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White smoke an hour in


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Sorry if this has been asked but I'm a little pushed for time and am new to the forum. I have started getting bad white smoke an hour in to my cook. I am smoking with 5 chunks of bourbon-barrel oak. I let my kamado burn for an hour and a half until the temperature had been steady for a while and the thin blue smoke had started, and put on my brisket. An hour goes by, no problems. Then over the course of 5 minutes, it starts smoking like a steam train, and I don't know why. Temp is steady, everything is the same.

 

My only guess from quickly reading some other forums is that another piece of wood has ignited, but the sheer amount of smoke indicates it is all of the wood smouldering. I don't have any massive pieces of charcoal at the bottom of my firebox, but I have cooked under those conditions before and not gotten this result.

 

As I write it is going back down again (about 15-20 minutes), but the damage is likely already done. Any ideas on what happened, or if I even need to worry about it?

 

Thanks

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2 hours ago, AusSmoke said:

Sorry if this has been asked but I'm a little pushed for time and am new to the forum. I have started getting bad white smoke an hour in to my cook. I am smoking with 5 chunks of bourbon-barrel oak. I let my kamado burn for an hour and a half until the temperature had been steady for a while and the thin blue smoke had started, and put on my brisket. An hour goes by, no problems. Then over the course of 5 minutes, it starts smoking like a steam train, and I don't know why. Temp is steady, everything is the same.

 

My only guess from quickly reading some other forums is that another piece of wood has ignited, but the sheer amount of smoke indicates it is all of the wood smouldering. I don't have any massive pieces of charcoal at the bottom of my firebox, but I have cooked under those conditions before and not gotten this result.

 

As I write it is going back down again (about 15-20 minutes), but the damage is likely already done. Any ideas on what happened, or if I even need to worry about it?

 

Thanks

 

Are you sure it's smoke? Could it be from the food cooking?

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19 hours ago, AusSmoke said:

Definitely not the food, way too much and way too white for it to be that. And it did return to normal after 20 minutes or so.

You're probably having a combo of fresh wood and charcoal igniting at the same time would be my guess. I'm wondering if you bury the wood at the bottom of the coal?  I lay mine on the fire grate then pile charcoal on top, so the smoke particles are combusting as it moves upwards through the hot bed of coals.  Also next time just give the smoke a whiff if it smells ok to you I wouldn't worry about it.

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and for what it's worth, this good smoke / bad smoke thing is blown way out of proportion anyway.  If you have lit yoru fire and had it stable for an hour before you put your meat on you are good to go.  If you are overly concerned about good/bad smoke, I would say that 5 chunks of any kind of wood is at least twice as much as you need to smoke a brisket.  Thats a lot of smoke if thnose are fist sized chunks.  I normally take ONE fist sized chunk and take a hatchet to it and make 4 or 5 pieces out of it and that's all I will use on a brisket or a butt.

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Thanks for all the feedback. It looks like my smoke fears were overblown luckily - I have severely oversmoked in the past so I am always looking out for it, but it turned out great and was a big hit for all the mates I had over. I have not tried burying my wood before so might give that a crack in future.

 

Thanks also for the advice on wood quantity, still mostly experimenting to see what works so I'll try less next time and see how that goes. 

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18 hours ago, AusSmoke said:

Thanks for all the feedback. It looks like my smoke fears were overblown luckily - I have severely oversmoked in the past so I am always looking out for it, but it turned out great and was a big hit for all the mates I had over. I have not tried burying my wood before so might give that a crack in future.

 

Thanks also for the advice on wood quantity, still mostly experimenting to see what works so I'll try less next time and see how that goes. 

Glad it turned out great

 

A lesson I've learned on Weber Kettles, that I'm sure carries over, is that at low heat you can have a lot of fuel all smouldering (because it doesn't have the air to burn hot) or you can have a tiny amount of fuel burning very hot, without the ability to spread to everything else

 

So,

1. Try to have only one spot hot 

2. Bury (or sandwich) any wood so it isn't too open to air

3. Get the spot burning clean (in a Kamado, you can do that in place, in a weber do it in a chimney with a couple of pieces of coal) 

4. Once its established to the level you want, assemble everything and close the lid. All vents wide open. 

5. 50-75F below your target, close bottom vent most of the way - I find about the thickness of my pinkie finger is about right) Keep top vent open

 

In my experience, that will get the cleanest burn. Let the smokey air out as fast as possible with no turbulence. It will kiss the food just fine without rolling around in there. Don't choke off of smoulder the fire, just keep it very small through air control.

 

Fire control beats vent surfing any day

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