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Propane smoker results underwhelming

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by thekolnik, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    I recently bought a Masterbuilt propane smoker. I love the idea that all I have to do is turn a knob and get smoke. I just wanted something easy to fire up on a week night after work. Unfortunately I have been very dissapointed with the smoke flavor of the food. I've done st lous ribs, salmon, and on Easter I did turkey breast. I see and smell LOADS of clean smoke coming from the vent but the food has absolutely zero smoke flavor. I have been barbecuing on an offset for years and for the life of me I can't understand how this is possible. I even tried spritzing with apple juice (which I never needed to do on my offset) to make the food take more smoke but have had no luck. I leave the vent wide open to encourage smoke flow. The wood I've been using has been a combination of oak chunks and apple chips. The food itself is cooked perfectly.... even better than I can usually achieve on my offset, but NO smoke flavor. Is this a common theme with propane? Are there any tricks to getting more smoke flavor from propane? I never had any unrealistic expectations that the smoke was going to be as good as my offset, but I didn't expect this. Even people at work have said they taste and smell no smoke or very little from the stuff I've cooked. I was really excited about this smoker and just can't express how dissapointed I am.
     
    JC in GB likes this.
  2. JC in GB

    JC in GB Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Wow, that sounds like a nasty issue for a smoker to have. You said you have the airflow at max, what happens when you restrict the airflow? Are you using dry chips or soaking them?

    From my experience you don't need a ton of wood or a stack pouring smoke to get good smoke flavor.

    Is the wood igniting after a time? Perhaps the wood is not getting hot enough?

    Hope you get some answers to this. I am looking forward to hearing what you come up with as a fix.
     
    thekolnik likes this.
  3. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    I don't soak the wood. I've always read that does more harm than good. I have not tried closing the vent. I feel like that would decrease flow. Yes the wood does burn after a little while. Some times I have to actually turn of the gas completely because the wood is providing enough heat on it's own. I even put a gasket in the doors to help direct the flow out the vent better. I'm telling you this is the most perplexing thing I've ever seen. Is this common for gas smokers? I think the only solutionis to swap it out for an electric.
     
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would think the opposite. The smoke wood igniting before it made smoke from smoldering. This was a common problem with chips and the gasser chip pans being too close to the burner. Guys raised some, used Cast Iron Pans and Chunks or eliminated the pan and made smoke with an AMNTS, Tube filled with pellets...JJ
     
    jokensmoken, indaswamp and JC in GB like this.
  5. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    In my experience soaked wood doesn't actually smoke at all until the wood dries out enough to burn, and even then the parts that are still wet make the burning parts produce bitter smoke. So while the wood "lasts longer", the smoke that is produced is not as good as good old hot burning, dry wood. At this point though I'm will to try just about anything.
     
  6. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    BTW if you're a Packers fan, as a Bears fan I don't think I'm allowed to associate with you. 9/5/19 GO BEARS!

    ;)
     
    smokinstubbs and JC in GB like this.
  7. bregent

    bregent Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    How much wood are you loading into it? I've never had a problem with a lack of smoke in my GOSM, and have used chips, chunks and pellets. I've ended up over smoking the food too many times!
     
    JC in GB likes this.
  8. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    I'm using a combination of chucnks and chips. The chunks are oak and the chips are apple. Again, there is lots of smoke pouring from the out-vent and the food chamber is packed with smoke, but the food just tastes like it was baked in my kitchen oven at very low temps.
     
  9. solman

    solman Smoking Fanatic

    i've never had this problem with my gasser that i modded to automatically maintain set temperature. the only thing i can think as a possibility is that the "smoke" you see coming out of the vent isn't actually smoke but condensation off the meat. after a cook, how does the wood chips/chunks look? are you left with nothing but ash? blackened like lump charcoal with little to no ash? or mostly wood with just little black charring on the edges?
     
    JC in GB likes this.
  10. JC in GB

    JC in GB Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    No worries. I like the Bears too. Great rivalry and if the Packers don't make it in the playoffs, I'm rooting for da Bears....
     
  11. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    Smoke definately is smoke and not steam. It actually smells like smoke. Even more funny is that I had to shower twice before church last week because I some of the smoke got on me! The wood is completely consumed and there is nothing left but delicate white ash powder. No black pieces left over.
     
  12. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    Same here. Love the rivalry. 100 years! And I definately root for NFC north teams in the playoffs.
     
    JC in GB likes this.
  13. solman

    solman Smoking Fanatic

    another thing i just thought of is the wood you're using. have you tried different brands/types of wood? my understanding is that the flavor of wood is much more dependent on where it's grown or sourced, than the name of the wood type. so not all apple wood is the same.
     
    JC in GB likes this.
  14. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Propane with wood chunks is close to a stick burner, but you will not achieve the same results as a stick burner. But you can come close. Wood fire puts out hundreds of chemicals and flavor compounds. And when using all wood as your heat source, the concentration of those compounds is a lot higher. propane burns very clean, and makes only H2O, CO2, CO, and very little else...

    The only thing you can do is use more wood chunks, and lower the propane to a very small blue flame and use the propane just to moderate the temps and keep it even. This is how I use my propane smoker to get great results and a deep smoke on my meats. I'm a smoke hound...so for me, no such thing as over smoked as long as it's the right sweet smoke and not a bitter smoke.
     
  15. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    ...and I have stopped using chips on my CI pan. Too much billowing white smoke and too hard to control to get good smoke. Does not last long either. I use almost exclusively chunks now for warm and hot smoking....but I do add the charcoal leftover from the previous smoke to get a quick fire started.
     
  16. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    I was thinking about smoke "concentration" today. Specifically that the production of the wood gases is definately much lower than when I use my offset. I'm thinking of closing the vent to about 10% flow. I'm thinking that will allow the lower concentration of smoke gasses to contact the food longer. I think of smoke particles as sort of like rain drops in a storm. A lot of storm wind (smoker air flow) with a lot of rain (smoke particles) will leave me (the food) drenched with water (smoke flavor). But even with a lot of wind, if there is not much rain I'm still not going to get wet. I think if I cut down the flow but still allow some that will help. And I will just try to use more wood also.
     
  17. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    I agree that the wood source matters. As far as that goes the apple chips are just Western brand and the chunks are from an oak tree that blew over in a hurricane a few years ago. Basically it's all the same wood I use in my offset when I have great results.
     
  18. chilerelleno

    chilerelleno Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I smoke in a propane burning CCSV24, I burn chunks and have no problem what so ever with smoke flavor.

    I start with a high flame/heat to get the chunks burning and/or smoldering heavily, then lower the flame and smother it with the vents if needed.
    Then once smoldering a nice smoke I make final temp adjustments and start cooking.
    Whenever I check my meat, I give a good shake or three to my wood pan and that gets the ash off the chunks and generates fresh smoke.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
    indaswamp likes this.
  19. thekolnik

    thekolnik Newbie

    So restricting the air flow worked. Still not as smoky as my offset but a fair tradeoff for the convenience of turning a knob and have my food cooked perfectly. I have to say, with the smoke issues aside, the gasser cooks food way more tender and produces consistently better food. My offset requires so much attention and the results aren't even as good. I think I'm going to love this gasser.
    Also, I figured out that the out-vent serves a similar purpose as on my offset. The difference is that the combustion source on my gasser doesn't depend on oxygen so closing the out-vent does little to affect temps. However, closing the out-vent DOES smother wood from burning in the wood pan (unless of course the gas is all the way up), causing wood to simply smolder, and purely because of the gas flame beneath. Leaving the vent wide open causes the wood to fully combust, causing temp spikes. By leaving the vent open about 10% I have a balance of burning wood and consistent temps.
     
  20. smokinstubbs

    smokinstubbs Newbie

    There's only one division in football. The Black & Blue division! Da Bears!