I am going to attempt my first some this weekend, but a little voice kept telling me to practice starting and controlling the fire first before trying to cook any meat. I have read up and watched hundreds of tutorials on how to start a fire in an offset smoker and how to control the temp once the fire has started. But for some reason I am getting 100% billowing white smoke no matter how long I let the fire burn. No TBS in sight. I am using a CharBroil offset smoker (I don't know the name/model number because I got it back in 2005, so I'm sure it's not one of the models available for purchase now). I started with the minion method using charcoal in my charcoal basket. I had white smoke then, but I'm sure that is to be expected when using 100% charcoal. Once all the coals ashed over I added 2 logs of oak wood (I plan on using oak wood logs and apple wood chunks this weekend, but I didn't think it was necessary to try any chunks yet until I can get the fire managed). The oak immediately caught and I closed the firebox and put the damper at 50% I let the wood burn for about 15 minutes thinking that would be enough time to start seeing thinner smoke, if not TBS. But no... nothing but thick white smoke. Granted, I do have several smoke leaks with the cooking chamber but I don't think that should have anything to do with the continuous white smoke. Also, I can't get the temp under control either. I am getting constant readings in the 320+ range, when the goal was to maintain a temp of about 260 - 275. I even have the damper and the smoke stack completely closed and I'm still seeing these high temps.
I am guessing the reason for the white smoke and high temps is due to one of one of these problems:
1. I used too much charcoal to start my fire
2. I put too much wood on the fire
Bottom line is I think I built a fire that was too big for what I'm trying to do. If I cut back on the charcoal and wood, do you think I will be able to get manageable temps and TBS? My biggest concern is the absence of TBS. I don't want to run into this problem again this weekend. In a way I am glad I did a test run today, but at the same time now I'm afraid to try again this weekend because I don't want to ruin the meat with all this white smoke and high temps. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!