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Keeping a smoker lit


Am I the only person frustrated by smokers? My smoker died in the middle of an inspection. Again. Plenty of dry fuel in it. I’ve watched YouTube videos, read about it, tried different things through the past couple of years, but apparently the “keep your smoker burning” gene was not given to me. Time for a blowtorch.


Bit drastic!

Take a deep breath!
Count to 10

Burlap/Hessian I hear works well


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I use the same newspaper to start as @DextersShed but then i use pine needles ( it is dirt cheap to buy a whole bail for less than $5, and the resin smokes great). Once the paper is lit, put a little pine needles in, few pumps until you get lots of smoke, more pine needles until, more pumps, more needles, more pumps. Continue until the smoker is pretty well packed and filled. the other key is to give a few pumps of air now and then while inspecting your hives to just keep it going.

Using this method i have had a smoker go for in excess of 90 mins and then still needed to dump the unburned (all be it blackened) remaining pine needles.

If you do dump them do it in a fire safe place like a fire bit because it is very common for those unburned needles to spring into fire when they get a bunch of air around them.


Also try rolling strips of cardboard up into a cylinder where the cardboard ends with the holes are the ends of the cylinder. Light the cardboard and place on the bottom of the smoker. Once it is going you can add your choice of items on top


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My smoker went out in the middle of my inspection today too, but it was mostly because I rushed it. Normally, I have good luck with the dry, little pine cones that I find under the pine trees. The mature pine cone that drops has open leaves and acts as air pockets to keep the flame alive. My recipe is paper on the bottom with some burlap twine. I light it and add the pine cones, some wood chips and a little more paper in between…smoker lasagna.


I understand this Stephen, but does news paper not have similar toxins?? Just a thought


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Really? I have a small sheet of corrugated cardboard I was about to try. This is encouraging news. Goodbye raw cotton, pine needles, burlap, …


At least in the US news print is safe “to eat”. They use soy based inks. I have used it in bedding for many things, guinea pigs/rabbits, composting worms etc, and never had an issue with toxicity. I imagine it’s safe in the UK too since isn’t that the traditional liner for fish and chips? If its safe to eat it should also be safe to use in a smoker.


I did a quick google search to confirm what I recall my father saying. He was a packaging engineer for his whole life. Corrugated card board is typically glued together with glue starches, so totally non-toxic. Most things like that are going to be non-toxic because if a child/baby chews on a card board box that got left in the living room floor, they don’t want a billion dollar law suit when it poisons the kid.


I agree with Valli, in my humble opinion, a little cardboard is nothing compared to all the pesticides the poor bees are picking up in the world.


I used to bed my piggies on news paper as well.

The fish and chip thing was here in UK and Home in Oz when I was a kid - they stopped doing it due to the print!!

Since then the ink has changed many times


Burlap from ripped-up potato sacks give off a good smoke for a reasonable period of time.


Oh, I don’t know guys, I bet THIS stuff works better than any of that ordinary fuel you are trying to keep lit!

You need to really get the primo stuff, to keep your fire lit!!

Everyone knows if you spend to much you get better results…


I bet applewood smoked bees are delicious… :wink:


The best advice I could offer is to empty your smoker of ash from the previous time before lighting it, get a bit of a fire going at the bottom of the smoker before adding whatever you want to make smoke from. I’ve had the same phone book in the cab of my truck for ages. A couple of pages out of that is good just to get things started. I use a lot of cardboard, bark, small twigs, pine needles & small cones, thick blady grass, potato sack, dry banana leaves, basically whatever is available at the time. Decoke your smoker from time to time. It’s important to fix any gaps in the bellows. It doesn’t take long for those to appear.


PS, It occurred to me in my sleep, if not it would have came to me next time I used it. The ONE thing I do in between using the smoker to stop it going out is open the lid slightly, as long as there’s a bit of breeze. That breeze will keep it going for you. Something to practice even if you aren’t attending your bees.


An insert made from a large soup can makes it easier to light and keep lit. You can light it in the insert without the smoker and then drop it in the smoker when it’s going well…