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How much wood to add at once?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ssmoke, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    I have been reading about smoking pretty much all day to see about trying new meats and techniques. I came across another forum where members were saying that you should only add one chunk of wood at once and that you want "thin blue smoke" and not a bunch of white smoke coming out at once. I believe they were discussing using electric smokers though and I use the WSM 22 (charcoal).

    I have always added several chunks at a time in an effort to get lots of smoke going through at once which leads to a bunch of (white) smoking coming out pretty constantly.

    Is there something wrong with my method?

    I and other people I have cooked for always have liked meat I have smoked, but I also know things can always get better...

    So is there something to only one chunk at once?

    Also, how much wood do you all typically go through when smoking for 5-6 hours?
  2. If you like it that way who's to say it's wrong.

    I prefer to add one chunk an hour for about three chunks (three hours). I also use a WSM 22". But that's just me.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  3. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    interesting. When you say chunks are we talking about the same thing? The "chunks" I get are generally about the size of a baseball or maybe a tad bigger.

    Also, how much meat do you smoke at one time? I could be completely wrong, but it just seems like one chunk would not do much when 15lb+ of brisket is in the smoker. Can one chunk really impact that much meat at once?
  4. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I went through this with the old ECB back in the 80's.

    At first I got a lot of bitter meat full of creosote.  Not a good thing.

    Now I pre-burn my chunks before exposing them to the meat.

    When the Amazn Smoker came along?

    Now I step onto my patio.  No visible smoke? 

    Just the smell of sweet smoke and meat working in unison.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  5. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    Thank you for your replies, but I really do not understand this now :(

    If smoke is not visible then how is it penetrating the meat? Or did I mis-read your post? This one-wood-chunk approach is really interesting to me, but I honestly do not understand how it functions.
  6. Now you say you unit has white smoke coming out of it.

    First question, is there a water pan, with liquid in the smoker when this going on?  Water or any other liquid will boil and steam, giving you a white smoke, which actually steam and smoke mixed.

    Have you tried using chips in tinfoil on top of the coals to see what you get.
  7. kajunkue

    kajunkue Fire Starter

    SSmoke, I taking a wild guess that you are soaking your wood in water, right?  I used to do that before reading and watching more videos here.  I have not soaked any wood since reading that I don't need to.  I have a Big Green Egg and it's much harder for me to add wood chucks than most.  I tend to get my temp where it needs to be and before putting the meat on I put in 3 to 4 chunks of wood(dry).  Don't be afraid to experiment, it's the one thing that I have taken the most from this forum and it seems like my food keeps getting better.  Kajunkue
  8. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Having a lot of thick white smoke flowing over your meat will accomplish one thing...creosote dropping out on the meat and giving it a rather bitter flavor.

    Thinner smoke (the blue stuff) penetrates the meat better.  I saw a scientific graph of this somewhere in a book, but it's a little hard to explain.  The book also said that cold smoke penetrates better than warm smoke.

    Thin blue smoke is the way to go, and can be accomplished by having a nice bed of hot coals and adding chunks of wood as needed.  If you overdo it and add too much you will get some thick white smoke for a while but it should settle down soon.  However, constant exposure of the meat to the thick white smoke does not help the flavor.

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  9. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I agree with PGSmoker64 for the most part.  Thick white smoke has it's uses in smoking many products, but long slow smokes is not one of them.

    As for the invisible smoke.  It's kind of like a fart, you can't see it, but you know it's there.

  10. Yes we are talking about the same thing ...even for a brisket.  ...but that's just me.  I am a less is more kinda guy when it comes to smoke.  I avoid the "ashtray effect" at all cost.  I use smoke like a strong spice: a little goes a long way.  Your mileage may vary.
      Just because you can't see the smoke doesn't mean you aren't getting smoke flavor from the fire.  I use lump which, even when the fire is burning clear, is still imparting wood smoke onto the meat.

    I recommend experimenting and deciding what you like.  Some like more smoke flavor.  Some like less.  Have fun!
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013