Calling all Smokin-It owners

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by tbrtt1, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. Got my #2 last week and followed the directions to season it. Put dowels in smoke box and turned to 250. I put a probe in the middle of the box to check temps. As the temp approached 230 or so the smoke became hideous and acrid and billowing grey plumes form the smoke hole. The temp continued to rise and shot up to 320+. Shut her down and let her cool and tried again with an apple chunk. Same result and I am getting the big belch from the unit as it is going through 250-260*. I let it cool a bit and set it for 225 and she seems to run between 190 and 240 at that setting. Temp spikes are obviously coming from the wood which is just about to catch fire or is catching fire.

    So this week I did another test and put some chips in Foil and poked a few holes in it and put this in the smoker box with the hypothesis that the foil would starve it of oxygen and facilitate more of a smoldering effect. Set the dial for 225. Getting mostly TBS but as the box temp rises through the 220 or so range the smoke gets thick and slightly acrid. When the element shuts off the temp continues to rise a bit, about 15-25*.

    Then I decided to soak some chips (which i never do normally) and wrap in foil. Soaked them for about 4 hours. I also set the temp a little lower, around 220*. This seemed to work a little better. I put on a brisket and went to bed.

    So...............with all of that said, I have a couple questions and observations:

    First off, my brisket was good but took about 16 hours and my chicken leg quarters took about 6 hours (I did open the box a bit since I didn't probe the chicken). I was hesitant to put the dial past the 220 mark and risk getting the nasty billowing smoke. There is a significant difference in the smell when this happens. Smells horrible.

    Could this be an air flow problem (too much), a cheap dry wood problem, or an element/temp control problem?

    My probe is dual probe and calibrated to 212 boiling water. I had both probes in and they read the same so I believe the temp readings I am getting. To me the temps don't seem unreasonable.

    Shouldn't I be able to run the temps higher without the wood burning that badly and producing that acrid smoke?? My brisket was small and I'd like to think I can get it smoked in a 10-12 hour window. Not that I am overly concerned with time as I cook to IT, but still......

    I am considering and AMNPS but I hear it is hit and miss with staying lit. Some don't seem to have a problem and some have problems and even drill more holes for air flow.

    Any and all feedback welcomed.
  2. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I can't comment on the smell.  As for the brisket, depending upon the weight, I have had briskets go anywhere from 12 to 16 hours to reach an IT of 190.  Both SmokinTex and Smokin-it have a question section that addresses the temperature swings for an analog smoker. Swings are normal.

    Wood will, on occasion, catch fire. It should not be an everyday adventure. Sometimes very dry wood will flame.  You may even experience the belch.  TBS can be achieved with good quality wood with a proper moisture content.  I place mine in between the element rods, never directly over a rod. Just something I do to slow down the burning or smoldering. In my mind, it works. But I have no real proof that this method is better than just tossing in the wood. If you have foil lined the bottom of the smoker, make sure to  (and I'm sure you did) poke a hole at the grease drain in the bottom for air flow.

    I weigh my wood chunks on a digital scale. They are cut to 1 and 2 ounce pieces.  In this manner, I can control the intensity of the smoke/flavor by using only what I need. Typically a single 2 oz piece for ribs and a medium brisket.  3 ounces for a larger cut.  When the meat reaches an external temp of around 140 degrees, its ability to absorb smoke flavor has diminished. After that, the smoke particulates just pile up on the exterior, which can become quite bitter.

    Also take note of the weather conditions when you smoke:  calm versus breezy versus windy.  And is it blowing across the top and along the bottom of the smoker.  These conditions can affect the smoke in a positive or negative manner.

    That is all I have. Hopefully folks with an SI unit, or an ST for that matter will chime in. You might also want to visit the SI site and see if someone there has experienced this and solved it.

    Happy smoking.
  3. I did a smoke overnight using some Fruitawood with a small 4# pork butt. I used the Mesquite and Peach that I received. I ended up putting a few small pieces in foil and poked a couple small holes. I wanted to restrict the airflow as much as possible. During the early part of the smoke I still got some semi-thick grayish smoke, particularly during the initial rampup at the high temp levels (> 225*) even though I staggered the ramp up time. However, even though it was not TBS the smoke did not have nearly the acrid, scorched smell that the big box store wood produced. When the element shuts off and the wood begins to cool a bit the TBS returns and stays for the most part, even on subsequent element on cycles. It seems that the wood needs to get it burning or "combusting" out of the way and then settles down. 

    The gist of it is I just let it go and went to bed and awoke to a stunning delicious hunk of moist, pullable pork.

    BTW-I highly recommend Fruitawood. I was reluctant to believe there could be that much difference in wood, but WOW. No comparison. I will never use any store bought wood again. This stuff is so fragrant it is unbelievable. I could sit on my back patio and smell the smoke all night as my smoker emits the fragrant TBS. 

  4. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sounds successful.  And staying away from big box store wood is a good idea.  I have used such bargain wood with my offset stick burner, weber kettle etc.  But for the electric, I order fresh from there smoker company.  Fruitawood has a great reputation.

    Now I need to correct one item from my earlier post.  I meant to say butt, not brisket.  Over at the SI site, many folks are using the Auber for more accurate digital control with great results.  You may want to look into that if you get to the point where the analog swings get to be an annoyance.
  5. Thanks Sarge. I have an Auber coming. I am overly concerned with temp swings, but I do like being able to program a ramp up and a ramp down and/or cut off based on either time or IT. 
  6. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★


    Truth be known, I was concerned with the accuracy I was getting with my unit which is digital. So I dropped in another probe. I had differences.  But I was getting good Q from the smoker, so I put away the other remote and stopped worrying and started enjoying. I feared my next move was to get a second remote device to check the built in and the first remote. I am too old to worry and care anymore.  Results matter. And do check the FAQ at smokintex and smoking-it.  Temp swings are normal (and wide).

    I think you will be happy with the Auber.  A couple of folks have ingeniously wired it into the SI and incorporated a switch whereby they can go all digital, or should they choose, switch back to analog (in the unlikely event the Auber dies). 

    Good luck and happy smoking.
  7. Oops, I meant to say I am not   overly concerned with temp swings. Sorry! Like you I am at the age and have cooked and Qued enough not to be concerned with swings. Hell I don't care if they swing 35* to both sides. I am not smoking sausage or doing any cold smoking. My temp swings are pretty good actually. Especially when the meat starts to get a little warm and the box is good and hot. I like being very hands off with my smoking. I have too many other hobbies I like to do to tend a smoker all day (though I know many enjoy that kind of thing and I would too if it weren't for 3 other things I do with my time!). 

    I ordered the Auber to 2 reasons:

    1-Programming it so turn off when the food is done. I want to be able to go to one of my shooting matches or play golf with my son on Saturday morning and have a little latitude with the meat in the smoker that I put in on Friday night and not be paranoid about it overcooking if I have a slow round on the course. 

    2- For some reason ramping up the temp from a cold box all the way to 225-240 gets the wood to semi-combust and put out some acrid, nasty, gray smoke. Even with top notch Fruitawood and wrapping it in foil to starve it of oxygen it still does it on the initial ramp up and sometimes on the second cycle of the element. As the element cycles off after getting up to temp on the initial ramp up the wood settles down and goes back to TBS. I did a manual slow ramp up last night and it make a difference. The Auber will let me do this hands off. 

    Thanks for all your help and input. 
  8. Here is an update:

    Fruitawood came in and I have used it twice. Worth every penny. Wonderfully aromatic and as soon as you open the box you can tell/smell the difference between it and store bought wood. Smoking, it smells awesome. I got mesquite and peach. The peach is supposed to be the most underrated smoking wood and used by competition Q-ers. It smells fantastic. Should last me a good while. 

    However, even when wrapped in foil, when the element is cranking through about the 190* mark and climbing on its way to 225 or 240, (my typical smoking temps), I am still getting a bit of heavy gray smoke for a about 20 minutes. Basically same problem, but even at its worst the Fruitawood is not nearly as offensive. It still smells pretty good and not as scorched as store bought wood. After this initial ramp up and burn off the wood settles and the smoke is thin and blue. My food is coming out tasting great. 

    My Auber came in and I have used it twice. I'll have to do some experimenting with ramping up the temp to see if I can eliminate the gray smoke completely. But out of the box this thing is the bomb. Stays within 3-4* on the high side of set point and 1-2* on the low side. I will do an auto tune when I have a chance but as it is this is the way to go. I highly recommend it. 

    Overall, I am pleased with the #2 and highly recommend Fruitawood and the Auber PID.
  9. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    A lot of folks use fruit a wood as their only wood.  

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