Teach me how to smoke on my offset! Please?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by busmania, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. busmania

    busmania Smoke Blower

    Here is my background.  I have owned a Big Green Egg for about 3 years.  I was getting bored and needed a project so I built a reverse flow out of a 33 gallon craftsman tank.

    I have used it twice.  It seems to be smoking waaatoo much but maybe I am just used to very minimal visual smoke because I am familiar with Big Green eggs.

    So here is what I did, is this right or wrong?

    Start with charcoal.  Once hot, throw first log of wood on.  Let it burn down for about 30 minutes then put food on.  Throughout the smoke, I would throw another piece of wood on as needed.  However, here is my problem.  when you first put a piece of wood on, it smokes like crazy and is puffing smoke rather than that nice "blue smoke" or "clean smoke" I am used to.  So, how do I avoid this bad smoke or is it just part of using a stick burner?

    Thank you!  I know Ill have more questions but the amount of smoke has me concerned.  I did my first food cook yesterday but have not eaten it yet.  It will be served today for baseball opening day festivities.  I am concerned it will be too smokey!

    So, how do you fire up and maintain temp on your offset?  any good videos or tutorials?

    yes, I still need to paint it and finish the 4 different handles but here it is!  (the chimney has been cut about 10" since this pic, it was too long and I knew that based on the fact that after my first test burn, there was a ton of moisture in the pipe.  I cut it down and on my second burn, I got ZERO moisture dripping from the pipe on the inside)

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  2. Glad to hear you trimmed your stack, Check Dave Omak's calculator and double check your sizes.

    I start buy opening my chimney damper CC door dampers on FB door. I then dump about a good chimney or two (Depending on what I am smoking and temps I am shooting for) in my charcoal basket, fire up my trusty weed burner, light the charcoal, then go over my grates and inside the cook chamber. (Helps get smoker up to temp quicker). once charcoal is going good I close the CC door, Fire box door and adjust dampers. 
  3. busmania

    busmania Smoke Blower

    Thanks, but do you add wood splits throughout the cook? Charcoal? Both?

    I calculated everything several times (and mr Dave reviewed my work in the reverse flow forum). I ended up going with the exact numbers from the calculations for everything. Actually, my fb is about 25% oversized but everything else is to the calc.
  4. Great, Fb oversize is good, When I am doing regular smoking I smoke at 225º I add splits and lump at various time to maintain my temp. Just from smoking so much I know about when it's time to add so I'll get a chimney full of lump going. Just pay attention to your smoker, weather conditions, damper positions, etc. Maybe keep a log till you are comfortable. Play with your temps by adjusting your FB dampers.

    I use my RF to smoke everything. Cured bacon, Canadian Bacon, Sausage etc. some of those require low temps and increasing gradually 

    Hot Links I started at 90 º and increased temp 10 º every hour till at 150 º then on up to 175 º not hard just fire management and damper control 

    Be sure you use seasoned wood !   NO Green Wood  and Chimney damper always wide open

  5. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Gary has you squared away...he know his stuff where stick burners are concerned. One other tip that might help: You asked how to avoid the "bad" smoke you get when you first add a split or chunk of wood to your coals during a cook. One thing some stick burners do is use a burn barrel. They will pre-burn the logs/chunks/splits in a separate barrel, allowing it to burn down a bit, before putting it in the smoker's fire box. This allows that "dirty" smoke that happens when wood first ignites to burn itself off, and what you have left to go in the fire box is nice, hot, clean-burning fuel.

    Hope that helps...

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  6. A bit off topic, but may I ask how much trouble was building your smoker? I would like to build one for myself.
  7. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    Hey Bus good to see you enjoying your unit! It's awesome to conceive something and build it and then make good food on it. I'm a rookie so I'm still learning too. An offset unit has a learning curve specific to each individual one from what I hear. Meaning a brand x vs. brand y even though they are the same size, etc they still require you tune in to how it cooks. You'll figure yours out with a few smokes. SeenRed points out something I recently was shown by an employee at my local bbq store. I just chuck on more charcoal or wood on my coals in my firebox as needed and then wonder why my food tastes a bit bitter and has that distinctive creosote taste. (It doesn't help that my smokestack looks like something out of a Cheech and Chong movie) I was told they too warm up the wood. In his example they have it next too the burning coals in the "other half" of the firebox. Also they don't throw the wood on the coals. They burn it on the grate they have above the coals (a set up my OK Joe has similar to their Yoder he showed me on). I guess I'll start pre lighting my additional charcoal before I add it also. And use less wood to get to that thin blue smoke output.
  8. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    You will get some white smoke wherever you throw a new piece of wood on the fire. All part of being part of the stuck burning crew. It's no big deal because it should start burning clean in a couple of mins.
  9. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    You need to heat the wood splits on top of the fire box well before they need to be put on to burn, this will eliminate the white smoke that occurs as the split heats to the ignition point.

    Yes, it really is that simple.
  10. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    I was going to suggest heating the splits as well but keep an eye on them as they can catch fire if they get to hot. I heat mine up in my warming box.
  11. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit


    Absolutely agree, and it works like a charm.  Simple but efficient.

    Good luck and GREAT build.
  12. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Pre-heating your wood is good. Also, make sure that your splits are not too big. Give them every chance for quick ignition.
  13. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    Preheat...should one put a simple rack on the top of the firebox?
  14. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I haven't seen that. If the FB is flat or has a warming plate, just lay a few sticks up there at a time and keep rotating.
  15. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    Firebox will be insulated which is why I was thinking about a simple grate few inches from the top...guessing you are talking about putting the wood on top?
  16. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes, I was talking about the very top. I think you should get info on a rack inside the FB from someone with more experience. I would wonder if the wood would be too hot inside the top of the FB and pre-ignite. You could ask gary s for his advice.
  17. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I heat my splits inside the FB of my Chargriller- especially in winter

  18. busmania

    busmania Smoke Blower

    Yall are awesome. Thank you! I am hoping to cook this weekend so I'll try preheating my splits.

    It was a lot of trouble but I loved every minute of it. It was my first real welding project and I learned a ton! I love projects though. Since I didn't have any major work to do on my vw bus this year, I decided to do this project with my spring time month off of work. Again, well woth all the trouble.
  19. I would say a couple of things, Welding skills, material availability Shop or garage and time frame


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