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WSM 18.5" Maiden Voyage - Need some advice

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
So I fired up my new WSM today using the minion method.

I used the minion method with a full charcoal pan.

I lit 25 briquettes (Kingsford blue bag) and waited for them to go to go gray.

I then put the briquettes on top of the unlit ones.

Here's where I ran into trouble.

I put 5 palm sized chunks of apple wood around the outside of the charcoal ring.

I then put my water pan covered in HD foil in along with a foil covered clay pot base and no liquid.

I seem to be getting a lot of white smoke because the chunks are burning, not smoldering. My temps are right around 250° according to my calibrated thermometer.

I've since pulled the chunks I could get to out.

I put a mix of water and apple juice in the pan so we'll see what we get.

So what gives? Anyone have any ideas?

And I lost the pictures of the setup because this stupid camera doesn't tell me that there's no card, it just says memory full...oh well.
post #2 of 19
congrats on finally firing that thing up.

i dont use briquettes in my WSM so I cant help you there.

the wood I add 1/2 is buried in the lump as I fill the ring, the other half is on top after i add the chimney.

good luck.
post #3 of 19
You will get a heavier more white smoke at first.... not all of that is from the wood, some is from the briquets lighting as well. Leave the wood in, and let the smoker run for about 15-20 minutes. It should settle down to a thinner smoke, more than an offset, but not billowy white.

When I set up my ring I put one full layer of briquets on the bottom of the ring, then put in about 4 or 5 chunks of wood. Fill the ring the rest of the way, then put another 5 chunks of wood around the outside. Dump a 1/2 chimney of lit briquets right in the middle, give it about 10 minutes then assemble the top.

I just use water in my water pan, works fine. Don't give up, you will get it figured out. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well got rid of the white smoke so that's a good thing!

Man this thing is so eas to control.

So I'm wondering if this had to do with an empty water pan?

I've got ninja smoke now so we are living large!
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I think if I were more patient I wouldn't have had to worry.

TBS is rolling now!
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Oh yeah! TBS!

Patience grasshopper...

Man if I wasn't so impatient, I would have posted these pics without being all freaked out!

It's been at this temp since I first posted. It was at 209° for quite awhile and then I opened one vent slightly and it slowly started up to 225 and has stayed there.

WSM where have you been all my life!

So all of the drama is out of the way, I'll tell you that I'm doing 2 small racks of ribs along with the trimmed pieces for tips and a 3.8lbs boston butt roast.

I'll post QView of that in the Pork section later.
post #7 of 19
Glad you got it worked out...going to be some good eating tonight
post #8 of 19
LOL.. glad you got if figured out. You will love how easy and steady these things run. I have not ran without water in the water pan, so I can't vouch for how the temps work that way, but I find I can use the lid therm, and just keep it between 200° and 250°.

Looking forward to the Qview! PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
It's so good to have a real smoker again. I miss my gasser, but I don't miss the constant watching and worrying about the fuel.

It's been almost 3 hours so it's nearly time to foil the ribs.
post #10 of 19
Yeah, i wondered where it had been all my life as well.It is soooooo easy to keep the temps constant... I got tons of white smoke at first too.. But it was just the briquettes lighting...It then settled down to perfect tbs.... I am gonna try jims methos tonight and go with some RO lump for the first time on a brisket.... Happy smokes biggrin.gif
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
All done now. All in all I'd call this a successful smoke.

Next time I will do the prep before the garage sale...nothing says by my junk like a raw rack of ribs and some trimmed fat sitting next to the junk...

I think I will try Jim's method also.

The minion method in itself is pretty impressive.

More impressive is I closed all the vents and the fire is out and the coals are almost cool to the touch. Another half hour and we'll be good to go.
post #12 of 19
Congrats on a successful smoke. You should let the briquettes light real good before assembling the unit, then usually ya don't get the white smoke, no matter the fuel.

Ya do need to let the WSM settle in a bit before putting the product on.
post #13 of 19
what he said ^^^^
post #14 of 19
Good to see you getting settled in with your new toy. Isn't it purdy & wonderful all at the same time? Yeah, once the smoke clears, you are good to go. Glad your smoke turned out well.
post #15 of 19
Originally Posted by RickW View Post

Congrats on a successful smoke. You should let the briquettes light real good before assembling the unit, then usually ya don't get the white smoke, no matter the fuel.

Ya do need to let the WSM settle in a bit before putting the product on.

how long do you usually wait?

post #16 of 19


Originally Posted by njsmoker83 View Post

how long do you usually wait?

Here is how my WSM routine usually goes.  Fill chimney almost full and light it.  Put a bit of lump in the ring and then some wood then fill it the rest of the way with lump...when chimney is going dump that on and then a few more pieces of wood on the hot coals.  Then i will let it sit just while i get everything else in place (thermos, water pan...etc) maybe sometimes 2 mins maybe sometimes 5+ mins i dont think it really matters as long as when you assemble it you leave the vents wide open and sometimes i even open the ash door for a bit to get the coals all burning and heat up the water pan.  I fill with cold water so it takes maybe 15-20 mins to get up to temp, when i get to 225 on the lid thermo i shut the intakes half way and it usually holds steady in that range, and by now its done smoking.  I have experimented in longer smokes with adding more wood throughout the cook and not adding because it will stop to smoke after maybe 4-5 hours and to tell you the truth i couldnt tell on a butt the difference when i added more wood and when i just left it running can still smell the wood smoke in the heat out of the exhaust so i figure its still doing its job.  Jim, do you usually add more wood on a longer smoke? 


post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

After several smokes on my WSM, I've noticed the following:


If you have all the vents open (3 on the bottom section and 1 on the lid) so much air is going to get in that the white smoke almost never goes away.


I've been leaving my vents where they were after the last smoke and I have less issues with long periods of white smoke at the beginning.


It usually takes about 30-40 minutes with the vents set from the last smoke to get to temp.


I use the minion method with the wood mixed in as Jim has mentioned.  I use about 6-8 chunks for long smokes (more than 8 hours) and only 2-3 for short smokes or poultry.


This is the most fun I've had with a smoker since I started this great hobby 3 years ago.  The WSM is really solid and easy to work with and clean.


My next mod is to get the clay pots and try that.  I'm not convinced that the water really does all that much, but I have not tested so I cannot confirm that.

post #18 of 19


Originally Posted by HDsmoke View Post


  Jim, do you usually add more wood on a longer smoke? 


Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  I start out with 5-6 chunks(3 buried in the lump, and two or 3 on top before I close it up.

post #19 of 19

It's unanimous....we ALL love the WSM.  How could you not?  It really is a pleasure to use.  Saturday night I fired mine up starting about 11 pm.  Meat on at 12 midnight.  Stayed up until about 2 just checking every once in a while.  Got up to go to the bathroom at almost 4 (the nighttime curse of being 52!). Checked the remote in the kitchen -- temp was right on where it was when I went to bed.  Back to bed, slept until just after 7.  Got up, checked, and the temp was still locked in.  Smoked a brisket and two pork butts.  When I pulled them off I threw on two boneless turkey breasts.  Added just a little bit more fuel and a couple wood chunks.  Cooked the turkey, and it was still doing just fine.


I used the water pan the first time (I have the Brinkman charcoal pan as a water pan).  I switched to the clay pot, and it is I thin easier.  I don't know that the water makes that much of a difference.  I don't have to worry about filling it during a smoke.  It hold the temps just fine.  I think it may get up to temp quicker -- not sure though.  And clean up is a breeze.  I cover it with two layers of foil, and just peal them off. my WSM!

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