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How much smoke is good? Newbie question

Discussion in 'Grilling Tips' started by amills1210, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. amills1210

    amills1210 Newbie

    Hi Everyone.

    I am new to the smoking community. I have done salmon and 2 whole chickens and both turned out great. I am using a vertical propane smoker.

    I have been doing research on the thin blue smoke but really havnt found the answer I am looking for to my question.

    How much smoke is good? Should smoke be constant coming out of the damper or should I see a little bit every now and then?

    The way I have managed my last two smokes is if I didnt see any smoke, I would replace a handful of chips. The temp I had my smoker at (~225) would result in lots of smoke coming out (dry chips for the salmon, tried soaked chips for the chicken so experience with both).

    Any tips or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
  2. chef jimmyj

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

    Anything from thin blue to seeing little but can smell it is good. Every time you add chips you are going to get some thicker white smoke for 5 minutes or so but it should go blue in short order. Use dry chip or better yet chunks. Wet chips are only for tossing on charcoal. With other fuel chips don't smoke until they dry out...JJ
  3. Yep, Chef JJ makes very good points. You don't want a tire fire.

    No, a good smoke will be slight, it may even be hard to discern, but its there doing the job you wish it to. 

    Sure, on the start up you'll have more smoke, but it'll keep going after the show is over.

    I like to use big chunks of dry smoking wood. I also (since I use charcoal) like to stagger them across my fire, or the length of it. If that makes sense.

    I did (%#@%^&*$%#) a 14 hour cook today and burnt quite a bit of smoking wood along with my charcoal, at its smokiest it looked like this:

  4. 30" Jim

    30" Jim Fire Starter

    This might be a good thread for me to bring up a smoke color question.
    It has been cold here in ST Louis and I have been using my MES 30. I am seeing a lot of white smoke and have assumed that it is steam because of evaporation into the cold air. Does that make sense?
  5. ristau5741

    ristau5741 Smoking Fanatic


    How much smoke flavor do you like? Different woods in different time lengths will vary the amount of smoke flavor.

    The best advice is to do lots of trials with different woods and different amounts of time to make what you think is a good amount of smoke flavor.

    I like thick and smokey a 12-14 hour pork shoulder smoke w/mesquite for the full length of the smoke is nice for me, makes awesome bbq. But if you are doing fish for example, alder would for an hour or two might be just right, as not to be overbearing, alder is a very light flavored smoking wood.
  6. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes--A lot of sense.
    I used to get fooled on how much smoke I was getting by watching my top vent.
    Much of the "Smoke" you see come out the vent is just the hot air hitting the cold air.
    If you watch it for awhile, it disappears after about 10" to 20' of travel through the air, depending on the ambient air temp.
    Then I got an MES with a Window & I can see how much smoke is in my Smoker.
    I like to be able to see the things inside, like meat, through my window & not have the smoke so thick that I can't see anything in there. If you can't see anything inside the smoker, you're liable to have some lousy tasting meat.

    Light Smoke for many hours is a good thing, but even a short time of Heavy (Dense) smoke can be a bad thing.


    On Edit: Yeah, I noticed this is an old Thread, but I still feel the same. :)