More Thin Blue Smoke Discussion

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by papajoe8, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. I have a Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24' LP vertical water smoker.  I had done a couple of longer smokes in which I kept filling my wood tray up with soaked wood and letting them smoke until they were ash.  I think I only saw TBS just before the wood smoldered down to nothing while cooking at about 200-225.  On this last smoke (3 hours to make a couple chickens), I decided to follow some forum advice and only put in a few handfuls of wood at a time.  They needed to be replenished about every half hour while cooking around 225-275.  There were periods of thicker (not really thick) white smoke and periods of thin blue smoke.

    From what I've been reading it seems like it's ok (and maybe preferable) to just be able to smell the smoke and not even see the TBS.  Any comments on that?  If true then I may have only had to refill my wood tray once or twice.  Also, some people have commented on not presoaking the wood.  Any input there?

    The part that really got me was at the end when I was trying to crisp the chicken skin.  I turned up the heat to 300-325 and the charcoal at the bottom of the wood tray started to smolder and give me this for the last 15 minutes:

    That was perfect.  My thought is that the charcoals give a nicer tbs, but I'm not sure why it took such a high temperature to get it.  I am only using the thermometer in the door, so I realize it could be off by a wide margin, but my chicken cooked perfectly and couldn't have been that far off.  (Incidentally, it had a rich smoky flavor.  So does it really matter?  But I'm curious as to how much better it would be if it was seasoned with right amount of smoke).  Temperature issues will be remedied soon when I get my Thermoworks thermocouple (on backorder).  I will comment on that when it comes in!

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi Joe!!

    Any amount of smoke is good between only smelling it and medium, but heavy smoke is not good. By heavy I mean hardly able to see anything through a glass door, or when you open the door.

    I've seen white smoke so thick it actually had a yellow tint.

    When I first started smoking, I soaked my chips & chunks, but I soon learned it did nothing beneficial.

  3. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Most of the white smoke you were seeing was probably steam given off by the wet wood. When you soak wood it will steam before actually producing smoke. Soaking just delays the smoking process.
    If you want perfect TBS in that propane unit you might look into an AMNTS!
  4. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Wet wood allows for more creosote to be deposited on the meat...say NO to soaking wood.
  5. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    AMNPS are great for dry chamber, but can be a challenge in wet chambers. I have one and love it!!!!!
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    PapaJoe8, I have a Browning Smoke Vault 24 (identical to the Camp Chef in most all respects). To extend your smoke time try a mix of chips and chinks (no soaking). The chips will start smoking earlier than the chunks to get your smoke started, while the chunks start slower and last much longer. One or two handfuls of chips and 3-4 chunks in the 2" x 3" to 2" x 4" range will last for 5-6 hours or more, depending on burner setting (ambient temp and target smoke chamber temp). Adding chips frequently will produce heavy smoke, as chips burn faster than chunks due to having more surface area.

    There is really no need to sweat white smoke and it is a normal part of the onset of smoke. You don't really want a heavy white smoke for the duration of cooking when hot-smoking meats, as it will create a stronger flavor...maybe this is to your liking, maybe it is not. There are uses for thin blue smoke, just as there are for thick white smoke. The main thing with typical hot-smoking is to keep the smoke flowing through the smoke chamber so it doesn't create a stale smoke. This goes hand in hand with needing ventilation to keep your fire burning and heat flowing through the smoke chamber as well.

    Here's something you may want to look through...lots of research went into this, so feel free to take advantage of what others have done to pave the road for us...I found that much of this fell right into the groove of what I had experienced or experimented with in the past few years, and it explains the subject far better than I could ever hope to:

  7. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member


    To say you should only use one type of smoke is like saying you should only drink one kind of wine.  As in wine, some are quenchers and others are sippers.

    Smoke color can depend on your smoker among other things.  One type may take several ounces of wood while others may only require two ounces while achieving the same results.

    Depending on the product being smoked, I will use different colors and density's of smoke.  Products that are going to have smoke applied for long periods will most likely benefit from a lighter smoke, while those that are going to be smoked for shorter periods may benefit from a heavier smoke.

      Keep in mind, my smoking arsenal includes a half dozen smokers and unlimited food products are smoked in them.  Many forum members are limited to one smoker and in turn may smoke a limited amount of items, for example, briskets, butts, ribs, chicken and smoke during the entire cooking period, thus requiring a lighter smoke.

     A heavier white smoke will lay on your product at a faster rate than a light smoke will due to the heavier particles in the white smoke, therefore the heavier smoke is less forgiving and easier to apply too much smoke.  This usually will result in complaints of white smoke being bad.

    There are those who only use thin smoke with their smokers and then there are  others who only use the thicker white smoke. It's been my observance on this forum that there is little discussion on the use of the thicker white smoke.  When mentioned it is normally quickly put down as a curse.  I can see where there may be those who don't dare join in on discussions for fear of being put down, most likely from less experienced smokers or ones with limited equipment.

    Take the time and learn your smoker. There are smokers that will only produce white smoke for a period of time and this is usually by design as they normally use less wood for shorter amounts of time. Take good notes which include the type of wood and it's placement, smoke density and color along with the time the smoke was generated.  You may very well find that a thin smoke fits your needs and taste best.  Just learn to use the smoke that your smoker produces and make adjustments if needed later.

    To me, when someone says "One color of smoke is the only one to use" it's like when someone says "The world will end tomorrow".  I can select and pour a glass of wine (preferably smoked) shake my head and smile.

    Most of all, have fun and enjoy your smokes.

  8. Thank you all for all the great info!  Smoking is certainly an art and a science and in the end it's the result and the enjoyment in getting that result that counts.  I will think on all this input and be putting it into application in the next smoke.  Feel free to keep the thread going; I am learning from and enjoying the discussion.  Incidentally, I'd like to hear from the people who use thick white smoke regularly (on purpose) and the applications in which they use it.

  9. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Tom is the King of Smoke and knows his stuff.  He's dead on about the size of smoke particles.  White smoke has the largest particles, gray smoke is smaller and TBS is the smallest.  White is definitely the least forgiving.
  10. Nobody soaks their wood anymore, haha where have I been? 
  11. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    You've been hanging with the same folks that think searing a steak locks in juices...[​IMG]
  12. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Joe, If you want to experiment with smoke and I encourage it, the following thread will be a good place to start.  Basically there are three things to watch and keep track of, smoke color, density and time. By changing any one of the three, different results will be produced giving you a good idea as to what each does and how a change effects your product. 

    The following can be accomplished by using virtually any smoker or smoke generator at minimal expense, no need to spend a lot of money here.  The results of your test can then be applied on meat or other products.

    Smoked Bread,Crackers and Snacks

    I will post applications of white smoke later, honey do stuff is keeping me busy.

    Have fun.

  13. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, but you should be buttering up corn, not me.

  14. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    I tried soaking my chips or chunks...I quit soaking them. Then I quit using chips. They have their applications but are not needed for what I do. If at all possible use chunks. These 2 pointers will get you pretty close to TBS if you use the wood sparingly and only when it's needed.
  15. I'd fall into the inexperienced and limited equipment pigeon hole, so I thought I would start reading up some.  

    I came across a site that says a lower ignition temperature is generally favorable when smoking, as higher temperatures break down the molecules in smoke, producing the nasty tasting ones.  I guess you would also like the lower temperatures with 'low and slow'.

    However it then goes on to say, that 'soaking' wood requires a higher ignition temperature and thus produces a hotter fire / smoke environment.  I've not read (and remembered) any threads of a similar vein and wanted to know what you guys thought.

  16. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Gary whom ever wrote that i wouldn't want to eat their food!  lol   I don't know where to start with what they wrote.

    Let's just put it this way...forget everything you learned and listen to this board. 
  17. Yup I will, far better to trust someone whose actually done it, over and over, rather than a generalisation, just curious though.  Thanks FWIsmoker.

  18. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Most all items that are smoked using a light smoke can be smoked using a heavier smoke with caution. There are also products that will only benefit from heavy smoke due to the short time required in the smoke. Without going into great detail, here are some of the products that can be smoked using a heavier smoke.  The times may depend on your personal taste. The times represent the time the smoke is applied. 


    Breads, fresh, sliced -  cold smoke, one to two minutes will apply plenty of flavor.

    Chips, Flat Breads, Crackers,  - cold smoke, 5 to 20 minutes.

    Chicken,   - Hot smoke - 30 minutes to 1 hour.

    Cheeses,  soft - cold smoke, 30 minutes to one hour.

    Cheeses, hard - cold smoke,  I smoke to a desired color not by time.

    Grilled meats - normally the duration of the cook.

    Mushrooms, fresh - cold smoke, two to five minutes.

    Nuts - hot or cold smoke, 30 minutes.

    Oysters, fresh, for shooters - cold smoke, two minutes.

    Ribs - hot smoke, one hour.

    Sushi Rolls, sliced - cold smoke, two to three minutes.

    Shrimp, cooked, cold for shrimp cocktail - cold smoke, two minutes.

    Vegetables, grilled - Hot smoke, 5 to 10 minutes or duration of cooking time.

    Vegetables, fresh  - 5 to 15 minutes depending on application.

    The list can of course go on without including sauces and liquids, but this should give you an idea how I use a heavier smoke.

  19. Hi Joe,

    To go all the way back to your original questions..... I think you got the TBS like a stick burner at the very end as you were out of damp smoking fuel and h2o so there was no steam. Easy to do at 325

    Feel the smoke! Stick your hand CAREFULLY into the exhaust of your pit. IF YOU ARE COOKING AT 225 this should be perfectly safe. BE SURE BEFORE YOU SCALD YOUR HAND, remember steam carries a whole lot more heat energy than dry air does. You will instantly feel the moisture if its steam like most of us seem to think.  You can then pull a handful of smoke to your face and get a whiff. Do that for a few smokes and you will be well on your way to knowing what is going on inside. Hardest part of going to a bigger pit was not being able to feel the smoke anymore.....but I gotta say, the food is a lot different when cooked over wood and coals :)

    YMMV, keep on smokin...

  20. As a follow up, I smoked today changing 2 variables based on all the information given (scientific method be damned).  I used much larger wood chunks (about 6-8 of them) and did not soak them.  I got beautiful TBS for a good two hours before I had to add a little more (1 or 2 chunks) to get the smoke I needed until the meat reached 140.  That absolutely did the trick, TBS the whole time.  The meat had a somewhat milder smoke flavor but ended up being just right in this application.  Here is today's pic (note my new Thermoworks thermocouple...AWESOME!):


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