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Measuring the quality of the smoke...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
As I've mentioned many times before, I am quite the Geek. God made me this way, and I've just come to accept it. So keep that in mind when I ask this:

Is anyone aware of a way to put a value on the quality of smoke that is produced when using specific kinds of fuel: IE Charcoal, Wood, lump, combinations, etc. For example, does a certain PH level of smoke aid in the flavor of specific meats? Are there other methods to quantify this?

As I continue to tinker with my smoker controller program, I'm wanting to expand it to areas other than temperature control, and include "flavor control"....and anything else I can think of.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,
post #2 of 12
I don't know about the pH of smoke. I do know that NakedWhiz.com (http://www.nakedwhiz.com/nwindex.htm) has tested and rated lump charcoal. I know my fire behaves differently depending what brand of lump I'm putting in the CharGriller.

My take on what meats go with what wood is a matter of personal preference. I do not like mesquite smoke flavor on any meat I put in my smoker. (The flames start here) My personal preference is pork done with hickory, beef done with apple, and poultry done with cherry.

I hope I've given you something. I know I didn't answer your question. I'm hoping that if you get those answers that I will learn something new.

There's no shame in being a geek! Embrace it.

Take care, have fun, and do good!


post #3 of 12
My family always called me a geek mecause I was always playing and building computers. Geeks Rule!
post #4 of 12
Hmm hmmm hmmmm... maybe one of the first and simplist things that might be of value for quantification would be density/distribution. Couple photocells and a light source. I'd think they might need to be cleaned regulary due, of course to the nature of the environment. Perhaps a "sample tube" routed outside the main body of the unit, clear Pyrex might be the answer here, using daylight as the light source, photos attached to the outside of the tube?

How bout heat DIFFERENTIAL- from just above the fire to the top of the unit. Give an indication of the drafting process, avoiding "stale smoke" and early warn of low fuel?

I use CO detectors in my security system installs quite often...they actually detect several gasses, but a high CO content might be an indication of a poor burning fuel?

Not sure about a Ph type test/measurement - Biology/organic chem were never my strong suites...heh
post #5 of 12
Geek...The mad scientist of smoking....

I'll smoke your meat for ONE MILLION DOLLARS....Muhahahahahah....biggrin.gif
post #6 of 12
Why not make your own rateing for Smoke ? say a 5 is the best smoke what we all try for "The Thin Blue Smoke" then brake it down from there, or even split it by the type of woods or combos of wood and lump , and do this alot.
Try something new everytime,everyday if you can but at least every weekend, don't forget the brine factor as brining will help meats be penetrated by the smoke,and lets not forget the cuts of meat eather, how does the quality of smoke rated a 5H " the Thin Blue Smoke useing hickory" on a brisket vs a 5M the "Thin Blue Smoke useing Maple" compair to the same smokes on a Bottem Bound Roast
and lets not forget a 5A vs a 5P on ribs.

1= no smoke
2= heavy white billowing smoke
3= white smoke
4= blue smoke
5= very thin blue smoke , can hardly see it but the smell is intense !!
A = apple
H = hickory
O = Oak
P = Pecan
PE = Persimmion
the list is almost endless as you add combos say a 5AO or a 5HPE
Now when your trying this all out don't forget the pics for your fellow Smokin Geeks as we will all want to rate your work HAHAHAHAHAHA .
post #7 of 12
I don't know much about the science stuff, but I do know that the EPA has standards for emissions of smoke (industrial of course). At work we have individuals who are required to take courses in smoke reading to know the percentages of emissions.

In my opinion you will need a way to "read" the smoke density - regardless of wood type. Without this you won't be able to accurately (read scientifically) and repeatedly duplicate any given smoke. But there is also the factor of seperating smoke from steam, outside temperature, windage, and the list goes on.

There is no substitute for learning your equipment and practice. Once you have your temp control and smoke control down.. the rest will come.

But if you come up with a way let us know...cuz that damper control was cool stuff!
post #8 of 12
Cold beer good....hehehehehehe
post #9 of 12
You may chase the O2 and CO2 levels, that may tell you something, how bout the humity in you cooker/exhaust ,might you be induceing some more O2? We may be getting beyond spliting hairs and into spliting atoms
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ah, good thinkin' Cicles! I didn't even think about that. The safety chick (don't be offended, she doesn't mind) owes me a favor because she dumped Dr Pepper on her keyboard and I bailed her out. I'll bet she can point me in the right direction. I'll report back to the group, if anyone is interested.

Thanks all for the comments!
post #11 of 12

Hey Geek,

You ever check out this site? Some interesting stuff (espescially in the forums) if you have not seen it.

Good luck,
post #12 of 12
Richtee and PigCicles are on track regarding what you want. Locomotives are required to pass emissions testing annually if operating in California and a few large metro areas in other states. We (I and my employees) were certified as visual smoke evaluators, capable of estimating the density of smoke coming out of the stack of a locomotive under simulated full load. That method is used for industrial applications also, as PigCicles said. We seldom used that method because we had equipment that accurately evaluated the smoke for us.
The equipment we used passed a laser beam through the smoke column to a reciever and calculated the amount of light that got through the smoke and gave us a percentage. More light=less dense smoke, less light=denser smoke. It's EXPENSIVE. But a geek might find a way around it.
Keep us up on any progress, this is interesting.
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