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Pork Butt Failure

endo129

Fire Starter
42
10
Joined Dec 13, 2015
So, at my little girl's request, I smoked a butt on Thursday to make her favorite meal, but it turned out to be a disaster; my first complete failure on the smoker.

Not long in to the smoke I noticed black liquid dripping on my deck. I looked under my SmokeVault 24" and saw this was dripping from the bolts holding the legs to the bottom. I thought to myself that I must need to clean out the drip tray. By now, all you guys know that was not grease but creosote. After the butt got done I noticed the slime on the rack and thought it was odd. I thought the butt looked good so I tasted the crap out of it to try and convince myself it was not creosote; but I knew better. The bark tasted super salty, something I dismissed as missing 1/9 of one of the ingredients in my rub. I didn't want it to be a waste. The tip of my tongue where I rubbed it around felt funny and I finally convinced myself it was ruined.

On my smoker I had the inlets closed b/c I figured they'd cause the wood to burn faster and light if they were open. I cooked around 275* give or take. I have a couple cans sitting on the vent to help pull the smoke out the top. I'm working on getting a chimney eventually to set on there. My wood burns to white ash that is still int eh shape of the chunk before I have to add more. I get an hour max out of a couple chunks.

So, I'm going to do this again when I get a day off and get some done right and ready for some quick easy meals this winter. I have some questions because I've never dealt with this before and I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for on here.

1) Do I need to do any clean up of my smoker after this disaster? I figure I need to at least clean the rack really well.

2) What causes this? I know there's a lot of science and differing opinions, but as a generality: Smoke not flowing though properly? Inlet vents shut down? Too much heat on the wood? Too much wood?

3) I have a SM 24" and I know a lot of people love it, and I'm trying to too. How do I get smoke to last more than 60 minutes? Do I need to move it further from the fire? Cover the tray with foil? Open the inlet vents?

4) I saw a picture of someone, Al I think, had that tray loaded up with wood chunks. The one time I tried this I couldn't see the meat in the chamber so I panicked and aborted and went back to 2-3 chunks an hour.

5) When getting the smoker started, does everyone get it smoking and wit until that smoke dies down before adding the meat? I usually get it hot, then throw on smoke and meat b/c I hate getting blasted in the eyes with the smoke when I put the meat on.

6) I picked up a couple smaller butts on Sunday and want to do this on my next day off. however, that's not until NEXT Tuesday. I should probably freeze them for a couple days and pull them out at the end of this week, huh?

Thanks a ton. You guys are always life savers! Wish I could somehow get hit of what you all are smokin'. :)
 

SmokinAl

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Joined Jun 22, 2009
So, at my little girl's request, I smoked a butt on Thursday to make her favorite meal, but it turned out to be a disaster; my first complete failure on the smoker.

Not long in to the smoke I noticed black liquid dripping on my deck. I looked under my SmokeVault 24" and saw this was dripping from the bolts holding the legs to the bottom. I thought to myself that I must need to clean out the drip tray. By now, all you guys know that was not grease but creosote. After the butt got done I noticed the slime on the rack and thought it was odd. I thought the butt looked good so I tasted the crap out of it to try and convince myself it was not creosote; but I knew better. The bark tasted super salty, something I dismissed as missing 1/9 of one of the ingredients in my rub. I didn't want it to be a waste. The tip of my tongue where I rubbed it around felt funny and I finally convinced myself it was ruined.

On my smoker I had the inlets closed b/c I figured they'd cause the wood to burn faster and light if they were open. I cooked around 275* give or take. I have a couple cans sitting on the vent to help pull the smoke out the top. I'm working on getting a chimney eventually to set on there. My wood burns to white ash that is still int eh shape of the chunk before I have to add more. I get an hour max out of a couple chunks.

So, I'm going to do this again when I get a day off and get some done right and ready for some quick easy meals this winter. I have some questions because I've never dealt with this before and I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for on here.

1) Do I need to do any clean up of my smoker after this disaster? I figure I need to at least clean the rack really well.
You don't need to clean the inside of the smoker, unless the creosote is on the top & will drip on the food. Once it cools down any loose pieces should be scraped off & of course clean the grates.

2) What causes this? I know there's a lot of science and differing opinions, but as a generality: Smoke not flowing though properly? Inlet vents shut down? Too much heat on the wood? Too much wood? I never close the bottom vents in my Smoke Vault. I leave both bottom vents wide open and the top vent wide open too. I think shutting down the bottom vents was your problem, you need air flow.

3) I have a SM 24" and I know a lot of people love it, and I'm trying to too. How do I get smoke to last more than 60 minutes? Do I need to move it further from the fire? Cover the tray with foil? Open the inlet vents? Use wood chunks & keep the vents wide open. I add a chunk about every hour to hour & a half.

4) I saw a picture of someone, Al I think, had that tray loaded up with wood chunks. The one time I tried this I couldn't see the meat in the chamber so I panicked and aborted and went back to 2-3 chunks an hour. Once again keep all the vents wide open.

5) When getting the smoker started, does everyone get it smoking and wit until that smoke dies down before adding the meat? I usually get it hot, then throw on smoke and meat b/c I hate getting blasted in the eyes with the smoke when I put the meat on. Personally I put the meat on as soon as I start the smoker up. I let it come up to temp with the meat in it.

6) I picked up a couple smaller butts on Sunday and want to do this on my next day off. however, that's not until NEXT Tuesday. I should probably freeze them for a couple days and pull them out at the end of this week, huh?
If the butts are in a cryovac 2 pack from the meat packer, then they will be fine in the fridge until next Tuesday. If they have been repackaged, then I would freeze them.

Thanks a ton. You guys are always life savers! Wish I could somehow get hit of what you all are smokin'. :)
Good luck!
Al
 

floridasteve

Smoking Fanatic
760
74
Joined Jun 16, 2014
I’m not familiar with your smoker, ot any propane smoker for that matter, but assuming your wood chunks are about fist sized, two should last longer that an hour. I have a home brewed 14.5" WSM Mini, and two chunks on top of the charcoal last about 3 hours, maybe more. Also, I always add the wood before the meat and wait for the initial blast of white smoke to peeter out befor adding food. That heavy white smoke is full of creosote. Also, if I do have to add more wood, I do it one chunk at a time to limit the initial blast of white smoke.
 

slickuser

Newbie
4
10
Joined May 20, 2016
I also have a SV24 and have been using it for the last few years, with this year being much more often.

1. I like to put my racks into my grill and get them really hot before giving them a nice cleaning. I also like to periodically wide the inside of the SV down.

2. Like Al, I also do not close the vents. In fact, they do not close all the way. To close them all the way would require removing part of the vents. I leave all vents open. Often I limit the top vent as much as is allowed.

3. I keep both side vents open and I end up having to add more wood chunks every hour or so.

5. I like to get the SV started at a high temperature. I like to start at 300 degrees and let it sit at that temp for about 10 min. I then add several chunks of wood (and also some extra wood chips). After the smoke starts (with the wood chips, it is fairly quick) I then add the meat. I like to have the smoke hitting the cold meat as quick as I can.

I have not had to deal with the SV producing the creosote white smoke.
 

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