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Looking for Natural Charcoal recommendations or if we are doing something wrong?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by grill newbie, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. grill newbie

    grill newbie Newbie

    Not sure if I am posting this in the correct area, but here is my question. 

    We recently purchased one of the larger Vision Grills Kamado Charcoal BBQ's from Canadian Tire. So far we have only tried a bag of product they also sell called Natural Blend grilling, it is a Hardwood Blend of natural charcoal.

     I'm sure it would be fine for all kinds of meats, but we are not meat eaters other than fish. For salmon the taste is excellent and corn on the cob was fabulous. We tried halibut but the smoke taste was way too strong. I know it is supposed to give everything a smokey flavor, but we find other vegetables and pizza etc. all have way too strong of a smoke taste. Almost to the point that I get a soar throat from eating it.

     Are we doing something wrong, we put in the recommend amount of charcoal and follow the directions.

     Or is there a brand or type of charcoal that is better suited to giving a more mild taste for vegetables?

     We also have to move the BBQ far away from the house because of the excessive smell that penetrates into the house if we don't. It is quite overwhelming. My husband's hair and clothing also reak of smoke when he is done BBQing. Is that normal for it is smell that strongly?

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  2. Hello grill newbie.  Welcome.  I see this is your first post.  Please take some time and swing over to Roll Call and introduce yourself so that we may give you a proper "Hello".  All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have.  As for your question:  I wish you had some pictures of what is going on with the smoker during a cook.  Pictures during your next smoke would help.  Are you seeing tons of white smoke rolling from your smoker?  I am going to take a shot in the dark here.  The sore throat comment tells me you are getting creosote from poor air flow.  Try using a lump wood charcoal or even a good quality briquette such as Kingsford.  Keep your exhaust vent fully open.  Control the temp with the air inlet.  From what you say you are cooking, you want to be grilling hot and fast verses low and slow.  Get your coals white hot before closing the lid and adding the food.  You may also want to try a charcoal chimney ( picture below ) to start your charcoal before adding to your smoker.  I actually believe it is a method problem verses a wood problem.  If the salmon and COC turned out good, I think it was that you just got the method correct for that cook.  Salmon takes smoke fairly easy and would have been ruined by the type of smoke taste you are describing.  I just can't see any other reason you are getting such a strong, nasty smoke taste from just using charcoal and not adding any other wood to create smoke.  As to the other question; yes, my clothes and hair smell of smoke every time I cook.  It should not be overwhelming and horrible though.  The smell of smoke, even when properly done will invade the house if the prevailing winds are in that direction.  This is only my opinion for what it is worth.  Others may have different advice. Good luck.

  3. grill newbie

    grill newbie Newbie

    Thanks for the reply Danny. I will head over to Roll Call to introduce myself. I think we might have lucked out on the very first cook we did, which is the photo I attached. That salmon seemed perfect. Since then we have had a few pieces that have been pretty smokey in flavor.  

    I think you are right that is likely our technique and not the charcoal. Unless for some reason that particular charcoal is unusual. It is lump wood charcoal, perhaps we will try a briquette style as long as it doesn't have any nasty additives. 

    I have gone over what you said with my husband that does the grilling. He says he waits until the white smoke is gone before he starts the grilling. 

    He did leave the exhaust vent fully open as well as the small smoker vent on the last cook which was just a salmon burger and bun. We did notice the bun did not taste like smoke when it was grilled like it has in the past. 

    I'm wondering if what he is doing prior to cooking the food is causing more smoke flavor. He puts the electric starter in for recommended 12 minutes, and then closes the lid with the vents all wide open. He keeps the lid closed until the white smokes stops coming out of the exhaust vent.

    Should he have the lid open all that time until the white smoke stops? Other than when checking the food, the lid is kept down the entire time during cooking. 

    Thanks so much for your help :)
  4. Just realised I forgot to post the chimney pictures.



  5. grill newbie

    grill newbie Newbie

    Thanks, perhaps we will give the chimney a try and see if that helps. I have posted a photo of our salmon and corn during a cook in my roll call introduction. 

  6. [​IMG]    I am just struggling to understand why and how you are getting so much white smoke just using charcoal.  The answer is probably staring me in the face but I'm missing something.  BTW.  I am not a fan of briquettes.  I am just grasping at straws by suggesting that option.  I assume from what I read that you are not using lighting fuel/charcoal starter?  Try a charcoal chimney to start your coals.  Other than that; YES, leave the lid open until you start seeing white coals then close the lid.  To your knowledge has your charcoal gotten wet?  Pictures of the process during your next cook will help tremendously.  I will also ask a couple folks to have a read and offer their advice.  Hang in and keep trying.

  7. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    If you talking about "Natures Grilling Hardwood Blend" that stuff is probably a bit strong for fish and veggies as it has ebony and mesquite in it. It is not pure lump charcoal. That feeling in your throat is the thick white smoke you are talking about. You are oversmoking your food and the cresote is bad news for you and your throat.
  8. grill newbie

    grill newbie Newbie

    We just use the electric starter, no charcoal fuel at all. I think leaving the lid up while waiting for the smoke to clear might make a difference. We will try to get it hotter and wait longer before putting the food on and make sure we cook it quickly. 

    This is the brand of wood charcoal we are using: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpdatabase/lumpbag75.htm   Perhaps it is too strong, especially if it has mesquite in it. We will find a different brand and give it a try. 

    Not sure if this photo helps to determine anything or not, it is of our first salmon and corn cook. 

    Thanks for all the help, much appreciated :)
  9. Hello.  The fire looks pretty good from what I can see but there is some black charcoal showing.  This is getting really picky but you say the smoke taste is too strong.  Tend that fire more ( mix the coal around like a stir fry but not near as often ) at the start and get ALL the charcoal white hot.  I have never tried the blend charcoal that you speak of but I do know geerock knows his stuff.  If it contains ebony and mesquite then that is not the fuel for you.  Being from south Tx. I would eat cardboard smoked with mesquite but it is VERY strong and not to everyone's taste.  I have never tried it but considering how dense Ebony is, I would think it might be the same.  I have 1 other option to offer.  If you do not own one; go to WalMart etc. and buy a cheap grill.  Then buy alder wood or a fruit wood such as apple, cherry or even pear or citrus.  These are mild tasting woods.  These are available online if you cannot find them in your area.  Use the cheap grill to pre-burn the wood and add the white hot coals to your smoker.  I see you in to "natural" so if you see the logs you know what you are getting.  The expense is higher for the original purchase and you might burn more woodthan is needed  but if natural is your thing you probably already spend a bit more for things.  I am afraid I have offered every bit of advice I can think of.  WHITE HOT COALS BEFORE ADDING FOOD.  Hopefully someone else will have better advice.  Don't give up.  Post pictures of the cooking process and keep asking.  We will get it right in the end.  Good luck.

  10. grill newbie

    grill newbie Newbie

    Thanks Danny, you have been very helpful!

    P.S. love your sense of humor. Mesquite smoked cardboard. Might have to give that a try, I think that might count as a vegetarian meal, ha ha.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013