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Clean vs. Dirty Smoke and Drum Cookers...

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  • Duckman_OK
    Club Member
    • May 2020
    • 40
    • Oklahoma

    Clean vs. Dirty Smoke and Drum Cookers...

    So, I’m still in the process of learning the basics of smoking and BBQ. One of the things that I was reading was talking about “clean” smoke. You know, that thin blue smoke that I guess everybody is chasing… apparently…

    So my question is about UDS/PBC style cookers. If blue smoke is a result of a more complete combustion, those cookers should only be making “dirty” smoke. But I hear that the cook well and make super tasty food.

    Is “clean” smoke really that important? Is it just a preference thing? Am I mistaken in thinking that you can’t get “blue” smoke out of a UDS/PBC? If a UDS/PBC makes “dirty” smoke, why is it so tasty?

    Or is this just a myth and BBQ snobbery?
  • Dewesq55
    Founding Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 1862
    • The Poconos, NEPA
    • Smoker:
      Landmann Smoke Master Series Heavy Duty Barrel Smoker (COS) - With mods including 2 level rack system with pull-out grates
      Masterbuilt 40.2" 1200W Electric Smoker
      Masterbuilt ThermoTemp XL 40" Vertical Propane Smoker

      Gas Grill:
      BBQPro (cheap big box store model) Stainless steel 4 burnerswith aftermarket rotisserie.

      Charcoal Grill:
      Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill 14"

      Thermometer:​​​​​​
      Fireboard 2 with Drive cable and 20 CFM fan and Competition Probe Package
      Fireboard 1st Generation
      ThermoWorks Mini Instant Read
      Lavaworks Thermowand Instant Read
      2 Maverick 733
      ThermoWorks IR-GUN-S Industrial Infrared Thermometer
      ThermoWorks ThermaPen Mk4 x 2
      Govee Bluetooth Thermometer with 6 probes

      Miscellaneous:
      Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator - 1st generation
      Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator - wifi/bluetooth connected

      Favorite Beer:
      Anything to the dark side and malty rather than hoppy. Currently liking Yuengling Porter and Newcastle Brown Ale. In a bar or pub I will often default to Guiness

      Favorite Spirit:
      Bourbon - Eagle Rare for "every day"; Angel's Envy for special occasions, Basil Hayden's, Larceny

      Favorite Wine:
      Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Super Tuscan Sangiovese (Including Chianti Classico Riserva) Brunello di Montalcino

      Favorite Meat(s):
      Pork - especially the darker meat. I love spare ribs and anything made from shoulder/butt meat
      Chicken - Mainly the dark meat and wings
      Beef Ribeye steak

      Favorite Cuisine to Cook:
      Can't list just one: Indian, Chinese, Thai, West Indian/Carribean, Hispanic/Latin American, Ethiopian, Italian, BBQ

      Favorite Cuisine to Eat:
      Indian, followed closely by BBQ.

      Disqus ID:
      David E. Waterbury

    #2
    Blue smoke basically only comes when you burn wood in a very hot fire. Charcoal or propane coolers which only burn/smolder word chunks (or chips) will only get you white smoke, which is not as clean as blue smoke but gives acceptable results. Many people think white smoke gives a more pronounced smoke flavor, which is why you only use a fairly small amount of wood in those cookers. What you definitely DON'T want is hey or black smoke. That contains a large amount of insufficiently combusted byproducts wreck get deposited on your food and taste bitter or worse.

    Comment

    • jfmorris
      Club Member
      • Nov 2017
      • 3022
      • Huntsville, Alabama
      • Jim Morris

        Cookers
        • Camp Chef FTG900 Flat Top Grill (2020)
        • Weber Genesis II E-410 w/ GrillGrates (2019)
        • Weber Performer Deluxe 22.5" w/ GrillGrates & Slow 'N Sear & Drip ‘N Griddle & Party Q (2007)
        • Custom Built Offset Smoker (304SS, 22"x34" grate, circa 1985)
        • King Kooker 94/90TKD 105K/60K dual burner patio stove
        • Lodge L8D03 5 quart dutch oven
        • Lodge L10SK3 12" skillet
        • Anova
        Thermometers
        • Thermoworks Smoke w/ Wifi Gateway
        • Thermoworks Dot
        • Thermoworks Thermapen Classic
        • Thermoworks RT600C
        Beverages
        • Whatever I brewed and have on tap!

      #3
      I don't know about a UDS or PBC, but burn charcoal in my Weber Kettle or even in my offset in combination with wood. Other than the initial light, I don't see white smoke from the slow ignition of charcoal when using the SNS or a minion mode on my offset. If I don't add wood, what I see from the top of the Weber Kettle when smoking is in fact thin blue smoke. The smoke thickens up if I add wood chunks.

      Comment

      • klflowers
        Club Member
        • Sep 2015
        • 3249
        • Tennessee

        #4
        When I dump a full load of lit charcoal on a pan of unlit on my wsm I get a lot of white smoke. By the time I get it stabilized at 225 to 275, my usual cooking temps, the billowing has generally settled down and I get a whispy thin white or blue smoke. I noticed that if I get in a hurry and throw meat on too soon, I sometimes get a faint bitter taste. Don't know if that helps any, since I don't have a PBC or a UDS. So why did I even type all of this??? Duh.

        Comment


        • holehogg
          holehogg commented
          Editing a comment
          To remind yourself to answer to those whispers you sometimes hear in the store.

        • HawkerXP
          HawkerXP commented
          Editing a comment
          ..., ..., ...!
      • pjlstrat
        Club Member
        • May 2019
        • 397
        • Massachusetts
        • Grills
          Primo XL
          Weber Genesis w/ rotisserie

          Thermometers/Controllers
          Thermopen
          ThermaQ 2 Channel
          Party Q
          Smobot

        #5
        Great writeup on the free side......Check it out

        ​​​​​​https://amazingribs.com/more-techniq...wood-smoke-and

        Comment

        • Mosca
          Charter Member
          • Oct 2014
          • 3380
          • PA
          • Large Big Green Egg, Weber Performer Deluxe, Weber Smokey Joe Silver, Maverick 732, DigiQ, and too much other stuff to mention.

          #6
          It’s the heat of the flame front that matters on kamados, drums, etc.

          My experience with throwing wood chunks on a fire in a kamado: the first thing that happens is you get billowing gray smoke. Then shortly thereafter, like 2-3 minutes, you get thick white smoke for about about 10 minutes. Then you get thin blue smoke, for about an hour.

          My verdict, after years and years: don’t worry about it. The thick gray smoke is only for a couple minutes. The thick white smoke is only for about 10 minutes. Then you get a lot of the good stuff.

          I wait for the white smoke, then try to wait for the blue smoke but get impatient and put the meat on anyhow. Five minutes of white smoke isn’t going to make a difference.

          Comment


          • Dadof3Illinois
            Dadof3Illinois commented
            Editing a comment
            +1 for this. Plus on my PBC I see a lot of white smoke but I believe it’s actually the liquid dripping down on the coals and flashing off and not the charcoal or wood.
        • JeffJ
          Charter Member
          • Feb 2015
          • 2409
          • Michigan
          • Jeff

          #7
          When talking about thin blue smoke we are specifically talking about the smoke that is emanating from wood. Meat drippings directly onto a fire will create white smoke but the source of that smoke is fat, not wood. Different animal altogether. Load the PBC up and the chamber will get downright foggy.

          Comment

          • fzxdoc
            Founding Member
            • Jul 2014
            • 5085
            • My toys:
              Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
              Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks)
              Weber Summit S650 Gas Grill
              Weber Kettle Premium 22"
              Weber Jumbo Joe Premium 22" (a weird little 22" kettle mutant on 22"-long legs) (donated to local battered women's shelter.)
              Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range


              Adrenaline BBQ Company's SnS, DnG and Large Charcoal Basket for WSCGC
              Adrenaline BBQ Company's Elevated SS Rack for WSCGC
              Adrenaline BBQ Company's SS Rack for DnG
              Grill Grate for SnS
              Grill Grates: five 17.375 sections (retired to storage)
              Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
              2 Grill Grate Griddles
              Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

              Fireboard Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
              Fireboard control unit in addition to that in the Extreme BBQ Package
              Additional Fireboard probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
              2 Fireboard Driver Cables
              Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
              Pit Viper Fan new design (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
              Thermoworks Thermapen MK5 (pink)
              Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 (pink too)
              Thermoworks Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
              Thermoworks Extra Big and Loud Timer
              Thermoworks Timestick Trio
              Maverick ET 73 a little workhorse with limited range
              Maverick ET 733
              Maverick (Ivation) ET 732

              Grill Pinz
              Vortex (two of them)

              Two Joule Sous Vide devices
              VacMaster Pro 350 Vacuum Sealer
              Instant Pot 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
              Instant Pot 10 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
              Charcoal Companion TurboQue
              A-Maze-N tube 12 inch tube smoker accessory for use with pellets

              BBQ Dragon and Dragon Chimney

              Shun Classic 8" Chef's Knife
              Shun Classic 6" Chef's Knife
              Shun Classic Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife
              Shun Classic 3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

            #8
            I get plenty of clean smoke out of my PBC when it's in full swing. Wispy white or what I tell myself is blue.

            Kathryn

            Comment

            • HawkerXP
              Club Member
              • Jul 2016
              • 5506
              • Virginia
              • 2 Weber Performers, 1 kettle, 1 Smoky Joe and a PBC
                Thermopops
                Dot and Chef Alarm with probes
                Slo n Sear
                Cold beer

              #9
              White smoke from the PBC is usually just after adding the lit coals to the unlit. This diminishes as you complete the lighting process as described in fzxdoc sticky. Normal running temperature of 270ish is certainly not choking the fire down so not sure why you would say this about these style cookers ....."If blue smoke is a result of a more complete combustion, those cookers should only be making “dirty” smoke".... Think of the charcoal basket as a different type of fuse method. Just spread out more. Like said above, Once running I'll rarely see any smoke until opening the lid, and this is the fog created by the dripping meat. I'd suggest you get a PBC and give it a try.

              Comment


              • Duckman_OK
                Duckman_OK commented
                Editing a comment
                I most certainly will. I was just trying to get some info before I do.

                I've got an old tank from a CNG vehicle conversion that I think will probably get repurposed into a drum cooker. Diameter is spot on for off the shelf grates! And it's already got threaded ports on it that I can use for intake and outlet with standard 2" threaded pipe.
            • Duckman_OK
              Club Member
              • May 2020
              • 40
              • Oklahoma

              #10
              I appreciate everybody chiming in. I had read the article about combustion and smoke and that's what kinda got me headed down this road.

              For posterity, I wanted to put the links up to these articles. I was able to get what I was really looking for after reading them.

              https://amazingribs.com/more-techniq...arcoal-is-made

              https://amazingribs.com/more-techniq...ker-setup-tips

              https://amazingribs.com/smoker/pit-barrel-cooker-review

              Comment

              • Jerod Broussard
                Moderator
                • Jun 2014
                • 9741
                • East Texas
                • Pit Barrel Cooker "Texas Brisket Edition"
                  Weber One Touch Premium Copper 22" Kettle (gift)
                  Slow 'n Sear for 22" Kettle
                  Weber One Touch Premium Black 26" Kettle (gift)
                  Slow 'n Sear XL for 26" Kettle (gift)
                  Weber Smokey Joe Gold
                  Weber Rapid Fire Chimney
                  Vortex
                  Maverick ET-732 White
                  Maverick ET-732 Copper
                  2- Auber SYL-1615 fan systems(Awesome!!!!!!!!)
                  Thermoworks Thermapen w/ Back light (gift)
                  Thermoworks Timestick
                  Cambro Model 300MPC110 w/ Winco SS Pans
                  B & B and Kingsford Charcoal
                  B & B Pellets

                #11
                1. If you fill the PBC up with 4 briskets don't look at the barrel when they hit the stall, you'll cry if you've read too much about blue smoke.

                2. When you get blue smoke take a picture. You might not see it again in person for some time.

                Comment


                • Mr. Bones
                  Mr. Bones commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Hai, Sensei, honto desu.

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