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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 12-01-2012, 09:40 PM   #1
nucornhusker
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Angry Stickburners, please advise: Soot on food NOT creosote

I've been stickburning for quite a while now, and I am still baffled by one element, soot. I burn only seasoned wood, I preheat it first, I have tried wood from different sources and I always get soot on my food. The fire burns clean, there is only TBS or clear vapor coming from my exhaust (which is wide open), but my food still gets soot.

So you know I LOVE to stickburn. I love the whole process and the flavor you get, I don't want to give it up. I want to get either a Yoder or Jambo at some point, but I want to make sure my problem is solved before I seriously consider dropping several grand on a cooker and still be dealing with a poor product. If that happens, just wasted my money and my time. I wish I could "test drive" a smoker for a few weeks before you buy it, but that's not an option. And some of them cost what a car costs, so you are buying it blindly unless you know someone with one.

All I am asking for is help/advice on why I am getting soot. Is it just bad luck with bad wood? (not likely since I have used three different sources) Is it my cooker? (Maybe because it's a cheaper offset, but still a well built and designed cooker, see signature). Is it squirrels?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 09:47 PM   #2
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Unread 12-01-2012, 09:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trufunk View Post
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Of?
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Unread 12-01-2012, 09:54 PM   #4
RICK Allen
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I also run a huge stick burner, had that problem, and found that the soot so to speak I had was , abit of a grease fire, I tipped the front of the smoker down and kept the drain wide open, I'm lazy and cook on mine commercially 7 days a week but take the time to scrape and clean the inside at least once a week so far the soot problem has been cured , altho some woods and were they are harvested, produce greasey, creosote, no matter what kind of hardwood they are, try switching wood supplier and keep it relatively clean, Hopefully Ive helped, also bring it above temp before adding your product, then back it down, this will do a number things most important it will char left overs and sterilize your grates
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:03 PM   #5
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I haven't had a soot problem but occassionally would get some ash when I'd "bump" the fire basket to shake the coal bed. Never had complaints but I would notice. I'd guess there something in your "process" leading to the problem so use the scientific method...only change one thing at a time!! Good luck.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:08 PM   #6
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Is the cooking chamber relatively clean? I normally hit mine with a damp rag then a dry one after a cook. Once in a while I get after it with one of those yellow Scotch sponge thingees.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtr View Post
Is the cooking chamber relatively clean? I normally hit mine with a damp rag then a dry one after a cook. Once in a while I get after it with one of those yellow Scotch sponge thingees.
Good point. I pressure wash the chamber now and then and I have noticed that if I go too long the humidity from the meat and such will allow some condensation to drip on the meat. You don't want to clean off the seasoning but a clean cooker is, well, a clean cooker!!
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:27 PM   #8
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I have hot pressure washed mine in the past but found I made more of a mess to clean up a good 3 to 4 inch putty knife, to scrape the walls and a good wire brush works for me just scrape brush and push all the garbage thru your drain into a bucket and feed it to the compost pile can't get much greener than that
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:34 PM   #9
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I do keep it pretty clean. I've seen some cookers that are much dirtier than mine turn out food that was perfect mahogany in color with no soot.
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:46 PM   #10
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One does not want to take away too much of the flavor of the cookers past cooks by cleaning it too much . I.E. we had a vegan buy corn bread offin us that wanted her money back cause she thru it away after tasting residual meat flavor cau












because we cooked it in a cast iron pan on the smoker, that had meat in it, had to tell her that there was 3 acres of lawn out front if she wanted to graze
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Last edited by RICK Allen; 12-01-2012 at 10:47 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Unread 12-01-2012, 10:50 PM   #11
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By clean I mean there is no loose "junk" or congealed fat or anything like that. It is still seasoned, but it is wiped out.
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Unread 12-02-2012, 12:16 AM   #12
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I'm just guessing, not knowing anything about the topology of your cooker. But my guess is that you are getting moisture dripping onto your food, carrying residue from the top of your smoker which generally includes some very light ash which has drifted in from the fire.

On my most recent horizontal offset build, that's why I used a round tank, so the moisture would run down the sides past the food, not drip onto the food.

Also, you may have some kind of turbulence carrying light wood ash in from the firebox. Do you clean out ashes after every cook?

I myself personally was taught to scrape out the heavy and then pressure wash the inside of my cooker after every single cook. My cooker smells sweet and I heavily doubt I'm missing any flavor by cleaning off big gobs of grease. Rancid grease doesn't smell good and it for sure doesn't taste good. The pressure washing leaves a very fine film and doesn't remove seasoning. My racks are shiny black and so is the entire inside of my cooker. No mold after winter, either.

My cooker has a 2" drain pipe with ball valve, and another 2" cleanout pipe with ball valve. Those 2" ball valves are very pricey if you buy new. So scrounge.

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Unread 12-02-2012, 07:35 AM   #13
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What do you consider "soot"?

If your meat has a black film on it, its your fire.
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Unread 12-02-2012, 09:17 AM   #14
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When I built my first UDS, I never seasoned the inside before cooking in it. For the first few cooks I noticed that I would get spots where sooty condensate had dripped from the lid onto the food. This went away as the inside became seasoned from use.

I think that when you have a high moisture environment inside a cooker that some condensate is going to drip on the meat no matter what. A cured seasoned surface will prefent that dripping water from taking anything with it when it drops.
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Unread 12-02-2012, 09:31 AM   #15
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I've had black "gunk" drip from the top of my cooker before, it's not that. It's a fine black powder.

The food isn't covered with it, but it looks like it was "lightly seasoned" with it.
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Last edited by nucornhusker; 12-02-2012 at 09:52 AM..
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