How to Use a Smoke Box on a Grill

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PaulyWally

Assistant Cook
Joined
May 23, 2010
Messages
12
Location
Beer Capital, USA
Let me preface this thread by saying that I am not a good griller or BBQer. However, my family just bought me a low-mid level gas grill for a present. So I'm trying to learn.

I saw someone use a smoke box on a gas grill and I wanted to try it. Someone suggested not wasting the money and just use aluminum foil.

So, I bought some hickory chips and followed the directions on the bag (wrap them in foil, poke some holes, set on grill). But I got no smoke after 20 minutes.

So I put the foil packet on the side burner thinking I could get it started there, and move it to the grill once it was smoldering. But after transferring it to the grill, the smoke would die after a couple minutes.

By now, I'm frustrated because I'm wasting propane trying to get the chips going. So I pull out a blowtorch and start the chips directly. Again, the smoke would die within a matter of minutes.

So what the heck am I doing wrong?
 
Perhaps I can describe what I do and you'll see what you haven't tried yet:

I soak the chips in water over night.

Then I take them out and drain them for about an hour on a grate. I use the cold grill grate mounted on a couple bricks.

Then I wrap the chips in foil and use a meat fork to poke about 10 holes in the foil.

Then I place it where its within 4 inches of the flame and the flame is directly under it.

About 5 minutes later, the smoke starts and gets nice and thick after 10 minutes.

I use cherry wood a lot. I love the way it makes food taste.

Good luck! Let us all know how it works out!
 
You said that you set them on the "grill". Do you mean the grate? Lots of areas to a grill...
I set my foil packet on the flavor bar, or flame deflector as I call it, directly above the burner, which is actually below the grate. My guess is you are too far away from the heat source.

And that's a good thing that it goes out when you try to artifically light it. It means your slits aren't so large that it lets in too much air and catches fire. You just want it to smolder when it is on the heat source, be it flame or coals (charcoal).
 
I also agree that the foil packet is not close enough to the flame. Normally one would remove one section of the cooking grate directly above the heat source and place the foil packet there, at the heat source.
 
You said that you set them on the "grill". Do you mean the grate?

Yes. I placed it on the grate (via the instructions on the bag).

roadfix said:
Normally one would remove one section of the cooking grate directly above the heat source and place the foil packet there, at the heat source.

pacanis said:
My guess is you are too far away from the heat source.

Timothy said:
within 4 inches of the flame and the flame is directly under it.

OK. So I definitely think this is my main problem.

My grill has 4 burners. Only one of the burners gets (what I would call) a halfway decent flame. It's just enough to sear meat in 3-5 minutes. The other 3 burners don't get higher than a medium-low flame.

I don't know if it's just the grill, or something needs to be tweaked with the gas line. In some ways that's OK because it makes 80% of my grilling idiot-proof. But sometimes, I would like a bit more heat. Or at least have the option on the other burners.

But I digress. Next time, I'll place the foil packet directly on the "flavor bars."
 
Next time, I'll place the foil packet directly on the "flavor bars."

Is there an ad or photo of your grill that you could post here? It would help if we could see what you mean by "Flavor Bar", as I've never even heard that term.

If the bottom of the foil pack is 4" max from the flame, it will work. You must soak the chips and get them saturated with water before using them, or they will do nothing but burn up in 10 minutes. You might also want to prepare several packets of chips. I use 3 or 4 packets for a long smoke.
 
Is there an ad or photo of your grill that you could post here? It would help if we could see what you mean by "Flavor Bar", as I've never even heard that term.

Flavor bars, or I also called them flame deflectors in my post, are the piece of V shaped metal that resides over each burner. Supposedly when the juice of your food hits the hot flavor bar it creates smoke, or "flavor".
Back in the day, before these metal deflectors, a grate sat directly over the burners with either lava rocks or briqettes on it, then the food grate sat over that. I wish they still made them that way, but it seems everyone has gone to these metal deflectors.
If you Google grill flavorizer bars you'll come up with all kinds of pics.
 
Flavor bars, or I also called them flame deflectors in my post, are the piece of V shaped metal that resides over each burner. Supposedly when the juice of your food hits the hot flavor bar it creates smoke, or "flavor".

Now I see.
 

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That's them. A little different configuration that the ones on my four burner Ducane. Mine have slots in them. Plenty of air flow for the flare ups :LOL:
Actually, this is the set my buddy replicated for me out of 20ga SS. The other ones wore out.
 

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That's them. A little different configuration that the ones on my four burner Ducane. Mine have slots in them. Plenty of air flow for the flare ups :LOL:
Actually, this is the set my buddy replicated for me out of 20ga SS. The other ones wore out.

The deflectors on my Ducane are already rusted through. I expected longer life for them.
 
The deflectors on my Ducane are already rusted through. I expected longer life for them.

That's terrible. I figured mine wore out early from grilling half a dozen times/week during one period.
I wonder if they would have lasted longer had they been ceramic coated...
I've got extra. I see no signs of wear anywhere else on the grill, but my homemade deflectors already look a couple gauges thinner, so I can see me digging into my stash.
 
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