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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 07-26-2010, 09:10 AM   #1
Howtobrew
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Default In Pursuit of Thin Blue Smoke

Okay, I have completed my UDS build and yesterday I seasoned it with a full can of Pam Grill Spray.

Sorry no picts yet, but y'all know what a good UDS looks like.

Anyway, my drum has a bung hole on the bottom side and I utilized this instead of the 1/2" pipe and caps for air supply. The bung hole in the lid is the exhaust port. I placed an aluminum electrical supply cable cap over the bung hole on the inside so that the incoming air is diverted 90 degrees and swirls around the inside of the drum. Finally, I bought a 2" dia cast iron pipe cap to act as my regulator. I drilled 8: 1/2"dia holes in the side/threads so that as I screw the cap in and out of the bung, the holes are covered/uncovered. (I will post a picture tonight.)

Okay, on to seasoning - I filled the fire basket with 1 9lb bag of briquettes and set it on top of the side burner of my Weber gas grill to start it. I let it burn for 15-20 minutes, and by that time I think most of the bottom middle third of the charcoal were burning. The ones on top and the sides were not lit yet, but I figured that would happen later during the "cook."

I lifted the fire basket in with a hook, and had lots of white smoke to contend with until I took the regulator cap out completely and put the lid on. The temperature got to about 300 at grill level, but I wanted it hotter for seasoning, so I put a fan in front of the inlet bung and before too long had no more white smoke (no smoke at all in fact) and a temperature of 450F. I let that go for an hour while I made beef ribs on the gas grill. I removed the fan, and let it go for another 20 minutes. Still 450.

I put the regulator cap in and dropped it down to about 300F over a half hour and then threw on a couple oak chunks to see how that whole process worked. Gray smoke...

I checked the temperature and it was down to about 275F. The smoke was still whiteish/grayish. I was thinking that anytime you open a UDS to add wood that you will probably get white smoke for a while until the wood heats up. Eventually I did achieve thin blue smoke but by that time dinner was over and I had other things to do and I shut it down for the night.

Questions:
1. Should I have let the charcoal basket start more completely before placing it in the UDS? It was about half full but many of the coals weren't lit yet. Or is it a matter of giving adequate time for whatever coals are in there from this-time/last-time to offgas the white smoke before you even think about starting the day's cooking?

2. Should I have added my wood chunks at the beginning, when I placed the basket in the UDS, so that the white smoke would be over and done with before I placed the food in the UDS?

3. Is thin blue smoke limited to a temperature range? like 225-275F?

Thanks,
John
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Unread 07-26-2010, 07:57 PM   #2
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I'm still new to smoking in an official sense; been smoking on a weber kettle for years though. I just recently built an ECB which is turning out to be very reliable. From what I have read here and discovered through trial and error over the years is to mix the wood in with the charcoal instead of adding it to the already lit charcoal. I'm not sure if it applies to UDS cookers but this works well with the minion method that is mentioned all over this site. That is filling your charcoal pan with unlit briquettes and smoke wood and placing a few lit briquettes on top. This results in a more predictable burn and only a very short period of heavy white smoke before the cooker stabilizes. I've got about a dozen burns on my new setup and turned out some pretty good Q with very little maintenance on my part.

On a completely unrelated note... Are you THE John Palmer of How to Brew the book? I saw a previous post of yours on aluminum and just put that together with your first name and screen name. Could be just a coincidence.

Cheers,
Jason
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Unread 07-26-2010, 08:06 PM   #3
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Well I just saw your signature and answered my own question. I read an article by you a few years back in BYO mag on brewing metallurgy. Excellent stuff. I then bought your book... wow. I've been brewing for 12 + years now and yours and Charlie Paps books are my go to guides and the only books I recommend to starting out brewers. It's a pleasure to talk to you and see you on this forum.

Cheers,
Jason
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Unread 07-26-2010, 08:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
I checked the temperature and it was down to about 275F. The smoke was still whiteish/grayish. I was thinking that anytime you open a UDS to add wood that you will probably get white smoke for a while until the wood heats up. Eventually I did achieve thin blue smoke
Happens to me all the time. i put on three chunks of wood before the food and in 3 or so minutes, i saw thin blue smoke. So i thought to myself, time to put the food on. So i waited 15 minutes to be safe. still TBS. I took the roast out side, opend the lid put the roast on. A 30 second process. Right when i put the lid on, with in 1 minute, white, gray and interlaced with blue smoke was bellowing out. i was like WTF... after 10 minutes, back to TBS for about 2 minutes then no smoke. That is when i was mad because its like i had 2 min of TBS vs 8 of the other. AND my temps were perfect, 275... I had the chunks on the edge of the fire rather than the center so they dont just catch and burn.
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Unread 07-26-2010, 08:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigfootinindiana View Post
I'm still new to smoking in an official sense; been smoking on a weber kettle for years though. I just recently built an ECB which is turning out to be very reliable. From what I have read here and discovered through trial and error over the years is to mix the wood in with the charcoal instead of adding it to the already lit charcoal. I'm not sure if it applies to UDS cookers but this works well with the minion method that is mentioned all over this site. That is filling your charcoal pan with unlit briquettes and smoke wood and placing a few lit briquettes on top. This results in a more predictable burn and only a very short period of heavy white smoke before the cooker stabilizes. I've got about a dozen burns on my new setup and turned out some pretty good Q with very little maintenance on my part.

On a completely unrelated note... Are you THE John Palmer of How to Brew the book? I saw a previous post of yours on aluminum and just put that together with your first name and screen name. Could be just a coincidence.

Cheers,
Jason
Yes. Place unlit coals at the bottom and mix wood chunks in with that. Place the lighted coals on top. The theory is that the burning coals on top will burn off any unwanted gasses from the coals at the bottom as they ignite. Same goes for the wood. All wood will smoke when first ignited. If it is placed below the burning coals it gets a chance to preheat and will ignite more quickly and with less nasty smoke when the fire gets down to it.
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Unread 07-26-2010, 08:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigfootinindiana View Post
That is filling your charcoal pan with unlit briquettes and smoke wood and placing a few lit briquettes on top. This results in a more predictable burn and only a very short period of heavy white smoke before the cooker stabilizes. I've got about a dozen burns on my new setup and turned out some pretty good Q with very little maintenance on my part.
when you say a few lit coals, how much is that in a weber chimney? I usually use 3/4 to a full chimney of lit then pour that on top of me unlit and stir it in with a stick..

thanx
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Unread 07-26-2010, 08:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LT72884 View Post
when you say a few lit coals, how much is that in a weber chimney? I usually use 3/4 to a full chimney of lit then pour that on top of me unlit and stir it in with a stick..

thanx
I put about 15- 20 lit briquettes on my ECB. It takes about 20 minutes to reach 225 with the vents wide open. Hey did you ever get your weber vents figured out?

Cheers,
Jason
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Unread 07-26-2010, 08:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigfootinindiana View Post
I put about 15- 20 lit briquettes on my ECB. It takes about 20 minutes to reach 225 with the vents wide open. Hey did you ever get your weber vents figured out?

Cheers,
Jason
as in for the brinkman smoker? if so, no. they wont let me order more than 1 damper at a time for the OTS, since they only have one damper on the lid. i tried to order the WSM 3 pack but it was 15$ plus 7$ shipping. i called 3 separate times to get them ordered and it was impossible. So im gonna either shank them off of something else or make me own for that price. haha

ok, i need to try the 20 lit coals rather than like 50. I live at like 4900 feet according to me friends GPS so i usually leave the lid off of the UDS for 2 or 3 minutes so that they can heat up

thanx
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Unread 07-26-2010, 08:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
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as in for the brinkman smoker? if so, no. they wont let me order more than 1 damper at a time for the OTS, since they only have one damper on the lid. i tried to order the WSM 3 pack but it was 15$ plus 7$ shipping. i called 3 separate times to get them ordered and it was impossible. So im gonna either shank them off of something else or make me own for that price. haha

ok, i need to try the 20 lit coals rather than like 50. I live at like 4900 feet according to me friends GPS so i usually leave the lid off of the UDS for 2 or 3 minutes so that they can heat up

thanx
Yeah I was the one who told you about the WSM vents in another thread. Sometimes there on ebay too. I dont know about 20 briqs for a UDS, I was referring to my ECB and I thought you were questioning about the ECB you just scored.

Cheers,
Jason
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Unread 07-26-2010, 09:07 PM   #10
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As an owner of two UDS's (one 55 and one 85), I don't even worry about the thin blue smoke anymore. I rarely see it, and I've never had any acrid flavor or weird creosote taste in my que.

Most of the time, once my UDS settles in to whatever temp I'm running, I barely see any smoke at all. There is just a faint trace of smoke.

On a UDS, TBS isn't a must. Don't worry about it.
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Unread 07-26-2010, 09:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigfootinindiana View Post
Yeah I was the one who told you about the WSM vents in another thread. Sometimes there on ebay too. I dont know about 20 briqs for a UDS, I was referring to my ECB and I thought you were questioning about the ECB you just scored.

Cheers,
Jason
LOL, ya i messed that part. i really need to get the ECb up and runnin. Ya i fifgured it was you that told me about the parts. im gonna search around here and what not.

thanx
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Unread 07-26-2010, 10:09 PM   #12
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I know alot of folks use the Minion method (or fire wicking) in their UDS, I prefer to light all my charcoal (lump or briquettes) completely gray before loading.

I fire all the charcoal gray, load the UDS, choke down temps and airflow until it's stable. The entire process takes me less than 30 minutes normally. Lighting it all, choking it back has NOT reduced my cooking times.

Every time I've tried the Minion/wicking method in my UDS I get tons of white smoke.

As another poster noted though - once my UDS is rolling/cooking I don't usually see any smoke at all. Once the meats I'm smoking are getting closer to done and the juices are really dripping I get plenty of steam/smoke - sometimes looks white (but no where near as nasty as white smoke from charcoal)
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Unread 07-26-2010, 10:32 PM   #13
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I switched from briquettes to lump and mix the wood chunks/chips in the basket. I use the HF weed burner ( now on coupon sale for 12.99) to light the top of the charcoal. when the temp gets to about 150, I put the meat on and start throttling back the air intake. I don't get the white smoke with lump like I got with the briquettes.

I also have a 2in. inlet with an elbow to stir the air. I put a 2 - 3 foot pipe on the outlet bung to create a draft.
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Unread 07-26-2010, 11:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by EatRBBQ View Post
I know alot of folks use the Minion method (or fire wicking) in their UDS, I prefer to light all my charcoal (lump or briquettes) completely gray before loading.

I fire all the charcoal gray, load the UDS, choke down temps and airflow until it's stable. The entire process takes me less than 30 minutes normally. Lighting it all, choking it back has NOT reduced my cooking times.

Every time I've tried the Minion/wicking method in my UDS I get tons of white smoke.

As another poster noted though - once my UDS is rolling/cooking I don't usually see any smoke at all. Once the meats I'm smoking are getting closer to done and the juices are really dripping I get plenty of steam/smoke - sometimes looks white (but no where near as nasty as white smoke from charcoal)
so you light like a whole chimney and then use that. so i take it, that you have to replace fuel every few hours?
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Unread 07-27-2010, 12:47 AM   #15
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Get an offset...:))
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