Creosote problem

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by canajun bacon, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. So i built this smoker a couple of weeks ago...

    So far I've done about half a dozen smokes in it, with varying results. I'm finding that the colder smokes like salmon and bacon have turned out really well, having great flavor and nice amount of smoke. On the other hand my hotter smokes that I've done (Ribs and Pork shoulder) have come out tasting like what I'm assuming is creosote. The ribs were just terrible, but the pork was manageable but I still had to basically throw away all the bark which I'm sure you'd all agree is very depressing.

    The smoker has an element out of a 1000w hotplate (too big?), that is hooked up to its own rheostat but I could only find one that was 600w, as well as an oven thermometer to maintain the ambient air temp. I'm wondering if there's something that I can do to remedy this situation with the things that I have already, or if I'm going to have to do something such as have the wood on a separate burner since I'm assuming that the issue is that to maintain the internal temperature, the burner is running way to hot and producing bad smoke. I've tried dialing the burner back with the rheostat but then I have issues with my temp.

    Will a PID controller help my situation or is it just a matter of tweaking or adding some things? I should also mention that I'm not entirely sure if the stack is the right size. its 4.5" and 5" tall

    Smoker dimensions are 36" tall x 19" wide x 16" deep

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


    The bacon was really good, but can't help but think it might have been better without this problem

    Fish was delicious, but thinking the sweetness may have offset the flavor in my favor

    Pork shoulder, delicious on the inside but not so much on the outside

  2. redneck69

    redneck69 Smoking Fanatic

    nice lil build...wish i could help out on your patient and some one with a bit more experience should be on in a bit to help out
  3. If it's creosote the problem is too much smoke and / or poor air flow. If you wood source is too close to the heat source it might cause heavy smoke. Just some ideas that might help. I can't tell from the picture but what is the size of your air inflow?
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
    canajun bacon likes this.
  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I would get an AMNPS, and never have a smoking problem again.

    Heat is an entirely different thing. You shouldn't have to regulate your heat to adjust your smoke.

    The AMNPS will solve your problem, and make smoking meat the pleasure it should be.

    canajun bacon likes this.
  5. The airflow is a slide damper at the back of the unit fully open it measures 3"x 9". The problem is if its windy it drops my ambient temp too much, maybe some sort of wind shield will help. I think you may have hit the nail on the head with the chips being too close to the heat source too. I think I'm going to try raising my chip pan off of the element a bit. I've tried using a heavier pan for the chips but it seemed to store too much heat and it took forever to cycle.

    Thanks for the input Fish Killer

    -Back to the drawing board
  6. I hear ya bear, I'm just stubborn, lol. You're right though, Think I'm going to order one right now in fact.

    thanks for the help

  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's alright Mike-----I just hate to see peeps suffering, when there's an easier way. I'd be lost without my AMNS & AMNPS.

    You'll never regret ordering one!!

  8. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What does the smoke look like that is coming out of your top vent? Is it bellowing white that's you can hardly see through or is it a thin blue/grey smoke that you can barely see? If you answer is the first one, then you have way to much smoke going. The second discription is what we strive for.

    Please go into more detail about your set up. Where do you put your wood? What do you put your wood in-(ie: pie pan or cast iron box)? What are you using for wood-i.e. chips or chunks? Is your top vent open all the way?
  9. Yeah the smoke for the most part is fairly thin, but it's not consistent, a couple times that I checked it the smoke looked like it was a bit too thick so I opened the flue more to clear it out. You may have noticed that I have a 2nd door made from tempered glass that is sealed, so I can get a good idea of how thick the smoke is in the chamber. I don't have a picture of it with smoke in it yet, but Its definitely not TBS. My wood is chips, that are placed in a fairly thick pie pan that is placed directly on the element, which I've realized is most likely a large part of the problem. I tried using a cast iron pan but it stored way too much heat in the iron and would take about an half an hour to turn back on, storing more heat each time it fired. I think it would help if i made something that supported the pan so that it's off of the burner. The top vent has been completely open for the last few smokes, as well as a flue that I built into the back of the unit, that you can see near the bottom of the smoker. Problem with opening the flue is it affects the ambient air temp and makes the element cycle more often, which burns chips that much faster.

    I'm guessing part of the problem is having only one heat source for my temp and my burn. Which is why I'm looking into the AMNPS. I'm just not sure where in the cabinet would be a good place to put the basket. May have to look into building a smoke generator to put onto the side of the unit.

    I have bacon curing right now that has another 5 days to go, so I'm just getting a little stressed out about the upcoming smoke this weekend, so hopefully I can get something figured out by then, even if its just a temporary fix. My last bacon turned out really good, maybe due to the lower required temperature, I just don't want to take any chances. Inedible bacon makes me sad.

    Thanks for any input

  10. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    The problem is not that the burner is touching the pan.  You are using too much wood, try using a chunk rather than chips as it will burn lighter and slower or simply cut the time you are applying smoke.  Shut the vent down as you are allowing heat to escape.  All is needed is enough air flow to allow circulation around your product.

    canajun bacon likes this.
  11. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ok, thanks for the additional info. First off, with any type of smoker, do not close the exhaust vent or flue. Restricting the smoke from exiting is one of the leading causing for creosote. Your air intake should be used to control the smoke flow. In my EUDS (electric ugly drum smoker) I use a couple of vienna sausage can sized wood chunks and in my propane fired GOSM, I use a couple of tuna sausage can sized wood chunks, they last about 45-50 minutes before needing to replenished.
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If anyone's interested, I'll tell you what I have noticed about all electric smokers with built in chip burners.

    If it's working at all:

    When you put chips in to start, for awhile you have no smoke, until it gets going.

    Then for a very short time you have TBS.

    Which soon turns into too much smoke for a fair amount of time.

    Until it starts dying down, which changes into TBS for another short time.

    Until it dies down into NO SMOKE.

    Then it's time to put more chips in, and start that whole cycle over again.

    You can put a larger amount of chips in, and the TOO HEAVY smoke will last longer, and the TBS will also last a little longer.

    If the pan is too close to the element, the chips will more than likely flare up on you.

    If the chip pan is too far from the element, the chips won't start smoking until the smoker gets into the 200* to 240* range, if it smokes at all.

    You will also have the problem of smoking while the element is on and No Smoke while the element is off.

    This is not just MES, this is all electric smokers-----It's just the nature of the beast.

    When you use an AMNS or an AMNPS, the maze of channels have been calculated & tested many times so that the right amount of smoke will come from the burning of the Dust or Pellets. It took Todd a lot of experimenting to get his little miracle Amazing Smokers just right. They will maintain the perfect amount of smoke for up to 12 hours, before having to be refilled.

  13. Ha, yup that sounds exactly like my smoker.
  14. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    With all due respect Bear, I simply don't seem to have the problems that you are encountering with my Cookshacks.  With more than 50 years of building high quality smokers, I feel they have a pretty good idea what is needed to smoke foods.  No matter what electric smoker used, commercial or homemade, one should take the time and learn how to use it and it's peculiarities as each is different.

    With all respect to Todd for the time and effort designing his products, the Amazin products are good for long slow cooks were a light smoke over a long period is desired, but I have found it best to place the AMNPS in a outside collector and feed the smoke into the smoker to avoid an abundance of creosote.

  15. dcarch

    dcarch Smoking Fanatic

    "------The smoker has an element out of a 1000w hotplate (too big?), that is hooked up to its own rheostat but I could only find one that was 600w, as well as an oven thermometer to maintain the ambient air temp."

    I am not sure that is a rheostat. A rheostat for 1,000 watts would be king of expensive.

    An oven thermostat (Capillary type) is not very accurate. + - 15 to 25 degrees off, and it only can turn the heating element on or off, no in  between settings.

    You can get a router motor speed controller ($20.00), which many are rated at 2,000 watts to control the power from 0 to 100%.

  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Some do better than others, but if you can get 12 hours of perfect smoke without touching it with a cookshack electric (like my Son had for 5 years), I'll eat the smoker.

    My AMNS and my AMNPS work perfectly from the support rods on the bottom, inside my MES 40, and they worked perfectly in my MES 30, until I sold it.

    NO electric chip burner could possibly light with perfect smoke, stay lit with perfect smoke, and taper off with perfect smoke. It's just the nature of wood & fire-----Starts out light, gets heavier, tapers off & goes out, unless you put more in to go through the cycle again. Many people----Make that "Some People" smoke with just the MES chip burner, but not as easily or as consistently as with the Amazings. If you want more smoke from an AMNPS, light both ends. I never found it necessary.

    BTW: I never get creosote from any of my Amazings.

    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  17. dan - firecraft

    dan - firecraft Smoke Blower

    Just my 2 cents...I agree with some of the above.

    For shorter cooks I usually use chips and for longer cooks I use chunks.

    Usually with bitter flavor it is going to be too much smoke or bad (white) smoke.

    If you are burning clean (thin and blue) then just pull back on the amount of smoke you are using.

    2-3 hrs for ribs and 160-165 for shoulder.

    Give it a shot and let us know!
  18. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    What is the perfect smoke?   I look at smoke as a seasoning and use it according to what is being cooked.  It's my feeling that the color and density of the smoke depends on the product being smoked. I can't think of anything that I would want to smoke with a heavier smoke for 12 hours.  For example, a very good smoke flavor can be achieved on a pork butt by placing 4 oz. of hickory chunks in one of my Cookshacks and cooked at 225° for approx. 12 hours, no need to reload.  If chunks were continually added throughout the smoke, it would most likely be inedible.  On the other hand, using a AMNPS in your MES for 12 hours may be producing the same finished product.  This is why I try to promote learning your smoker.  One certainly wouldn't want to place ten or more pans of chips in a Little Chief while doing a pork butt.

    It's been my observation that when a recipe states for example "smoke chicken at 250°to an internal temp of 165°" without stating the details of the smoke being applied, many will smoke using a heavy smoke for the entire cook, then complain that it was over smoked. 

    If there is a perfect smoke, I have yet to find it.  I use the thin smoke from my AMNPS for long cold smokes on hams and pork bellies.  It would be almost useless when smoking fresh breads, vegetables and liquids.

    As for the AMNPS not producing creosote, I find myself cleaning brown residue or creosote from the glass on my cold smoker more often using it in the smoker than using it externally.  I did the following test in order to answer some of my own questions.   AMNPS & Smoke Daddy Myths?

    Canajun Bacon,

    Some chip manufactures recommend soaking the chips prior to use.  These can be used, but with the understanding that the damp chips will apply moisture to the surface of your product.  This in turn will collect more smoke particles than a dry surface would.  Because of this action a shorter smoking time should be considered.  Do a few test using different fuels. Chunks will help produce the smoke that Bear likes, but you can also change your smoking time periods when using other fuels.

    If it can be consumed it can be smoked, so don't get stuck in the pork, poultry, beef and fish circle.  Experiment and have fun so all can enjoy.

  19. dcarch

    dcarch Smoking Fanatic

    No problem for me, ---------------I use Liquid Smoke. 

    (kidding! [​IMG])

  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm not going to sit here and argue. I have already expressed my opinion, which is all anyone has on this.

    About 95% or more of people who used the Amazings have not gone back to using their electric smoker's chip burners.

    Also about 95% of people who have used the Smoke Daddy have gone to an Amazing since.

    If you're getting creosote from an AMNPS, maybe you should learn how to use it, like you say to all the 95% of the people who disagree with you.

    As for "Perfect Smoke", I consider a light to medium smoke as Perfect. It's not that narrow a range of amount of smoke. No smoke is too little & heavy smoke is too much for any meat. I use my light to medium smoke on all meats from start to finish, as long as it's not foiled, such as the first 2 or 3 hours on Ribs, all of the hours on Bacon, and up to 165* IT on butts & other meats that get foiled.

    I've probably had thousands who have followed my Step by Steps, which includes how I smoke, and haven't had any complaints yet.

    I've expressed my opinion, so I'm done with this discussion.


Share This Page