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Fdh1965

Too much smoke

I just received my Lang 36 two weeks ago.

Trying to figure out how to maintain temp and keep that light blue smoke.

I have been able to maintain temp around 250 constant.  However, the trouble I am having is keeping the smoke constant.  Once it comes up to temp and settles in the smoke is clear and nice,  Each time I add wood the smoke surges to a thick white.  I am using dry aged white oak.  I have cut the pieces down to soda can size.   I have tried 16 inch split also with same result.  Just harder to control the heat.

Using the smaller size wood I have to add two pieces every 45 min- hr.  When I add them, the smoke becomes white and takes about 10 minutes to settle down.  During which I wonder how much impact to the meat this is having.  

When adding the wood I put the firedoor in the open latch position until it fire kicks up, but the smoke is still thick.  THen I close the door.

Temps can fluctuate as much as 10 degrees during this process.  THis all may be normal, I am not sure.

The meat doesn't have an over smoke flavor, but it does have a stronger flavor then I like.  If this is normal, should I wrap the meat earlier or do I need better fire control?
Eddie Z

I split my wood to about the thickness of a 2x4. Leave the door on the fire box open until it catches. This is a good time to tend to your meat if needed. You want to have a good bed of coals and a small flame while your fire box door is closed. Also rake back your coals so you don't get a lot of radiant heat on the end.
Wood River BBQ Team

Re: Too much smoke

Fdh1965 wrote:
I just received my Lang 36 two weeks ago.

Trying to figure out how to maintain temp and keep that light blue smoke.

I have been able to maintain temp around 250 constant.  However, the trouble I am having is keeping the smoke constant.  Once it comes up to temp and settles in the smoke is clear and nice,  Each time I add wood the smoke surges to a thick white.  I am using dry aged white oak.  I have cut the pieces down to soda can size.   I have tried 16 inch split also with same result.  Just harder to control the heat.

Using the smaller size wood I have to add two pieces every 45 min- hr.  When I add them, the smoke becomes white and takes about 10 minutes to settle down.  During which I wonder how much impact to the meat this is having.  

When adding the wood I put the firedoor in the open latch position until it fire kicks up, but the smoke is still thick.  THen I close the door.

Temps can fluctuate as much as 10 degrees during this process.  THis all may be normal, I am not sure.

The meat doesn't have an over smoke flavor, but it does have a stronger flavor then I like.  If this is normal, should I wrap the meat earlier or do I need better fire control?



Fdh1965: Your results are completely normal. In fact, you're ahead of the curve of most new Lang owners -- you can hold a temperature of 250*, produce clear smoke, experience only a 10* fluctuation when you load wood. Not bad results. White smoke with a re load is normal -- that's what wood does when it starts to burn, it smokes. Meat will only absorb smoke up to 145* internal. I can't explain scientifically why that happens but that's what experts say. Also try what EddieZ suggests with the coals otherwise you're fine and just keep doing what your doing BUT don't wrap the meat.
Fdh1965

Thanks for the feedback.  I didn't know that meat doesn't take any more smoke after 145 degrees that's interesting.  


Also I have not been racking back the coals.  I have a my coal bed next to the cook chamber.  To maintain the temp I keep the coal bed small.  If I rake it back I could possibly have a larger coal bed and more heat surface.  That may make a difference.  I will try this.

Do you cook on the lower rack or the upper?  There is a almost 20 degree higher temp on the upper rack, do to heat rising.  

I found spot on the lower rack that is spot on with the temp gauge and use this spot for cooking.  Also think that the smoke is lighter on the lower rack as I watch the smoke roll across the op of the smoker to the exhaust stack.
Eddie Z

I disagree with meat not taking smoke past 145°. Smoke will only penetrate so deep into the meat but if there's moisture the bark will continue to take on smoke. You'll hear competition teams wrap their meat when it gets to their desired color so it won't continue to take on smoke. This is from my experiences. I've made briskets that taste like an ash pit. You can run an experiment yourself. Cook 2 butts. Wrap one at 145° and cook the other unwrapped. Your bark will have more smoke on the unwrapped  butt and the meat closer to the center will have very little smoke flavor.
Wood River BBQ Team

Eddie Z wrote:
I disagree with meat not taking smoke past 145°. Smoke will only penetrate so deep into the meat but if there's moisture the bark will continue to take on smoke. You'll hear competition teams wrap their meat when it gets to their desired color so it won't continue to take on smoke. This is from my experiences. I've made briskets that taste like an ash pit. You can run an experiment yourself. Cook 2 butts. Wrap one at 145° and cook the other unwrapped. Your bark will have more smoke on the unwrapped  butt and the meat closer to the center will have very little smoke flavor.


Eddie: I need to qualify what I was saying  -- and so do you. My statement regarding smoke absorption was too general and so is yours because there are 2 factors. The first is the smoke ring and the second is the outside of the meat. The common opinion is that the pores of the meat start to close up at 145* (some experts think it might be as high as 170*) and due to the chemical reation the meat protean starts to coagulate and this causes the interior of the meat to stop accepting smoke. The result is the smoke ring doesn't get any thicker but SMOKE has NOTHING to do with the smoke ring anyway but that's another subject.

The exterior of the meat will keep accepting smoke and the more that's applied the more the meat taste like creosote. The problem is compounded at lower cook temperatures of 225* to 250*. Those temperatures take longer for the internal temperature of the meat to increase  and smoke builds up heavily on the surface of the meat which is exactly what Fdh1965 is complaining about and the reason that I normally cook in the 290*range. I've never experienced the problem your talking about with butts and the only time I wrap them is to power through the
stall but everyone has their own way and I'm not cooking in competition - I think most of the competition stuff cooked to please some judge tastes like crap to me.
Wood River BBQ Team

Fdh1965 wrote:
Thanks for the feedback.  I didn't know that meat doesn't take any more smoke after 145 degrees that's interesting.  


Also I have not been racking back the coals.  I have a my coal bed next to the cook chamber.  To maintain the temp I keep the coal bed small.  If I rake it back I could possibly have a larger coal bed and more heat surface.  That may make a difference.  I will try this.

Do you cook on the lower rack or the upper?  There is a almost 20 degree higher temp on the upper rack, do to heat rising.  

I found spot on the lower rack that is spot on with the temp gauge and use this spot for cooking.  Also think that the smoke is lighter on the lower rack as I watch the smoke roll across the op of the smoker to the exhaust stack.



Fdh1965: You're going to receive all kinds of opinions on this site and others and you have to take all of them with a grain of salt -- including mine!! Try the various ideas and see which make sense and most importantly work for you. I don't keep the coal bed small because I use a basket ( I have to use lump charcoal because wood here is too expensive and hard to get). Even if I didn't use the basket I wouldn't keep the pile small because I'd have to add more fuel more often. I use the lower rack 90% of the time. Obviously, when heat/smoke make the turn from the reverse plate they both make a bee line for the chimney -- it's simple physics. I use a chimney extension to force the heat/smoke across the lower rack but that's just my choice.

Forget the Lang or any bi metal guage -- they're all off and plus they're in the wrong place. Who cares what the temperature is at the top of the cook chamber, you want to know the temperature at product level. Buy a good digital that will measure cook chamber temperature and internal meat temperature.
dsarphie

I've also heard they theory that meat doesn't take on smoke after 140 degrees, or something, but no one has ever been able to explain why.  I don't buy it.  If that was the case, why do Texas guys smoke briskets for 12, 15 or more hours and not wrap?  A local bbq restaurant by me, who uses a Lang 84 and 108, doesn't wrap.  Briskets, butts, chickens and ribs all day and night with full smoke, and people line up for his food.

If done right, its great.  Its competition cooking that says something will have too much smoke.

As for fire and smoke management, ready my thread in the Techniques section, "finally discovered a methed that worked."  I stopped trying to cut wood to coke can sizes or what them a certain diameter.  They're pretty big, as long as they fit in the firebox.  

Based on what you're describing, I bet you're putting the new log right on top of the coals.  Don't.  Think of a brush fire.  It moves.  Place the new log next to the coals, not on top.  You're smothering the fire when you put a new log on top.  Also, read that discussion on controlling the temperature with the flue.
Fdh1965

Thanks for the info.  I read the posts and wil try next time I fire it up.  SOunds like a good method.  Looks like everyone is getting positive results.   Looking forward to the next cook.
Wood River BBQ Team

[quote="dsarphie:4590"]I've also heard they theory that meat doesn't take on smoke after 140 degrees, or something, but no one has ever been able to explain why.  I don't buy it.  If that was the case, why do Texas guys smoke briskets for 12, 15 or more hours and not wrap?  

Check out the articles on www.amazingribs.com by Dr/Prof Greg Blonder on the subject. Also, the reason they have to cook (smoke ) certain meats for 10 to 12 hours or more is because that's the amount of time it takes a big chunk of meat to reach an internal temperature of around 200*. The cook  time involved has nothing to do with smoke.
dsarphie

I'm well aware of the amount of time that it takes to cook the larger pieces of meat.  My point is that if you say something is not going to take on any more smoke after a certain amount of time or after it reaches a certain temperature, then compare a brisket that was smoked for 5 hours then wrapped to finish to a brisket that was in smoke for the entire process.  The second will be much more "smokey" than the first.  If the fire is managed properly it won't taste like an ashtray either.  So how then can it be said that the meat didn't take on any more smoke?
Wood River BBQ Team

dsarphie wrote:
I'm well aware of the amount of time that it takes to cook the larger pieces of meat.  My point is that if you say something is not going to take on any more smoke after a certain amount of time or after it reaches a certain temperature, then compare a brisket that was smoked for 5 hours then wrapped to finish to a brisket that was in smoke for the entire process.  The second will be much more "smokey" than the first.  If the fire is managed properly it won't taste like an ashtray either.  So how then can it be said that the meat didn't take on any more smoke?



We're talking about 2 different things - one is smoke absorbed below the surface of the meat and on the surface. First of all smokes not white and billowy -- it's a gas. As far as the comments as to when the gas penetration stops, the popular belief was it stopped at 140* to 145*. Dr. Blonder has proved it stops at 170* and a pitmaster can believe it or not.

Another myth Dr. Blonder exposed was that lump burns hotter than briquets -- the reverse is true. I still think I'll us lump because I don't like all the junk in briquets but at least now I know what I'm working with.

On another subject -- In my opinion a Lang users can learn by trial and error over a period of time to use his Lang but if a person is serous about using a stick burner they should take the time to review a couple of articles at www.amazingribs.com. The first is "mythbusting the smoke ring" and the second is the most important "what you need to know about wood smoke and combustion". After digesting those 2 articles, a Lang owner will know about running his cooker than 75% of the pitmasters worldwide.
Fdh1965

I tried the process of conveyor belting in the wood.  Wow what a difference.  Once it's up to temp, this process is no more white smoke.  I like it.

I also slightly closed the stack exhaust.   This brought the temp up 300-315 but slowed down the burn rate.  

I did have problems with temp swings and running on the hot side.  So I need to cut down the wood to Coke can size instead of full 16" cuts,   That should allow the temp to come down and maintain at the 250 degrees.  I might need to be more adding frequently, but time will tell.

THe result I had, was less strong wood taste and a richer beef flavor.  THinking this is gonna be good.  It is true let exciting every time I fire up my Lang.

This weekend I will do corned beef and chicken.  More to follow.  

Thanks again for the information.

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