Unread 01-15-2009, 08:51 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcfontario View Post
Bigabyte, I concur that you have provided a great explanation. I have been puzzled why everyone it seems is able to set and forget temperatures for 10 hours on their cooker and I have been fiddling with my offset's firebox every 30 minutes. It sounds like if I follow your approach I can at least stretch it out to 90 minutes or so. For a small offset, how many lit coals would you start with?

Thanks
That's a good question. I have two chimneys, one is a big old Weber one, and the other is some cheapy which is smaller, maybe half the size in volume. I used to just fill right up to the rim on the small one with Royal Oak lump to start the fire, and I would not put meat on until I refueled the first time so the pit came up to temp and the amount of burning coals was at the level it should be for each successive refueling. I never counted the coals. I'm sorry I can't explain it better than that for you.

My offset is a Brinkmann Smoke N Pit Deluxe, which I believe nowadays goes by the name Pitmaster Deluxe. I always left the intake fully open as well, just so ya know.
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Unread 01-15-2009, 09:15 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigabyte View Post
I have a small offset similar to yours, and I use the Minion method every time. The first thing I did was raise the charcoal grates so there was about 6 inches clearance below, which also gave me more surface area for charcoal (double sweet). Yours may already be this way, but if not do yourself a favor and make this change.
Thanks, I was already planning that. My fire grate is only about 10.5" wide and sits very close to the bottom of the firebox. I got a tip from another NBBD owner to make it 14" which will raise it up considerably.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigabyte View Post
Larger offset have larger and deeper fireoxes, and some have charcoal baskets designed for a snaking Minion method type burn, and they can go quite a while without refueling. For the smaller offsets though, you're gonna have to refuel.
As I have been reading this thread, I thought of a way to snake the fuel. I may try that, but it would be harder to refuel than your method.


Great stuff Bigabyte. We should rename this thread "Horizontal Offset Smoking 101"
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Unread 01-16-2009, 02:41 AM   #26
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If UDS folks ae reading this keep in mind the white smoke you see is fat dripping in the coals and burning off. I don't restrict the exhaust from the 8 1/2" holes on a flat lid or close daisey wheel on weber lid.
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Unread 01-16-2009, 05:16 AM   #27
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Thannks to all who have contributed to this thread. Some may remember I bought a New Braunfels Smoker some months back, and have only used it a couple of times. The reason being I was having a lot of trouble maintainng even cooking temps. I think I now understand a lot more, and will give it a try agian this weekend with the offset. Thanks again!
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Unread 01-16-2009, 06:26 AM   #28
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Bigabyte,
Thanks for all the knowledge.
Early on you said fire =heat&air&wood. As the discussion progressed it seems that heat=charcoal/coal bed
Is burning only wood possible? In the larger offset pits it seems like a lot of charcoal would be used.
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Unread 01-16-2009, 07:15 AM   #29
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This is a GREAT thread! Very informative Thanks to all of those commenting. Not an expert by any means and love reading the posts. Our personal preference is to only use wood. We light with a weed burner. You have to get to know your smoker, e.g., air temp, air flow and your wood. It is a never ending and enjoyable part of Q'ing for us. Best accomplished with practice and tasty beverages Some loads of wood haven't burned right and ended up in the fireplace instead of the smoker.
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Unread 01-16-2009, 07:16 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pork Smoker View Post
I think we need re-read that.

"Wood creosote is created by high temperature treatment of beech and other woods." "Wood creosote is a colorless to yellowish greasy liquid with a smoky odor and burned taste."

If are smokers/Grills were full of creosote I believe we would be very Ill. I still believe it is a Carbon Build up.
The only part of this entire thread that belies my personal experience is that creosote is colorless to yellowish. I burn a lot of wood for heat and all I have ever seen is black creosote. Anyone ever seen it otherwise?
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