jjdbike

BGE / Kamodo, managing smoke, avoiding creosote?

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Hey folks,

 

In my mind, between grills, smokers and wood fired ovens, BGE / Kamado style cookers seems to be a hybrid of sorts, using both charcoal and wood.

I use my generic BGE as a grill / smoker and sometimes a pizza cooker.

When watching videos about smoking, I often hear people say about managing smoke, to look for clean blue smoke. Not sure that I ever really paid attention to that, but probably should. I have noticed that sometimes there is little smoke flavor, while other times its more bitter and I believe it's a creosote flavor. Not only does that taste bad, but I believe it is carcinogenic. 

Is this all about air flow? Can it be cause by too much wood? Is it they type of wood?

My question to experienced smokers, especially on BGE / Kamodo type cookers, how do you manage your smoke? What do you look for and what do you try to avoid? 

Thanks in advance!

JD

P.S. My generic BGE is slowly falling apart. We'll retire and move in the next couple years. I'll prolly wind up w/ a combo of old school kettle grill and electric smoker.

 

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First and foremost start with good quality lump like B&B, Fogo, or Jealous Devil. When adding wood I take all of the bark off because I believe that gives off a lot of the exact bitter taste you are talking about. What wood you use can make a huge difference also. Hickory and mesquite and even oak can taste bitter when you use too much. The fruit woods are less likely to do that. 

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Exhaust vent fully open.  Always 
Dry wood.  Bone dry

Hotter smaller fire. 
 

You should notice that you have a lot of billowing white smoke when you initially fire it up. That’s unburned stuff vaporized that will condense on cool surfaces like your meat or lid.  Smoke becomes thin blue nearly invisible once things are hot.  Might take an hour on my wsm. The more a fire is smothered with insufficient air flow the more creosote is produced.  I don’t know if you can run a smoker to produce zero creosote but you can try to minimize it.  Smoke is kind of less is more situation

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When using your bbq/smoker always leave the top vents open and damper from the bottom let out the smoke and chemicals per meathead from Amazin ribs .com ....try not to burn wood with bark on it it may give a bitter taste ....quality of wood is critical.....I find the metal smoke boxes for gas grills give food a bitter taste ....burnt aluminum foil will also give food a bitter taste ....as for the haters of real bbq check your grease filled gas grill and then burn off the grease about an hour if your lucky ...the beverage to drink when eating bbq or gas grilled food is wine not beer ...has to do with bacteria ,look it up I can’t explain it ....but the wine is warm ....frozen peach sections or frozen pineapple chunks in the wine glass will take care of the warm ness ...I wouldn’t do that tho expensive wine but basic wine works well.....LOL LOL LOL 

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On 4/26/2021 at 8:30 AM, Big Biscuit said:

First and foremost start with good quality lump like B&B, Fogo, or Jealous Devil. When adding wood I take all of the bark off because I believe that gives off a lot of the exact bitter taste you are talking about. What wood you use can make a huge difference also. Hickory and mesquite and even oak can taste bitter when you use too much. The fruit woods are less likely to do that. 

Thanks Big. Jealous Devil is my goto.

I use hickory.

Ill try Apple or Cherry.

Thanks.

On 4/26/2021 at 10:10 AM, JimW said:

Exhaust vent fully open.  Always 
Dry wood.  Bone dry

Hotter smaller fire. 
 

You should notice that you have a lot of billowing white smoke when you initially fire it up. That’s unburned stuff vaporized that will condense on cool surfaces like your meat or lid.  Smoke becomes thin blue nearly invisible once things are hot.  Might take an hour on my wsm. The more a fire is smothered with insufficient air flow the more creosote is produced.  I don’t know if you can run a smoker to produce zero creosote but you can try to minimize it.  Smoke is kind of less is more situation

Wow Jim, this seems like critical information that I never knew.

I typically fill the firebox/ egg w/ fuel and keep it chocked back to control heat.

As far as venting, I generally did the opposite. I left bottom wide open and controlled heat w/ top.

Thanks so much!

16 hours ago, Surf bomber said:

When using your bbq/smoker always leave the top vents open and damper from the bottom let out the smoke and chemicals per meathead from Amazin ribs .com ....try not to burn wood with bark on it it may give a bitter taste ....quality of wood is critical.....I find the metal smoke boxes for gas grills give food a bitter taste ....burnt aluminum foil will also give food a bitter taste ....as for the haters of real bbq check your grease filled gas grill and then burn off the grease about an hour if your lucky ...the beverage to drink when eating bbq or gas grilled food is wine not beer ...has to do with bacteria ,look it up I can’t explain it ....but the wine is warm ....frozen peach sections or frozen pineapple chunks in the wine glass will take care of the warm ness ...I wouldn’t do that tho expensive wine but basic wine works well.....LOL LOL LOL 

Thanks again about top vent.

Beer just goes so well w/ barbecue…

Best regards!

JD

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2 hours ago, jjdbike said:

Wow Jim, this seems like critical information that I never knew.

I typically fill the firebox/ egg w/ fuel and keep it chocked back to control heat.

As far as venting, I generally did the opposite. I left bottom wide open and controlled heat w/ top.

To be honest I forgot you mentioned egg and I’ve never used one.  The advice is ok for Weber I think but ymmv.  It should still be true that more air flow will help with creosote 

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14 hours ago, JimW said:

To be honest I forgot you mentioned egg and I’ve never used one.  The advice is ok for Weber I think but ymmv.  It should still be true that more air flow will help with creosote 

Thanks Jim.

The BGE instructional vids say to leave the bottom vent open and control the heat w/ the top "daisy wheel". They also brag about how fuel efficient they are. I've been loading it up and using the same load for several cooks just topping it off as needed. I wonder if I need to burn it all out and start fresh each time. Could that possibly be a factor?

JD

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On 4/26/2021 at 10:10 AM, JimW said:

Exhaust vent fully open.  Always 
Dry wood.  Bone dry

Hotter smaller fire. 

On your WSM are you using charcoal w/ chunks?

isn't it funny how many instructions and recipes tell you to soak wood first.

JD

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18 hours ago, JimW said:

To be honest I forgot you mentioned egg and I’ve never used one.  The advice is ok for Weber I think but ymmv.  It should still be true that more air flow will help with creosote 

Yep doesnt work for eggs.  

 

There is little airflow in an egg, and the fire stays small and hot all by itself-even in a big pile of charcoal, the fire will burn small.

 

I use wood chips OR the very smallest chunks of wood out of the bag 0f chunks.  Very little wood needed in a kamado.

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21 mins ago, jjdbike said:

On your WSM are you using charcoal w/ chunks?

isn't it funny how many instructions and recipes tell you to soak wood first.

JD

Yeh it burns hotter.

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Only reason for venting top is to release any nasty chemicals.....the soaked wood , unless sopping wet may burn a bit slower...all different methods to smoking....I usually follow Amazin  ribs . Com due to the reasoning meat head offers with his cooking methods...he has gotten a little commercial in the last ,4 or 5years...the wsm  usually burns 250 degrees with top vents wide open and bottom ve n d's adjusted for wind are usually half open with the beer bath I mean water bath two inches from the top burning  coal with wood lumps mixed in ......using a kettle grill I bbq a 7-8 lb whole n y strip using the horse shoe method with only cherry chips ....what ever works best as long as the food is good....lol lol

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Creosote is a product of incomplete combustion so if that is your problem, increasing air flow may help solve. If the charcoal is damp, I could see that also not burning completely  I don't have a BGE, but if you have any kind of buildup inside your smoker, I'd clean it out, fire it up to a high temp to burn off any residues and start with a clean slate. 

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On 4/28/2021 at 4:58 AM, Little said:

  Very little wood needed in a kamado.

I agree... I use no more than a couple of golf/tennis  ball sized pieces only at the start, even on a 24hr cook.. I wait for the smoke to turn blue before inserting the food product.. I'll also ramp up to a hot fire after a low-n-slow, to burn off any crap inside the kamado...

Butch

 

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