Smoking with Wood (No Charcoal)


 

PRGottfried

New member
Hello,

I've been using my Bullet for, I'm guessing, 15-20 years. I've always used Minion method with either Kingsford or whatever lump I could find at local suppliers. Recently I decided I wanted to try cooking with just hickory (I have a lot of kiln dried split logs). I have now done it two times in the past few months and really like the results, as do my wife and kids. The tough part is it has been really labor intensive...meaning I have to really watch the smoker and play with the airflow for some consistent temps. So I'm wondering if anybody here has experience cooking with only hickory (or any other wood for that matter)?

My last session involved me splitting some big pieces down and then cutting them into fist sizes chunks. I started the fire and when I thought I had it going really well, put the smoker together and put on the meat. With bottom vents open, the temp still dropped. I took off the door which let in more air causing flare ups and wild temp swings. And this was the status quo for the next few hours. But during this time, I disassembled the smoker, threw on more dried chunks, waited till they were coated with ash, and reassembled. I did have a little more success then with the temp holding where I wanted it. But I did have to keep the door open a bit. I should also add that I was trying out a Pit Boss IQ110, but removed it from the mix as I became frustrated with it. I'll play with that in the future to better understand it.

Anyway, because I saw a little success towards the end with a more stable temp, I'm wondering if I should start with a bigger base fire and then throw on a lot more unlit chunks? Sort of like Minion Method w/o the charcoal. I'd appreciate any advice and recommendations.

Oh, and the ribs and chicken I smoked came out just fine so the work was worth it!

Thanks,
Pete
Buffalo, NY
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Emerald Member
Welcome here PR. I'm not going to comment on using wood as your sole fuel source in a WSM because I've never done it. I will say, though, it is not designed for wood fuel and I believe a person or two has used their WSM with wood, knowing the potential risks, and has encountered some damage (I think).

But I believe the vast majority of WSM users after a little practice enjoy a great experience. My recommendation is that you navigate here and read-up on several tips, including how to light and maintain the "fire" in your smoker: https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/operating-tips-modifications/

Good luck!
 

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Hall of Fame
I think you are in uncharted waters. It's probably doable but might be more trouble than it's worth. You'd probably have to run a lot hotter than normal to get anything resembling a clean fire. You probably need to run a really small fire which can be hard to do. You are probably seeing better temp control once you get some kind of coal bed established.
 

Geo S

TVWBB Super Fan
Air flow is the problem, you need more for wood, but too much, like when you open the door gives you a fireplace.

My best guess is a small fire and coal base, with added vents to the dome and base to control the air flow.

You could use a burn barrel and shovel the coals into your smoker but thats basically using charcoal and would be a lot of extra work and attention.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB Emerald Member
If ya want to smoke meats with wood you've got the wrong tool. Its like changing a tire with a crescent wrench. If ya have to go that route, use a burn barrel to create wood coals that can be shoveled into the WSM.

But the better course is buy an Old Country Pecos offset smoker. It will teach you about wood, fire, and smoke. And after you've learned if its something you like or not, you can sell it for at least half of what you paid, mostly likely a good chunk more. Just chalk up the diff to attending barbecue class.

Or even better yet, monitor Facebook Marketplace for a used offset.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
If ya want to smoke meats with wood you've got the wrong tool. Its like changing a tire with a crescent wrench. If ya have to go that route, use a burn barrel to create wood coals that can be shoveled into the WSM.

But the better course is buy an Old Country Pecos offset smoker. It will teach you about wood, fire, and smoke. And after you've learned if its something you like or not, you can sell it for at least half of what you paid, mostly likely a good chunk more. Just chalk up the diff to attending barbecue class.

Or even better yet, monitor Facebook Marketplace for a used offset.
I really like the ”Change a tire with a crescent wrench” statement! Lynn, you are a treasure!

And, thank you Chris, that information is really helpful.
 

timothy

TVWBB Olympian
You could Goggle "how to make your own lump" from those splits.
We had a member that documented doing just that, Wolgast I believe.
 

timothy

TVWBB Olympian
LOL! Thanks for the input. I'll go back to charcoal base and wood chunks added throughout. After all this is supposed to be relaxing!
Thanks again,
Pete
It's all good, we like to experiment, that's the only reason to keep us from being bored!
 

 

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