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Smoker fuel and lighting

Any one use smoker fuel in the form of small silver paper wrapped fuel. Light the end. Supposed to last 20 mins?

Perhaps you have your own ways of doing it.

I was once a Boy Scout but I have lost the fire making mojo… well at least in small quantities.

I haven’t done that, but I do have a good method. :blush:

  1. Lightly scrunch up some brown paper, like the stuff they use in shipping packaging from Amazon etc. You want a loosely scrunched ball about the size of a fist.
  2. Put it into the smoker and light it with one of those firelighter tools that people use for BBQs. Give a couple of puffs on the bellows until it is burning well.
  3. Put a scrunched up fist-sized piece of hessian on top and puff until it is smoking nicely. That should last about 20 minutes, but if you need more time, you can put more hessian on top. Just add it every 15-20 minutes.
  4. If I need to go for much longer, I love to add some small wood pellets supplied by Mann Lake. They will easily smoke for a couple of hours. I just put them on top of the hessian. I bet you can get something similar in the UK:

I have found that stacking the fuel like that works very well, as long as you make sure that each layer is smoldering well before you add the next one.

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Layering is new and the bbq lighter. Saves burning my gloves using a cigarette lighter. Thanks.

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I use one like these, except mine is red. :smile:

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I use pine needles that are dried and fallen from the trees as smoker fuel, starting with crunched up paper and find the lighter gets going quicker lying to its side a little. I have over the years tried lots of different fuels but always seem to be back to the pine needles but make sure the smoker is going well before closing down the lid.


I use a lot of masking tape around bee lids when shifting nucs. A little bit of used masking tape is a great fire starter. Only one match is required. You only need about 6-8 inches of it, so it wouldn’t break the bank to use unused masking tape. It’s the best thing I’ve found for getting a smoker started. The next best thing is to smear some petroleum jelly on a piece of cardboard. That also makes a good fire starter.


I read about using pine needles and they are always available to collect and dry. On its side…I try to light it outside then push it in…but that’s not so good even pumping air. Thanks.

I have been tempted to use a little starter or primer. But never have. I imagine it would burn off quickly but I have shied away from doing that. Good idea though. Thanks.

The masking tape that Jeff recommends works well. The problem with lighting up anything outside of the smoker is that when you put it in the smoker is stone cold so it a likely that the smoker won’t get going for a while, I like to get some fuel burning in the smoker using a butane blow torch till it is smoldering with very little pumping then stuff more pine needles in till it is full. It works best for me and I have tried everything including the ‘bee smoker pellets’ sold out of China on EBay which are ok for about 30 minutes till a refill is needed, it is ok for a standby but too expensive for me to use all the time. Getting a smoke going when it is stone cold(the smoker) is so time consuming Tony.

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I will use a blowtorch which I currently use for cleaning up inside of brood boxes etc. Yes I can see that lighting outside doesn’t start it very well at all. Thanks

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I always light the fuel while it’s in the smoker. I always empty the smoker of previous ash first. Then I loosely pack the unburnt fuel along with some extra cardboard. I place the masking tape in between the loosely packed cardboard & unburnt fuel before lighting it. Give it a go, you only need one match. Saves you mucking about with a blow torch. Don’t try to crack a nut with a sledge hammer.

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regardless of the fuel you use I find that the real trick is to really get the fire started right near the bottom of the smoker- before packing a LOT of material heavily down onto the embers. You really want the fire near the bottom and lot of material to cool and filter the smoke of sparks before it comes out. It is vital to check that the smoke come out cool as hot smoke will anger the bees and is a fire hazard. I use a big wad of hessian packed down on top of the burning material.

I find hessian is an excellent smoker fuel. I just burn some paper above a small amount of material in the bottom of the smoker and really pump it until there is a very strong flame- then I slowly add a little material pumping all the while before packing it all down with that hessian wad. If you periodically pump it it rarely goes out.

Afterwards I often shove newspaper into the spout and air vent hole at the bottom and place the smoker on it’s side so that it goes out.