My wife has an old slow cooker that is a bbase (the heating unit) and a separate metal pot. use the pot and my stick type sv unit. The sv unit is a KITCHEN GIZMO brand, less than a hundred dollars. works great.
I find that when chunks first catch fire and are flaming up you get thick white smoke. Once the chunks become coals the smoke is the thin blue smoke everyone desires. I put meat on before it turns to thin blue with no ill effects.
When we have a large gathering, I serve pulled pork with a vinegar finishing sauce in disposable aluminum pans. I also smoke baked beans in these pans also. No off taste and they both get rave reviews.