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Keep the Smoke Smoking???

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by smokin' j, Oct 8, 2006.

  1. I'm back. Today I put on a 4-5 lb. chicken to smoke. I brined it for four hours and put it in my Smoke Vault propane smoker. It has a nice cast iron wood chip pan right above the burner. So I load it up like I do most times I smoke (this is my 5th smoke, so needless to say, I'm still totally clueless!) Anyway, I put my chips in there (dry -- I switched from wet after someone here told me they don't need to be wet.)

    So, here's the problem. it smokes really good for about 30-45 minutes then it starts to dribble smoke out -- just a little bit here and there.. I just checked my chicken after 2 hours. The heat is maintaining good at 225-230 but my wood chip pan still full of un-burned wood. I don't think I'm overloading it because I've used less chips in the past and still had the same problem. There's no ashes piled up. I'm using pecan and hickory.

    Any thoughts or suggestions how I can keep the smoke smokin???

    Smokin' J
    aka Jill

    "Smoke Vault" Propane Smoker -- just enough to keep me in trouble/
  2. ultramag

    ultramag SMF Events Planning Committee

    My guess would be that it is doing just exactly what you want it too. How did your chicken turn out Jill?

    Look real close at your exhaust vent and see if there is just the slightest hint of a bluish tinted smoke that you can barely see. I am new to propane smokers, but mine seems to start out a little heavy and a little white on the smoke then settle into a perfect smoke you can barely see. Remember, you don't want a big, white, billowy, cloud of smoke coming out of your cooker as it will overpower the meat and possibly cause creosote to build up on it also. Take a look at my avatar pic for an idea of what your looking for.
  3. larry maddock

    larry maddock Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    yo jill,
    maybe try a different brand of chips.

    ive run into bags that didnt burn all the way.
  4. ultramag

    ultramag SMF Events Planning Committee

    I'm not really famaliar with your brand, but I think it would be worthwhile to try chunks instead of chips. Chunks about fist size seem to work best in mine.
  5. Larry and Chad -- thanks to both of you for the suggestions and info. Chad, I went and looked at your photo -- your smoker looks basically identical to mine. And you are right......It starts out white and billowy and then goes into a nice slow little trickle of smoke. So, I guess I'm doing it right after all??

    The other thing, Larry, I've tried the big chunks and find they just sit there and don't burn all that well. However, perhaps next time I'll put down a bed of chips and add a few chunks. Maybe that will help the chunks keep burning longer.

    As for the chicken: It was delish!!! I took it off at 165 degrees and let it set for about 15 minutes. Perfecto!

    Dang, but I do love to smoke meats. It's addicting, ain't it????

    Smokin' J
    aka Jill
  6. q3131a

    q3131a Meat Mopper OTBS Member

    Here is what I did:

    1. Cut the bottom off a coffee can and use that in place of the cast iron box that came with the smoker. The can holds more than twice the box.
    2. I but a mix of dry chips, wet chips and chunks. The chunks take about an hour to start smoking. Just about the time wet and dry chips are done.
    3. Each hour I add more chunks. Sometimes I take out the old spent chunks to make more space and dump them in a pail of water.
  7. q3131a

    q3131a Meat Mopper OTBS Member

  8. Does it hurt to keep heavy smoke ( white smoke ) during the full 4 hours of smoking if you have plenty of venting? It seems like I can not seem to get a lot of smoke flavor on my half chickens when smoking.

  9. pigcicles

    pigcicles Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Smokin Stang (Dave) From reading some of your past posts, you've had problems with temps, which seem to have been taken care of with mods. You ask about heavy white smoke... You want to avoid the heavy white smoke as much as possible as you can get a creosote build up on your food which will be bitter or generally untastey. That may over ride your desired strong smoke flavor.

    What kind of wood are you smoking with? Are you sure your temps are correct now? Have you been able to hold your temps low enough to maintain a 'low N slow' smoke (220º - 230ºish) to allow for smoke penetration into the meat?

    I may be wrong but it sounds like you are possibly still smoking too fast and not getting the penetration you seek. Fill in the blanks and we'll see if we can get ya what you want.

    Remember the Stang should be fast.. the Smoker should be slow

    Keep Smokin
  10. PigCicles,
    I have been using hickory chunks for smoking as well as hickory saw dust. I was having trouble with my temperatures but I have solved this problems with the help of CajunSmoker. I installed a gas control valve on my propane smoker where it kicks on roughly at 200 and shuts off at 240-250. I smoked a meatloaf yesterday with the white smoke rolling and the smoke flavor was awesome. If you get creosote buildup on the meat will it turn it dark? I do not think I am getting creosote buildup but I am new at this sport. Can the water pan in a propane smoker interfere with smoke flavor?

  11. pigcicles

    pigcicles Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Smokin Stang, the water pan shouldn't interfere with the smoke flavor, it adds humidity to the air to help level out the temps inside the smoker and some will say it adds moisture to the food. Wood creosote can be colorless to a dark yellow color, not like coal which will be dark brown to black. I would say that you just like heavy smoke flavored food.

    I'll give you a link to a site describing creosotes. Glad the temp. problem is under control.

    If the meatloaf turned out good and tastey, then you did something right!


    Keep Smokin
  12. PigCicles,
    I don't know if I did it correct or not because common sense tells me that it would be easier for the smoke to penetrate the meatloaf. I have the biggest vertical smoker that Smoke Hollow sells. It has 4 racks and is propane. Rather than adding 3 large chunks of hickory are you saying that maybe I should just add 1or 2 to achive the light blue smoke? My main concern is to get some smoke flavor in my half chickens. The guys at work said the chickens were good and moist but might not have as much smoke flavor as they should. I am just afraid that the light blue smoke is not enough to cut it. Again, I am new at this so that is why I am on this forum.

    Thanks for the help,

  13. pigcicles

    pigcicles Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's all good SS, keep asking questions til you're satisfied. IMHO (In my humble opinion), you should be smoking with a light blue smoke over a period of time. In my mind, I haven't come up with a just right answer why your chicken didn't take the smoke flavor.

    If I remember correctly you modified a vent. Off the top of my head I don't remember how, did you add a vent or just modify one already on the smoker? Maybe you're venting too fast to get good smoke penetration into the chicken??? How was the smoke ring on the meat?

    Just trying to work through this with ya, so I may have some questions too. As for the amount of wood, it depends on the smoker and conditions. What ever it takes to get the Thin Blue Smoke.

    I know I've said it and you've answered it. Make sure your smoker temps are accurate so you aren't cutting into the time the smoke has to penetrate the denser meats.
  14. Pigcicles,
    I added another vent which consisted of a 2 inch pipe on top. Maybe I am venting too fast. Keep in mind this is with white smoke rollig out. Don't know much about the smoke ring but the meatloaf has a pink band on the outer edge but it is only about 1/16 to 1/8 inch.

  15. pigcicles

    pigcicles Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome back Dave, on your next smoke, maybe try cutting back on the smoke a bit, maybe cap off the second stack for giggles and grins and if possible lower the cook temp down closer to 200º - 220º. See how that turns out.

    The smoke ring is the pink ring. I looked up some other meatloaf posts here and found this one by meowey that shows a good smoke ring to it. Compare this to yours. If you like a heavy smoke flavor, then it will go a little deeper into the meat

    Let us know how it turns out, keep asking til you get it figured out.

  16. PigCicles,
    I am smoking some cheese as we speak. I have closed off the 2 inch pipe vent and the only vent open is the one that came with the smoker which is located on the back. Nex time I smoke meat should I keep this vent on the back wide open and keep the 2 inch valve on top closed?

  17. pigcicles

    pigcicles Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would start out just like that with a couple pieces of wood for smoke and watch the smoker temp. Maybe consider an oven thermometer to set on the rack also. Start there and modify as needed to achieve your desired results. Don't rush the time it takes to smoke, learn how it acts and adjust for it and it will reward you with great food.

    Keep posting and Keep Smokin
  18. Not exactly sure how your smoker works, but mine is an Oklahoma joe horizontal with the offset fire box, with a propane log starter.

    I run the propane from start to finish, first to get the logs burning and roll heavy smoke for the first two to three hours add ing logs as needed, then let the full logs burn down to coals and finish with just the heat from the propane and the coals, which is more like Thin blue smoke.

    Seems to work great for me, but sounds like you need to do more experimenting to come up with a known method that cooks to your satisfaction.

    Smokin' J...sounds like you just need to add more chips to keep the smoke going during the first half of your smoke session. And if they dont burn, empty it out and soak em in water then try re-using them next time.

    Smokin Stang...Rolling heavy smoke for the whole session IMO is not necessary, you might try cutting it back to rolling smoke for the first half, then less smoke to finish.

    Im no expert, but Ive noticed that on poultry that it is more sensitive to smoke than ribs or brisket, Seems like heavy smoke will leave a black skin on the bird, so the next time I do a chicken or turkey, I plan on rolling smoke on it long enough to get the color I want, then cutting back and just use heat.

    Nothing wrong with experimenting, keep at it till you get the results your looking for, then use that as a base for all future sessions.