HELP! WSM issues (billowy smoke, no flavor)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by hoffmaba, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. hoffmaba

    hoffmaba Fire Starter

    So, I used to make the best bbq I've ever had in my mini Weber where I'd have to lift up the meat and the grill to add charcoal and used store-bought wood chips. 

    In the year that I've had the 14.5 WSM, I've had so many smoking issues.  I started using chunks, using 3 and the minion method.  I never got the TBS that I used to get every time out of my mini Weber.  I swtiched back to chips, chips and chunks, chunks every hour....and not only do I never get the TBS, but the food comes out after hours and it tastes almost baked.  

    Today, I smoked some mac and cheese and baked beans for 3 hrs at 250 with 2 hickory chip packets and 3 chunks.  You can barely taste smoke on it.  I'm now smoking a turkey and I'm worried it won't taste smokey at all. I'm using 3 pecan chunks, 3 hickory chunks, and a chip packet.  It was billowy white smoke for 3 minutes and now it's slow white smoke without much of a smell.  

    I've googled and read forums and the advice tends to be: "I dunno, man. I use 3 chunks only on my WSM and it's great every time."  So, if anyone has any other advice, it'd be much appreciated!  (posted to pork for highest traffic...)
  2. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    This is how I set up my WSM.....I put some charcoal in the ring with 5 or 6 chunks of wood buried throughout. I dig out the briquettes in the middle to form a bowl shape. Then I add about a 1/2 chimney of charcoal that I've allowed to ash over into the void. This method produces perfect smoke every single time....It starts out white and billowy but calms down in 15 minutes or so after the top goes on.

    The vent configuration is as follows....Top vent totally open.....all bottom vents closed with one cracked open about 1/2 way. You might need to adjust your vents differently depending on how well your smoker is sealed up.
  3. coryb

    coryb Fire Starter

    Same here.  pour in about 1/2 full of lump, place 5 chunks of wood and cover with some more lump according to how much i'm smoking.  To get it started about 1/2 a chimney starter of burning coals on top in the middle of the charcoal and assemble the smoker and place the meat.

    As for vents the top is always open and i start off with all three bottom vents full open.  Once my Maverick reads 220-230 on the top grate I'll close up all 3 bottom vents and just hair crack one of them open.  When i say hair crack i mean 'hair'.  Its all but completely locked up down there except that tiny little access of air.  Depending on how well I've met my charcoal to meat ratio I won't have to bother the thing for up to 6hrs.  I also should add I set up a home made wind break around my smoker to keep the air flow as consistent as possible.  First little while I get the puffy smoke too,but it really calms down somewhere in that first 30mins.
  4. hoffmaba

    hoffmaba Fire Starter

    Never got around to thanking you guys. Maybe my issue is putting the chunks too close to the hot coals. My next smoke I'll set up exactly like this. I have thanksgiving coming up, but I'll probably do something before then. 
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Check out some of the smokes in the mini-WSM forum. Your 14 is more like a mini and not the larger WSM. I'm my mini the best method I've found is to load the basket with your lump, briquettes, charcoal or whatever you use for heat. Then add 3-4 dry (not soaked) 2-3" chunks of whatever wood you're using for smoke. Open all your vents. Take a propane torch and torch one spot on the side of your charcoal basket for 3-5 minutes. One my mini I do this through one of my side vents. Before I had side vents I'd do this torch method through the bottom vent. I can't remember the vent locations on the 14, but I'm sure you could do this somehow. No white smoke, quick heat up and TBS every time. If needed I add more wood chunks but have found those 4 chunks will last 6-8 hours. I can get a 12 hour burn with my Mini.
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looking at the 14. You could easily do a side light through one of the lower vents. Note I always put one of the wood chunks on top of the briquettes over the spot I'm lighting.
  7. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Same here.  Lite the side of the basket, let it burn across.
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have switched from chunks to splits. Home Depot now carries some nice sized splits in various woods, I bury two splits in the bottom of my charcoal ring then put two more on each side of the lit charcoal. That will chug out thin blue smoke for 4 or 5 hours before I have to add another split.
  9. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I fire up my 18.5 WSM as the first couple of posters but I always put a chunk or two of wood on top of my chimney.

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