Question on smoke.

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Original poster
Sep 3, 2016
Two big things I see in a lot of smoking guides are:

1. Put your wood chunks spread out in your lump charcoal to make sure a nice even smoke happens throughout the cook.

2. Don't put meat on too soon, or you get acrid smoke flavor on your meat.

Don't the two of those contradict each other? By putting wood throughout your lump, it will catch fire, and burn that first smoke.
I agree you're going to have to add wood throughout your smoking time especially if you have a long smoke, 6+hours.. so that acrid smoke might get on your meat when you do so.. I don't understand that either..
In my mind #1 has more to do with when doing the snake or Minion method low and slow. You don't want all your chunks to light off at once. If I am doing a hotter smoke, I know the chunks are going to flame up so I add them throughout the smoke. In either case, you will notice the white smoke will calm down after a while to put your meat on no matter if you are using chunks or even straight charcoal or even straight wood.
One thing that does happen with burying wood in charcoal like the minion method is that the heat that builds up around the wood that is buried in the unlit coals comes up to a hotter temp over time to prepare it to burn more efficiently. It's like putting your chunks or splits on the top of your firebox to pre heat them before you add then to your firebox. It helps them catch fire quickly. The hot burning wood gives you a cleaner smoke. Thus the thin blue smoke that is always referenced. It's just more convenient as well to bury chunks randomly if you are using the minion method. You may stil need to add more mode as the cook progresses but having those unburned chunks mixed in with the coals will assure you a little more consistent smoke is flowing over your meat for a longer period of time.

This is where using seasoned wood comes into effect. I use a stick burner so I can only comment about that type of fire. When you initially start your firebox you use way more fuel than you will be cooking with. This is to generate a coal bed. When the multiple pieces of wood are starting to burn you will notice a lot more smoke. (No food during this phase) Once a nice fire is going you notice the smoke settles down. It’s now burning cleaner and when the bed of coals ate glowing you now have clean heat. Adding smaller pieces to an extremely hot coal bed ignites the seasoned wood and gets it beyond the white smoke phase a lot faster in turn allowing you to maintain a clean cook. Remember fellas, this is just my experience and my opinion. There’s a lot of guys on here that have a lot more experience than I do but this is what works in my backyard. Hope that helped
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This is a simple explanation.
It’s because by the time the spread out chunks begin to smoke they are already heated up and will immediately begin to combust (it reaches the burning bush phase easily) and produces “clean” smoke. It’s the same idea behind preheating your splits before placing into the firebox of a wood burner.
Charcoal unlit in your fire area will be really smoking as it trys to get going after you have shut down your intake vents.. You try to starve off air to keep temps from climbing and that unlit stuff smokes more as a result. Wood chunks and chips smoldering also add to the white smoke due to lack of air. You just have to find a happy medium between air and not enough air .. not enough causes a bunch of smoke and it takes a longer time to see it go away.
Like many have already stated, always use seasoned wood, green wood will smoke and smolder more. I also try to preheat my wood chunks by sitting on top of the FB. When you add a new piece of wood, it will usually initially kick off some white smoke but is short lived if you have the proper coals and heat going. When I add a new piece I keep the FB door open allow that thicker white smoke to release, once it's caught on fire I'll then close the lid. I also try to remove some of the bark if I can, that will usually kick off a lot of white smoke. I burn a lot of chestnut oak and it has a thick bark but when dry enough comes off fairly easy.
I never get white smoke hardley ever even when just starting it. I put the meat on first before I even use my axe to split up kindling. I do start it with a weed burner so it's a good flame in there getting the fire going
I started to load my cook chamber with wood for the next smoke after pulling meat from the last smoke with positive results. Kiln Dries it on a molecular level. Try it.


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