Am I adding wood to my WSM wrong?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by flyinion, May 28, 2013.

  1. flyinion

    flyinion Smoke Blower

    So, I've been lighting using the minion method (lump the last few times though if it matters) and will place 3 small chunks of wood along the outside of the ring in my 18.5" WSM buried about halfway down.  Once the WSM hits 225 I will throw another chunk on in the middle where I dumped the small amount of lit coals and put the meat on.  Problem is I get billowy white smoke like this.  It seems like if I don't put the chunk in the middle then I get no smoke even though I'm at temp (at least until well into the smoke when the outer chunks of charcoal have lit).  What am I doing wrong as far as setting my wood up to get the thin blue smoke from the start?
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    On combustion, you have several elements in play bringing your wood and coal pile up to operating temp.  Moistures within the wood burning off, ignition, and so on, which causes the billowy white smoke.  Let that burn off and allow your coals to form before putting your meat on, then maintain your fire with small additions of wood which will blend in with your existing fire.  The primary thing is don't keep stoking your fire with new material constantly to keep the billowy white smoke perpetuating, which also raises your temp constantly too.  Maintain temp and consistent thin blue with small additions of wood, 1 piece at a time, controlling the burn.
  3. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  4. flyinion

    flyinion Smoke Blower

    Thanks guys, it sounds like I need to give the smoker a good bit of time to get going after I dump the lit coals on top of the unlit then?  I.e. don't just toss the meat on when it hits 225.  I tried to work on that yesterday when doing some meat for the holiday but I still had problems.  I set up as mentioned and then tried to let it run for about 15 minutes after it hit 225 to see if I could get the temp stable first.  Then I tossed the chunk on in the middle and put the meat in.  Of course then I had white smoke.  Not sure if it's from the chunk I threw on in the middle, or the lit lump lighting the unlit stuff, or what.  

    Then a few hours in (like maybe 2 or so) it seemed like all the wood at the edges had burned up too and the whole ring of lump was pretty much lit.  I had the vents nearly all closed, was around 235, and no smoke at all coming out unless I tossed a new chunk on then I got white smoke for a bit.  I think I've figured out I need to go back to briquettes though.  Maybe that's my problem, or my lump (year old bag of Royal Oak, stored in the garage) is bad.  If it's bad, I guess that problem is fixed since I dumped the last of it to set up for the 6 hour rib smoke yesterday.

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