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New to smoking questions about charcoal?

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  • May 6th, 2021 2:44 pm
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Sep 1, 2005
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Greg8642 wrote: I was able to cook them properly, but had to battle the temp for the whole cook. It was up and down the whole time. The problem was that they didn't taste very good due to having thick white smoke the whole time. From what I've read your trying to get thin blue smoke which leaves that good smoke flavor.
It will be whitish at the beginning until the smoker gets up to heat, it will turn to "bluish" [not sure if it's blue, more less white]...What kind of wood are you using?

If you're cheap, get yourself a cheap Wyze cam and set it up so you can see the temp gauge on your phone. No need to get up and out.
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Full disclosure..I used to smoke on a a cheap Masterbuilt water smoker which goes by many names like El Cheapo Brinkman. Works fine. Don't need to do much to make good food especially if you use a water pan. Light charcoal, load up smoker and add some wood chunks, put water pan over top...let it run 15 min to get to temp, add food. Sit back and wait.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
[OP]
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Jan 15, 2017
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gr8dlr wrote: It will be whitish at the beginning until the smoker gets up to heat, it will turn to "bluish" [not sure if it's blue, more less white]...What kind of wood are you using?

If you're cheap, get yourself a cheap Wyze cam and set it up so you can see the temp gauge on your phone. No need to get up and out.
I used hickory, but I'm wondering, when I smoked the ribs on monday, I had loads of white smoke coming for the whole 5 hour cook. Now with a vertical smoker like I have the challenge is keeping the temp at the grate where the food is at 250. I managed to do that, but had to keep the air vents almost closed. I also had the top exhaust vent almost closed. Now from what I've read you need to burn the wood hot in order to get clean smoke that isnt white and full of soot, between 650 and 750 degrees farenheit. So I'm sure my problem was that the fire wasnt getting enough air and was smoldering, causing the white smoke.

Back to the challenge, how do I have a 650 to 750 degree fire, which from what I read is necessary to burn the wood efficiently, when the grill area which is just a foot and a half or so above the fire needs to be around 225 to 250?

Hopefully that makes sense to you.

Thanks for your reply
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May 1, 2007
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Toronto
Greg8642 wrote: Back to the challenge, how do I have a 650 to 750 degree fire, which from what I read is necessary to burn the wood efficiently, when the grill area which is just a foot and a half or so above the fire needs to be around 225 to 250?
You need the coals to be glowing red and covered in white ash in a chimney before you drop them in your smoker (this should take 25-30 minutes) and then close the lid and spend 20-30 minutes getting the temperature stable without opening the lid. Put the temperature probe on the grill where you would place your meat. The bottom vent should be at least 1/4 open as you need to keep the fire going (use a sharpie to mark your vent when the smoker is cold at the closed, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full open state so you know how open the bottom vent is if you can't see it easily). The temperature at the grill should be locked into a 225-275 range.

Once the temp is stable around 250 at the probe, drop your meat in close up the lid and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to compensate for the cool meat coming into the smoker. After waiting make adjustments on your vents if you need to to get the temperature higher. I typically only adjust the top vent after dropping the meat in.

I don't think anybody puts a probe over the fire - the glowing red coals covered in ash is hot! That's why you don't put your smoked meat directly over the coals as it will sear/grill the meat - you need some space between the coals and the meat, either by putting the coals offset (to the side of the meat) or above a deflector/water pan so the heat disperses.
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Greg8642 wrote: I used hickory, but I'm wondering, when I smoked the ribs on monday, I had loads of white smoke coming for the whole 5 hour cook. Now with a vertical smoker like I have the challenge is keeping the temp at the grate where the food is at 250. I managed to do that, but had to keep the air vents almost closed. I also had the top exhaust vent almost closed. Now from what I've read you need to burn the wood hot in order to get clean smoke that isnt white and full of soot, between 650 and 750 degrees farenheit. So I'm sure my problem was that the fire wasnt getting enough air and was smoldering, causing the white smoke.

Back to the challenge, how do I have a 650 to 750 degree fire, which from what I read is necessary to burn the wood efficiently, when the grill area which is just a foot and a half or so above the fire needs to be around 225 to 250?

Hopefully that makes sense to you.

Thanks for your reply
>Vents [around 1/4 both top and bottom] almost closed is about right for a 225-250F cook. If you're using too much lit charcoal, it'll burn hotter and you may have to choke down vents more. BTW you don't need too much lit charcoal to get to 250F.
> don't worry about heat at the coals level...you only need to measure temp at grate or in that vicinity => you said you got 250F so you're good.
> whitish smoke....the term "bluish" may be somewhat misleading. it will be somewhat faint whitish IMO. You just want to avoid heavy white smoke. How much wood did you put on there? => you only need a piece or two and reload after 30-60 min depending on the size of the chunk. If the wood is on top of the coals it should be fine...I've never check the temp down there [BTW I doubt it's 650-750F]. Is the wood well seasoned?
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jan 15, 2017
140 posts
13 upvotes
gr8dlr wrote: >Vents [around 1/4 both top and bottom] almost closed is about right for a 225-250F cook. If you're using too much lit charcoal, it'll burn hotter and you may have to choke down vents more. BTW you don't need too much lit charcoal to get to 250F.
> don't worry about heat at the coals level...you only need to measure temp at grate or in that vicinity => you said you got 250F so you're good.
> whitish smoke....the term "bluish" may be somewhat misleading. it will be somewhat faint whitish IMO. You just want to avoid heavy white smoke. How much wood did you put on there? => you only need a piece or two and reload after 30-60 min depending on the size of the chunk. If the wood is on top of the coals it should be fine...I've never check the temp down there [BTW I doubt it's 650-750F]. Is the wood well seasoned?
The wood should be well seasoned as I bought a 4 pound bag of hickory from Canadian tire. And I only put 3 golf ball and a half sized chunks on the unlit coals surrounding the lit coals using the minion method.
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Greg8642 wrote: The wood should be well seasoned as I bought a 4 pound bag of hickory from Canadian tire. And I only put 3 golf ball and a half sized chunks on the unlit coals surrounding the lit coals using the minion method.
Everything you're doing sounds OK.

Watch some Weber smokey mountain brisket or other cooks to see what their smoke looks like just for comparison to your smoke.

Just keep cooking.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jan 15, 2017
140 posts
13 upvotes
gr8dlr wrote: Everything you're doing sounds OK.

Watch some Weber smokey mountain brisket or other cooks to see what their smoke looks like just for comparison to your smoke.

Just keep cooking.


Ok thanks for your help

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