This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.
Lighting the Bee Keeper’s Smoker
There is nothing magical about this operation, but it does seem to give some people much trouble, so a few hints and tips will not go amiss.
First make sure that the nozzle, firebox and the space under the grid are free of ash and unburnt fuel.
If there is a thick build up of carbon and tar inside the nozzle, scrape the bulk of it off with a blunt knife and then use a proprietary oven cleaner to remove the rest of the deposit.
Check that the small venturi tube is in line with the hole in the bellows.
A piece of newspaper 200 mm square can be crumpled into a loose ball and placed in the firebox… This is lighted with a match or a cigarette lighter. Then feed a few small shavings, twigs, dry pine needles or whatever you have to hand until a miniature bonfire is burning in the bottom of your smoker. Then, whilst pulsing the bellows gently, add your main fuel and close the lid.
A method that I have adopted recently (1999) is to dispense with the newspaper and shavings, using instead a small cube, 15 mm x 15 mm x 15 mm, cut from inexpensive commercial fire lighters.
A method that I have seen used, but have not tried myself, is to part fill the smoker with fuel then ignite it using a butane gas torch. Establish a good fire using the torch and bellows then complete the filling.
As the firebox of the smoker is an environment that is naturally short of oxygen the tendency is for it to go out easily. The operator, therefore, must ensure that the bellows receive a few squeezes every so often to maintain the fire.
After many years of using rotten sacking I have run out of it so… I tried this and that and have found that REALLY ROTTEN wood is excellent. I hold a chunk and apply the blow torch flame to it and pop it in the smoker and it just sits there and produces cool white smoke.
Just as important is putting it OUT. I use a malt whisky cork, always a good excuse if I lose it. However a twist of grass or some foam rubber both work well… the consequences of getting it wrong are below……….
The person also said it was a long walk home as his mobile was in the inferno….