Liquid smoke problem

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Meat Mopper
Original poster
OTBS Member
Feb 27, 2006
Southeastern Ohio
Having finally completed my new unit, I have discovered a small issue.
I wanted to see if this is something in my design causing this, or if it inherent to larger smokers.

Ever since my first test burn, in total I have now heated up the smoker 4 times...twice for testing/tuning, once to cure my paint, and finally(woo-hoo) to cook with this weekend, my smoker has produced somewhat large amounts of brown liquid.

At first we thought maybe we were cooking some moisture out of the steel, but after a few burns, I started thinking it was caused by a combination of cool air temps and much thicker steel than I'm used to cooking with (new cooker is mostly 3/8th).

The liquid definately has a thick smoky smell, so what I'm thinking is the cold steel is causing the smoke to condense and producing significant amounts of liquid smoke (probably an ounce or two per burning).

Of course, once the smoker comes up to temp, the liquid stops.

Is this something to be concerned about, or just to be expected with a larger unit?
I never really noticed to with my smaller offset smoker, but then again, it was much thinner steel and heated up very quickly.

Thanks for the help

Rock, it's most likely condensation, which is why its a good idea to bring the smoker up to temp and let the smoker temp equalize top and bottom then add your meat. Sometimes an exhaust stack that is too long will allow the smoke to cool and then condense inside the stack and drip back into the chamber.
..I don't put any meat on until everything comes up to temp and the fire settles down to a somewhat whispy smoke.

I have to say it's quite an adjustment from the old back porch offset unit to the new one.

I'd say from the time I first light the fire, it's about 2 hours until the whole thing is hot and the fire is burning the way I like it.

But after it's up and running, it's a breeze to keep it at seems to want to "coast" at about 220 degrees with zero effort..I don't spend half the time tending it as I did with the back porch smoker.

Roksmith, I went back to you Roll Call thread and had a look at you cooker, I can see why it takes a long time to get up to temp. A friend of mine has a 42" diameter 13' long Ortone smoker that takes a long time to heat up as well. He has started putting a couple of ECB charcoal pans loaded with charcoal in the cook chamber to expedite warm up. Something you might consider if you're in a hurry sometime.

Could you explain the flow pattern between the firebox, horz and vert in your cooker?

Do you have any pics of the cooker since you finished it, in particular the vert section, if so I'd really like to see them.

Your water problem is, like Dutch says, just condensation from warming all that metal up. Even properly seasoned wood still has a good % of water left in it and that is released as water vapor during combustion, when that vapor finds cool metal you get the condensation.

Is the water showing up at your drain(s)?
The flow patern takes the smoke directly from the firebox under a heat deflector and into the bottom of the main chamber then it flows back across the horiz chamber, under another heat deflector and into the vert chamber.
Flow control is done by adjusting the dampeners on the stacks.

It does pretty well, but I do have some issues getting the vert box up to temp...I can get it to 220 with the main chamber at about 250-260.
Usable, but I am thinking of adding a 5 inch direct pipe from the firebox to the vert to help equalize the temps.

Attached are some pics I just went out and took...they may show what toy are looking for..If not, I can take pics from a different angle or draw a diagram.

The water is collecting mostly at my drains, but some is also seeping out around the door as you can see from the picture. The drippage from the vert box is to be expected, we found out during testing that we neglected to completely seal the top edges, so we have a bit more welding to do when it gets nice again.


I use strictly wood except for a bit of hot charcoal to get it started.

But I usually put in about 4-5 pieces of wood to get it the time the wood is completely charred over and burning cleanly, the temp is up around 220...after that, it takes about one log per hour to keep it at temp.

(it's ridiculously easy to keep at temp once it warms up)

I did ribs and chicken the other day...2 hours to come up to temp and then 6 hours of constant 220 degrees cooking and I went thru maybe 3 logs of cherry (split into 4 pieces each) is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads