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Date Posted: 16:22:19 01/04/02 Fri
Author: Keith from Calgary
Author Host/IP: h-207-148-141-207.dial.cadvision.com / 207.148.141.207
Subject: New to smoking -- Questions about smokers

Hello all,

After much searching, I have found your site. I have just been enlightened in the difference between what I thought was Q (Grilling BBQ on my deck) and Q like they do down south. I am particularily interested in doing pork, jerky, & ribs. Tournaments are a long way off, but I am very keen.

Question 1:

I would like to build a real smoker. Any suggestions as to which the best? The 3 types that I am torn between are: double barrel (http://www.smokering.net/pits/metalpit/BigBaby/default.asp), old metal fridge (as suggested by my father-in-law) [fire box in bottom - vent on top - rip out freezer area, or single barrel (or large pipe) with a square fire box (http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/smokehouses.html -- Double D's Homemade Smoker).

The question I have is of these three designs which is the best? Based on price, I think I can acquire most materials for free (pipe, 45 gallon apple juice barrels, welding, etc) and each model will have to buy thermometers, handles, etc. I live in calgary so temperature (or insulation) is a factor I would think but I plan to do all the Q'ing in the garage (using a vent) during the cold times. I would also like to take the smoker out of the garage into the back yard during the summer (so perhaps this could only be done with the double barrel because it would be lighter than the others). Should I be considering other models?

Question 2: How do these smokers get even heat? I look at these pictures and it looks like that the heat from the fire box is vented directed into the smoking compartment, which to make would make a hot spot near the firebox and a cold spot furthest from the heat vent. One suggestion I read was to put a metal grate over the heat/smoke entrance vent, with holes drilled into it. This grate would effectively distribute the heat evenly by releasing the heat through the small holes across the entire area of the smoker. Another suggestion was to put in a metal fan to keep the heat rolling inside the smoking chamber. Perhaps both of these should be used?

Question 3: Most the tournaments down south use only wood. Do you guys use wood only? It seems very labour intensive, but the websites I have read deem "only real Q is done with exclusively wood" --- No gas, electric, charcoal. What do you think? I would like to get serious about BBQ'ing but I don't want to spend a whole weekend sitting by myself by my smoker. Are there good alternatives to using only wood, or is it true that only good Q comes from wood only.

Question 4: Addition to question 3 -- What types of fuel are you guys using? For wood, I really only have access to birch, diamond willow, and white popular (without going to a store to purchase commercial stuff (hickory, etc).

Question 5: What are your thoughts are aging the wood? I have heard and read all kinds of thoughts from partial combinations of dry to green and opposite spectrum of aged minimum 6 months to 2 years. I have also been told to use different combinations (sample combination: alot of dry birch for heat and nice smoke, a little greenish diamond willow for good smoke, and dryish white popular)

Question 5: What about briquettes? I heard that briquettes throw a distinctive flavouring (sometimes unpleasant and perhaps unhealthy?) which makes wood as a heat source better.

Question 6: How big should the vent be from the firebox into smoking compartment? How about the venting holes in the firebox for fresh air? How about the exhaust vent? (Diameter of hole and length of stack). I have heard the higher the stack the better the draw you are able to acquire.

Question 7: Instead of a firebox with wood and coals I was thinking of an electric element to keep the temperature consistent in the smoking compartment and a steel pan on the side for wood chips with either electricity or propane to get the chips smoking.

Question 8: What about soaking wood chips in order to keep them from breaking into fire.

Question 9: How can one achieve white smoke? I read a small fire is best with good draft.

I know these are alot of questions and any help to fellow canuck would be appreciated.

Regards,

Keith.

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