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Question on "bad smoke"

This is definately a newbie silly question - What causes "bad" smoke?
I am a bit confused because if I am doing a low and slow and only light one small area, close dome and wait till internal temp is 225 would I not get get bad smoke later when the unlight coals catch?
BTW I use a butane torch to light my coals.
Thanks for any clarification around this.

Comments

  • I'll have to admit that you've stumped me on this one Trini. I never really thought about it but it's a damn good question! 

    My guess is that the bad smoke is either related to the combustion source or the lower temp of the fire as the egg is heating up. But, I could be completely wrong on both counts.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Well, "spa-Peggy" is kind of like spaghetti. I'm not sure what Peggy does different, if anything. But it's the one dish she's kind of made her own.
    ____________________
    Aurora, Ontario, Canada
  • Thanks TOTN, just confused by this "bad" smoke and doing my first brisket on weekend and don't want to mess it up.
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 4,869
    The "bad smoke" is caused by the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOc's) burning off.  The VOC's are in the lump.  Most VOC's burn off at relatively low temperatues such as achieved in the BGE environment-independent of the actual location of the fire.  Thus the internal BGE environment has to get up to temperature (probably somewhere north of boiling) to remove the VOC's.  So you don't need all the lump burning to get rid of the VOC's.  I'm sure there are people with a much better handle on this (NOLA?) but the above works for me.  FWIW-
    Louisville
  • JRWhiteeJRWhitee Posts: 1,807
    edited August 2013
    I have wondered the same thing, I see where some people start the egg with chunks already mixed in with the lump and wait for clear smoke (this is what I do).  

    Then I see some that add the chunks/chips after they reach the desired temperature and put the food on the egg immediately.

    I had always thought that you should wait for the bad smoke to clear from the added chunks/chips as well as the Lump charcoal from the initial lighting of the egg.
                                                                        
    _________________________________________________

    Large BGE 2006, Small BGE 2014, Adjustable Rig R&B, PSWoo3, Thermapen.
    Weber Gasser for the Wife. 
    Founding Member of the Green Man Group cooking team.
    Johns Creek, Georgia
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 8,522
    "Bad" smoke is VOC's(volatile organic compounds) that make up creosote. These VOC's start vaporizing just above 300 degrees F. While your dome temp is 225, the air around the coals is far higher. There are good and bad VOC's in relation to smoking. The bad ones smell like an ashtray while the good ones make you want to eat the smoke.

    It is a product of incomplete combustion and the more raw materials present, the more creosote. Lump charcoal is wood that has been carbonized so it has much less creosote relative to a chunk of wood, but it still contains some. With all that surface area of unburned charcoal releasing creosote as it heats, there is a large volume contained in the cooker that will taint your food if not allowed to vaporize off. Once the surface area VOC's are gone, the remaining ones that get released when that specific piece of charcoal burns are not enough to affect flavor like the big wallop at the beginning can. This is also why you don't want to add a bunch of wood chunks to a ongoing cook all at once, but one at a time would be fine.
  • It's like flooring a diesel truck. Bad smoke means it's burning too inefficiently, causing a higher percentage of creosote.  This occurs at startup because the fire is not up to temp and there is an excess of wood present. 

    It's not a time thing. There is no need to fear wood producing bad smoke later on in the cook. By then the charcoal is up to temp, and unless you put tons of wood in, it should be fine.  

    The one thing I've noticed lately is that cherry wood is the worst offender when it comes to creosote.








  • radamoradamo Posts: 328
    This is definately a newbie silly question - What causes "bad" smoke? I am a bit confused because if I am doing a low and slow and only light one small area, close dome and wait till internal temp is 225 would I not get get bad smoke later when the unlight coals catch? BTW I use a butane torch to light my coals. Thanks for any clarification around this.
    Thanks Trini,
    This was a good way to rephrase my question regarding adding wood.  Getting some great info here.

    Long Island, NY
  • Thanks all for the great information. I feel smarter already!
    Looking forward to my low and slow brisket on Saturday :)
  • radamo said:



    This is definately a newbie silly question - What causes "bad" smoke?
    I am a bit confused because if I am doing a low and slow and only light one small area, close dome and wait till internal temp is 225 would I not get get bad smoke later when the unlight coals catch?
    BTW I use a butane torch to light my coals.
    Thanks for any clarification around this.

    Thanks Trini,
    This was a good way to rephrase my question regarding adding wood.  Getting some great info here.



    Did not realise I was repeating a question - sorry for that. Just planning for my first 14+ hour cook.
  • The Good (Not much color, smeels good)
    image

    The Bad (Usually white, smells bad)
    image

    The Ugly
    image

    ........................................................................................

    Flint, Michigan.  Named the most dangerous city in America by the F.B.I. three years running.

  • radamoradamo Posts: 328
    radamo said:
    This is definately a newbie silly question - What causes "bad" smoke? I am a bit confused because if I am doing a low and slow and only light one small area, close dome and wait till internal temp is 225 would I not get get bad smoke later when the unlight coals catch? BTW I use a butane torch to light my coals. Thanks for any clarification around this.
    Thanks Trini,
    This was a good way to rephrase my question regarding adding wood.  Getting some great info here.

    No worries, like I said, you worded this better than mine and I think it was easier for people to answer with good info.  Thank you!
    Rich
    Long Island, NY
  • The Good (Not much color, smeels good)
    image

    The Bad (Usually white, smells bad)
    image

    The Ugly
    image

    Haha! One of my most favourite movies ever!
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