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Buz’s Pit Guide: Pits with Offset Fireboxes and Horizontal Smoking Chambers

Buz’s Pit Guide: Pits with Offset Fireboxes and Horizontal Smoking Chambers
January 2, 2014 Staff Writer

Pits with offset fireboxes are also known as offset smokers or “barrel” smokers.  The nickname “barrel,” comes from its shape.

These puppies have two beer can-shaped chambers; the larger chamber is the cooking chamber and the smaller chamber is the firebox.

The are two ways to use this popular smoker.  If you are interested in slow cooking food, place the charcoal in the firebox and the food, like ribs or brisket, into the cooking chamber. If you are trying to cook something quick and easy, the charcoal can be placed underneath the rack in the cooking chamber. Some people cook steaks this way.

Don’t go for the cheaper brands though, it will only cause frustration, heartache and possibly ruin your food.


If you are looking for something that will allow you to kick back with your friends and reminisce about old times with a beer in hand, then this is it.

Expensive smokers are worth every penny because of the design, workmanship and materials.  It leaves you feeling great about the turnout of the food and they don’t leave you pulling your hair out.

Top of the line smokers have solid and tight wields.  The lids also close and seal tightly.  They will be made out of thick steel; heat from the coals remains in the firebox, keeping the smoker evenly heated and efficient.


Pits with offset fireboxes and horizontal smoking chambers only have one grill surface; which limits you to the amount of food you can cook at one time.

Most smoking novice make the same mistakes.  They purchase cheap offset smokers and then can’t figure out why it doesn’t work.

Cheap offsets can have poor fire management control.  Fireboxes often leak which leads to poor oxygen flow; and oxygen flow is what controls the temperature and smoke quality.  Let’s not forget that there is no heat retention.

Also be aware of the weather. Hot temperatures outside can affect your cooking and so can cold weather.  Keep in mind that rain and snow will have the worst effects on your offset smoker.

Another thing to remember is that you need to spend a lot of time perfecting the amount of wood chunks or chips to maintain the same heat. This type of smoker is not a start it and forget about it kind.

Where to buy:

If you are looking for an authentic way to smoke your barbecue, this may be the way to go. Just be prepared to experiment and learn through trial and error.  Once you learn your pit and become comfortable with it, it’ll get easier to use.

If you are a looking for a high end pit, you can buy one from a company like Yoder’s online. Cheap offset pits can be found in stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot but those would require heavy modifications.

If you are looking to purchase locally, take a look at Hearth & Home Shoppe of Mechanicsville’s products online or in store.




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