• 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.

New to charcoal -Creosote

jstin120

Newbie
6
11
Joined Oct 29, 2016
My trusty gas smoker finally gave out on me last spring and so I have been using my Weber Kettle. Yesterday was my first long cook with it. Was able to maintain temp (225-250) for 10 hours, but the pork shoulder tasted very bitter. I haven't noticed it this badly on the shorter cooks. Typical creosote taste. I lit 12 coals on top of a chimney of unlit coals and banked them off to one side, added 4 chunks of hickory along the way, used a water pan, had the exhaust vent open 100%. Any thoughts on what I may be doing wrong? Or is this the trade off in using charcoal. Thanks in advance.
 

paul6

Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
272
19
Joined Jun 13, 2015
Maybe the type of charcoal or as you say it may just be the difference between using gas and charcoal . I have always used charcoal and wood or just wood and never feel that it has a bitter taste ... may just be use to it ?
 

wild west

Smoking Fanatic
456
98
Joined Apr 25, 2016
As paul6 said could be charcoal type. How big were the wood chunks..we're they mixed in with the coal or added on top of hot coals.
 

jstin120

Newbie
6
11
Joined Oct 29, 2016
Thanks for the responses. It very well could just be the difference that I am not used to. I could still taste the bitterness and tinglyness several hours later.

I added the wood chunks while cooking on top of the burning coals. I used the typical chunk wood from Menards or Home Depot...3 inches square maybe.
 

chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
19,108
3,476
Joined May 12, 2011
The higher moisture from the water pan can contribute to more creosote sticking to the meat. I don't use water in a smoker but some guys that do, just add it for the first few hours, aka Wet to Dry Method...JJ
 
Last edited:

jstin120

Newbie
6
11
Joined Oct 29, 2016
These are all good ideas to experiment with. Yes, I had the water pan until about 170 when I wrapped. I was also using Kingsford original charcoal, forgot to mention earlier.

I also have my doubts about the fuse method of lighting the charcoal. It seems to me that anytime a brickette would light, it wouldn't burn clean. As opposed to adding lit charcoal to the fire. Is there anything to that?
 

chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
19,108
3,476
Joined May 12, 2011
The Minion Method of lighting just a few coals and letting it spread has been around a while and used by thousands of guys. Did you have the exhaust Wide Open? Smoke turnover is important...JJ
 

jstin120

Newbie
6
11
Joined Oct 29, 2016
Yes, exhaust was wide open. I was able to control the temp with the lower vent. I had that at 1/8 open or so for most of the cook. A little more open around hour 5 or 6 as the temps were dropping outside.
 

wild west

Smoking Fanatic
456
98
Joined Apr 25, 2016
The method you describe is almost exactly what I do..same charcoal brand same wood same temp. Vent the same I add the wood on top too. I haven't experienced the creosote though. I get more creosote flavor from my mes 30 than my kettle. Only thing I can think of is the wood was not seasoned but you would notice that
 

jstin120

Newbie
6
11
Joined Oct 29, 2016
I do not soak the wood chucks as I did wood chips on my prior smoker. Could I possibly be using too much wood? 4 chunks of hickory is what I used.
 

wild west

Smoking Fanatic
456
98
Joined Apr 25, 2016
I don't think it's too much. I use about the same but space them out. About a chunk every hr or 1.5 hr.
 

gr0uch0

Master of the Pit
1,231
137
Joined Apr 30, 2016
I don't use water, nor do I soak the wood. If you pre-heat the wood before tossing them on, it helps. I've had instances where I put several chunks on at the beginning, and it did have a bitter taste. Now, I only use a couple to start, and feed it a little more often. I run into this more often with mesquite, but have also chalked it up to it burning hotter and faster than other woods I use. And, there is a possibility that you got a bad bag of chunks. I'd try the same batch of charcoal and wood, get a lesser cut of meat, and try it again to see if results are different. If it's the same, you're only out the cost of a few leg quarters and some time. My $0.02.
 

paul6

Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
272
19
Joined Jun 13, 2015
I have an electric smoker I use for fish and generally just a toy , when I first got I used water in the pan and was not pleased with the taste from what Chef Jimmy says that may be the problem ?
 

jstin120

Newbie
6
11
Joined Oct 29, 2016
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions everyone. I did a trial run on some spare ribs today. I measured out 4.5 ounces of wood and only used for the first 2 hours. Was probably using about 10 ounces before. I also used cherry instead of hickory in case the wood I have been using was bad. Let the Weber settle for about an hour before I put the ribs on.

I used the 3-2-1 method and they were perfect. No bitter taste, perfect amount of smoke. There is really more of an art to using charcoal than I thought. Here are a few pictures of the cook. Thanks again!
 

cliffcarter

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Group Lead
2,253
238
Joined Feb 28, 2010
Late to this party, but yes you used too much wood, as you have already figured out. 4 3" pieces of wood is equal to one of the wood splits that I use when cooking with wood in my COS. When I cook butts on the Weber I use 4-5 1"X3" pieces of wood for smoke. This gives plenty of smoke flavor for our tastes, YMMV.

BTW, welcome to the "I over smoked the meat club", I did it with ribs a few years back.
 

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.