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Old 01-08-2013, 12:05 AM   #1
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Default how to add spilts to a stick burner??

Ok, so i have been doing lots and lots of reading about true bbq. i have seen and read posts about using a burn barrel for the offsets to get the best TBS.

However, i want to know how to add splits to a fire in a stick burner? i know that sounds dumb but i have seen some stick burners all of a sudden just bellow out white smoke when they add the new splits.

waht are the general rules? are there size recommendations for the splits, should they be green or very well seasoned? how many should be added?

lets say i am dfoing this on a standard offset size. such as one from lowes, the char grill. No i did not buy one, just giving that as reference. haha

does burning embers really produce tbs? i know lump doesnt when its burning, i see no smoke. haha.

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Old 01-08-2013, 12:20 AM   #2
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Generally, you only have the white smoke at the initial ignition. Once the wood has started the white smoke will diminish.

It is a good idea to have the wood warmed up, putting it on the fire box for a few minutes will accomplish this, before adding to the fire box.

The size of the piece of wood depends on the size of your fire box. For your example, I would use a few pieces 2-3" in diameter.

This is what I would. Others may have a different opinion.
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Old 01-08-2013, 05:27 AM   #3
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Preheating wood helps, wood should be seasoned and don't add too much wood. The ones blowing heavy smoke usually have too much wood in the box and it's smothering the fire. You want as small as fire as possible that still maintains the desired temp.
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Old 01-08-2013, 06:06 AM   #4
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I add 1 split at a time to maintain temps in my chargriller. I preheat on top of the fire box and in the firebox away from the fire, I keep the fire close to the cooking chamber and the split I am heating nearest the air intake on the SFB. my splits are 9-10" long(more or less) and about 3-4" at the thickest part.
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:20 AM   #5
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Here's a unique thread - running small and hot fires... the key to stickburners.
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:33 AM   #6
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+1 on preheating the wood. It makes a big difference.

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Old 01-08-2013, 07:53 AM   #7
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I have a Lang 60D, with a charcoal basket. I start the pit and let it come up to temp with about 18 pounds of lump charcoal (its all that the charcoal basket will hold). After about 45 min, that lump has burned down and starts to form a great base for my cook. Then I start to add 1-2 logs at a time. After a couple of hours, my fire is at the point where it burns one or two logs cleanly.....but it takes a while to get to that "small very hot fire". If I get behind the curve, and need to add several logs, it pours white smoke.......I hate that. I also preheat my wood....nothing too fancy, just place them directly under the firebox, and add from there. Then replace with seasoned wood until it's time to add again. HOpe that helps. Not sure if I added anything, but wanted to tell you my strategy.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:16 AM   #8
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> lets say i am doing this on a standard offset size. such as one from lowes,
> the char grill. No i did not buy one, just giving that as reference. haha

I'd consider these to be at the very small entry-level size (and certainly entry-level quality) smoker.

> waha are the general rules? are there size recommendations for the splits,
> should they be green or very well seasoned? how many should be added?

Size matters. Seriously. Refer to keys to a small/hot fire (above referenced). The fire should be allowed to burn hot, and clean, getting PLENTY of air. When adding wood, be it splits, whole logs, chunks, chips, whatever they should be clean and free from mold/fungus, dry as possible (not soaked), warm as possible, small enough and put on/over the existing fire so that they dont smother the fire (even temporarily).

For a smaller unit like you're talking about, I suggest that the splits be very short and very thin, but honestly I'm not a fan of splits in units this size. I think splits should be reserved for a larger fire box in the range of 20x24+. Think chunks, about the size of your fist, or smaller. I suggest when adding them to only put in 1 or 2 at a time, and let them burn completely, which usually takes 30-45 minutes or more. If you have a hot clean burning fire to begin with, when you add a chunk or two there will be a little (not much mind you) white smoke at first, but within perhaps 1 or 2 minutes the white smoke will turn almost clear and become that thin blue hue that is so desirable.

Wet wood tends to cool and/or smother the fire, producing billowy white smoke. Some of the white is evaporation/steam, but most is just bad smoke. The dryer the better.

Some people prefer green fruit wood, but rarely is the wood actually extremely green, it's just not as dry and seasoned as it could be. This will give off a more white smoke when burning, but the folks that do this like it because it gives a stronger fruity/smoked flavor.

Cool wood takes longer to come up to burning temp and therefore produces more billowy white smoke.

Large wood can smother the fire, resulting in more billowy white smoke.

Too much wood applied at one time can do the same.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:03 AM   #9
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It all depends on your individual pit, some pits are more efficient than others. On my pit once the firebox is warmed-up I can add two cold large logs easily without producing white smoke, but my firebox is large and always has a nice bed of coals in the bottom. The most important thing is too make sure your freshly added wood catches fire immediately. Easiest way to acomplish this is too leave the firebox door open for a couple of minutes. If you have flames, odds are you will not have white smoke!
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:33 AM   #10
somebody shut me the fark up.

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As already stated, preheating wood is a good thing to do, as is leaving the firebox door a little open until the split is nice 'n on fire. Opening the firebox door is also great for temp control - opening it will lower your temps while keeping things burning nice & clean. A nice coal bed is a good thing to have as well. Smaller splits will burn better esp. in smaller fireboxes.

Great. Now I want to leave work and go home and play with fire.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:48 AM   #11
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Some good and varied responses here, but as stated the method will depend on your particular pit. I use a cheap Brinkmann SFB for the back yard and after much fighting here is what works for me: Build a fire with 4 of 5 pieces a foot long and -3 inches in diameter. Once a good fire is going, knock 'em down and add 2-3 more, and close the cook chamber door to preheat the grill. When the added wood is burning good I shut the firebox door. It will bring the cook chamber up to 350 or so and at that point I clean the grate with the wire brush or foil wadded up. Chimney cap is full open and at this time I turn the FB damper to 1/4 open. Wood burns down to a good bed of coals, the temp drops to 225 and I add a split a foot long and quarter to 50 cent in diameter. After that, all I have to do is add 1 small split every 30-45 minutes to maintain the temp between 225-245.

The key is keeping even the smallest of flame going to burn the gasses coming from the wood. Flame goes out, white smoke boils out. If a new split isn't wanting to catch or come up in temp as meeded, I have a cheap set of spring tongs, use the end of it to prop the FB lid open, giving a 1/4 inch or so gap. The extra air gets the split going and temp rises. Hit the target and remove the tong. This keeps me from playing with the FB damper and overshooting or smothering the flame.Sounds like a PITA, and it is at times, but that's what an entry level SFB using nothing but wood requires: Some work and lot's of attention.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:35 PM   #12
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this is awesome advice all. thank you much. im trying to learn how i want to take things now. Im wanting to switch from a wsm style cooker to a old school pit in the ground or offset. For small offsets im glad to know to get a small hot fire and then add a chunk or two and let them burn down, and then re-add them. I might try that method in the weber or uds. get a nice batch of lump to the red hot stage, add it to the cooker, and then add the chunks once it is up toi temp of course. then when i see the tbs, put on the food and every 45 minutes, add more chunks to the small hot fire.

thanks you all very much. im also gonna try a burn barell.
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Old 01-09-2013, 12:55 AM   #13
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And remember: It's not the cooker, it's the cook!
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:01 AM   #14
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Using a smaller low budget cooker like the CharGriller you use as an example, I would steer clear of logs and use fist sized chunks. The firebox and cook chamber just arent that big.

The big key to avoiding that big burst of white smoke is to gradually introduce dry well seasoned wood to an existing HOT fire. This is the part that takes a bit of skill and artisty but it no that big of deal if you practice it a few times.

As far as your fuel, if you aren't cutting and spliting yourself, or if you dont have any experience doing so, check out Western BBQ Products They have a wide range of products from chips to chunks to logs in just about any flavor or species you might want.
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"What sort of people are these charcoal masters? They behaved badly and were unconcerned with appearances. Their hair was long and unkempt and their clothes were wrinkled and old. They drank beer to and from the crab house and they made rude noises while we cooked." Tao of Charcoal
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