For a couple years, I had stopped using the smoker because it always burned my eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Plus, it left me smelling like a forest fire. However, a spray bottle of scented water wasn't cutting it this year, so back to the smoker.
Forest pony poo is supposed to make a nice fuel, but being fresh out of forest ponies, I've had to make do with what was at hand. Pine needles, wood shavings, straw, cotton quilt batting, natural fiber twine -- these are some of the things I've tried burning -- all with the same stinky, stinging result.
A couple months ago, I tried dried lawn clippings, which was actually a pretty decent fuel. It burned easily, made a nice cool smoke, and lasted about as long as pine needles if well-packed. Plus, the smell was tolerable. The downside was that it took a lot of dried grass to really pack the smoker properly, and if there was any moist grass in the mix, it didn't work very well. But it wasn't bad, so I continued to use grass for a while until I found something nicer -- dried sage.
While meandering through the local hippie market, I found some bundles of tightly rolled safe for burning. Lightbulb! My sage plant got an immediate heavy pruning, and the clippings were hung up in the basement to dry.
Sage burns much better than grass, makes a copious amount of cool smoke, and smells good (for smoke). While I still try to stay upwind of the smoke, I've found that it isn't nearly as acrid as other fuels I've tried. Another benefit is that the bees seem pretty relaxed with the sage. Some fuels cause the bees to start fanning a lot. Others seem to make them agitated and runny. Persephone, my most defensive hive, is unusually chill when I use sage.
|My last bundle of dried sage this year. :-(|
I currently have only one plant, which isn't anywhere near enough for my smoking needs, but the bees love sage flowers, too, so that's an added bonus. Next year, I envision planting a whole hedge of it somewhere.
What's your favorite smoker fuel?