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Excessive white smoke during brikset cook

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Cooking my first brisket on the KJ Classic 2 and had a lot of trouble with thick white smoke. My process below, if anybody can help me find the mistake it would be much appreciated!


- Loaded KJ with Jealous Devil lump charcoal and mix ~5-7 oak log chunks of medium (?) size. Logs were highly likely kiln dried but I did get them in firewood-like logs from a meat market vs the mass distro grocery store/home improvement bags

- Used Royal Oak starters and got the lump lit for about 15 minutes, then a couple of the oak chunks caught and I got a decent fire.

- Closed the top but opened the vent fully to try to let it smoke out and carbonize. Temp jumped pretty quickly to about 350 so I choked it back and got it stable around 260 but the thick white smoke continued for a solid 45+ minutes at which point I had no choice but to start the meat

- White smoke continued for another hour+ after this, albeit it didnt billow out quite as aggressively. This went on for a couple of hours at least which seemed like an excessively long time.


Thoughts? Advice?


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Hi Murphy, welcome to kamado guru.


I'll suggest one or both of these as the culprit. 


1.  Too much wood.  A kamado contains a small smoldering fire at slow and low temps.  5-7 wood chunks is a ton.  If I use chunks instead of chips it's 2 or 3 small ones and placed at or near the edge of the firebox.


2.  Grease buildup from other cooks in the firebox or on the deflector.  At the low and slow temperature this would take a very long time to burn off creating white smoke in the process.


Good luck and visit often!

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Thanks gentlemen!


I was actually trying to mimic some of your YouTube videos, John along with one from Flaming Rooster BBQ who certainly appeared to use more wood than you did which tells me likely #1 was the culprit. This was only my second cook on the KJ (got it Wednesday) and the first was just some basic chicken breasts.


Excited to put some more miles on her.

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I'm a little confused about your reference to wood chunks and logs. What size were the wood you used When you say decent  sized fire were you referring to the wood catching fire? The rapid rise to 360 may be caused by the wood being on fire. Then choking it back may have put the charcoal out and just the wood was burning. which was then trying to relit the charcoal which could cause the white smoke. I don't know if using kiln dried wood is a good idea or not.How did it taste? You might want to try a dry run at maintaining 225-250 to get used to setting the vents. I used ribs on my first cook due to them being forgiving , or you can not use any meat..John has a great video on using the kamado grill, lot of useful info in it. Stay excited it gets easier

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2 hours ago, MurphyBBQ said:

Thanks gentlemen!


I was actually trying to mimic some of your YouTube videos, John along with one from Flaming Rooster BBQ who certainly appeared to use more wood than you did which tells me likely #1 was the culprit. This was only my second cook on the KJ (got it Wednesday) and the first was just some basic chicken breasts.


Excited to put some more miles on her.


Less is more when it comes to smoking wood.  You can never under smoke anything.  You can certainly over smoke everything.

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There are always going to be variance in opinion about how much smoking wood to use. I freely admit to using more wood than either John or Philpom ever would however, that cannot under reasonable circumstances account for the smoke described.  Perhaps, if the smoking wood were all placed atop each other instead of being equally distributed throughout the firebox. But, even then that’s a stretch. The rise in temp to 350° could certainly trigger the beginning of a burnoff.  

#2 definitely sounds more reasonable but only you would know the state of your deflector plates prior to the cook. Thick smoke for more than a hour most accurately depicts this scenario. 

Finally, putting meat in with thick smoke billowing in a low and slow scenario is never a choice. 

Edited by CentralTexBBQ
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On 5/8/2020 at 9:32 AM, MurphyBBQ said:

Cooking my first brisket on the KJ Classic 2 and had a lot of trouble with thick white smoke. ...

Thick white smoke is a danger sign, but not always something to avoid. 


In one scenario, the fire is recently lit, and making white smoke with no smoking wood added. It's in the second phase and not yet a mature cooking fire. The smoke has an acrid smell with none of the desired sweetness of flavorful wood smoke. Thankfully, this smoke will go away fairly quickly, because it will spoil the flavor. 


In another scenario, the fire has matured, but is still making thick white smoke. Smoking wood was added to the mature fire, then deprived of air (lid closed) so it can't support open flame. It smolders, making thick white smoke until it's almost charcoal. The white smoke has the desired sweetness, and is slowly fades to thin blue smoke over time. food tastes great!


I think you added smoking wood too early, maybe at the start, before lighting? It gave you white smoke you couldn't trust... without a trained nose. I initially thought I could smell it well enough. I've come up with a better way. 


Use a chimney starter. 


A full chimney will become a mature fire very quickly. Dumping the coals of a mature fire on a cold bed of fuel will not cause the dreaded white smoke you get from fire starters... and you can add smoking wood to your heart's content. Food will cold smoke initially, as the fire brings the grill up to temperature over the first hour. Lots of flavor transfer, if you use a lot of smoking wood, less flavor with less wood. Find your preference then suit your tastes!


Stay well,


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Thanks for all the input! Taste actually turned out pretty great overall despite initial smoke issue. General end results:


- Great flavor overall - didnt end up as bitter as I was concerned about

- Moist juicy point overall but bottom of brisket across the board was a little tough (cooked fat cap up)

- Flat was a little tougher but interior was generally pretty tender - not as much as I was hoping for still


Some observations:

- Meat never really stalled, internal temp ran up pretty quickly throughout entire cook (note - in previous post I mentioned that grill temp jumped at the start but I did not put the meat on until it was stabilized at 275)

- Hit ~185 I.T. much quicker than anticipated but I left on for a total of about 8 hours before wrapping

- Wrapped in butcher paper and left on another 2 until it hit 203 I.T. then pulled and let rest about 1.5 hrs

- Looking back I should have pulled and wrapped a little earlier but I think I was looking for a little darker bark.


For my very first smoke on the KJ id give it a ~7/10 versus hope/expectation.


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