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Smoke Flavor using slow n low charcoal setup

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    Smoke Flavor using slow n low charcoal setup

    I set up my Weber kettle for a 6 hour cook of a rack of St Louis rib rack. I set up the charcoal in a line, lighting the start of the line with a few glowing charcoal. I put wood chunks along the line. I adjusted the temperature using top and bottom vents to cook at 225F. The ribs were very good, however they had a heavy smoke flavor. I am guessing that it comes from the line of charcoal, as each briquette gets lit, it gives of the so-called bad smoke. It seems that, using the Weber kettle and this technique for a long cook, there is no way to avoid the bad smoke because each of the briquettes have to light.

    Does anyone have an idea how to avoid the bad smoke during a long cook on the Weber grill? Or is this just the limitation of the Weber for a long cook?

    Also, is there any way to use only (already lit) wood on the Weber and thereby having only the good smoke?

    I would greatly appreciate any comments/suggestions.


    How much wood did you put in? I've smoked using a SnS that you only light a few coals to start and works similar to your line and haven't noticed a bad smoke taste even using Kingsford Blue which can stink pretty bad when lighting a chimney full of it, but generally you don't pick up on a bad taste when only a couple new coals light at a time via contact.

    For a cook like ribs, I'd probably have 2-3 small chunks of smoking wood across the top of it.

    Most charcoal smokers all seem to work on the slowly light the rest of the charcoal concept. My WSCG lights the bottom center of the pile and slowly works it's way out and up as the cook goes on.

    Also, is there any chance your charcoal got damp?
    Last edited by glitchy; February 5, 2021, 09:57 AM.


      tbahder1 I used the "snake" method before buying a Slow 'N Sear for my kettle. And I've smoked with charcoal for over 30 years, and the amount of smoke from charcoal igniting during the cook is minimal. As long as you don't have clouds of black sooty smoke, and have then wispy smoke coming from the top of the kettle, you are fine. The question, as glitchy says above, is how much wood did you use? I would use 3, MAYBE 4 chunks of wood if doing the charcoal as you say. And I used to do a 2x2 snake around the edge of the kettle, much like the photos shown in this article:


      Another comment I will say - Kingsford original (the blue bag, or KBB as they call it around here) gives off an aroma when first lit that I am not a personal fan of. I am much happier with other brands, with B&B my current favorite. That said - I've smoked for most of 30 years using KBB, and never had complaints about ribs, butts, chicken, or much anything else. Most of the smoke flavor comes from added wood, more than from the small amount of smoke from briquettes as they ignite.

      All charcoal smokers - and all wood smokers for that matter - work on the principle that wood or charcoal is added or ignited throughout the cook. It's just a fact, whether its igniting across the firebox of an offset or being added from a vertical hopper in a gravity fed smoker, or igniting across the bed of a insulated vertical box smoker with a charcoal pan. The snake method in a kettle is no different in that regard.
      Last edited by jfmorris; February 5, 2021, 10:05 AM.


      • glitchy
        glitchy commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm a little scared that we thought that much alike. You had to be typing this up at the time time I was by time you found your link, etc.

      • smokin fool
        smokin fool commented
        Editing a comment
        Agree on the KBB giving off an aroma, I'll never buy another bag again.

      Glitchy pretty well covered things in his response, so no need for me to repeat it. I would only add that the taste of the degree of smoke flavor is not the same for everyone. You liked the ribs, are you sure that "bad smoke" was involved, or is that a WAG? I setup my SnS to run long cooks. but I have no "bad smoke" complaints.


        Cooking with fire using wood, or wood products as the fuel, requires more of that fuel to be ignited to maintain cooking temps, as time goes on. If not, the fire foes out, putting an end to cooking.


          Try cooking hotter than 225, I'm smoking ribs now and are striving for 275ish even 300.
          Cold and gusty winds sure aren't helping things though.


            Charcoal will give some of that. My suggestion is try only 1 piece of wood, maybe 2. You don't "need" smoke the entire 6hrs in a low & slow kettle setup, especially on thinner meats in which you have both sides in one bite, or mostly bark compared to interior meat in one bite- lotta flavor in your mouth there. Brisket could be a little different in that regard, being thicker you might only get 1 surface in many bites. You might just not like that much smoke on your ribs.


              When you say "in a line" do you mean straight across the kettle? I wonder if your meat was directly over the burning wood and charcoal? I like to make a "snake" around the edge of the kettle and place the meat away from the charcoal and wood.

              Click image for larger version  Name:	sG7kDY4.png Views:	118 Size:	58.1 KB ID:	985219
              Last edited by Attjack; February 16, 2021, 06:09 PM.


                I’m interested also in what type of wood you used. Some woods give a heavier and more noticeable smoke to the meat, such as mesquite and to a lesser extent hickory. What type of wood chunks did you use?
                Last edited by Panhead John; February 5, 2021, 12:11 PM.


                  First, welcome to The Pit. Second, I also wonder how much wood you used. I have used too much hickory and I found out that I much prefer too little smoke flavor to too much smoke flavor.

                  Here's what I would do:
                  Shoot for a temp between 250° and 275°, but I wouldn't worry about temps between 225° and 300°. Of course, the higher the temp, the shorter the cook will be. I'd use two medium sized chunks and place them near the first lit coals. If that's not enough smoke, add another piece the next time. Most of the smoke is absorbed in the first hour or two, so there's no need to spread it out longer.

                  Good luck!


                    Thank you for the great detailed replies.

                    I need to clarify a couple of things. Actually, I did not use the “snake” method for the charcoal. I used the Deluxe SnS. The wood I used was local oak from the Clearwater, Florida area.

                    From the above comments, I think that I need to:

                    1. Use less wood, particularly on thin cuts like ribs. I think it is likely that I was too zealous with too much wood.

                    2. Try a different brand of charcoal than KBB.

                    3. Also, I will try using a little higher temperature than 225F.

                    Another question that I have is: How long a time would you smoke a rack of St Louis ribs using the SnS and at what temperature?

                    Someone above mentioned B&B brand charcoal. Where do you buy it?

                    Thanks very much.


                    • bep35
                      bep35 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Just thinking about what you wrote. Was your wood dry? Green wood would tend to give a strong taste. Also too much wood is not better. I suggest doing a rack of ribs in the Weber/ SNS using no wood and see how you like that. Then do another rack with a chunk of wood etc. That gives the opportunity to cook (and eat) more ribs!

                    • jfmorris
                      jfmorris commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I smoke St. Louis ribs for 5-6 hours at 225. At higher temps, they may get done a little faster, but I always plan at least 5 hours, even at 250 or so.

                      I buy B&B lump and briquettes at Academy, and Lowe's just started selling the lump.

                    One more clarification to respond to questions:

                    I stored my KBB charcoal in a dry garage, so I am sure the charcoal was dry.

                    I do not know how much charcoal I actually used during the cook. It was my first try on the Weber using the SnS. I suspect that I kept adding wood too much.

                    One more question: is it ok to use thin half-inch diameter oak sticks? Or is it better to use wood chunks from a thicker part of the tree?

                    Thank you.


                    • Alabama Smoke
                      Alabama Smoke commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I use wood chunks sized from say half a fist to a whole fist in size. Two or three of those during the first couple of hours is all you need. I usually bury those within the charcoal on the SnS. Space them so that only one burns at a time.

                    • jfmorris
                      jfmorris commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Good possibilty on the wood. I place 3-4 chunks of wood on top of the SNS, and as it burns across from one side to the other, they ignite. During the 5-6 hours that ribs take, it will probably not consume all the charcoal and wood.

                    • Razor
                      Razor commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I’d add make sure there isn’t a whole bunch of bark on your wood either. If I have a piece or two with bark I’ll do my best to remove it with a cheap screwdriver and a pair of work gloves.

                    I would think that 1/2” sticks would burn up too quick, needing constant replenishment. Most of us here use wood chunks with their charcoal. Your time may vary, but most of the time my ribs are done after about 4-5 hours. You can do the bend test with St. Louis style ribs and also look for the meat to pull back from the bone, about 1/2” or so. This helps to tell when they’re done. I’ve gotten away from trying to smoke at 225. I usually run my temps around 250-275. If you tell us where you live, some of the members can tell you where to get the B&B. Hope this helps.
                    Last edited by Panhead John; February 6, 2021, 08:17 AM.


                      I live in Belleair Bluffs, Florida 33770. Can you tell me where to buy B&B charcoal nearby?

                      Thank you.


                      • Panhead John
                        Panhead John commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I found B&B recently in a nearby Lowe’s. Also check Ace Hardware and if you have one close to you...Academy Sports and Outdoors. I would also just Google it.

                      • jfmorris
                        jfmorris commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Try Academy, if you have them local, or Lowe's.

                      My wife found B&B charcoal at Ace Hardware and Lowes near me.


                      • jfmorris
                        jfmorris commented
                        Editing a comment
                        They sell two types - lump or briquettes. I would try both and see what you like best, but I find briquettes are more predictable.

                      • Razor
                        Razor commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Definitely use briquettes in a kettle. You’ll spend your entire day trying to maintain a constant temp with lump. With that said I started using lump in my WSM, but there I have a fan controller that helps keep temps constant.


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