Lighting

Feel free to ask any questions, one of the experts will certainly respond, don't be afraid to ask anything, we were all beginners at some point.

Re: Lighting

Postby Steve » 04 Mar 2010, 21:26

oak with a bit of cedar is going to be fine. We smoke with oak and we often use cedar planks for grilling fish :D

Off the top of my head, I don't know which specific woods aren't safe for smoking other than softwoods like pine. If someone offers me some wood, I look it up on some of the bigger American forums.

There are also woods like walnut (just an example) that produce bitter smoke but I guess when charcoaled that effect will go.

I'm loving the idea though, can't wait to try some of these briquettes :)
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Re: Lighting

Postby County4x4 » 04 Mar 2010, 22:46

Thanks for that Steve.

No worries on the ingredients front then by the looks of things - I thought I'd seen cedar mentioned in relation to fish somewhere. The majority is always oak though.

One other question! I read a post by someone intending to cook over some very small briquettes made from chestnut. Just hope they don't spit and spark like natural chestnut! Small briquettes like these are often made in machines not actually intended for briquetting wood wastes, and are generally pretty short lived with low compression. I'm interested to know whether there is a market for my wood briquettes as a cooking fuel - or is this type of cooking something completely different to what you guys are into?

It would seem that from the responses I've had so far that I could have a pretty useful product here whether in it's "natural" state as a wood briquette or converted to high quality charcoal briquettes instead. I just don't know enough about the stuff you guys do to be able to advise you just yet! However, I'd be very happy to work with you to evaluate what we have here. If it turns out to be good for you guys, then I make more sales and you get a good product so we should all end up happy!

Cheers everyone,

Andy
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Re: Lighting

Postby Steve » 04 Mar 2010, 23:05

Hey Andy,

A quick barbecue 101 :D

There's two types of BBQ.

1. Hot and fast grilling at searing temperatures, this is what a typical Brit will think of as a BBQ.
2. Low 'n' slow smoking, this is the style of BBQ that most here are really passionate about.

We all grill and we enjoy a grilled rib-eye as much as the next man but there's a passion for low 'n' slow amongst most of our members.

To give you an example of a low 'n' slow cook, we will take a large cut of meat, let's say a pork shoulder. this could be from 6lbs to 12 or 13lbs, a big chunk of meat :lol: We'll cook marinade, season and prepare this meat then throw it on the smoker for 12+ hours, cooking at anywhere between 200F and 300F depending on the cook's tastes.

A lot of guys on here will have bullet smokers like the Weber Smokey Mountain and may choose to run a fire with a technique called the minion method where a small amount of lit charcoal is placed on a basket of unlit fuel. The fuel underneath lights as the fire burns onwards. The cookers are enclosed environments and the rate of burn is controlled by air intakes.

Some people do not like the minion method and will always use all lit charcoal and refuel. My problem with this technique is that you only need a tiny amount of fuel to hit your target temperature, if you light a full chimney of fuel and put it in your smoker then when you close up, the air flow is restricted below what is needed to support the burning fuel. This chokes the fire back and you will get a dirty burning fire until it settles down. This is fine for your first load before you put your meat on but it isn't good when you're refuelling.

I had a long discussion about fire control with a US fire investigator who is also into Q and it's about a bit more than the vent control a lot of people think it is.

What interests me in your product is that once lit and then controlled in a smoker it should burn for a long time as there's a lot of energy stored up in there because it's a solid mass of fuel without any rubbish in it. It would work with MM because it's always the binders you need to burn off during lighting and potentially it work well for a non minion burn using fewer briquettes.

I know from witnessing the output on pellet cookers that those little pellets whack out a lot of heat, so I predict briquettes of a similar structure (but charcoaled) could be awesome.

If it works you could have a fine product on your hands.
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Re: Lighting

Postby County4x4 » 05 Mar 2010, 07:52

Hi again Steve,

Thanks for the introduction to the subject! And guess what - more questions :lol:

The hot and fast method first. Is using charcoal basically the same as using firewood of some sort? Do the majority of experienced people tend to use charcoal to grill over rather than wood? I know myself that the words BBQ and charcoal tend to go together - are there advantages to using one over the other? I know from the lab tests on our briquettes that the charcoal contains a lot more energy on a per kilo basis than the wood, so I guess that would be one. Would people using a wood fuel (whether briquettes or logs) cook over the burning fuel, or wait until the flames had died down and a bed of hot embers had been produced?

On the low and slow - sorry low 'n' slow ;) method - we find with the wood briquettes that once they are alight in a stove, the air supplies can be virtually closed right off. Don't ask me how or why it works - but most fuels will pretty much die if you do this - and for some reason the briquettes don't! Most modern stoves have two air feeds - a primary intake below the fuel, and then a secondary one that feeds pre-heated air to the region above the fire bed. This intake often creates an airwash across the glass in the stove door to help keep it clean. The purpose of the secondary air is to support combustion of the gases given off by the wood as it's consumed and to make the unit cleaner burning in terms of emissions- this is why stoves often appear to have flames coming down from above rather than rising up from below. As a fuel, wood burns better on a bed of ash with the majority of it's air coming from above. Coal on the other hand prefers a supply from below the fuel - this is why coal fires have a grate.

So we seem to have the advantage that these can be burned slow with the air supply more or less shut off. Another advantage of our briquettes over the other type is that fuel can be added without the original ones falling to bits beneath the fresh fuel. The ash produced is absolutely minimal too so you don't end up with a long stoked fire bed growing upwards as you go.

As far as the minion method goes (I got the impression that this is quite a contentious subject here!) certainly most wood fuels can be lit from the top down. In firewood circles this is perhaps a similarly contentious issue - with some people swearing by the method, which is said to have some advantages, and others saying it just doesn't work!

Lastly for now - I read a little about "the circuit" Do you have a list of events you guys attend somewhere on the site? Do you go all over the place or are you fairly restricted in the area you cover?

More soon no doubt!

Andy
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