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Date Posted: 17:07:44 01/04/02 Fri
Author: BBQfan1
Author Host/IP: spider-wm071.proxy.aol.com /
Subject: Re: New to smoking -- Questions about smokers
In reply to: Keith from Calgary 's message, "New to smoking -- Questions about smokers" on 16:22:19 01/04/02 Fri

That is quite a list of questions, but all are valid and good ones at that! Here's my own thoughts on them, and I'm sure others will be along with their ideas as well.
1. The style of homemade smoker/bbq is your choice. I'm familiar with the ones you are contemplating and I think the Big Baby design or the freezer design will work well for you, if you want to go homemade and avoid a commercial brand/style.
2. Most offset bbqs (those with firebox at one end) use a baffle system to send smoke/heat across then up and over the cooking area. This is how an even (or near even) temperature is achieved.
3. Most of us have bbqs/smokers that we operate using a combination of charcoal and wood; heavier on charcoal for heat, wood for smoke flavour.
4. Woods that most of us have and use for flavouring our cooks are, in descending order of popularity: hickory, apple, cherry, pecan, mesquite and maple. Most of these are available at bbq retailers in either chunks (if you're lucky) or chips (more likely) You posted two question #5's, the first one pertaining to aging of wood. General concensus is that if you are using cut wood (as opposed to something you buy at Canadian Tire or bbq outlet), let it age 9 mos-1 yr for optimum heat to flavour and smoking ratio.
5. Briquettes vs Lump charcoal is a topic that was covered in a thread just below your post; check it out! As for the off-flavour imparted by briquettes, most of us have charcoal chimneys which are metal tubes where a fire can be started with briquettes pre-burned to bright red, thus getting most of that binder flavour burned out before putting them into the smoker/cooker
6. This question is a little technical for me; BBBrown is in the process of building his own smoker/bbq; perhaps he can help you out. Also the Swine Fellows have built their own and may have some info to pass along.
7. An electric element is a good idea if you go with something that is closer to a smoker box than a grill/bbq, i.e. the freezer idea. You can set an electric element on the floor of the freezer and put a pan of sawdust/chips on top to smolder. There are ideas available in many books on sausage making/smoking/curing meats which might give you some idea, also Reg has used methods along this line and may have some ideas for you to pursue.
8. Soaking of wood, especially chunks of woods, is beneficial when doing a 'low and slow' cook, such as pulled pork, or even 5 hr ribs. For grilling, such as steaks and chops, just toss on dry chips or a not-too-big chunk; the benefits of a smoldering fire are minimal in such cooks.
9. You certainly don't want to smother a fire with wet chips or green wood, and you will get acrid grey/black smoke if you attempt to do so. It will depend on the cooker you eventually decide on, but when it comes to smoke, less is more in the opinions of most here. You are right in thinking of smoke in terms of 'whisps' rather than billows. It's definitely a 'feel' thing, and something you will discover as you get into smoking/bbq'ing, but if you have the idea of looking for a nice white whisp of smoke rather than clouds of dense dark smoke, you are of the right mind-set to begin.
Hope we can all help you out along the way! Thanks for the post! Stick around and fire the questions; we all love to talk que!

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