Smokehouse Part 6 – Thermal mass

When I made the last batch of snack stick and bologna I noticed my snack sticks appeared over cooked near the end, or the bottom. I did not notice anything with the bologna as it larger and thicker. I clearly noticed something was off. So when I was done with them I decide to smoke the whole jalapenos I froze in the freeze from last year. I pulled the temperature probes and hung #1 high and #2 low so I could monitor the heat in the smokehouse.

So I let the fire slow burn all night Saturday and Sunday I started over with heating the coals from that night. I ramped it up Sunday morning and started over. What I noticed was that I could have a 40° deference from the top to bottom when applying heat. I was shocked and played with it some more just to see what was going on. I did some other tasks and let the stove go for a while. I got it up close to 300°just testing it. The last time I did chipolte peppers they took a while.

On a side note, I thought chipolte peppers from my last run could just be done with little consequence. I focused on smokehouse temps between the top and bottom and just figured the peppers would dry and it would all be good. WRONG, I burn those peppers like nothing I have ever done. I ate one straight and all the heat was gone, it was like a dried, black, burnt pastry. I just pulled them all out and threw them in the firebox so dog wouldn’t try eating them.

So, back to the theme of this post. I went  and hit up some of them internet sages. DaveOmak on the smoking meat forums is a wealth of knowledge on smokehouses. He advised me that I was probably needing “thermal mass” in my smokehouse. Meaning I need something to retain heat and even it out. It is really nice to find people like Dave still around. He has the knowledge that the old timers around here had when I was a kid, but I was too busy to watch everything all of them did and now they are gone.

So I got out the half sheet of expanded metal I had left over from the smokehouse shelves build. I thought about making a angle iron frame and welding it all. Then I thought I might be over thinking and engineering again, as I tend to do. So I cut some expanded metal sheet to lay on the block foundation and and lean on it and it supported plenty of weight.

IMG_1438Then I went to Lowes and got two bags of Pond rocks for under $10 and dumped them on top of the metal.


So the theory is the smoke and heat will filter through the rocks and retain heat and even everything out. That will still need to be tested. I assume I will have to cure all my goose breast, the few I got this pitiful waterfowl hunting year.

I will report back on the results.

The question is do I still need a drip pan? The rocks will collect all the grease. My wife will say yes, but what do you think?



The rocks do retain heat well. I can open the door and get things out that are done and shut the door and it come back up to heat very quickly.

Below is how the rocks look now. I need to dig them out and clean them as a mouse made a home in the middle over the summer. Its clogging the holes up.

The inside of the smokehouse is black now. Chimney black. 😀 The grates have a bit of rust. I may just wire brush one day and re-oil or have a fire at the fire pit and heat and re-blacken the expanded metal.


4 responses to “Smokehouse Part 6 – Thermal mass

  1. Rob, morning… Got any pics of smoke oozing through the rocks and what they look like after extended use ?? DaveOmak


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