Big Green Egg - EGGhead Forum - The Ultimate Cooking Experience...
Welcome to the EGGhead Forum - a great place to visit and packed with tips and EGGspert advice! You can also join the conversation and get more information and amazing kamado recipes by following Big Green Egg at:

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Youtube  |  Vimeo
Share your photos by tagging us and using the hashtag #EGGhead4Life.

In Atlanta? Come visit Big Green Egg headquarters, including our retail showroom, the History of the EGG Museum and Culinary Center!  3786 DeKalb Technology Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30340.

How to avoid white smoke

Just upgraded to an XL and I'm having some issues controlling white smoke and the bad taste it imparts onto my ribs.  I'm using a plate setter with legs up and a drip pan and a rib rack.  I've tried two methods of getting to 225-240 degrees.  I light the fire and let it get nice and hot and then drop the plate setter on and let the temp come down and stabilize.  I've also tried starting a smaller fire and letting the temp come up and manage the vents so it never gets above 240'.  Either way, it seems as if when my smoke wood runs out, white smoke replaces it.  Any idea what could be the cause? 

Could it be new, unlit charcoal is getting lit and giving off the white smoke?  I am using wicked good weekend warrior, which is supposed to be a top brand.  The only time I have successfully cooked indirect without white smoke is by using CGS steel ang-l brackets to keep the coals on one half of the fire ring and cook indirect over the other.  My issue with that is it drastically limits my cooking area.  Any help would be appreciated.


  • MickeyMickey Posts: 18,737
    You have to give it time between wood and putting on protein. Also weekend warrior is not considered by all to be top. Not impressed at all with it.
    Salado TX Egg Family: 3 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • A-BaumA-Baum Posts: 25
    The issue seems to happen later on during the smoke, after I would have thought the smoke wood has died off.  I'll get some white smoke pouring out almost constantly until the cook is done.  I get a slightly bitter flavor because of it.  
  • Thought this was going to be a joke about replacing the Pope, lol.

    I haven't had this problem but I'm on a Large.  I'll be interested to see if anyone else has this problem.  Normally white smoke is a problem of initial set up but the fact that you get a nice clean burn going and THEN it turns white later is curious to me.

    Are you having grease dripping and smoldering on the plate setter maybe?  You didn't mention that.  I use a drip pan (deep dish pizza pan) on top of spacers to keep collected grease from heating up from the plate setter.
    Knoxville, TN
    Nibble Me This
  • A-BaumA-Baum Posts: 25
    I do use a drip pan, but the ribs usually extend beyond that.  There are a few drop spots on the plate setter but I don't think its what is causing the smoke.  My understanding is that white smoke is the result of a lack of oxygen.  However when we adjust the vents we are essentially depriving the fire of oxygen to keep the temps low and stable.  

    Do you light all of the lump and let it all ash over before smoking?  Would it be detrimental to just light some of the lump and then let the fire spread slowly?  The XL fire ring is huge and it can take a couple hours for all the lump to get lit if I light a little bit and then level it off at 225-240.  Maybe the white smoke is from the unlit lump lighting up throughout the smoke?
  • Solson005Solson005 Posts: 1,911
    I would switch lump and the wood chunks to try and see if that makes a difference. I made ribs on saturday and they came out fantastic. I did them for 3 hours at 225° and 1½ hours at 300° with apple and cherry wood chips. I use Ozark Oak and never have had this issue. I have a large and a small egg by the way so I can't speak for the XL. 

    How long do you wait after the egg has been stabilized at your target temp? 
    Large & Small BGE, CGW Two-Tier Swing Rack for BOTH EGGS, Spider for the Wok, eggCARTen & and Cedar Pergola my Eggs call home in Edmond, OK. 
  • dlk7dlk7 Posts: 1,053
    For low and slow on my XLs, I mix wood chunks with the lump, 3 or 4 pieces in a spiral pattern various distances from the center.  I light the lump in one place in the center, stabilize the temp to 225, then put on the plate setter, drip pan, and grate.  I use my Maverik to check to ensure the temp at the grate level stabilizes at 225 and by then my smoke is clear.  I've never had an issue with bad smoke.  Might be a bad bag of lump or wood.  May want to check whether there was something other than lump in the bag you put into the egg.  Sometimes there is junk (rubber, rocks, dirt, etc.) in with the bag of lump.

    Two XL BGEs - So Happy!!!!

    Waunakee, WI

  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,793
    edited February 2013
    I've been using WG soley for some months now and haven't had any troubles with bad tasting smoke. I would agree with those mentioning putting space between your drip pan and plate setter. I would try the process of elimination first before switching all your variables. If you like your lump then try lighting a small fire as mentioned instead of a bigger one and snuffing it down. Then try putting space between your drip pan, and maybe try putting a good bit of water in there to keep in from burning. If you still have troubles then maybe try a different type of wood (what type are you using, btw?). Then if you still have trouble try changing your lump. I think it's unlikely that the lump is your cause. I think you're scorching something that's causing your issue. Also, how are you loading your lump? I've found that if I just dump a bag in that all the dust makes my fire burn weird and I wouldn't be surprised if that's where bad smoke would be coming from since you're lighting a small fire and it probably wouldn't be all burned up very quickly.
    Dunedin, FL
  • A-BaumA-Baum Posts: 25
    dlk7 - I didn't think you wanted your wood to be spread out in the coals because you don't want smoke hitting food beyond 45 minutes to an hour.  I just use pliers and pick up the grate and drop wood chunks (usually pecan or cherry) onto coals and go with that.  

    I do usually just pour lump in.  Maybe I'll be more cautious with that.  Could be the dust.  Good suggestions so far.  Nothing worse than ribs that taste like a tailpipe.  They're edible, but not the best.  Reminds me of ribs I had in Idaho at a joint that smoked over aspen and pine.  Can you believe that???
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,986
    If the ribs are hanging over the PS place some hdaf under the ends shiny side down.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • LoggerLogger Posts: 306
    I do as DLK does on my XL.  I use weekend warrior as well and have had no issues.  It does take me almost an hour to get rid of the white smoke and obtain an occasional "blue puff of smoke".  Spiraling of the chips is important (IMHO) and does not create any white smoke for me.
    All of the other possibilities are valid concerns though.
    Good luck, keep trying, and keep us posted on what you find.
    OKC area  XL - Medium Eggs
  • For a low and slow, have lots of lump in the fire box, up to at least the fire ring, maybe even to the center of the ring. 
    Light in the top, middle, with the smoke wood mixed in the lump. I like to put my setter, drip pan, grid and pit probe in as soon as I take the electric starter out. Open the bottom vent fully, DFMT on with just the petals open. Set the pit probe alarm for high temp of 300, go and do something else. 
    When the alarm sounds, I shut the bottom down to about 1/2 inch, half close the petals. Then I go get the cook and put it on. Within 15 minutes the pit temp will be at 250. Then I fine tune. Other than odd whiff of smoke wood, no smoke at all. 
    Delta B.C. - Move over coffee, this is job for alcohol!
  • I have "my" way, and thats what i do !  But it seems to me the "white smoke" in "my" case comes from the fresh lump that i add before cooking.  I am a Royal Oak user, and some bags are worse than others.  Since i start my egg with an electric starter, my fire is underneith all my lump.  So as it starts, the heat drives the temperature up on the new lump above the fire.  This takes maybe ten minutes to clear, and i am not bothered with it again.  So my theory on your problem might be as your fire is above the new lump it only get higher temperature as the fire burns to it, causing smoke problems throughout the cook???  My guess.... 
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,937
    A-Baum said:
    There are a few drop spots on the plate setter but I don't think its what is causing the smoke.  My understanding is that white smoke is the result of a lack of oxygen.  However when we adjust the vents we are essentially depriving the fire of oxygen to keep the temps low and stable.  
    I must say that I've not used an XL. But lots of factors are common across all kinds of Eggs.

    The "bad" smoke, also called "white" smoke, is not caused necessarily by lack of oxygen. Once the carbon in the lump is burning, reducing the oxygen flow keeps the carbon burning but the smoking wood can't flame 'cause there is not enough oxygen left. The wood, after a period of heat drying, bakes away as "good" or "blue" smoke.

    I would suggest right off that you change the way you are starting, and the  temp you are going towards. Go for a temp of 250F dome. The Egg can hold lower temperatures, but 250 +/- 10 seems to be fool proof. If you go to a high temperature, just because there is no visible white smoke, doesn't mean all the undesirable stuff has had a chance to vaporize. Cool down, the bad smoke may come back. As above, let the fire burn for awhile, even if the smoke clears.

    If you don't put the platesetter on right away, the pattern of the airflow that lets the lump burn may be changed when the 'setter goes on. Some lump may stop burning, others may need to come up to temp. Both may produce undesirable smoke. A smothered fire is not good.

    A lot of "white" smoke is just water vapor condensation. I see lots of that in cooler weather. The only time I get a bad flavor when that is happening is if the drippings in the pan are burning. That is most undesirable. Put spacers under the pan, and maybe a little water to stop that.

    You should see quite a bit of thick smoke early on. Most lump charcoal still has a fair amount of un-pyrolyzed wood in it, and a lot of the broken down wood chemicals left from making the lump (VOCs). And then there is the considerable amount of water in the smoking wood and some that may be in the Egg ceramic. Those fumes can also produce creosote. If you see lots of little "hairs", grey or white, up near your top vent, those have lots of creosote. any of those that fall into your food will make you gag. The standard Egg method is to let that smoke fade away, and then wait a bit longer. At that point, whiffs of the thin blue smoke should smell nice and spicy.

    A lot o

    Usually, the fire from the burning lump is hot enough that the VOCs from unlit lump are not a problem. They either break down, and/or flow up and away out the top. I've recently read that there are some acidic compounds that may come off of wood that is not quite hot enough. Those may attach to the food, but after a period, may also then evaporate. Evidently, quicker cooks may produce a biting taste that goes away w. longer cooking.

    Good you are watching how things cooking and trying for the best. Remember, "grandma's cooking" at this point is almost a legend, but most of those grandma's probably had 50 years of experience on top of generations of passed down tips. The Egg is a remarkable cooker. May only take months instead of years to make something  worthy.

  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 938
    I wouldn't judge the smoke by it's colour.  A lot of white smoke is just moisture, I hold my hand over the daisy wheel, smell it and if it smells like chemicals I wait another 10 minutes and repeat.  Once I smell a pleasant smoke I figure that I am good to go.

  • A-BaumA-Baum Posts: 25
    Good point, gerhardk.  Doing 4 racks of ribs there is bound to be some smoke via moisture loss.  I am going to do a brisket flat soon and will try one of the methods mentioned above a couple times.  Will be using pecan again.  I love pecan.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Click here for Forum Use Guidelines.