I made a charcoal snake for my side-firebox awhile back. It is post #10 in this thread:
It does greatly reduce the amount of charcoal I need, but I can never get thin blue smoke, or no smoke at all. I think it's because it's always heating up and lighting new fuel, so it's always smoking some from this new fuel. I use Stubbs charcoal, or Royal Oak lump, and I throw some very seasoned post oak on top. I did this a couple times, but I'm so paranoid about creosote from my first botched smoke, that I've given up the snake, and now just use the old fashioned: "put a few briquettes on every now and then, or a hot chimney full" method.
Basically, I want this snake to work. But I can't get it to be smokeless when I'm going for 200-225* smoker temps. Is this just reaching for something that is impossible? I mean how can you use the snake, or even use wood for that matter, and damp the firebox down low enough to achieve 225* smoker temp without creating a lot of smoke as a by-product?? I mean, you're basically snuffing out the fire by trying to get smoker temps that low. It's not always a bellowing smoke, but it is always a thick, white smoke if I try to use the snake with charcoal and bits of wood at low smoker temps.
What I have been doing to get around excess smoke on long smokes (like a brisket for example), is cook it with charcoal (no wood) and only add pre-burned coals from the chimney until it's past the stall. Then I foil it and finish it off with wood, when I know the smoke can't get to the meat.
P.S. - Yes, the exhaust is always wide open. The wood is dry and very seasoned. I use Stubbs briquettes, or Royal Oak lump.
Thanks in advance for the help. Let me know if I need to clarify something.