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Unread 09-01-2013, 09:49 PM   #1
BASSER
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Default Blue Smoke

When I start up my WSM using the Minion Method I bury my hardwood chunks in the charcoal. As the WSM gets up to temp, the chunks are producing white smoke. Is this NOT the time to put on the meat? Do I wait until I dont see any smoke at all to put the meat on? If I do wait, does this not defeat the purpose of using the hardwood chunks. I know this sounds like BBQ 101 but I truly dont know. I just always put the meat on once the desired temp was reached regardless if white smoke was coming out. Thanks Brethren.
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Unread 09-01-2013, 10:29 PM   #2
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Don't put the meat on with thick white smoke. Over time as it burns down you will see the thick smoke start to thin, and eventually be a very thin and faint blue. Not long after that you may not see any visible smoke really at all. Don't worry, your meat is still getting smoke flavor.

On a WSM using minion like you are, it isn't uncommon for the smoke to take upwards of an hour to settle down before it's ready.
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Unread 09-01-2013, 10:38 PM   #3
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Depends on ur charcoal - Alot of briquettes will put out white smoke whole time.......
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Unread 09-01-2013, 11:00 PM   #4
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If the briquets are not completely dry (an open bag that has sat around in an UN-controlled area can absorb moisture better than a sponge) they will smoke sometimes for the entire cook. Usually this small amount of smoke is harmless as far as my experience has been. Using damp or un-seasoned wood will make smoke and creosote every time.

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Unread 09-02-2013, 07:22 AM   #5
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Here is a tip I learned recently that has completely changed the quality of my smoke. Instead of burying a mess of wood in the coals, wrap a few chunks in foil and make a few slashes in the foil on all sides. What this does is it starves the wood of oxygen allowing it to smolder instead of burn. When your pit comes up to temp, throw your meat on and add a chuck of your foiled wood on top of the hot coals. Add the next one after a half hour or so and a third if needed. My wood usage has dropped dramatically and I get thin blue smoke every single time!
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Unread 09-02-2013, 07:40 AM   #6
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I don't remember who originally posted this picture, but I thought it was a great illustration of the difference of bad vs.good smoke.



Of course the picture is of an offset, not a WSM like you have, but the smoke is still the same. Good luck with your cook!
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Unread 09-02-2013, 07:54 AM   #7
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The white smoke/blue smoke issue doesn't really occur with charcoal; it occurs with the added wood to charcoal for smoke flavoring. Charcoal is a wood product created by heating away most of the moisture, resin, and other impurities leaving mostly carbon. This is why a piece of lump charcoal weights less than the same size piece of wood, and why it burns so much cleaner than wood.

Some charcoals have additives to make them burn more consistent, and then with smokers with water pans; vapor can be misconstrued as white smoke. Some charcoals can absorb moisture if they are stored in an outside location. This type of smoke is mostly moisture escaping from the cooker and probably is not from poor combustion.

The simple way is to tell is to follow your sense of smell. Bad smoke is overpowering and smells bad. Good smoke smells good and not overpowering.

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

Follow your nose rather than your eyes.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 08:22 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the responses. You guys are great!
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Unread 09-02-2013, 08:28 AM   #9
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You don't need to see the smoke. you just need to smell it.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 08:45 AM   #10
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You said "bury my hardwood". Ha! Sorry, could not resist.
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Unread 09-02-2013, 09:18 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marubozo View Post
Don't put the meat on with thick white smoke. Over time as it burns down you will see the thick smoke start to thin, and eventually be a very thin and faint blue. Not long after that you may not see any visible smoke really at all. Don't worry, your meat is still getting smoke flavor.

On a WSM using minion like you are, it isn't uncommon for the smoke to take upwards of an hour to settle down before it's ready.

Spot on advice.
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