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Old 06-16-2008, 07:53 PM   #1
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Lava Rocks in Charcoal Smoker

New smoker for a first time smoker! Are lava rocks necessary for charcoal smokers? In propane BBQ grills, I felt that the lava rocks enhances the flavor. Thanks

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Old 06-16-2008, 08:22 PM   #2
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New smoker for a first time smoker! Are lava rocks necessary for charcoal smokers? In propane BBQ grills, I felt that the lava rocks enhances the flavor. Thanks

Hi, Joe. Welcome to DC.

No lava rocks in a smoker. You would build a charcoal/wood fire and the natural coals formed by their burning would perform the function of lava rocks.
What kind of smoker do you have?
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Old 06-20-2008, 03:05 PM   #3
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I have a Brinkmann; thanks for the response, it's much appreciated.
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:12 PM   #4
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Like Andy M. said, lava rocks are only for use in a gas grill designed to use them - some gas grills are designed to use ceramic briquettes. They are not used in a wood/charcoal smoker.

The lava rocks themselves do not add to or enhance the flavor. They simply distribute the heat from the gas burners to simulate a bed of coals. The flavor "enhancement" comes from the fats and meat juices that drip on them ... these juices hitting the hot rocks vaporize and smoke and that is what enhances the flavor.

You get the same flavor enhancement over a bed of wood or charcoal coals - plus the flavor of the wood. But, then again, that's grilling - not smoking.
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:18 PM   #5
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Cool Lava Rocks in a Smoker

I too have a Brinkman (electric) smoker. The lava rocks that set below the element are getting gummy because of the fats that drip off the meat. Is it necessary to replace them periodically or is there a way to renew it?
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Old 03-26-2009, 09:56 AM   #6
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What model Brinkman electric smoker do you have?

Lava rocks, in every application that I know of, are only used in gas grills and are above the heating elements so they are heated from below to simulate charcoal briquettes.
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:26 PM   #7
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Electric Smoker

I have a Model 810-7090-S They sell at Home Depot for about $70. I got mine a few years back for about $50 -$60. I does have something akin to Lava rock in the base (below the element).
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Old 03-26-2009, 02:04 PM   #8
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I too have a Brinkman (electric) smoker. The lava rocks that set below the element are getting gummy because of the fats that drip off the meat. Is it necessary to replace them periodically or is there a way to renew it?
I don't own one of these Cookers so I'm sorta shootin from the hip ---
I'm thinking the rocks are there to help distribute heat to the cooker....
Fats falling on them should burn off (vaporize) creating a smokey flavor to the meat above...It could be the heating element has gotten weaker over the years causing the rocks not to be hot enough to burn the fats off...thus the build up of gunk(fats) on the rocks ---It may be that it never did heat them sufficiently..I dunno. A good outside heat source of some kind might burn this gunk off -- I would not be tempted to use any type of chemical cleaner on them due the residue of the cleaner possibly tainting the meat...Or it may be time to replace them...Less than $10 I'm guessing..HTH

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Old 03-27-2009, 09:30 AM   #9
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I found the manual and see what is going on - you've probably been using your smoker in grill mode and, as Uncle Bob noted, the heating element might be weak - or - you are pulling the plug as soon as you pull the food off the grill allowing the fats to congeal on the rocks.

I can think of three possible options:

1) Put the lid on in grill mode and plug it in for an hour or two to see if that burns the fat off.

2) Remove the heating element and in a safe area - sprinkle a little charcoal lighter on the lava rocks - wait a couple of minutes - sprinkle a little more - wait a couple of minutes and then light.

3) Put the lava rocks in a pot and cover with 6-8 inches of water - bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two. Turn the heat off and allow to cool - skim the fat off the top of the water and then drain, rinse, and spread the rocks out to dry before using them again.

Or ... you could buy a new bag of rocks.
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Old 03-27-2009, 09:37 AM   #10
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...or, if you have a self-cleaning oven, you could put your lava rocks in the oven next time you self-clean it.
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