April 2020

Our Old Hibachi Wood Grill after the spring cleaning

Our Old Hibachi Wood Grill after the spring cleaning


Everyone starts their grilling career on this convenient, inexpensive, small piece of equipment. But do we do it correctly? Let’s review the basics.


First, this is for grilling over an open fire; it needs high heat to cook. It has a low (height) fire pan and generally no hood or lid. Great high heat cooker/grill – not a smoker.

Lesson #1 Hibachi Wood Grill:-plan what you cook properly!

Now, let’s review how to set up the fire. The region that gave the hibachi its popularity is the Far East which has access to a type of charcoal called “bichiton”. This is a very dense, heavy charcoal made from oak that is direct fired to a high carbonization level. This charcoal produces an extremely high heat; 3-4 times the heat level of an American charcoal!

Can’t locate “bichiton” charcoal or don’t want the expense if you find it? Well, you can use SmokinLious® products to get close to the results. Let’s begin with charcoal – North America produces lump charcoal pieces that are too large for the small Hibachi. So take 2-3 pieces(depending on size), put them in a small paper bag (lunch bag size) and press with your hands to break them into smaller “thumb” size pieces (or you can use a meat mallet). Then pour into the firebox. If the firebox is not full –repeat until you fill it. If you don’t have a small torch available, put some paper under the charcoal, then ignite. Or, you can place the original charcoal pieces in small paper bags, then break the pieces apart, and place the bag in the firebox for lighting.

SmokinLicious® wood chips are crushed from the center of hardwood

Once the charcoal burns down (gray in color), start adding Grande Sapore® wood chips as this will provide for immediate heat and eventually, some flavoring to the food. Once the charcoal/chip combo’s flames settle down, you can begin cooking! Remember, hibachis are traditionally used for thin meats so adjust your cook time to what you’re cooking.

What I like about hibachi cooking is the ease of adding more wood chips when more fuel is needed!

Once you master the fire set up, you will enjoy some wonderful food and some really fun cooking the Hibachi way. Think Korean BBQ! Yum!


Example of the layers that form a tree showing the heartwood of the tree

Cross section of a harvested hardwood tree showing the heartwood of the tree


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By now you’ve come to recognize SmokinLicious® as the Company that produces it’s cooking wood products from only heartwood. Yet, there are still many questions out there as to what that means for the individual using our products. Is heartwood where all the life forces of the tree thrive?

The short answer is, no, but there are benefits to using woods derived from this part of the tree for cooking. Let’s explore!

Mini molecular-biology course: wood is an organic material that is porous and fibrous. It contains hundreds of organic compounds but there are three primary compounds responsible for the cell construction in trees: Cellulose which is a glucose that is tasteless and odorless but comprises 40-50% of the cell. It is crystalline so it provides for the strength of the cell wall. Hemicellulose is also a glucose and carbohydrate but unlike cellulose, it has little strength and makes up 15-25% of the tree’s cell structure. Lignin is the cell compound that is responsible for the structural materials in the support tissues of wood and bark and makes up 15-30% of wood cells. Lignin is what fills the cell wall spaces between the cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin components and is crucial for conducting water. Lignin yields more energy than cellulose when burned. Most importantly, lignin is what gives wood-fired cooked foods their flavor and aroma.


Our photo from Rack Slabbath BBQ shows the results of the science of meat color when BBQ properly with wood!

This result from Rack Slabbath BBQ shows the results of the science of meat color when BBQ properly with wood!

Learn the science behind meat color and the smoke ring Click To Tweet

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Barbecue is one of those methods of cooking that is loved by many but not truly understood by those who love it! I’m always entranced by the fact that barbecue gets mingled with the word grilling when the reality is, these two methods of cooking mean very different things. One common denominator though is the meat used for these cooking methods that simply becomes a variant of color so completely different from traditional cooking methods like the frying pan, slow cooker, and oven.

Let’s take a closer look first, at what meat is and then how color develops when cooked.


Diagram showing the importance of smoker air flow.

Diagram showing the importance of smoker air flow.

smoker air flow is your temperature control Click To Tweet

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How do you keep a charcoal grill at 200°F? How do you cool down a charcoal grill? Do you keep the vents open all the time?

When it comes to smoker air flow, here are a few common questions posed for learning all about the importance of air flow in controlling the temperature of a grill or smoker. This can be a challenge specifically for charcoal/wood units as they rely on the human hand to determine when to add fuel as opposed to a gas/LP unit that has continual, regulated flow.

You might assume that the only combustible material used in these units is charcoal or wood but there is another one. Oxygen.

I’m going to provide my top tips on gaining control of temperature by instructing you on smoker air flow or oxygen regulation in specific styles of charcoal/wood burning equipment.

Intake and Outtake of smoker air flow

For many of the charcoal/wood using units, they are built with an intake and an outtake vent. Let’s make sure you understand what these vents are and what the purpose of each is.

Intake Vent: It has one job – bring in oxygen to control the heat of the fire. If you need to raise the temperature of your unit, open the intake vent. Too much heat, close the intake vent which starves the fire for oxygen. Note: if you close the intake vent entirely while keeping the outtake open, you will still starve the fire and put it out.

Here’s the trick – each unit will have a “sweet spot” for the perfect balance of oxygen flow. Find that spot, and you can maintain a temperature easily in your equipment. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s discuss the opposing vent.

Outtake Vent: This goes by different names (chimney, flue, outtake, vent) but has the same purpose regardless of what you call it; vent out the gases from the combustible material and pull in oxygen from the intake vent which is commonly know as draft. Remember a charcoal/wood fire produces gases which need to be vented. If they aren’t properly vented, they will smother the fire.

When learning how to regulate your equipment for the desired temperature setting, always start with the outtake vent fully open. This allows you to manipulate only the intake vent until you reach the desired temperature. That will help you learn where the sweet spot is on your equipment.

When You Never Find the Sweet Spot for Smoker Air Flow

There are times when no matter how you play with the intake vent, you never seem to get the temperature to hold. What now?

Time to look for leaks in your equipment. If an access door or lid are bleeding smoke, then you know where the extra oxygen is coming from. That will affect the draft between the intake and outtake vent and result in fluctuating temperature that cannot be controlled. Best course of action is to try to seal the leaks with food grade silicone or other materials suitable for high heat appliances.

The Shape of the Equipment

In my opinion, the vertical-style equipment models tend to be much easier to get airflow/temperature control. Horizontal units also referred to as off-set smokers and grills, specifically the inexpensive models, tend to have poor design in the vent placements as well as poor insulation that results in heavy leakage.

If you insist on purchasing a horizontal unit, read reviews and ask questions about how the unit is insulated. Get specific with the materials used, quality of the metal parts, etc.

Chef Bert and Tom using a chimney starter for their grilling needs.

Other Tips for Smoker Air Flow & Temperature Control

Always try to light your initial fuel product, whether briquets, lump hardwood charcoal, or charcoal in a chimney starter so you can control the quantity with every cook. Use the chimney to add hot coals to the unit when you need to increase temperature. Although you can have unlit charcoal in your charcoal area so it will ignite as the lit produce makes contact, this isn’t always a guarantee that you won’t produce some temperature variance. The best chance of getting the temperature regulated is by adding hot coals as needed, even if this may be every hour or so.


To summarize, learn to control temperature by using the same quantity and type of material for the fuel, lit it with a chimney starter, only add hot coals to increase the temperature, and always have the exhaust vent open at least ½ way when cooking. Remember the number one thing is Temperature control is all in the air flow and you will have tasty grilling results!

Our Readers Are Asking..

When should I add more wood to my smoker to prevent a bitter flavor?

There are a few possible causes for bitter smoked food outcome and easy to fix:

#1 Outtake vent is to tight – open it a bit more;

#2 Wood chunks are too wet. Don’t pre-soak the chunks. Put them on the charcoal dry;

#3 Using too much wood at a time. It only takes 3–4 chunks to infuse smoke flavor;

#4 Not using an ideal hardwood. Stick to common hardwoods like cherry, maple, oak hickory, pecan, ash, alder, beech. Never use softwoods like pine, spruce, cedar, etc;

#5 Use a water pan to keep a good balance of heat, vapor, and moisture.

SmokinLicious® Products Used in this Blog:


Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

More Related reading about smoker air flow is your temperature control an other cooking subjects.

More Related reading about smoker air flow is your temperature control an other cooking subjects.



Related readings





Dr. Smoke for best results in your grilling and smoking enjoyment follow smoker air flow is your temperature control guide.

Dr. Smoke for best results in your grilling and smoking enjoyment follow smoker air flow is your temperature control guide.

The foil pan for smoking is the handiest and, we believe, the indispensable part in all the stages necessary for cooking, functionality and sanitary purposes.

The foil pan for smoking is the handiest and, we believe, the indispensable part in all the stages necessary for cooking, functionality and sanitary purposes.

The foil pan for smoking is indispensible and why! Click To Tweet

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Many people have their favorite tool when it comes to outdoor cooking. It might be a wireless thermometer, specific grill grate, awesome fire safe gloves, or the go-to chimney starter. For me, it’s likely the least expensive item you can think of – the disposable foil pan. I’m going to list for you my top 6 uses for a simple and inexpensive foil pan.


How to keep food interesting

How to keep food interesting during the quarantine

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You may be one of the unlucky families faced with the task of social distancing or voluntary/involuntary quarantine. Without question, this will test the limits of each family member’s patience, flexibility, and cooperation.

Not only are you responsible for ensuring everyone’s safety, you’re tasked with keeping them entertained and fed. Right now, with internet and utilities intact, you have the option to stream programs, movies, videos, etc., as well as use electrical and gas appliances. This helps to keep our sanity. But have you paused to plan for when those items become interrupted or permanently halted?

I’m going to list for you some ways of how to keep food interesting and ensuring that you can remain comfortably fed while also enjoying foods that you consume when you’re not quarantined

A Few Tips on How to Keep Food Interesting:


Our 75-75 rule for our Thermal Heating process

Our 75-75 rule for our Thermal Heating process

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You’re limiting your time in stores and other public places. You’ve taken to online shopping as well as searching for ways to keep your meals interesting and flavorful. You’re ready to do more grilling in order to keep the family in the household yard, getting some fresh air and UV light when available. The only concern you have is, how safe is it to receive all these packages at home? Won’t they be hosts to the virus as well?

Your concern is certainly a valid one and most definitely has basis. Let’s examine this concern further and explain how the SmokinLicious® procedures protect you.

Why our Thermal Heating Process Makes a Difference

Since 2005, every product manufactured by SmokinLicious® undergoes our Thermal heating process that is a 4-probe computerized system to ensure optimum function of our chamber. Because we know some fungi spores are only killed at 60°C/140°F, mold spores at 56°C/133°F, and listeria at 74°C/165.2°F, we exceed any regulation for heat level and duration in order to protect the food chain system. Currently, we use a temperature of 75°C/167°F for a sustained duration of 75 minutes. We also developed a re-hydration process within our chamber to ensure the hardwood is not depleted of all moisture enabling it to be used for a variety of live fire cooking methods.

The SmokinLicious® Packaging Process