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The last few times I have smoked a Butt I have noticed after an hour there doesn't seem to be much of any smoke coming out. I started a Butt tonight and load the box with 4 chunks of maple. Each one was approx 1 1/2 to 2" long and the diameter of a quarter. Just like all the times before it smoked good for 45 minutes to an hour. Tonight my curiosity got the best of me and I opened the door and checked the wood and it was all almost ash.

I'm wondering if because I'm here in AZ is maybe my wood just really dry and burns up quick?
Is my heating element to close to the wood box?
Is this just normal?

More Info.
I set at 210, load Butt and start.

Could it be that its burning hot to get my temp up to 210.

Would I be better off getting it up to temp and then loading the wood?

Thanks in advance for any help to my many questions.

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I place the wood in the smoke box then start the smoker. You told us how long and wide your wood is. How thick is it? If it's burning quickly, then use bigger or thicker pieces of wood.

When we've had trouble getting our wood to burn or produce enough smoke, we've split the chunks into several pieces to get a better burn. If you have the opposite problem, use bigger or thicker pieces. I think you've got a problem with a fairly simple solution. Give thicker or wider pieces of wood a try and see how it turns out.
Ok so at 7 pm last night --after I opened door and checked wood. I reloaded the wood box with the same amount and same size peices. My temp was at 210. I let it go all night and woke up this morning and kicked my temp up to 250. As the temp started rising I started getting tons of smoke billowing out just like I normally do during the first hour of my smoke.

It makes me wonder if I'm using up to much of my smoke in that initial time while the heating element is trying to get up to 210.

I think I might try and get up to temp first then add wood next time.

Someone please tell me if I'm just crazy and over thinking this. Maybe I just need to crack a beer and relax a bit.
Tim, when I first start up the smoker, I get a lot of heavy smoke for about 30 minutes to an hour, somewhere in that range. But after the heavy smoke is gone, there is still smoke being produced. You just can't see it easily. It's usually a thin bluish or almost clear smoke, very light. It's still smoke and there is still a lot of it, even if it doesn't seem like it.

You can see it in certain light better than others, and from certain angles. You can smell it too, some types of wood better than others. If it's dark or your cooker is in the shade, shine a flashlight across the smoke vent hole at the top of the smoker. Unless it's very bright outside, that will usually let you see it.

Get a digital camera with zoom and set it for automatic flash. Zoom your camera so that you can only see the door of your smoker. Open the door and immediately take a picture with the flash. I've done that and could not see any smoke with my naked eye, but the flash will reflect on the particles and reveal that your smoker is really full of almost invisible smoke.

Many people prefer this lighter smoke. They feel it is a cleaner smoke than the heavy smoke that comes out at first. I agree. For smaller and thinner cuts of meat, like ribs or country-style ribs, chicken, or fish, I let the heavy smoke burn off for about 15 to 30 minutes before I put the meat in. Otherwise the smoke is too heavy for my taste. For PB or brisket, anything really large that is going to smoke for a very long time, I go ahead and put the meat in from the start to get that initial heavy burst of smoke flavor too.

Smoke is a matter of taste. Some like a little, some like a lot, and some vary it according to the food they're smoking. But the main thing is that just because you can't see the smoke easily doesn't mean it isn't there. And if it is there, it is flavoring your meat.

Personally, I rarely add wood after the initial load is or appears to be used up. That first load generally gives me all the smoke flavor I want.

That's my take on it, anyway. To each his own.
Originally posted by R_L Winston:
I would go with a bigger piece of wood at the start, because that's when the smoke penetrates the most in the meat. If my memory serves me correctly when the meat hits 250 or so it stops letting the smoke in the meat. I'm sure someone here can say for sure.

Worse case cracking a beer can't hurt either.

I believe at around 140* meat temp, the pores close up and don't allow any more smoke penetration. I'd put the wood in at the beginning.

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