When you’re trying to get your meat perfect to impress your friends and family, are you having an issue getting clean smoke in your offset smoker?
We have our top tips for you to get cleaner smoke in your offset smoker. First, only use dry seasoned wood. Second, good airflow is key to a clean burn. Third, pre-light your wood in a side fire like a small grill. Four preheat your wood, so it lights quickly.
This article will cover the details of those tips and a few more that could make all the difference on how clean your smoke is and get you the best results.
Note: most links in this article are Amazon.com Affiliate links, see Affiliate Disclosure, thank you.
1. Use Dry Wood
Using dry well-seasoned wood is the most important thing when trying to get a clean fire. Dry wood will light quickly and burn without releasing steam or any other carcinogens that could cause a foul taste in your food.
Most of this issue can be solved by purchasing well-seasoned wood or setting the wood aside to dry out well before you cook with it. I like to put wood inside my garage for at least two months, with six months being better.
2. Good Airflow
Good airflow is always a key factor to having a good fire. Leaving your vents wide open will let your fire burn as hot as possible.
Also, the more airflow you have, the faster your wood will light when you add it to your burning coals. If you want to slow the airflow down, do not close the vent on your offset burner; rather, close the vent on your chimney.
3. Light Wood And Charcoal In a Side Fire
Pre-lighting wood is our favorite way to prepare the wood before adding it to the fire. For example, by taking a small grill, you can set up a fire where you light charcoal and wood before adding it to your offset burner.
When you add wood that is already burning, your temperature goes up a bit but does not jump up and down, and your smoke is clean the entire process.
The benefits of this method are more than clean smoke, also consistent cooking temperatures.
4. Preheat Wood
Getting your wood warm can help it start to burn faster. When your wood starts burning faster, it’s less likely to produce foul smoke.
Our favorite way of preheating our wood is to set a piece or two on top of the firebox. Many fireboxes have a small shelf on the top. However, it is not difficult to put a piece of wood or two on top without it falling off.
Other people have been known to place wood inside a propane grill or their oven to bring the temperature of their wood up. Just remember not to preheat your wood above 450° because it can combust.
5. Cut Wood Into Small Pieces
Pieces of wood smaller pieces of wood light faster and produce less smoke. Therefore, by cutting the wood in chunks approximately 2 inches x 4 inches, the wood can light fast and be moved around easily.
Many people will cut the wood in a traditional kindling shape. By taking roughly 8 in Long pieces and then splitting them in 1 in thick pieces, they will burn hot and clean.
You can always use large wood chips, but we usually do not do that because they light instantly and burn off too quickly to produce good smoke.
6. Only Add Wood To Well Burning Fires
If your fire is not burning well, then don’t add wood to it. You will smother the fire and generate a lot of dirty smoke.
In this case, we recommend that you use a charcoal chimney and light 8 to 12 briquettes, or lump charcoal, to recover your fire once your charcoal chimney is burning red hot load those coals into your offset burner.
Your fire will be recovered, and then you can add wood as usual.
7. Remove Wood Bark
Wood bark rarely Burns clean. Therefore, to eliminate any chance of dirty smoke, remove all wood bark.
It is easy to remove wood bark by using a small hatchet or a chisel before splitting your pieces. Wood bark works well for starting your fire initially, but don’t use it during cooking
Mesquite wood bark is one exception to the rule. We have had good luck producing clean smoke with a strong flavor using mesquite bark.
8. Leave Firebox Lid Open
Leaving your firebox lid open can help your fire burn better and get your wood lit faster. The reason for this is increased airflow, which also means you want to leave your vent wide open at the same time.
Don’t be mistaken; you should close your firebox lid as soon as your wood has completely caught fire and restore the normal airflow. This two or three-minute time period will not affect your overall cook temperature, but it will make a massive difference in how well your fire burns.
9. Burn Hardwood Only
Hardwood is the only wood to burn when smoking. The pitch inside softwoods can produce toxic smoke.
We know that most people know this, but for safety, we like to repeat it.
10. Use a Fan to Stoke the Fire
Forcing air into your firebox is a great way to get a clean, burning fire. There are many ways to force air into the firebox.
A simple way is a small fan. However, a small cordless yard blower or even a hairdryer can work great.
Point your chosen device slightly below your air vent and slowly lift it while watching your fire to see when the flame increases and ashes do not go everywhere.
11. Fire Basket
A fire basket is a great way to get a clean-burning fire. You can add your charcoal and wood to this basket that is inside your offset burner.
The basket will hold your fuel in the middle of your burner, allowing air to flow around the outside of the entire fire. The cost of a basket is a small price to pay for a vast increase in performance.
Dry wood is the best way to get clean smoke for your offset smoker. However, our list of tips should help perfect your fire.
The goal is for you to produce the best-smoked meats to impress your friends and family.