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Noob Question: Low/Slow Smoke Petering Out

FishhatemeFishhateme Posts: 5
edited August 2012 in EggHead Forum

Hi All!

Got my large BGE as a birthday gift from my awesome wife about 6 weeks ago and still learning the tricks of the trade.  Tons of great info here has been super helpful, but one thing i can't seem to master yet is maintaining some nice smoke flow for long cooks like on ribs or pork shoulder.   I soak the wood chunks for a good 4 hours min. to overnight.   Distribute few chunks evenly within the lump and ignite.  Burn off for at least half hour before putting meat on.   

What seems to happen is unless I bump temp to 275+ degrees, I don't seem to get much smoke going for the low/slow cook that I'm trying to maintain around 225- 250 dome, like Car Wash Mike's recipe calls for, as an example. 

Any suggestions on what I could/should be doing to keep the smoke flowing, or is this a non-issue?  Chips instead of chunks?   Meat tastes great as it comes off but I don't get the well defined smoke ring I see others achieving and the full flavor of a long smoke.  


Jeff S.



  • probe1957probe1957 Posts: 222
    You won't get much visible smoke at low temps.  I only notice a smoke ring on pork butts.  I smoke at about 250 degree dome and I do not soak my wood chunks/chips.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    no need to soak
    chips chunks work equally well, you just want enough of each

    here's how i do it


    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,779
    +1 with stike (not to get cross-ways with a 15K+ poster) but I load chips throughout the lump load so whereever there is fire there is smoke-I unscientifically equate about a handful of chips to a chunk and it seems to work.
    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • Don't bother soaking the chunks. 

    Look at the end of the cook and how the charcoal has burned. If you start it at the top, it burns downward and doesn't burn outward that much unless it's a seriously long cook.  The BGE video shows someone putting chips in a spiral pattern outward. That video is dumb.

    My method:

    I start the fire with the charcoal less than halfway filled and get the temp to 300+. Then I add chunks and charcoal until it's filled (not that many chunks and only toward the middle).  Then I sprinkle some chips in from the top, add the platesetter, put the meat in, then stabilize at 250-275. I don't worry about too much smoke at the beginning.

    My goal is maximum smoke time. I think there will always be some gaps where the fire is not in contact with any wood, but I've had solid 4+ hour streams of smoke. 

    I don't know that it's that important, though. You can get a lot of smoke flavor in an hour. Just put your face into the smoke stream for a bit and you'll see how effective it is. 

  • One more thing - the smoke ring isn't directly related to smoke flavor. 

    You can get one without the other. I used to have a pellet smoker. It made great smoke rings and an utterly weak to non-existent smoke flavor. 

  • Great info as always - thanks guys!
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,945
    Here's a couple of observations on seeing smoke.

    Seasoned wood still has about 30% water that was in the wood when it was still a living tree. The wood won't burn well until that water evaporates. While the wood is starting to burn, it will produce a lot of steam, which condenses to hot water vapor, and lots of particles of partially burnt wood. There will be a lot of smoke, but it is not smoke that produces good flavors. That happens at a higher temperature.

    The "good" smoke happens when the wood is hot enough to burn, but there is not enough air to allow the vapors to ignite. That smoke is mostly unseen. Just hot gases.

    Also, other cookers show smoke for reasons that the Egg does not. Any wood burning cooker, such as a standard offset, is producing smoke because the moisture is continually being driven from the fuel. Comparatively, the Egg w. lots of chunks/chips in it has very little wood.

    When I go to a good  BBQ joint, I can usually see and smell the smoke from at least a block away. Those places are cooking maybe 500 lbs of meat at a time, not the 5 - 10 I do. Lots more smoke from those chimneys.
  • TTBannonTTBannon Posts: 14

    Great info guys. I've been putting my chips at the top and not getting much more than 30-45 minutes of smoke.

    Now spread it out and warous depths and rock and roll.

    Question, is too much wood bad for the cooking process?

  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 2,047
    I love smoke. Never too much for me. But everyone is diff. Fun part is finding your taste
  • hey Jeff- I think bumping up the temp to 275 or 300 has many benefits over and above the smoke. Try it and I think you will like the results. I'm 275-300 dome on every low and slow now. made a huge difference in the wuality of my cooks. And don't soak
    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • Once again, great advice guys - and thanks!  I'll give the little bump up in temps a whirl to 275-300 and see how it turns out.   Should cut my cook time for the ribs to no more than 4 hours, also I'd guess?


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