Toxic Ribs - Help Pls

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Oct 15, 2006
Howdy Y'all, I'm from Houston Tx

Glad I finally found this site, it does have good info but I still seem to have a problem.

I do killer Steaks n Burgers n bbq Chicken on a Grill. I had a Brinkman upright smoker that worked real well also. So I have some experience, not a pro by any stretch tho.

I have an Oklahoma Joe - Hondo Horizontal smoker with offset fire box. It does killer beer can chickens, but I seem to have a problem with brisket and ribs.

I signed up for the 5 day e-mail and did find it helpful. I bought the rub and sauce recipe, (That sauce is Kick-A$$, but needs some Jalapenos added to it :twisted: )

Here's my problem, my smoked ribs come out with a bitter, acrid taste to them. I smoked a 6lb slab of pork spare ribs two weeks ago, they were almost not edible. I found on this site that one of my problems was that I was holding the smoke in the cooking chamber too long. I was using the cover on the smoke stack to help regulate the temp. I also used 3 yr old oak that time.

Yesterday I tried again, same type of ribs. This time however I went out and bought some 'seasoned' Pecan. I used Jeff's rub on them, and put them in the smoker for 3 hours at 220 - 240, spraying occasionally with apple juice. At the end of 3 hours I wrapped them in foil and tossed them back on for 2 hours and then for the last hour or so I opened them back up til they hit 170 degrees.

The bitter acrid taste was still present, not as bad as the last time, but still not right. Down here in Texas, there is no shortage of good brisket and ribs joints, so I know what I'm trying to achieve, or beat, but I just don't seem to have it down yet. The smoke coming out of the stack was white, I did notice at one point when I tossed a new log on it came out greyish for a while.

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

You may have got a creosote build up inside your smoker when you were keeping your top vent closed. If so, I would clean it best I could with some type of degreaser (greased lightning) and then reoil it and build a good hot fire and reseason.
First and foremost, NIT, Welcome to the site!

Now, down to business. Never cover your exhaust or shorten up your intake dampers to control heat. Your heat control comes from very careful management of your firebox.

It seems that you have a case of creosote contamination. The only solution to avoid bad flavoring of your smokes in the future is a thorough scrubbing of your cooking chamber and a high heat re-seasonning of the same.

Now, please let us know exactly what type of equipment you are using, brand, model, etc and someone else will certainly chime in with more specifics. And when you do please post under the appropriate topic area. You will get more and faster results there!

Finally, welcome again! You will find this to be one of the nicest places on the web and literally loaded with all the info and advice you could ask for. And please....take a few minutes to tell us a little more about yourself.

Eddie, Welcome to SMF. Hope we can help you out here. It's sounds like you may have a problem with creosote. It is caused by a couple of things, burning green wood or the exhaust vent is closed down not allowing the smoke to vent properly-the top vent should only be used to vent the smoke and the air intake vents should be used to regulate the firebox temp. It sounds like that you are using strickly wood for your heat source. Try switching to a lump charcoal such as Royal Oak and just use wood chunks or sticks to add flavor. Or use a fire barrel and pre-burn your wood first. See the topic sticky in the Wood Burner forum in the Smoking Supplies and Equip. Section

Thanks for the quick feedback!!! :D

Based on what y'all are saying, I think the creosote build up may be the culprit. I thought that hardish shiny film on the inside of the cooker was a good thing, i.e. seasoned.

I've used the smoker alot and have always closed the damper on the exhaust side quiet a bit. I'll scrub her down this week and try again next weekend. Thanks!!!

Where is the correct place to post this type of question? I'm probably just being blind but I didn't see a whole lot of options for various topics to post.

I have an Oklahoma Joe's horizontal smoker with an off set fire box, it's the Hondo model. The fireboxis 20" long, the cooking chamber is 40" long, both have a 20" diameter with a 4" diameter exhaust pipe.

Once again, thanks for the quick feedback.

Eddie :D
Heya, Eddie!

Under "Smoking Supplies and Equipment" you will find a section for wood smokers. The members who have wood smokers hang there as well as all over the site. But for a specific query on wood smokers that's the place to post.

As for all the response I wasn't talking outta turn when I said the is a great place!

Happy you found us and we are all looking forward to your future posts! please let us know how you make out with that creosote problem!

Welcome Eddie. Glad you were able to find some help here. Keep us up to speed on the status of your next smoke, I'm interested to see if the cleaning solves your problem. Good to have you with us! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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