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Help: Is there such a thing as too clean of a fire?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by AmazonDon703, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Hoping some of the more experienced Pitmasters here can help me out. I recently purchased the old country BBQ pits smokehouse vertical smoker. I love everything about it except for I'm kind of noticing that it's not getting that much smoke on the meat.

    I'm not sure if it's the smoker or if it's the wood I was using. Last weekend I smoked some ribs using maple wood. They were cooked well and tasted fine but the smoke flavor was barely there.

    Yesterday I smoked a Boston butt. Smoked it uncovered for about 6 hours. It was probably the best cooked Boston butt that I've made, but there was barely a smoke ring and barely any smoke flavor. I used Cherry wood.

    The smokehouse smoker burns a very clean fire. It has dual smoke stacks at the top and the entire time I was cooking it was burning clean. I mean you could look at it and i tdidn't look like there was any smoke coming out of there at all. I thought that was the goal?
  2. mowin

    mowin Master of the Pit

    Yes, it's possible. My first few cooks with my offset were with cherry that was very dry and seasoned. Had less smoke flavor then my pellet grill.

    If my wood is very dry, I find some greener oak or hickory and add a split every now and then.

    Are you using store bought splits or chunks? If so, they would be kiln dried with little moisture. Try sourcing your own to add.
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Try adding your Smoke Wood next to, or just touching, but not directly on the fire. The slower burn will make more smoke...JJ
    Hawging It and AmazonDon703 like this.
  4. Thanks for the response. Store bought from Academy. Today smoking some chicken legs and pork chops with mesquite. I closed off one of the smoke stacks, still burning clean, not as clean as normal because I can see thin blue smoke. When I open both stacks the smoke is completely transparent.
  5. mowin

    mowin Master of the Pit

    Chicken absorbed smoke easier than other meats, and mesquite produces a bolder smoke flavor then other woods.

    Also, is everyone not getting the smokey flavor, or just you? As the cook, you will be sniffing smoke during the cook, making you less likely to taste it on your food.
  6. offset1945

    offset1945 Newbie

    No such thing as too clean a fire.

    Do you strip the bark off of your wood?
    Do you place your splits on your firebox? You should not unless you are just trying to get your base going.

    My guess is on kiln dried wood. (store-bought)
    Wood is just too dry and too old.

    I'd been frustrated as my last 1/8 of a cord of wood keeps getting soaked in the rain.
    I tell myself to let it dry and move it into the garage .... never gets dry, gets wet again.

    So, I bought some truly nice looking Western Products Oak Smoking Logs ... expensive, but wow they burned so nicely I went through two bags just smoking meat every other day.
    The problem that even the family noticed:

    Not as much taste.

    As my split wood was not as dry as I would prefer and I wanted to cook so I bought a third and last bag of smoker logs but what I did was take some of my splits and split them again so they were not too big .... I made sure each of my splits had bark on it also.

    So with what I knew was a nice hot bed, I would add one of my logs.
    Now I say my splits were wet, but they weren't that bad ... I suddenly didn't create billowing smoke .....
    ... to me it is very obvious, kiln dried wood does not produce as much flavor.

    The well respected Project Smoke author Raichlen also describes the entire 'burning' process and notes as water is boiled in the wood ..... Carbon Dioxide and Nigroden Dioxide are released ... these two compounds responsible for your smoke ring.
    AmazonDon703 likes this.
  7. TomKnollRFV

    TomKnollRFV Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I'll chime in that the smoke ring is in no way indicative of quality. It's just indicative of the type of smoker used.

    I'm following this as I am curious on this subject as well. It's always good to learn.
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When you are tending the smoker all day, you can't taste the smoke in the meat for a day or so... You've been smoked... Wait until tomorrow or the next day... The flavor should return....
    AmazonDon703 likes this.
  9. Thanks folks. So I smoked some chicken legs and pork chops. My wife loves them but I still didn't taste the Smoky flavor in my wife admitted that it wasn't a smoky as other cooks I've done, although she preferred it this way lol. I took some pork chops at work and let some of my co-workers try it and I told them to be brutally honest and they all said it was plenty smokey. but I think some of those guys think that anything with barbecue sauce on it counts as BBQ lol.

    I'm definitely going to take you guys's advice and stop warming my wood, which I was doing. I might go online and see if I can get some locally chopped wood (north Texas) instead of getting my wood from Academy. I'll keep you all updated.
  10. Also, my old country BBQ pits smokehouse has a very large water pan. could too much moisture possibly affect the amount of smoke that's absorbed?
  11. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Remember-smoke is the product of an incomplete wood burn. If complete combustion happens, you will not have any smoke; like in a charcoal retort....

    You need the combustion gases to cool sufficiently to stop burning the smoke and produce smoke flavor on your meat. This is why draft is so important.
    AmazonDon703 likes this.
  12. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    AmazonDon703 likes this.
  13. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    At the same time, you want the smoke as thin as you can get it, you actually want to only be able to see it in a certain light. It should not be very visible at all. This is especially crucial for long, long cooks like brisket going 18~20 hours.