WSM as a stick burner ?

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
I buy post oak and other woods from Patty. I love going to her yard. I'm very lucky her yard is only a few minutes from my office.

Interesting the Harry started out just with post oak, but later on in the cooking process when he added a log, the logs he started with were resting on a pile of lit briquettes. The first guy also used charcoal with the wood logs. Makes me wonder if it is possible to run a WSM strictly on wood alone.
 

Bob Correll

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
ChuckO is/was known for "grilling" over flaming logs in his WSM.
He ruined it by doing so, best I can recall.
I looked for some of his pics, but it looks like they were deleted by PB.
 

timothy

TVWBB Hall of Fame
ChuckO is/was known for "grilling" over flaming logs in his WSM.
He ruined it by doing so, best I can recall.
I looked for some of his pics, but it looks like they were deleted by PB.
Good point. The WSM is designed to run on charcoal. Doing it with splits as a stick burner is up to the individual, but could void the warranty if you toast it.

Tim
 

Dave in KC

TVWBB All-Star
Makes me wonder if it is possible to run a WSM strictly on wood alone.
Makes me wonder why he is trying to call it a stick burner when he is starting with charcoal.
This is basically the way I have always used my WSM, except his log is just a little bigger
than the typical chunks that I would add.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
I start my stick burner with lump charcoal. It speeds the process of building a coal bed. And the charcoal doesn't last near as long with the door off the WSM.
 

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Platinum Member
With that Kevin Kolman method I bet he's just using the one stick for wood flavor and maybe letting the thing run at 275 mostly on charcoal. Running solely on wood is kind of a hollow pursuit. You'll have a pretty terrible stickburner vs. an excellent charcoal burner. I don't think there's any way you'll have reasonable temp control if you tried to run solely on wood.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
If a person wanted nothing but wood flavoring from a WSM, I would think the best course would be to build a burn barrel. Then shovel coals over to the WSM. Maybe throw some chunks or a small split on the wood embers. The same thing they do with cinder block pits.
 

J Hasselberger

TVWBB Pro
I keep thinking, "What's the point?" The beauty of a WSM is its ability to hold temp for 8-10 hours without fiddling with a fire every hour or so.

You can haul a half-yard of topsoil in the trunk of your Cadillac, but that don't make it a pickup.

Jeff
 

Geo S

TVWBB Fan
I think we had this discussion already....without a lot more air the wood would smolder, with more air it will run too hot.
Horses for courses....:cool:
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
I think what Harry Soo was after, was stick burner wood flavor only on a WSM. Said he did not have room for a stick burner. I wondered if it was something he might try in competition.

IDK bout the first vid.

I want to hear more about what Kevin Kolman was doing at brisket camp.
 

DavidMichael

TVWBB Fan
Ive used smaller chunks in the same manner as you would run in a stick burner, which I also have . I run it with the side door cracked open slightly to let the smoke turn a nice light blue, this would be a bit easier if the vents were slightly bigger to allow more airflow .....honestly if someone likes playing with the fire you would enjoy a stick burner like a lang 36, imo the best Q ive ever had came off of a stick burner but it's alot more work and less consistent than a wsm....if I have an entire day to kill I will fire up the stick burner but 90% of the time the wsm is getting used , set and forget
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
That's pretty much where I'm at. I enjoy babysitting the stick burner and really enjoy the stick burner flavor. But my Kettle's and WSM still gets used, a lot.

I found my Old Country Brazos stick burner on CL. Guy had bought it at Christmas time, cooked on it three times, and decided a stick burner was not for him. New price $1,000 , I got it for $600. That allowed me to find out if I like a stick burner with no risk, I could flip it for what I paid for it if stick burning was not for me.

And if enjoyed it, I could still flip it and move up to a larger stick burner. Which is where I'm at now.
 

ChuckO

TVWBB Olympian
ChuckO is/was known for "grilling" over flaming logs in his WSM. He ruined it by doing so, best I can recall. I looked for some of his pics, but it looks like they were deleted by PB.
Stupid photo bucket. I most certainly ruined my 18" for smoking. But it still makes for a good fire roaster. My favorite thing is fire-roasted pizza with it, I call it "Frankenstein" since it's made up of several parts to become a "pizza oven." But if you want to use your WSM to smoke, I suggest not using it as a stick-burner.
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
I keep thinking, "What's the point?" The beauty of a WSM is its ability to hold temp for 8-10 hours without fiddling with a fire every hour or so.

You can haul a half-yard of topsoil in the trunk of your Cadillac, but that don't make it a pickup.

Jeff
Love it, like I haul my two big dogs in my 4 Runner doesn't make it Cadillac except to the dogs
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
I watched both videos.

First, let's describe how a stick burner is used. Most will put down a layer of unlit charcoal briquets or lump charcoal in the firebox just to get the fire going, then place a few split pieces of wood on top of that, then light the charcoal using a propane weed burner. Once the fire gets going, you control pit temp by the amount of wood you add to the fire and the degree to which you open or close the firebox door and/or the vent damper in the firebox door. Some will partially close the exhaust damper to control temp, but many (most?) will leave it fully open throughout the cook and control temp only at the firebox.

In a stick burner, heat for cooking and smoke for flavoring comes from the burning split pieces of wood and hot coals that collect as those split pieces break down. In the WSM, we get heat for cooking from charcoal and smoke for flavoring from wood chunks.

In the first video, he lays down a bed of lit briquets like they do in most stick burners, then adds small splits of wood every 30 minutes. That's pretty much an authentic stick burner approach.

In Harry's video, he starts by directly lighting split pieces of wood with a propane torch; there's a point in the video where it looks like he's added charcoal below the split pieces, but I think that's the initial split pieces that have burned down. It would have been easier to do like the guy did in the first video, laying down some lit briquets first.

At Camp Brisket, Kevin Kolman did what's essentially a modified Minion Method with a split log buried in the unlit charcoal. He placed a single split piece of post oak in the bottom of the charcoal chamber. (Could use a single piece or 2-3 smaller split pieces placed together in a pile in the center of the ring.)



Kevin filled the area around the log with unlit Weber charcoal briquets, then poured a full lit chimney of Weber briquets on top. Let it burn for 5 minutes before assembling the cooker with water in the pan. He set the top vent 1/2 open and all three bottom vents 1/4 open, put his brisket on the top grate, and away he goes. Kevin believes this setup creates a flavor that's more similar to typical Texas post oak barbecue.

I think Kevin's method is worth a try, just as an alternative to buried wood chunks, and I'm going to do it soon. Not sure if I'll try either of the other two methods. In Harry's video, you could see that he had to crack the lid to get enough airflow to keep the cooker temp up. Stick burners have a lot more air flow by design that supports a wood burning fire, the WSM is not designed for that kind of a fire. As mentioned above, a wood fire may also damage parts of your WSM, crack the porcelain finish, etc.

Over the years, I've seen WSM owners get "stick burner envy" and try doing what Harry did in his video. I've also seen guys burn down logs in a barrel and shovel hot coals into the WSM, like they do when cooking whole hog in a brick pit. It's all fun, do what you like...but you can no more make a WSM into a real stick burner than you can turn a stick burner into a real WSM. They're just two different things.

P.S. At Camp Brisket, some of the experts acknowledged that "post oak" you buy outside of Central Texas is probably just white oak or similar. Not a big deal, most can't discern a flavor difference between the two.
 

Geo S

TVWBB Fan
This makes more sense...I'm going to try the single stick also, but it's just a variation of the buried chunks
 

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