Wood not fully burning in WSM but maintaining temps?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by dandiele, May 21, 2013.

  1. dandiele

    dandiele Fire Starter

    Hey guys I have a quick one EDIT (ok question ended up getting longer). My WSM has made some great food but I am having an issue were my wood chunks arent fully being burned to ash or even charred fully and I think im wasting a good amount of wood. I usually use 4-5 hunks of hickory or what ever wood im using for doing ribs or pork butt ETC. 

    I start my coals using the minion method and I have tried coals over the wood and wood on top but it doesnt seem to matter, I get good smoke at first and then the wood just goes out and it is longer smoking but there is always plenty of wood to burn. The wood is dry, I keep it inside. I have even tried soaking it with a little lighter fluid and letting it burn good for about 20 minutes outside of the smoker and then torching it with a propane torch to get it good and hot around the edges and then putting it in but it always seems to go out after a while in the WSM

    I am wondering, do I need to put the wood to one side near a vent and keep that vent fully open if possible to maintain a good burn on the wood or what am I doing wrong? 

    I also sometimes try to add wood to the smoker once my temps steady to get more smoke but they dont seem to start. Im using kingsford blue bag.
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  2. dandiele

    dandiele Fire Starter

    No one else have this problem? I cant be the only one....When I say its not burning all the way I dont mean its turning to coal like it did with my old propane smoker. Its still brown in places all around the chunks, like real wood. I could understand if they were turning to coal and crushed easily into black stuff but there not even like that. just incase I wasnt clear in the original post.

    Do I need to get them roaring on fire in the chimney starter first and then put them on? Ive read all over to just add them into the coals and put the lit coals on top using the minion method.

    Thanks for any advice everyone!
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  3. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Well , no ones jumping in and all I can say is that I haven't had that problem with my WSM. I think the smoke wood usually gets burnt up pretty well. You could try putting it down into the briquettes a little deeper so it maintains contact with the lit coals. That's a head scratcher right there.
    Are you not getting enough smoke flavor on your meat?
  4. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    You're doing fine...you don't need to see visible smoke going all the time.  that invisible and barley visible smoke is great....don't stress yourself out looking for what is perceived as the perfect smoke going the whole time. 

    If you're talking  about an electric smoker and you don't see the smoke this isn't the case but charcoal it is.  You're wood will turn into charcoal which is great because you can use that as a base for the next smoke. 

    Keep turning out good Q and don't sweat it. 
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  5. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    OH....DON'T soak your chunks in lighter fluid!   LOL, that's a no no
  6. dandiele

    dandiele Fire Starter

    haha I figured as much. I understand I dont want rolling white smoke but the fact that the wood isnt burning completly like it did in my ol propane smoker I just didnt think it was right....And I did a pork loin roast and had really no smoke ring at all so i was a little concerned, it tasted smokey but no smoke ring like ive had in the past, and since my wood chunks are not burning completly i thought it was from that. I keep the top vent open 100% and use the bottoms for the adjusting. just not sure. last time i did loin backs was the first time I got a really good hickory smoke flavor but nothing has turned out BAD just not as smokey as I think they should get...
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Yea you're fine, it's a just a different animal going from propane to charcoal.  By the wood chunks not turning to ash is a good thing... you're getting the smolder vs the burning. 
  8. dandiele

    dandiele Fire Starter

    but shouldnt they be turning to coal? like all black and lighter in weight. Maybe im just stressing out over nothing. just seems like im wasting wood, but I guess i can reuse it. 

    Thanks for the advice!
  9. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Your wood chunks will turn into basically carbon.. and get lighter and and lighter until it'll crumble. I'll have wood chunks that are still there after a few cooks and i'll load into my chimney for another cook. 

    You now have a very very efficient smoker and it'll get everything it possibly can out of the fuel. 

    BTW i use only lump for the most part so it'll all blend together.  Like I said just use what doesn't burn for next times fuel. 
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  10. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Are you perhaps placing the wood chunks to the outside of the coal ring?

    I've had my WSM for about 3 years now and the only time I had that happen was when I put the wood too far from the fire and it was a short smoke, so the meat still came out smokey.

  11. nepas

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

    I have not had this happen. I even put spent Bradley pucks (wood) in my WSM.

  12. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Bill i expect what's happening is just the different smoke that you have going in a propane smoker compared to that of a wood burner.  In a propane/electric if you're not seeing smoke you aren't getting it but not the case w/ charcoal.     

    Newer folks to charcoal/wood see the primary combustion smoke and then when it goes to the super thin TBS or almost invisible smoke and don't think they're getting smoke. 
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  13. dandiele

    dandiele Fire Starter

    no I don't put anything on the outside of the coal ring. I think I need to let things get a little hotter or something before I put the middle on and let it settle. I notice in nepas photo he has fresh coals on top of hot coals. I put in fresh coals first spread out evenly with a few chunks mixed in then put my chimney of lit coals on top and spread out evenly. I have even used a torch while its all put together to try to get the wood lit again but it doesn't work. I think I'm going to try to get it very hot until there is some flame from the wood before I put the middle section on and see if the wood smolders better rather then just going out completely. My wood has never turned completely white like in nepas photo either, but I dont make a little seperate spot for the wood either, not sure I just expect it to turn to carbon like FWIsmoker said. practice makes perfect right haha.

    You guys are great, im getting there. 
  14. nepas

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

    Those are MojoBricks i just put in. They smoldered down to powder.

    And you can smoke anything in your WSM

    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  15. you might try smaller chunks or your chunks are damp.. i have never had the problem of it not burning. sometimes it doesn't burn to ask. but it always burns. i also use lots of differant smokers. still no problem.

    happy smoken.

  16. dandiele

    dandiele Fire Starter

    Hey I just noticed your reply. Well today I tried it with some thick tbones to try the reverse searing. Kind of the same thing happen but I only used 3 chunks. Like the size of an 8 year olds fist haha not sure how else to describe them. They did end up stopping smoking in about 20 minutes while waiting for temps to settle. I took the lid off. Let them flame up again and closed it and they smoked for much longer. The whole 40min the steaks were getting up to temp. I am not sure whats up. Its got me confused. Only once have I got a real good smoke flavor on ribs that was noticeable hickory. The rest of the time its just bbq flavor. And if I just toss in chunk after temps are settled I never see smoke or even tbs. I usually keep the door open until they fire and close it up to smolder them. Im gonna make sure next time I place the chunks on top of my chimney to get them good and burning and then dump them in with the fresh coals. Maybe im expecting more smoke flavor then what I can get but id like a smoke ring on pork loin at least.....
  17. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    dandiele likes this.
  18. ok. now i know. i had a [​IMG]  and here is the problem. i use a AMNPS a lot and people have the same problem with it. it takes air and you have to get it going good. if it is not going good. it will not burn, if it will not burn. it will not smoke. you need to spend the time to make it burn.

    happy smoken.

  19. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    David i believe he doesn't realize how efficient his smoker is.  Dan take a picture of your charcoal basket just like it is after a smoke. .... i don't want you to get confused.    Are you starting with a new load of charcoal each cook and that's what you mean by "wasting wood?
  20. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have 4 recommendations

    1. Use smaller pieces of wood, 1"HX1W"X3"long and use 10 of them, placed on the charcoal.

    2. Get a different bag of hickory chunks and see if they work better, you may have wet wood.

    3. Cook at a higher temperature, too low and the wood, especially a dense wood like hickory, will not stay lit(especially if it is wet).

    4. So stop stressing, already. Life is too short and it's only BBQ.

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