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Unread 09-02-2013, 11:54 PM   #1
Smokin the good stuff
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Default Trouble with WSM making smoke

I did my first brisket on it this weekend and couldn't keep consistent smoke coming from it. I used kingsford charcoal, filled the fire ring about 3/4 full and put some apple and cherry wood chunks (dry stuff from Home Depot) throughout. Then lit a chimney full of charcoal and once it was ready poured it in the center of the fire ring and added a few wood chunks on top of the lit coals. It would smoke like crazy at first but after 45 minutes or less there would be no smoke even though the temperature was rock steady at 245-250 degrees. I had the lid vent fully open and the three bottom vents about 25% open. Every 45 minutes to an hour I would go back outside, open the door and stir everything up and the smoke would start up again. Not sure what I am doing wrong?? A few of the pieces I put in were the size of half a fist.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 12:18 AM   #2
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If you weren't seeimg white smoke that's a good thing! If you didn't see a light blue smoke all is still not lost. Trust your nose. If it still smelled like smoke it was running fine. Did the brisket still have a good smoke flavor?
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Unread 09-03-2013, 12:21 AM   #3
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Yeah, every time you "stirred it" you were making the fire burn dirty.

You want to not see the smoke. Hold your hand over the exhaust for a second and smell your hand. Bet it smells awesome. Mike is telling you right.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 03:40 AM   #4
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Agreed. It sounds like all was fine.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 03:52 AM   #5
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Yep, never force the smoke. Judge with your nose not your eyes. This was the first mistake I ever learned from when I first started. And some woods are stronger than others. Not enough wood is better than too much IMO.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 04:53 AM   #6
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Add the wood chunks after you've started the coals.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 07:10 AM   #7
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Like the others have said... follow your nose rather than your eyes.

You don't need a big piece of wood to get a good smoke, in fact, when it comes to making "thin blue smoke", more is NOT necessarily better. The key is to have small amounts of wood burn efficiently, so you get the sweet smoke flavor, and not a bitter, over-smoked flavor.

Sweet blue can be seen but you have to get the right angle of light on it. It's very thin, and wispy, and almost completely invisible.

If you smell wood smoke, leave it alone, if you do not then add a few chunks, right on top of some red-hot coals, the best smoke is smelled, not seen.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 09:02 AM   #8
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My first smoke on my WSM I was the same way. I got angry because that white smoke went away. So I stirred the coals and added more wood.

I've come a long way from then!
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Unread 09-03-2013, 09:41 PM   #9
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I didn't really see the smoke but didn't try to look very close. It did smell really good so I guess all was well.
My plan was to let the brisket get to 170 degrees and then wrap it in foil and let it get up to 190, unwrap it and check it with the probe to see if it was tender and let it keep cooking if not. Unfortunately it cooked faster than I expected while the wife and I went out to dinner and by the time I got to it the temp had reached 210! It is still good but definitely over cooked....oh well....just have to try it again! Thanks for the help.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 09:52 PM   #10
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if you aren't used to smoking right, it's hard to switch. unless you have experience, you want to see the smoke. the problem is the smoke you'll see is not the smoke you want(good=thin blue/invisible. bad=white). but the white is more easily visible and will trick you into thinking you're not smoking if you don't see the smoke. it's a tough lesson to learn because your brain is programmed to think of visible smoke when "smoking" meat. the truth is...as long as you're not using pure gas, you're gonna be producing smoke(even if you can't see it) even w/just plain charcoal. the key is keeping the temps stable for even cooking.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 09:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokin the good stuff View Post
I didn't really see the smoke but didn't try to look very close. It did smell really good so I guess all was well.
My plan was to let the brisket get to 170 degrees and then wrap it in foil and let it get up to 190, unwrap it and check it with the probe to see if it was tender and let it keep cooking if not. Unfortunately it cooked faster than I expected while the wife and I went out to dinner and by the time I got to it the temp had reached 210! It is still good but definitely over cooked....oh well....just have to try it again! Thanks for the help.
I'm a beginner with a Napolean Apollo (same as your WSM).

You have more guts then me to walk away from your smoker and go have dinner! I'm way too paranoid, and want to keep an eye on it!

You'll get it next time!
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Unread 09-03-2013, 11:18 PM   #12
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When I use my WSM I really don't notice much smoke anymore. Maybe because I don't watch it as much as my other smoker. Since I have a remote thermometer I only check it if the temp gets down to around 200 then I gently give it a kick or 2. Give it time and you will figure out your smoker.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 11:49 PM   #13
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What Rick said ....less is best with a wsm .... Practice with some overnight cooks ... You might find they are your best cooks ... Why ? You didn't mess with the smoker and let it due what its designed to do !!!
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Unread 09-04-2013, 12:02 AM   #14
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You should only need 2-3 pieces about 1-1/2 inch in diameter of smoke wood. Your meat only soaks up the smoke for the first part of the cook until the bark develops so don't worry about it after that. You shouldn't see a lot of smoke, only a very little bit of blue coming out the top for the first couple hours. After that, it is all about getting a nice bark and the right color. Once the rub is set(won't wipe off with a fingernail) and the bark is the right color, I foil it until done.
That said, white (bad smoke) is worse than no smoke at all.
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Unread 09-04-2013, 12:15 AM   #15
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This is the 3rd time I've used it, done some ribs and chickens on it previously. I was surprised at how easily it holds temps, although its a little slow to get it up to temp. Once the brisket was on and the temp caught up I had the 3 bottom vents barely open and it held 245-250 for 7 hours until I check on it before we went to dinner, I really expected it take longer than 2 hours to come up 20-25 degrees. Lesson learned, never leave at the end of a smoke!
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