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Unread 08-16-2011, 10:21 PM   #1
jmill88
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Default Wood burning = white "thick" smoke

I have read a lot of people don't like to soak their wood chunks and I tried this on my last pork butt cook. It seemed like the wood caught fire and filled the smoker with that thick white smoke. Seems like I don't have that problem as much when I soak my chunks. Any thoughts? I guess I should just stick with soaking them, but curious if others have this problem.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 10:28 PM   #2
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Sounds to me that the fire was not burning clean, not enough air getting to it. We just started using a stickburner and that happens if I choke the air too much or throw in wood with a bunch of bark on it.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 10:30 PM   #3
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From the Virtual Bullet:

Should You Soak Wood Chunks? - TVWB - virtualweberbullet.com - YouTube
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Unread 08-16-2011, 10:31 PM   #4
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Mine always starts like that when I'm getting it up to temp but turns to sweet blue by the time I'm putting the food on. What are you cooking on?
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Unread 08-16-2011, 10:31 PM   #5
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I use hickory chunks in my charcoal fueled smokers. I usually get the temp above the cooking temp and then dial the inlet vent back down to the cooking temp and that eliminates the white smoke problem most of the time. The other problem that crops up from time to time is the humidity in the air. When that happens, I try to make sure the wood has burned down to coals while the temp continues to rise then back the smoker down to the cooking temp.

I never soak my wood, BTW. However, soaking chips is another story.

To me, smoke and time are relative and inversly proportional. A long cook means less smoke per hour than a short cook which requires more smoke per hour. On short (hot and fast) cooks, white smoke (such as the smoke that comes from green wood) may not be a problem. On long low and slow cooks white smoke might be a big problem. Either way, I always try to cook with clear smoke and smoke with puffs of blue at the least.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 10:34 PM   #6
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Soaking isn't the answer.

A properly sized, clean burning, seasoned-wood fire shouldn't be doing that. What is your procedure and set up.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 10:35 PM   #7
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It isn't possible for water to penetrate the wood enough to make a difference. Soak your chunks for 24 or more hours, cut them in half and look at where the water is. You will find that it is more of a myth than anything.

Pre-heat your wood and your smoke will lighten up.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 11:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamadrummer View Post
It isn't possible for water to penetrate the wood enough to make a difference. Soak your chunks for 24 or more hours, cut them in half and look at where the water is. You will find that it is more of a myth than anything.

Pre-heat your wood and your smoke will lighten up.
Should You Soak Wood Chunks? - TVWB - virtualweberbullet.com - YouTube
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Unread 08-16-2011, 11:15 PM   #9
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I dont soak chunks in the weber and the only time I get flare up is if I leave the lid off for a while they flame up then go out when I put the lid back on and then i get the smoke again.Chips burn so fast even soaked it helps to put them in a pouch after being soaked.I get white smoke at first but then it burns the tbs we all look for. I think soaking chunks is not helpful imho.
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Unread 08-16-2011, 11:30 PM   #10
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I get some heavy white smoke from time-to-time, but I look at it the way I look at temperature variations, when it comes to a long smoke. As long as the thick white smoke doesn't last a long time, I just shrug it off.

Now, if it didn't go away, then I would worry. But, it always goes away before too long. The wood has to get up to a certain heat, from what I can tell. When it first catches fire, it puts out a lot of smoke, which is just like any other fuel. Once it gets up to optimum temperature, it will burn more efficiently, and as a result, you will get less smoke, and it will be cleaner smoke.

The bigger your wood, the longer it should take to get burning efficiently. I chop my wood chunks up so they get up to temperature quickly. But, a fresh chunk of wood is still going to smoke a bit, and I just let it ride, and it goes away. On a five or ten hour smoke, it just doesn't worry me.

But, that's just me.

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Unread 08-17-2011, 12:13 AM   #11
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I think Caseydog said it very nicely, 'nuf said.
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Unread 08-17-2011, 06:02 AM   #12
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I get the thick smoke when I add new wood. It's only for a little while unless I add a lot at once. Offset smokers need attention more than a UDS.
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Unread 08-17-2011, 06:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmill88 View Post
I have read a lot of people don't like to soak their wood chunks and I tried this on my last pork butt cook. It seemed like the wood caught fire and filled the smoker with that thick white smoke. Seems like I don't have that problem as much when I soak my chunks. Any thoughts? I guess I should just stick with soaking them, but curious if others have this problem.
You have convinced yourself that soaking your chunks is actually doing something. In reality it is doing nothing...BUT if you're a more confident cook when you soak, by all means do so.

What are you cooking on?
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Unread 08-17-2011, 07:07 AM   #14
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Soaking tends to create creosote,might as well use railroad ties.
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Unread 08-17-2011, 12:09 PM   #15
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If anything, soaking increases the time it takes to get to a clean light blue smoke, it neither adds nor detracts from the actual smoking. Hence, there is no reason not to soak your wood if you want to. The reality is that the white smoke is the burning of volatile gasses during the process that the wood is coming to heat, once the wood is at a proper heat, comdustion is more complete and the wood solids are burning slowly, this creates the light blue smoke. It is all about the heat. Water retards getting there, but, it changes nothing about the quality of the smoke in the end.
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