Too Much Smoke?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by maddog, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. maddog

    maddog Newbie

    I am a rookie and need a little advice. I recently built a brick smoker with a small firebox. The heat from the firebox enters the bottom of the smoker chamber and exits the stack, basically a vertical smoker. The smoke chamber holds a good 6 butts so it is not too big. Anyway, I have been using only fire wood mixing maple, hickory and dogwood (heavy smoke similar to oak). I have mastered the heat flow of the smoker.

    My next step is to get the smoke quantity and quality correct. What do I need to consider when using only wood? My product is very smokey to the point of being over bearing. Do I need to go with char-coal and mix in the wood? Should the wood be burned down to coal first (hard to do with a connected firebox.)? Help.
  2. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It seems most stick burners you run into are offsets. In a vertical I think you better burn the wood down some or do a mixture of coals and wood.

    Good smoke on right.
  3. maddog

    maddog Newbie

    Oh, the firebox is offset and the heat/smoke enters on the side at the bottom.
  4. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would have to suggest that you try and maintain a hot small fire. Trying to burn a big fire will in most cases produce billowing white smoke.
  5. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If your using only wood you would need to either use a burn barrel to burn the wood down to coals then put them in the smoker or get a good fire going and let it burn down to coals before putting the meat on... then add small pieces to the burn to keep the heat going. Or... as you suggested... go with charcoal and add small bits of wood chunks for the smoke.
  6. tn_bbq

    tn_bbq Smoking Fanatic

    I've always heard of folks using a mild flavored wood for heat and just a little bit of smoke wood for flavor. Seems I've heard a common ratio is something like: 75% oak & 25% hickory
  7. bbqhead

    bbqhead Smoking Fanatic

    I would use charcoal and add wood to it.just straight wood is to strong unless you burned it down to coals first. just my 0.02 cents worth
  8. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I try to burn mostly wood for my smokes, I start with a full chimney of coals to get things going then I preburn all my wood before putting it into the smoker to get it on its way to a good burn. A weed burner works wonders [​IMG]

    I burn a lot of oak, use it for my main heat source and will add other chunks to it for flavor.
    Not sure the ratio but I would say around 75-25 or so.
    Long as you have a good fire going you should be fine running just wood but if you see the wood not burning enough and the temp is going to drop you can always toss in a half chimney of hot coals for a boost.
  9. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Im with FIU on this one. I burn wood only in my stick burner. If there is too much smoke, I say its one of 2 things. Wood not being seasoned (dry) long enough or too much flavor wood, like Hickory being used and giving the meat an overly smoked taste.
    Oak in itself is a very neutral wood, imparting a very subtle flavor, which is why is make a great wood to use. Adding small chunks of flavor woods in the process is where the meat really gets its smoky flavor from.

    When using wood, it has a tendency to billow white. Especially when being added to an existing fire and the wood goes thru a process of heating up and burning off any residual moisture and other natural chemicals in the wood. For that reason, many choose to either preburn thier wood, which is nothing more really than making a fire with the wood you intend on using, letting it get fairly charred then extinguishing it and using it them. Others will take any wood they are going to use and if they can, set it on top of or inside the firebox away from the fire and let it heat up. This drives excess moisture out, and brings the temp of the wood way up, close to the point of igniting without actually doing so. When it comes time to add wood, one of these pieces are thrown in the piece will ignite within a few seconds.

    You can make a fire burner if you just want to use hot coals. Basically its a 55 gal drum, cut in half. A few pieces of rebar are run thru to make a grate making squares approx 6 by 6 inches. This is up off the bottom say a foot. Build a fire as normal, and when the hot coals burn down and fall thru, you just scoop them up and add them to the firebox.

    Some will swear by it and it really boils down to whether it works for you. I have done and that is how I started out, but I have since found that building and maintaining a small, manageable fire gives me superior results. I make my fires with the method I described above. Pre-burning all my wood, and keeping it either on top of my firebox or inside the firebox out of the reach of the flame. Wood is within a few degrees of igniting and when I add a piece, it lights up almost instantly, with zero white or overpowering smoke. For flavor wood, I add a fist size chunk a few inches from the fire, close enough so it just smolders but far enough away to it won't catch fire.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it[​IMG]
  10. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    These guys have given you some great tips and advice. [​IMG]

    If you continue to have issues with a heavy smoke taste and you have followed the above advice and have finally mastered the "thin blue", the only other advice that I can offer is to hit the meat with smoke for 3-4 hours and then wrap in foil and place the meat back in the smoker and continue to cook it until the desired internal temp is reached.

Share This Page