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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 11-24-2013, 10:38 PM   #1
Found some matches.
Join Date: 08-06-13
Location: Bayville, NJ
Default full UDS coal basket = heavy white smoke

i have a typical 55gal UDS with a 13inx12in round coal basket. round metal grate on the bottom and expando on the sides, elevated 3-4inches. 3-1in inlets and 2in bung on a flat top lid. i burn lump, RO or Malic's, with hardwood chunks.

I typically fill the basket about 1/2 way with lump and hardwoods mixed through out. i use a homemade charcoal chimney made from a large coffee. once i have a full can of coals, i'll dump on top and let them sit for no more than 5min and place the basket in the UDS, close the lid, adjust my intakes to my typical 250F settings and i typically get stable temps and thin blue smoke in 20min. 10-12 hour burns are easily done with favorable weather conditions. what more can you ask for??

Now, when i fill the basket 3/4 or more i have a problem with heavy white smoke. its not a solid plume of smoke, but it is heavy enough to leave creosote on the food and doesnt have that sweet smoke aroma. what am i doing wrong? i have read many threads of people boasting about 20+hr burns with nothing but sweet blue awesomeness puffing out the stacks. one fella even said he gave up after a 24hr test that held 200f

i did notice that when the basket is filled 3/4 or more, there is a top layer of unlit coals. is this my problem? too much fuel for smoker at the target temp? i'm guessing the top layer is not lit due to the lack of oxygen because i dump lit coals on top.

Is there something i'm overlooking or doing wrong for these full coal basket burns???

Last edited by BobBrisket; 11-24-2013 at 11:16 PM..
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:54 PM   #2
somebody shut me the fark up.

IamMadMan's Avatar
Join Date: 07-30-11
Location: Pemberton, New Jersey

Charcoal could be damp, or your wood may not be dry enough.....

Keep in mind that in colder weather there will be more visible smoke due to cold air being heated and releasing the humidity (like when your glasses fog up when coming in from the cold). However once the cooker heats up this condition will no longer exist and there should be no large amounts of white smoke.

Make sure your charcoal hasn't been stored in a damp location, or try another brand.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:58 PM   #3
somebody shut me the fark up.
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Join Date: 07-04-09
Location: Jonesboro,Tx

Your not letting it get going long enough I cook at 300 so you might want to shave 50 deg off this. I drop the hot stuff and set the basket in I leave the lid off until the thermo hits 225 then I put the lid on and close my valve down about 1/4 to 3/4 open. It settles in at 300 ish with sweet blue rollin ready to cookin less than 30 min.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:15 PM   #4
somebody shut me the fark up.

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Join Date: 08-22-13
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana

I'm assuming you want a longer burn when you're filling it up 3/4 vs 1/2.

If you go 3/4 basket try pulling a handful of the unlit from the edge of the basket (a little pocket) and putting the lit ones back right in that spot. This will give you a good minion burn from the edge of the basket outward and won't be smoldering too many of the unlit coals which might be your problem... hope that helps.
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:36 PM   #5
Found some matches.
Join Date: 08-06-13
Location: Bayville, NJ

my last cook was a 20lb ham leg and didnt want it to burn out. so yes, i wanted a longer burn with out having to add fuel overnight. Outside temps have been dropping into the 30's so i only open the lid when neccesary

the lump charcoal isnt damp. i have already ruled that out.

with such a full basket, do i want the whole top layer to be lit coals? smoldering unlit coals is a possibility. can i expect all of the 10lbs of lump to remain lit while maintaining 250F-ish.

i forgot to mention that i had already cooked a 8pcs of chicken and 4 yams for 2.5 hours before i switched over to the ham leg. is it possible that the juices and fat from such a large piece of pork are quenching the coals?
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Old 11-25-2013, 01:23 PM   #6
Is lookin for wood to cook with.
Join Date: 04-12-13
Location: St. Croix River Valley, WI

I'm no expert on this stuff, but this happened to me one time when I was firing up the 16-gallon UDS. This thing normally warms up quick and when it does, goes right to 'thin blue' smoke. I learned something this day...

I had filled the charcoal basket (K-briquettes), then lit my usual 6-10 briquettes and placed them on top of the basket. At this point I thought, "I can get more charcoal in this thing than that!" and proceeded to pile on more briquettes. At most there was only 1 or 2 more layers of briquettes on top of the already burning ones.

Everything seemed fine, but after an hour it was still chugging PLUMES of thick white smoke! I ended up letting it go for 90 minutes until the smoke started to thin down, and when I put the PORK in the drum, I noticed that was because all of that top-charcoal had become lit. Once it lit things were fine.

Maybe some unburnt coals are collapsing into the center (lit) section causing the smoke? To me, thick white smoke means that the fire isn't hot enough, or isn't getting enough 'draft' (airflow).

Just some thoughts to possibly help...
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:05 PM   #7
Found some matches.
Join Date: 08-06-13
Location: Bayville, NJ

i appreciate all the input!

one time i put a coffee can filled with holes in the middle of my basket thinking it would prevent smoldering unlit pockets in the center. what i found was that the lit coals worked their way around the can beginning at the wide open intake port. had thin blue smoke all the way.

i think i'm getting close to the answer here. correct me if i'm wrong, i'm a greenhorn, but having unlit fuel underneath and next to the coals is ok, BUT having unlit fuel ON TOP of the coals is no good.

do i need to start with more more lit coals? a large coffee can is maybe 1/2-3/4 the size of a store bought charcoal chimney.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:37 AM   #8
retired trucker
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Join Date: 09-28-11
Location: Dallas, Georgia

I would put all the coals I was going to use in the basket before I put the lit coal on top of the pile of unlit coals. I have never had a white smoke problem except when I re-used some briquets that had already been used prior to the present burn. Don't add any coals after you dump your chimney, unless your fire has been burning for a good long time and most of the coals are already lit.

Moisture from bags of charcoal that have not been stored in a controlled temp area will absorb moisture and cause white smoke. I won't buy charcoal that is stored outside in a display at any location. I only buy what is stored inside the store. Good luck in your search for the problem.

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creosote, full basket, long burns, lump, uds, white smoke

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