Stick burners, a few questions

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Sorry for the late response. Darn work!

While I was there I remembered - duh - that it’s on my probes. It feels dry. Here’s a picture of the probes and my finger after handling. Please note that this isn’t after one smoke but multiple.


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I thought I made an account here in the past, but apparently I’ve just been a lurker.

I live in the PNW. Why is that relevant? A few years ago I decided I wanted a stick burner after smoking with a WSM and a pellet grill for years prior. There are very few of these smokers available here outside of a custom build, and honestly if I’m spending that kind of money I’d rather just go with something proven like a workhorse vs. something local that may or may not be designed and built properly. Even getting something like an OC Pecos shipped here is in the realm of $1300.

With that said, I ended up buying something on the cheaper end(a OJ Highland) purely out of local availability and to get my feet wet. I figured it wasn’t a super low end CoS and by all accounts was capable of doing what I wanted.

Here recently, I’ve had what I’m assuming is a creosote issue. I always run the outlet and intake at 100%(I just prop the intake door open 2-4”) to promote good airflow for a clean burning fire. The smoke itself is either clear or thin blue. Now the creosote(or whatever it is) isn’t this super thick tarry stuff like I’ve seen online, but maybe those pictures are extreme cases. Whatever it is seems to lightly coat the food and my probes. When I say it’s on the foods, again it’s not super thick. It doesn’t seem to have a flavor, numb the tongue or anything else. Unfortunately I haven’t taken pictures of it, but the best way I could describe it is if you had a shaker full of the stuff and you lightly seasoned the food with it. It’s apparent in the juices on the cutting board, you can see some black tinging on your fingers if you touch the meat. Again, it isn’t overly dramatic but it’s present.

The thing that’s perplexing about this is that the smoke looks clean. It’s not like it’s spitting out dense white or black smoke. I’ve tried switching woods thinking maybe that’s the issue.

I usually start the fire with a half chimney of lump and a reasonable sized split, then I use small chunks(splits cut down to 4-5” long and 2-3” wide) to keep the fire going from that point on because I know the firebox and chamber are on the small side. I do preheat them, either in the firebox, cook chamber, or on top of the firebox.

Sorry for the long winded message, but I wanted to provide as much info as possible.

When this thing puts out food it’s usually great. Even with this crap on there, it’s still good… but I’d prefer it greatly if it wasn’t there. I’ve tossed around the idea of trying to locate a higher end smoker as it seems fire management on those is easier… I’ve even considered going with the currently popular Grand Champ, but I feel like it’s close enough to the highland that it’s not going to make much of a difference if any at the end of the day. I’m sure it’s higher quality but I’ll still be fighting the same issues.

Maybe I should start propping the firebox lid open? Any other ideas/thoughts?

Thank you!
I dont have one and never used one but i want to learn about them. My first question: Once the initial wood logs have become embers. You have to add fuel every 30 - 45 minutes, so i have read in another thread. If that is true. Doesnt the smoke from the new logs end up over smoking the meat? Thats like me adding wood chunks every 30 minutes to my 8 hour cook. Ok thats my only question right now. More to follow i guess. I need to be educated cuz im board and need something to do besides homework
Sorry for the late response. Darn work!

While I was there I remembered - duh - that it’s on my probes. It feels dry. Here’s a picture of the probes and my finger after handling. Please note that this isn’t after one smoke but multiple.

Hello Jeff, and welcome to the forums!

After reading your first post, like some of the other guys, I wondered if what you were describing was simply a small amount of ash. Any of us who do open-fire cooking produce some ash, and it sometimes gets on our food, our thermometers, our grates, etc.

Whether you call it ash, soot, or whatever, it's normal. Even a hot, clean-burning fire makes some smoke. That smoke is simply the tiny compounds and particulates produced when wood combusts. Those compounds/particulates - even in a clean burning fire - leave their residue behind.

As others have already said...if your smoke isn't thick and billowing white or grey, and if your food comes out tasting good, I wouldn't sweat that small amount of residue.

Good luck and happy smoking!
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