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Unread 11-29-2012, 08:58 AM   #1
pull_my_butt
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Default the thin blue smoke

There's some talk on here about thin blue smoke and despite my efforts, I still cannot get what ya'll are talking about. Being new to smoking, is it really a blue color or is it just more of an invisible smoke...kind of like how you seen gasoline fumes on a hot summer day?

Also, I was watching some bbq competitions online and also watching TV shows featuring bbq places in KC and all of there meats didn't appear to be cooked in any blue smoke...white smoke came from the pit the moment the guy opened the door to the smoker. Is this thin blue smoke hype or really something aimed to be achieved?

Last week when it was warmer, I smoked for the first time with a solid piece of hickory wood and it smoked white smoke the whole time or most of it. The meat still turned out ok in my opinion. Unless, I have not eaten gooooood bbq and don't know what I'm missing or talking about.

Help me out folks.

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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:05 AM   #2
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Thin blue smoke is for real. A clean burning fire is key. I'm not a stickburner but my understanding is that wood should be warmed or preburned before adding to your fire. I'll let the experts handle that one. Fat dripping on coals or a hot surface can also give off white smoke. IMO a little of that is ok but it shouldn't be continuous throughout your cook as it can affect the flavor of your food.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:07 AM   #3
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Oh yeah, you can see it. It's real! ;)
In my experience cold wood in a choked fire will produce white smoke. A really hot fire will burn with very little smoke.
Some folks like white smoke and swear by it, using green or wet wood. In the end, as in everything, it comes down to personal preference.

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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:12 AM   #4
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When I'm using my stick burner I insist on a clean burning fire. The smoke is barely visible and a very slight hint of a blue-ish color. I think the key is thin smoke more than blue.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:17 AM   #5
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What kind of smoker are you using?

Even in a gravity feed smoker it will start white and then turn to
thin blue smoke when the coals get hot.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:23 AM   #6
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I'm using a cheap barrel smoker from Lowe's. I don't even re-call the name.

Now, so in order to get the thin blue smoke, the temp. has to be hot, as some of you guys have said. By hot, what temp. are ya'll looking at? Because if it gets too hot, I don't want that messing up my ribs but then if not hot enough, I can't get the thin smoke. Help me out.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:24 AM   #7
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Here's a pic I managed to capture the thin blue in - top right corner.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:25 AM   #8
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Just let any chunk burn down a little, you don't want the billowy white stuff, and DO NOT SOAK any wood. Once the billowy white stuff subsides, get after it.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:39 AM   #9
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:47 AM   #10
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Somebody here has a great side-by-side shot of 2 stickburners, one with thin blue smoke and the other with thick white smoke. Too much of the white billowy smoke can lead to an off-taste, kinda bitter and whangy...or so I've heard...a little bit isn't going to ruin anything and it does happen, but I definitely spend a lot of time looking at the smoke that comes out of whatever cooker I'm using to make sure it's relatively clean.

As for temp - you can burn a hot fire to keep the smoke clean, you control the cooking temp by the size of that fire.

***on edit - ^^^that's the pic I was thinking of - thanks!
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pull_my_butt View Post
I'm using a cheap barrel smoker from Lowe's. I don't even re-call the name.

Now, so in order to get the thin blue smoke, the temp. has to be hot, as some of you guys have said. By hot, what temp. are ya'll looking at? Because if it gets too hot, I don't want that messing up my ribs but then if not hot enough, I can't get the thin smoke. Help me out.
If it's a smaller offset, then you may want to use wood chunks. Logs of wood may disrupt the air flow you need for a clean burning fire. Some may disagree but I also think the bark on wood contributes to the thick white smoke, especially if the fire isn't hot enough.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 09:54 AM   #12
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I see, I see the light. Yeah, if you're not experienced or don't know what to look for, then all the smoke looks the same but the side by side picture really helped.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 10:26 AM   #13
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You want a SMALL hot clean fire. Allow time for the pit to warm up at least 1 hr once it is hot the temp is easier to maintain. So in the beginning build a little bigger fire to get a good coal base then feed it at a rate to maintain the temp Zone. Don't fight trying to Maintain a temp, cook in a Zone for me it is between 275 & 325. Control your temp with the fire mass and the smoke with the intake damper.( Less air heavier smoke colder fire) It's like adjusting a Carburettor on a Corvette. Once you have the fuel and Air in balance it will just cruise.
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Unread 11-29-2012, 11:05 AM   #14
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Thin blue smoke is hazy and light. Yes, it really has a blue tint. White smoke, however, is thick and puffy, like a cloud in the sky. :)
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Unread 11-29-2012, 11:57 AM   #15
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The best pic i got of the blue smoke. Yes, it really is a bluish/purpleish tint.

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