Bad smoke from a smoke generator

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by oden010, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. oden010

    oden010 Newbie

    Hello everyone.  I have a vertical plywood smoker that I have been using for years.  I put a propane bq unit in it and have always smoked from 140-175 degrees. I recently killed some hogs and cured the pork according to the direction.  First mistake, way to salty.  Wanting to cold smoke I took a three inch steel pipe and welded a 1 inch horizontal tube about an inch from the top.  I then made a very tight fitting swinging door on the top to allow the ease for adding more wood chips.  In the bottom I took a piece of drywall wire and rolled it into a pyramid to allow for more air flow for smoldering in the bottom of the pipe.  I use pretty much only hickory  and light the fire by a propane torch.

    Here is my problem  On my test run for the generator I set it up outside the smoker in the correct operating position.  Once started I noticed my smoke was a very heavy bitter smelling, almost sludgy in appearance.  Not the the sweet smell when burning wood at higher temps.  I put the pork in the smoker and smoked with this heavy smoke for 2 hours and outside temps.

    I still notice the odd smelling smoke and my bacon tastes just as bad as the smoke smelled and as I mentioned the salt was way to high.  Trying to save my 20 lbs of bacon I soaked the slabs in water for a day and a half in my 10x16 walk in cooler.  After this I used the same wood but cranked my heat up to about 160 and watch the heat so it never went over.  I saved it.  I removed some of the salt and most of the bitterness but some is still their.

    Any suggestions on why the cold smoke smells and tastes so thick and bitter?  I use bagged hickory chips and have used this same bag on hot smokes with great results
  2. pops6927

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

    I would venture a guess for several situations occurring:

    1) Not enough air flow, using up the available oxygen

    2) Not enough heat to combust fully.

    3) Too much salt.  Dry cured?  Did you do a fry test first?

    I am sure Todd will be along and he's the authority on cold smoking equipment and can nail it down for you.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes Todd will probably be able to help you.

    He also sells the most popular smoke generator.

    His company is A-MAZE-N Products.
  4. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey oden010,

    A pic would be cool, but I think I have a good idea of what you're doing.

    Bagged Chips are not necessarily "Dry".  They are "Air Dried" to about 18% moisture.  When you use chips or chunks in a hot smoker, they become dry.  When you use chips or chunks in a Cold Smoke Generator, like the one you made, the excess moisture can cause creosote.

    Did you add a fan or air pump to your smoke generator?

    This can make a bad situation even worse!

    Did the 3" pipe or the 1" intake tube clog up with tar?

    Good sign that you're generating creosote and other nasty chemicals.

  5. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

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