Second smoke on my 22.5" WSM a disaster, really need some advice

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by cabin fever, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. cabin fever

    cabin fever Smoke Blower

    My iQue 110 finally came in today so I had no choice but to do a quick smoke to try my new toy out. I rubbed a four and a half pound chicken down with a basic homemade dry rub and while I was at it I did the same to a small pack of chicken breast strips. I placed the chicken on a can of ginger ale (beer can chicken style) and then I placed the bird in the fridge with the strips while I got the WSM and iQue 110 combo ready.

    I used about 8 pounds of charcoal since this was going to be a short cook. I used the minion method and started with 15 lit briquettes. Before I continue I'd like to point out that I did everything the iQue's manual said to do. I closed both front bottom vents 100%, closed the third vent to 50% that the air manifold connected to and left the top lid vent just barely cracked. I then placed 2 small chunks of hickory on the coals and assembled the cooker.

    I did not put water in the water pan, but I did foil it for easy cleanup. I ran the probe to the iQue through one of the cracked slots in the lid vent and attached it to the middle of the top grate. Everything was set so I plugged in the iQue and set it at 250. Off it went to get the WSM up to temp and this is where things went sour. Immediately I noticed thick white smoke bellowing out from everywhere on the cooker. The bottom section, under the lid, all around the door, both of the bottom vents that I closed 100% and even around the edges of the lid thermometer.

    Seeing this pretty much through me for a loop as my first smoke on the unit (without the iQue) went great and I didn't have a single air leak anywhere. Needless to say both the strips and the whole chicken were extremely bitter and almost inedible. I might be turned off from hickory for quite some time now. Anyway, the iQue 110 did what it was supposed to do and overall I was impressed with the unit. With that said, what in the sam hell could have caused the WSM to be completely air tight the first go round and a leaky mess the second time out? This has got me confused beyond belief.
  2. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    WSM users will be along soon, I assure you.

    From all the great posts I have seen on the WSM, I wonder why you need that device.

    But, you will get the straight dope soon.

    Good luck and good smoking!
  3. cabin fever

    cabin fever Smoke Blower

    You're right, the WSM does indeed run great without any help, but I was itching for a new bbq gadget so I set my sights on the iQue 110. Figured I could use it on my Weber kettle in the future for shorter cooks.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Keep the top vent 100% open... even with a blower on it. By closing the top vent that much you just smother the fire.... which creates nasty smoke.... which creates creasote. All the blower type devices are geared to draw air into the smoker, but you still have to let the smoke out at a rapid rate to maintain airflow and keep the smoke from getting stale. As for the smoke coming out everywhere same principal.... you are forcing air into the smoker, so air has to come out. On your past smokes you had the top vent open to allow the air and smoke out, and the smoke to the easiest path, through the top vent. On this smoke you forced air in, closed off the easy out port, so the air and smoke found any and every crack it could to try and get out fast enough.

    I know Al uses a BBQ Guru, and I believe he leaves his top vent open, but you can double check with him. Sorry to hear the chicken was ruined, but at least it wasn't a 15 lb. packer brisket! Don't forget to scrub out the inside of your WSM to remove the creasote from all the interior surfaces.
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Like Johnny said the top vent must be open 100%. With the blower setup you only need about 8 lit briquettes to start the minnion method. Make sure the lit briquettes are not touching any wood chunks or you will see some thick smoke, when the temp gets to the range you set it at the blower will just work enough to maintain that temp. At that point when the fire reaches the chunks you will get nice TBS. When the blower starts to run to get the temp up it creates some pressure in the cooker so any gaps will leak smoke even with the top vent wide open. On your previous smoke without the blower the leaks would not be that evident. After a few smokes the leaks will seal themselves as you begin to get a build up on the inside of the smoker.
  6. cabin fever

    cabin fever Smoke Blower

     Johnny and Al,

    I really appreciate your help. I'm not a complete newbie to smoking and like both of you mentioned I've always known to smoke with the exhaust vent 100% open regardless of the cooker. I guess this is one time following the directions really bit me in the (pork) butt. [​IMG]

    Both the iQue manual and the WSM video on their site stress to leave the top vent just barely cracked if the smoker is well sealed or closed 100% if smoking on a leaky unit. Any idea why they would have instructions like this? I’m surprised I haven’t heard more iQue owners mention this.
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The only reason I can think of is the iQue blower fan is so weak that they feel it could not keep up if you have good outflow. I'm like you, if the directions tell me to do something I just do it even if I think it's wrong. Next time you will know better.
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah.... I always wondered about the poor instructions, especially from Weber. I read the little book on "how to" that came with my WSM and never once used any of their methods.... lol. Oh well, lesson learned, I'm sure the next run will be much more successfull.
  9. cabin fever

    cabin fever Smoke Blower

    Man, I love this forum. Just a great bunch of people all around. [​IMG]

    BTW, there's one thing I forgot to mention in my original post. The iQue's fan ran almost constantly during the entire cook which thanks to you guys I now know was because the fire could barely breath. Even though the top vent was just barely cracked it may as well have been 100% closed. This also explains why most of the charcoal was gone in just under 3 hours. I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to proper air flow. Once again, I say thank you to you fellas for pointing that out to me. 
    Last edited: May 1, 2011

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