Too much smoke flavor, any advice?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by young j, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. young j

    young j Fire Starter

    Hey, so I have a WSM 22.5 and the last two times I've smoked pork I've started to get too much of a smokey flavor than I'd like which I haven't had before. I switched from wood chips to chunks when I got the WSM and I use the minion method with 2-4 chunks at most. I think the problem might be that my smoker is right in the sun and it's 90+ degrees outside in Miami so it starts to get really high in temp causing a lot more smoke, but I'm not sure if I'm right or if I should switch back to chips. Any advice?
  2. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Is it bitter smoke flavor?   That is usually caused by "white smoke" instead of the thin blue smoke we want.  White smoke is creosote laden and has an acrid bitter taste (it also can leave a black greasy residue on food).

    In a WSM, you want to let the charcoal bed get established and under control well before putting the meat on.  Your wood chunks should have gone past being "on fire" to becoming charcoal blocks that are burning embers instead of smoking wood.  That is when the flavorful thin blue smoke is being deposited as opposed to the acrid white smoke. How are you adjusting your vents when the food is added if at all?  The temp will drop when the cold mass of food is added, but should slowly come back up on it's own without having to fiddle with the vents and return to the stable temp the pit was at before the meat was added (also burn this into your brain - on a WSM *NEVER* adjust the top vent - leave it 100% open all the time).   A lot of people start fiddling with the vents and do not wait 15 minutes to see how the fire responds to the adjustment.  Next thing you know they are chasing temps up and down like a yo-yo and choking back the air flow can also create that white smoke as well.   Any adjustment to a vent needs at least 15 minutes for the fire to settle in a the newly adjusted air flow level.  Adjusting airflow to a charcoal ember bed is like turning a cruise ship.  It takes a while to see results.

    Give us a little more info on your vent control, what you change when the meat is added, etc....
  3. young j

    young j Fire Starter

    I always keep the top vent completely open, I usually open all three just a little to get it going and once I get close to 200 I usually leave just one cent open depending where the wind is coming from. Usually only use 10 lit briquettes to light it and have the wood added beforehand. Maybe I should let the tempature settle even longer. I don't get any bitter flavor at all, in fact everyone that eats it can't tell the difference, but me personally I like to taste more of the meat than the smoke flavor and lately the smoke flavor is just too strong.
  4. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    some types of wood are stronger then others what type are you using?
  5. young j

    young j Fire Starter

    I use apple or hickory or some times I mix the two
  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Are you using water in the water pan?  If so, that will cause more smoke to adhere to the meat.  You can dry smoke to decrease the smoke flavor.

    Also, let the WSM run for about an hour before you load the meat.  Just do it, trust me.  As you get more experience, you'll recognize when you can add the meat sooner.  With a Guru temp controller I can get my meat load down to 30 minutes at times, but it is often 45 minutes or longer with a couple of good burps (removing the lid for a second or two). 
    young j likes this.
  7. young j

    young j Fire Starter

    I do usually use the water pan so does make sense, also I'll take your word for it and let it run for an hour.
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    No harm in smoking the meat 2-4 hours and foiling to finish. That will reduce smoke contact...JJ
  9. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My wife is a "supertaster," which is about 25% of the population.  I'm a nominal or "medium" taster, about 50% of the population.  Non-tasters make up the rest.

    My wife can tell if I've used water in the water pan or not.  If I have used water, she'll say "wow, this is too smoky to eat.  What did you do different?"  If I dry smoke, she loves it.

    The WSM can fool you into loading the meat too early.  The vast majority of the time you get all the white/grey smoke at the beginning, then it settles into a clean burn.  There have been many times I've started the fire, and 20 minutes later I'm not seeing much of anything in the exhaust.  I load the meat and WHAM!  White smoke!  These little bullet smokers can be tricksters at times. 
  10. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Very good advise about letting a WSM run stable for a while before adding meat.

    There is nothing wrong with using no water in the pan, but just be aware of the advantages water bring to the table (especially for newer WSM owners).  Water does 2 things.  It hold heat like a heat sink (it is a mass in it's own right), but it also has physical properties that make it the perfect companion for smoking in that 215-235* range.  Water, by it's chemical nature wants to remain a liquid.  And to go from a liquid at 212* to a vapor at 212* takes a huge jump in the energy required to make the phase change.  Without the extra energy required to keep it a vapor above 212*, it naturally wants to fall back to a liquid and that reverse phase change from a vapor to a liquid sucks a lot of energy back out of the air column.   So water wants to live on the knife edge of that 212* liquid to vapor in a smoker.  In addition to just being a thermal mass, this liquid/vapor property also tends to further moderate temps in that magic smoking low and slow range.

    Yes, a lot of us smoke in a WSM without water.  Some use a dry pan, others put sand in the pan (thermal mass) and cover it with foil, and others go the clay flower pot base sitting in the empty water pan route (I go this path).  Just be aware that you will gain the advantages of a thermal mass with those (all but the dry pan), but with the non-water mass, if you overshoot your set temp, you are dependent entirely on fire control to bring the temps back down as a hot dry thermal mass like sand or clay pot base will tend to keep the pit at the hot temp.  It's especially important to be patient with vent adjustments with no wet mass or else you end up chasing that yo-yo temp (choke back fire too much, open vent & stoke it up too much, repeat over an over.....).  That is why it is easier to learn a WSM using water in the pan and once you have a good grasp of controlling temps via the lower vents, then try using a dry thermal mass.

    Just something to be aware of.....

    And like Jimmy J said, it's you dinner so smoke it like you want.  Nothing wrong at all with applying X amount of smoke and foiling to either finish foiled in the WSM or the oven in the house.  Once it's foiled, you are just dealing with heat so if you want to crank the temps up for quicker finish, go for it.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  11. lancep

    lancep Master of the Pit

    100% on everything mentioned above. If I have anything to add it would be this. If you have affordable access to split wood, skip the store bought chunks and just place a small split on top of the lit coals. In my wsm I would light my chimney on the charcoal grate with the middle section and top grate installed and put a small split on the grate to preheat. Then,after dumping the lit coals, place the split on top and let it burn for five minutes or so then close everything up and bring the smoker up to temp. Because I preheated and burned the split I was usually able to add meat once the temp stabilized. It was a much cleaner smoke than buried chunks and I never had any white smoke issues.
  12. young j

    young j Fire Starter

    I appreciate all the advise I got on this post, Thanks.

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