PDA

View Full Version : Smoke control


jhnarial
11-20-2010, 10:42 PM
I am new to smoking but not to toot my own horn, I have been having some really good results. I still have a lot to learn but I have found my own taste and I am pleased with it. I also have become familiar with my smoker and can run it at 250dg all day if need be.

All that being said my BBQ still sucked until I understood, I did not want a thick white smoke barreling out the stack. A nice thin blue haze smoke is the ticket.

That made all the difference in the world. No more bitter taste just sweet BBQ.

Midnight Smoke
11-20-2010, 10:49 PM
Congrats on trying and learning. Sounds like you are on your way to some great cooks!

bigabyte
11-20-2010, 10:54 PM
You just learned the secret to great tasting BBQ. The rest is just seasoning and other special techniques to make a good product better. Congrats!:cool:

jhnarial
11-20-2010, 11:01 PM
OK now I have to ask

I did some butts, light blue haze smoke with cherry chunks. Smoke ring dug in 1/2'' to 3/4'' and was fantastic. Bone fell out:clap2:

Next smoke I used split logs and could not control my smoke very well. Heavy white smoke through out the cook. Smoke ring dug in a 1/8'' at best. Hard to pull out the bone:crazy:. Meat was bitter and being my biggest critic I would say that it pretty much su--ed:icon_blush:.

Went back to the chunks same procedure controlled the smoke very well and it turned out fantastic and my guest did not speak a word while they were eating it but I seen there pleasure.

I might be tooting my horn but I went through a lot of bad cooks before i read and learned this ah ha moment.:thumb:

Smoke On

Jay Bird
11-20-2010, 11:01 PM
You done good. All praise the blue smoke.

chillcoolcold
11-20-2010, 11:12 PM
Yes sir!! light smoke Not Yellow Not Black I had to clean my whole smoker the first few times. Not now. I keep the fire box hot I pre-heat the charcoal and I put (1) wood chunk in at a time about 1" away from the coals.

jhnarial
11-20-2010, 11:23 PM
Pron:laugh:

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_4JGokxDRUJ0/TLt7TsT0DdI/AAAAAAAAFoc/6Bz6ZhQdG-A/s640/BBQ%20117.jpg


http://lh4.ggpht.com/_4JGokxDRUJ0/TLt7U5Lxn8I/AAAAAAAAFog/Tx60MLxgafw/s640/BBQ%20119.jpg

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_4JGokxDRUJ0/TOCBgZo1-AI/AAAAAAAAFs0/ObZEYCQmveU/BBQ%20144.jpg

Also another revelation. Do not just serve your pulled pork, wrap in tinfoil set in cooler for a couple of hours. All info I found here.

Thanks for the info. I am now all in Brethren

bigabyte
11-20-2010, 11:26 PM
The reason you had such a big change between chunks and logs is really air.

A wood fire is the result of a chemical reaction from wood being heated in the presence of air (oxygen specifically). As the wood heats up, it begins to break down into mostly gases and some solids. These gases (and the finer solid particles) escape from the wood, and if there is enough heat and air present, then most of these gases will ignite producing flame, and are thus burned up. If there is either not enough heat or air present, then these gases and solids will simply float away from the fire and are visible as a thick smoke. The compounds contained in that thick smoke that were not burned up contain lots of nasty stuff, one of which is creosote, which will stick to the walls of your cooker, and also stick to your food, giving it a bitter, nasty taste, and in really bad cases will even make your lips/tongue feel numb and give you a real bad case of the chits.

Alternatively, a good clean burning fire will have the wood burning clean, which means it has all of the air it wants to burn clean and hot. A small clean burning fire will give you thin blue smoke, the sign your fire is burning clean.

A common mistake people make is overloading their cooker with too much fuel. This makes a situation where the amount of fuel can not get hot enough to burn clean without making the cooker too hot. So the operator closes down the air intakes to keep the temps down, but this causes the wood to not have enough air to burn cleanly, and it will pour out a thick smoke.

For any offset cooker, the trick is to have a small clean burning fire that will put your cooker at the temp it wants to run at. One way to make sure you can't screw that up is to leave your intakes open wide, this forces you to control your cooker temps solely by the amount of fuel burning in the firebox. You don't have to run it this way all the time, but it is a good way to learn about how to run your cooker and what size fire you whould run in it.

For a vertical cooker, like a UDS, WSM, Backwoods, etc, your fuel will be basically charcoal. The smoke will come from just a few (not many at all really) chunks dispersed throughout the charcoal, and using the Minion method to burn. The intakes will be dialed in to the temp you want to run the cooker at, and the fire will smolder thoughout the charcoal, occasionally hitting a piece of wood. Now, granted, this piece of wood is not necessarily burning as efficiently as it can, but it is a small amount of wood, thus there is plenty of heat and air around to take care of what comes off of it, and any nasty stuff remaining will be in such a small amount you won't notice it on your food, and your cooker walls will take several cooks before you see a build up of creosote, if at all. If you add too many chunks in one of these kinds of cookers, you will start to see a thicker smoke coming out, and the food will taste worse for it.

Hope that helps. Remember, let the fire get as much air as it needs to let the wood in your cooker burn clean. Use more charcoal and less wood if necessary. I'm going to guess your cooker is not big enough to burn split logs efficiently without it running too hot, either that or you put too many split logs in. either way, same result, too much fuel and not enough air.

SmokinGuitarPlayer
11-20-2010, 11:28 PM
Very good explanation!

jhnarial
11-20-2010, 11:36 PM
Chris

That is some serious information. Logged it in the back of my head. I seen it about the same way from the result difference.

I do have a question. You have this light blue smoke that just digs into your meat. Does the heavy white smoke just bounce off of the meat?

Big difference in taste, that is for sure. It also shows dramatically in your smoke ring.

chillcoolcold
11-20-2010, 11:44 PM
The reason you had such a big change between chunks and logs is really air.

A wood fire is the result of a chemical reaction from wood being heated in the presence of air (oxygen specifically). As the wood heats up, it begins to break down into mostly gases and some solids. These gases (and the finer solid particles) escape from the wood, and if there is enough heat and air present, then most of these gases will ignite producing flame, and are thus burned up. If there is either not enough heat or air present, then these gases and solids will simply float away from the fire and are visible as a thick smoke. The compounds contained in that thick smoke that were not burned up contain lots of nasty stuff, one of which is creosote, which will stick to the walls of your cooker, and also stick to your food, giving it a bitter, nasty taste, and in really bad cases will even make your lips/tongue feel numb and give you a real bad case of the chits.

Alternatively, a good clean burning fire will have the wood burning clean, which means it has all of the air it wants to burn clean and hot. A small clean burning fire will give you thin blue smoke, the sign your fire is burning clean.

A common mistake people make is overloading their cooker with too much fuel. This makes a situation where the amount of fuel can not get hot enough to burn clean without making the cooker too hot. So the operator closes down the air intakes to keep the temps down, but this causes the wood to not have enough air to burn cleanly, and it will pour out a thick smoke.

For any offset cooker, the trick is to have a small clean burning fire that will put your cooker at the temp it wants to run at. One way to make sure you can't screw that up is to leave your intakes open wide, this forces you to control your cooker temps solely by the amount of fuel burning in the firebox. You don't have to run it this way all the time, but it is a good way to learn about how to run your cooker and what size fire you whould run in it.

For a vertical cooker, like a UDS, WSM, Backwoods, etc, your fuel will be basically charcoal. The smoke will come from just a few (not many at all really) chunks dispersed throughout the charcoal, and using the Minion method to burn. The intakes will be dialed in to the temp you want to run the cooker at, and the fire will smolder thoughout the charcoal, occasionally hitting a piece of wood. Now, granted, this piece of wood is not necessarily burning as efficiently as it can, but it is a small amount of wood, thus there is plenty of heat and air around to take care of what comes off of it, and any nasty stuff remaining will be in such a small amount you won't notice it on your food, and your cooker walls will take several cooks before you see a build up of creosote, if at all. If you add too many chunks in one of these kinds of cookers, you will start to see a thicker smoke coming out, and the food will taste worse for it.

Hope that helps. Remember, let the fire get as much air as it needs to let the wood in your cooker burn clean. Use more charcoal and less wood if necessary. I'm going to guess your cooker is not big enough to burn split logs efficiently without it running too hot, either that or you put too many split logs in. either way, same result, too much fuel and not enough air.


OK Bigabyte

I understood all of that after reading it three times LOL no really three times . I think the case of the chits is #$its Yes? and what is Minion method might I ask?

Thanks in advance

bigabyte
11-20-2010, 11:55 PM
Chris

That is some serious information. Logged it in the back of my head. I seen it about the same way from the result difference.

I do have a question. You have this light blue smoke that just digs into your meat. Does the heavy white smoke just bounce off of the meat?

Big difference in taste, that is for sure. It also shows dramatically in your smoke ring.
Smoke rings are pretty complex really, and trying to find real good info on them is hard to come by. This is why I did some experiments in this thread to learn a bit more about how smoke rings form.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38332

Unfortunately, one of my reference links in there is no longer up on the internet any more, thus not even available on Google Cache (sadly). Luckily, pretty much everything that was at the dead link is available at this link:
http://smokingpit.com/Info/SmokeRing.pdf

Now, in my opinion, the reason you had a varying smoke ring was the amount of Nitrogen Dioxide present. In the clean burning fire, there was sufficient Oxygen present to bond with the Nitrogen from the fire which in turn combined with the moisture on the meat to form Nitric Acid which ultimately formed your smoke ring. In the thick smoke however, there was probably a much lower ratio of Nitrogen Dioxide in the amount of stuff flowing through your cooker, thus less of a smoke ring was formed. This was because extra volume was required to carry all of those other compounds in the smoke, giving an end result of a thinner smoke ring. Again though, this is just my opinion of what probably happened.

bigabyte
11-21-2010, 12:00 AM
OK Bigabyte

I understood all of that after reading it three times LOL no really three times . I think the case of the chits is #$its Yes? and what is Minion method might I ask?

Thanks in advance
:laugh:Sorry about that. Hope it still helped though.

The Minion Method was named after Jim Minion, who is the first person known to come up with the idea. He created this method to run his WSM. The history and instructions for the method are here:
http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/fireup2.html#minion

Now, you can also use this method in other cookers, even offsets. I used to do this in my offset by shoving all my coals to one side of the firebox, and then filling in with unlit fuel. As the lit stuff burned down, it would ignite the unlit fuel next to it. This allowed for a longer burn time between refueling in the offset. Some people even have charcoal baskets for offset specifally made for the Minion Method.

gtr
11-21-2010, 12:23 AM
This thread & the info in it is an excellent example of why I subscribe to this site.
I've learned a great deal about fire/smoke control from reading posts by Bigabyte and others.

When I get some time I want to make a simple expanded metal charcoal basket for my Klose. I have the serpentine one, which I like for lump & chunks, but it's not so good for splits - info I got from this site explained why that's the case.

Will32Rod
11-21-2010, 08:40 AM
Fire Management...Fire Management...Fire Management

If it is thick and white it ain't right...If it is light and blue it is time to Que.

Dave Russell
11-21-2010, 09:01 AM
The reason you had such a big change between chunks and logs is really air.

A wood fire is the result of a chemical reaction from wood being heated in the presence of air (oxygen specifically). As the wood heats up, it begins to break down into mostly gases and some solids. These gases (and the finer solid particles) escape from the wood, and if there is enough heat and air present, then most of these gases will ignite producing flame, and are thus burned up. If there is either not enough heat or air present, then these gases and solids will simply float away from the fire and are visible as a thick smoke. The compounds contained in that thick smoke that were not burned up contain lots of nasty stuff, one of which is creosote, which will stick to the walls of your cooker, and also stick to your food, giving it a bitter, nasty taste, and in really bad cases will even make your lips/tongue feel numb and give you a real bad case of the chits.

Alternatively, a good clean burning fire will have the wood burning clean, which means it has all of the air it wants to burn clean and hot. A small clean burning fire will give you thin blue smoke, the sign your fire is burning clean.

A common mistake people make is overloading their cooker with too much fuel. This makes a situation where the amount of fuel can not get hot enough to burn clean without making the cooker too hot. So the operator closes down the air intakes to keep the temps down, but this causes the wood to not have enough air to burn cleanly, and it will pour out a thick smoke.

For any offset cooker, the trick is to have a small clean burning fire that will put your cooker at the temp it wants to run at. One way to make sure you can't screw that up is to leave your intakes open wide, this forces you to control your cooker temps solely by the amount of fuel burning in the firebox. You don't have to run it this way all the time, but it is a good way to learn about how to run your cooker and what size fire you whould run in it.

For a vertical cooker, like a UDS, WSM, Backwoods, etc, your fuel will be basically charcoal. The smoke will come from just a few (not many at all really) chunks dispersed throughout the charcoal, and using the Minion method to burn. The intakes will be dialed in to the temp you want to run the cooker at, and the fire will smolder thoughout the charcoal, occasionally hitting a piece of wood. Now, granted, this piece of wood is not necessarily burning as efficiently as it can, but it is a small amount of wood, thus there is plenty of heat and air around to take care of what comes off of it, and any nasty stuff remaining will be in such a small amount you won't notice it on your food, and your cooker walls will take several cooks before you see a build up of creosote, if at all. If you add too many chunks in one of these kinds of cookers, you will start to see a thicker smoke coming out, and the food will taste worse for it.

Hope that helps. Remember, let the fire get as much air as it needs to let the wood in your cooker burn clean. Use more charcoal and less wood if necessary. I'm going to guess your cooker is not big enough to burn split logs efficiently without it running too hot, either that or you put too many split logs in. either way, same result, too much fuel and not enough air.

Well said, Chris!

I sold my first offset, a little New Braunfels Silver Smoker, since I couldn't burn a clean fire w/ temps under 250 without a lot of fuss. I later got the "stickburner bug" and got a FB for my Char-griller which I mainly grill on.

Anyway, I learned from a guy here how to set up the charcoal pan upside down flush w/ the FB. Now temps under 250 are a piece of cake w/ the vent wide open and the drawer even pulled out a tad. Sweet smoke and a couple LITTLE splits added every 20 minutes or so, but it works really nice. Was over at Cardiac Cadet's house for a big cook he was doing on his Char-griller. He'd put one little oak and one hickory on at a time, and I tasted the bark off one of the six butts when we wrapped 'em up. Fantastical, (and much better than the bark off his UDS, which we tasted just a few minutes before.)

Sweet stickburning smoke makes INCREDIBLE tasting bark! I still use my wsm for the ease, but the final product isn't as good IMHO.

jhnarial
11-21-2010, 09:20 AM
I just briefed over the links you have given. I can not reply yet I'm still enjoying the read.:clap2: