SOS - My first attempt at smoking ended in disaster

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Khrakk

Smoke Blower
Sep 15, 2019
77
61
E. Texas
I've caught my smoker on fire twice, and I can personally attest that it is pretty unnerving. First time I panicked and did my best to get the combustibles out (and burned myself and left a nice charred spot in the front yard). Our situations were a little different though. I use a pellet smoker and my fires were a result of over-priming after a flame out. I put a pellet tube (or two) on top of my firebox, and I have learned the tubes will burst into flames when the internal temperature exceeds 400 degrees. The first time it happened, I opened up smoker afterwhich the inside burst into flames. My smoker is next to the house, so this was really concerning.

Second time, I just resolved myself to leave the door closed and basically starved it of oxygen. I sat and watched the show for about 10 minutes (the meat was still ok). In your case, if this happens again, leave the lid on and close the air ports to starve it of oxygen. In all likelihood, it will use up the O2 relatively quickly depending on how well yours is sealed. Grease fire is different, but it also requires oxygen to burn.

As others have stated, start with something smaller than a brisket. I've been smoking for close to 10 years (more frequently in the last 2 years since discovering this forum - you guys are a bad influence on me), and I've only done two briskets. Brisket is a really big job for me.

Most importantly, dont give up. Smoking is an art and a science that takes a good amount of time to perfect, and I learn something new each time I do a big smoke.
 

PinkOstrich

Newbie
May 7, 2021
28
36
Hi Angry,
That sounds like bad news. I did quite a bit of research before I took the plunge and bought my smoker. I watched lots of YouTube videos, perhaps I overthought it but I agree with everything that’s been said about the Weber Smokey mountain. It’s temperature control is top class.
what I would say is if you’re planning on low and slow cooking, read up on the minion method, get yourself a chimney starter and use that method. its important with something like a water smoker to put water in the bowl and close down the bottom vents at about 190-200F once you get going so they’re only open slightly and any lid vent fully open. This should prevent temperature overshoot. Temperature monitoring is the single most important thing to do. Get yourself a thermopro TP08 or something and use one channel to monitor grate temp ( rest it on some bbq mat so you’re not touching something metal ) and the other for your meat. try to avoid temperature overshoot as once it’s over, it’s time consuming to bring it back down.
 

jokensmoken

Master of the Pit
Dec 7, 2016
1,072
343
Whitmore Lake Michigan
I wasn't trying to blame the butcher as much as figure out what the heck I did wrong, because frankly I had no idea. I did think the meat was too much though. So what is the correct way to maintain temps? I had all the vents open for hours and the temperature continued to plummet over time without me shoving hot coals into the bottom. Thank you for your help.
With that poundage of meat you will always struggle on that size smoker to maintain temps and probably fail. You need to properly pair the pounds of meat to the size smoker you're running.
I'm guessing 7-8 pounds of meat is the MOST you'll be able to smoke on a similar size smoker.
 

JLeonard

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Apr 17, 2020
5,960
4,706
Southaven, MS
Welcome to the forums. Sounds like you had an expensive lesson to start your smoking hobby. If I may suggest.....Look at a Weber Kettle, you can get a basic one for around a $100 or so. And it will turn out some great BBQ. Look at youtube videos and etc. Lots of guys on here have them and do great things with them. I just got started on a Kettle in Dec. Loving it thus far and am totally amazed at what you can do with it.
Jim
 

SmokeGSU

Newbie
Jun 8, 2021
5
1
I've done a lot of bbq'ing over the years though I wouldn't call myself an expert by any stretch. Somewhere around intermediate. I just upgraded from a Char-Griller Akorn to a Dyna-Glow offset smoker, and I did plenty of butts and loins on the Akorn. When I've done smokes and have wanted to keep temperatures low on the Akorn I have always used a water pan throughout the process. I've seen some slight variations on why people say to use a water pan in the first place but what's always stuck with me and what I've used it for in my smokes is to act as a temperature dump to prevent the temperatures from getting too high. Between that and proper coal management via the snake/ring of fire method I could usually keep my temps fairly consistent. That being said, I could always tell a difference if I forgot to put the water pan in the Akorn because the temps would shoot well past my target and keep on going.
 

PinkOstrich

Newbie
May 7, 2021
28
36
I've done a lot of bbq'ing over the years though I wouldn't call myself an expert by any stretch. Somewhere around intermediate. I just upgraded from a Char-Griller Akorn to a Dyna-Glow offset smoker, and I did plenty of butts and loins on the Akorn. When I've done smokes and have wanted to keep temperatures low on the Akorn I have always used a water pan throughout the process. I've seen some slight variations on why people say to use a water pan in the first place but what's always stuck with me and what I've used it for in my smokes is to act as a temperature dump to prevent the temperatures from getting too high. Between that and proper coal management via the snake/ring of fire method I could usually keep my temps fairly consistent. That being said, I could always tell a difference if I forgot to put the water pan in the Akorn because the temps would shoot well past my target and keep on going.
Yup.
I've noticed this too. Weber provide a water pan for the WSM. I put water in it.
It helps regulate temperature. If you don't, it tends to run hot.
Other people put sand or ceramic in.
I keep it simple.
 

macdoesit

Newbie
Jun 14, 2021
26
13
Same experience. Been smoking on my offset smoker for 10 years. Thought I would get a smaller smoker for single brisket, less wood. Master built rectangular upright smoker.
Filled water pan, heat at 225, couple hours later noticed heat was 350, opened door, woosh, whole inside of smoker was on fire including the meat, fire was boiling out the door, grabbed a broom handle closed the door and closed all vents, turned off the propane, fire went out. Ruined the brisket and smoker. The smoker is in a 6 foot deep hole I use for burning trash. Damn things are dangerous. Stick to my offset smoker.
DSCN0669.JPG
 

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