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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.

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Old 03-23-2013, 12:46 PM   #1
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Join Date: 08-15-12
Location: Irish Hills, MI
Default Question for you stickburning offset dudes

Hey Brethren- I built an offset a couple years ago out of a 55 gallon drum and used half of a 16 gallon drum for the firebox. Since my UDS and Akorn have all my cooking needs covered, I really never used the offset. I decided to give it a go yesterday as I had some oak and some meat and wanted to play with fire. I started a handful of charcoal, then added the oak to get things going. Yes this thing is leaky as hell and homemade, but I put a layer of firebrick in there under the cook grate(where the baffle/tuning plates would be) and surprisingly it held temp pretty well yesterday while doing the baby backs. Also ran a small water pan.
Here was the problem- SOOT! I was getting a nasty layer of soot all over inside the cooking chamber and of course the FOOD! Not that chunky stuff that falls off the walls from moisture(I've had that happen too) but this was a flat black color soot, like the soot you find on the chimney of an oil lamp or lid of a candle in a jar. Again, I was burning straight oak, and the smoke I was getting out the exhaust was not to my liking either-not thin blue but more blue/grey and cloudy. I know the fire was burning hot and had a good bed of coals to start the next piece of wood added... what do you think it could be? Bad wood? Poor airflow? Both? Thanks for any insights.
Okie Joe offset, UDS, Akorn, Weber Kettles, I'm JD.
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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Location: lake grove, new york

Do you have a pic of your smoker? That may help with an opinion.
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:33 PM   #3
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Was your wood green?
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:57 PM   #4
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Location: brenham, texas

Originally Posted by smokeisgood View Post
Was your wood green?
That was my first guess also. Also are you runnin enough air and exhaust to have a clean natural burning fire. Stick burners control the heat mostly with the fuel and coals. Once you choke it down in the pursuit of stable temps, this will happen every time.
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:04 PM   #5
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Location: Harrisburg, PA

A clean burning fire does not leave soot.

Sounds like a smoldering fire.

How was the condition of the wood?
What type of wood?
Was it dried and seasoned?
Moldy or funky wood surface?
Green (wet) wood?
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Old 03-23-2013, 02:36 PM   #6
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Might be a dumb question but you said u haven't used it in a few years, was the inside of the smoker ckean when you started cooking?
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:48 PM   #7
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Green wood or Pine, Poorly designed smoker(either to small exhaust or intake) you said it's leaky so I would go with not enough exhaust choking the fire from smoke backing up and pushing the O2 away from the fire or the wood type or green
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:59 PM   #8
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Location: Tuscaloosa Alabama

Above are all good answers, my thinking is intake and exhaust problems. I have cooked with a hint of green hickory added to my fire and never had aproblem, but your wood could be an issue too. Just start narrowing it down, you will come to a conclusion I am sure
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:59 PM   #9
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I would have to agree on the Clean burning fire. I have 2 offset Stickburners and have never had a issue with soot. I also use a Propane weedburner to get my wood going.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:45 PM   #10
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Location: Houston, Texas

All of the advice here is true. Soot is formed by inadequate or incomplete combustion. That can be caused by many variables, most of the biggies have been mentioned here. You must figure how how to get the temps you need in the meat side of the offset, while ensuring your fire is burning well and getting good combustion air to it.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:59 PM   #11
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:16 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the replies. As for the condition of the wood, it was seasoned not green, but had been sitting for a while in my wood pile covered with a tarp. felt dry when I handled it, but could've had moisture inside... I don't know really. Next time I'll use fresh seasoned wood not stuff that's been sitting for a couple years and see how that does. As for the intake/exhaust issue, I'm really thinking there's not enough exhaust area to create enough flow. I even drilled a couple 2-1/2" holes at great level opposite the firebox to help. I took some photos but waiting for them to load because yahoo mail sucks LOL. I'll post pics when I can. Thanks again.
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:29 AM   #13
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A small hot fire

for this

equals this

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