Originally Posted by Saxfluffer
Thanks for the welcome. I am glad to have joined. The pic comparing the smoke was very helpful. I am using a mix of wood & lump charcoal. For the wood this time around I used a combination of sticks & chunks. I had never used them before, as I just used chinks and charcoal briquettes, but I thought that I would try them this time. I also soak the wood in water before and while I am cooking. Will that make a difference?
Now that I see the difference in the smoke, what is the secret to attaining the blue smoke?
Ahhhh, now we're getting somewhere. First off, stop soaking your wood. Waste of time and it causes a cooler fire that extends the period of yucky white smoke.
High heat and an efficiently burning fire is the secret for attaining blue smoke quickly. Remember the heat triangle: Fuel-Heat-Air. For a fire to burn efficiently all three need to be balance.
An empty firebox has lots of air, but no fuel or heat. Fire up a chimney or two of charcoal, let it get glowing hot (ashed over), then add it to the firebox. Now you have a fire triangle in balance. You can cook at this point once the smoker is up to temp but you won't get much (or any) smoke flavor.
Now you add the wood. The wood is cold. So even though it is a fuel it will pull heat from your existing fire so it can warm up to ignition and start the carbonization process that produces blue smoke. Heat is transferred from the hot coals to the cold wood. If the wood is wet, the water has to boil off before the carbonization process can start. While the wood is heating up and the outside boundary layer is burning inefficiently, that's when you get the white smoke/grey smoke, smoke that is filled with poorly combusted micro particles consisting of solids and liquids. If you have meat in the smoker at this point, all those poorly combusted particles will stick to your meat creating an off taste and blackening your meat.
Once the wood is hot though it starts burning (carbonizing) efficiently and the smoke changes color, taking on a blue tint. Using dry wood chunks around 2"-3" or small splits, say 1" thick and 12" long, helps a fire burn efficiently more quickly. Learning to build an efficient fire, bringing your smoker up to temp, attaining blue smoke, then loading the meat is part of the learning process. It can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes for those blue tints to appear. You can speed up the process by hitting the first cold wood you add to your hot coals with a weed burner or propane torch, or just wait it out. Once you have enough fuel burning efficiently and good air flow through your smoker, adding more wood when necessary will maintain the blue smoke.
Hope that helps.
I would love to have a stick burner but would go broke buying cooking wood for it in my area at $300-$400/cord. I have a 300-500 year old white oak in my backyard that keeps me supplied with wood chunks for now. If or when that tree starts to fail, stick burner here I come!