How Much Smoke Should Come Out of a Smoker?

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Is your smoker creating less smoke than you expected or your smoker is creating so much smoke that neighbors wonder if your house is on fire? 

This article will guide you to know how much smoke should come out of a smoker. Read on. 

Ideally, you should see thin whips of smoke appear when you’re using a smoker. This is normal and should give you the right results.

Smoke is naturally a part of grilling. It infuses the meat or foods with that sweet, woodsy, BBQ flavor you’ll love. But too much smoke or black smoke is an indication that something is wrong.

Lots Of Smoke Is Normal When Smoker Is Starting-Up

Foremost, most smokers usually produce lots of smoke at the initial stage – thick, white, and bitter. 

This is normal as the wood heats up and starts to smolder until there is enough spark to make a flame.

While pitmen may know how to utilize this “start-up smoke,” it’s actually not the ideal kind of smoke that you want all through the cooking.

Contrary to general belief, thick white smoke is not the sort of smoke that you need to get that smoky flavor into your food.

However, if you desire the best results, you should wait for the start-up smoke to clear up before you throw your meat or food on the grill – after the woods have smoldered, the amount of generated smoke should be reduced. 

Thin Blue Smoke

The wispy, thin blue smoke is the ideal smoke from a smoker. At times, it may be difficult to see this smoke.

Thin blue smoke is produced when your smoker has completed its ignition phase and is rising closer to its target temperature.

This kind of smoke gives your food the proper flavor void of the bitterness of thick white smoke. It also indicates a clean-burning fire, which also means “no creosote.”

Sometimes, you may notice thicker smoke, especially when you drop more wood or pellet in the smoker

However, this wouldn’t be as much as the “house on fire” kind of smoke when your smoker is already around the target temperature.

Stale Smoke

This is the kind of smoke you get when there is poor ventilation inside your smoker, and the smoke can’t flow as it should. This is the kind of smoke you definitely don’t want as it may cause irritations.

Also, the smoker fans may grow dirty over time and have trouble circulating the normal airflow, which may lead to stale smoke. 

More so, the smoke that didn’t escape from the smoker may accumulate to the point that it will make your food black and crusted, ruining the flavor of your smoked food.

If you begin to notice stale smoke in your smoker, it could be time for a thorough cleaning. Remember, you wouldn’t want to have a gross layer of soot on your food.

Black Smoke

White-colored smoke coming out of the grill signals that your smoker is working and thin blue smoke signals that your food is grilling correctly, and you should just relax and let the grill do its job. 

However, black smoke is an indication that the smoker needs to be adjusted. It could indicate that you have some flare-ups in your smoke.

Black smokes mostly result from creosote – thick, black, carbon-rich residues in your smoker.

Creosote results from incomplete combustion of wood and is what makes your smoked food taste bitter, rather than smoky.

Aside from spoiling the smoked food, creosote can also make a mess of your smoker, giving you the pain to clean up your smoker of built-up smokes.

From the explanations above, it can be seen that it’s normal for a smoker to produce much smoke or thick white smoke when it starts up due to incomplete combustion.

However, when the fuel (wood or Pellet) has ignited fully, there should no longer be much or thick white smoke, but a thin blue flame that can sometimes be hard to see until more fuel is added to the smoker.

More so, a smoker may emit other kinds of smoke – stale smoke and black smoke – that may be unpleasant or irritating due to factors like the kind of fuel or airflow.

How To Control The Amount Of Smoke Your Smoker Emits? 

Now let’s consider some factors that play a significant role in controlling the amount of smoke your smoker produces. 

Mostly, you can control the amount of smoke from your smoker by having the right combination of fuel and airflow. Balancing this combination will result in more efficient combustion.

Incomplete combustion is mostly caused by:

  • A raging fire that burns the fuel in your smoker too fast.
  • Insufficient airflow for complete combustion
  • Too much fuel in your smoker.
  • Wood, Pellet, or coal is not hot enough.


The fuel used in your smoker plays the largest role. Using high-quality pellets without wood fillers is the single greatest thing you can do to ensure maximum smoke and flavor potential.

The wood used or the material used for the Pellet is also very important.

While some woods and materials do not produce so much smoke, you can’t help some woods from producing so much smoke. 

Producing so much smoke has to do with how dense the wood is. For instance, an apple tree doesn’t produce so much smoke as a hickory tree.

More so, avoid wet wood because it will generate lots of irritating white smoke. 

Never use woods that have been treated in any way like the treated lumber, particleboard, or plywood. Also, avoid using woods with lots of resin, such as evergreen, cedar, pine, etc.

Dried hardwoods, especially fruit and nut woods, have low sap and are the best for smoking.

They all have slightly different flavors, and it is impossible to describe their flavors.


The next thing to consider is how clean your smoker is.

If your smoker is full of ash, soot, or creosote, it will have a harder time efficiently igniting woods, and this will generate smoke.

Creosote can build up in your smoker, along with ash and soot. Grease can also build up from your old cooking.

The accumulation of all these may prevent proper ventilation but will cause your smoker to produce black smoke as it burns off.

Therefore, you have to keep your smoker clean from time to time.

A clean smoker also decreases the instances of having your smoker go out in the middle of a cook.

More so, cleaning your smoker gives you a good opportunity to protect your smoker from rust, something that may shorten the lifespan of your smoker.


You have to properly manage your airflow if you don’t want to experience too much smoke coming out of your smoker. This is because airflow is a vital part of the combustion process.

You need the right amount of airflow during the ignition process, to control the temperature of your fire, and to ensure that the fire is burning efficiently.

Just because you need adequate air flow doesn’t mean that too much air is fine, not at all. You only need to understand your cooker and monitor the smoke it is producing.

For instance, your smoker needs enough air for complete combustion. 

But if the airflow is too much, the fire will burn too quickly, resulting in some parts of your wood not burning completely, and this will, in turn, create the dreaded white smoke.

In most cases, the best way to achieve the right amount of airflow is to keep your exhaust open, and then control the heat with your intake vents. 

Monitor the amount and color of the smoke being produced, and adjust the intake vents accordingly.


If “How much smoke should come out of a smoker” has been your question, the article above has provided a very good answer to it.

Expect so much smoke (thick white smoke) when you first start your smoke.

This is normal as the wood smolders generate enough sparks to make a flame. 

However, when the wood has completed its ignition phase and rising towards its target temperature, you should expect less smoke (thin blue smoke), which can sometimes be hard to see.

Nevertheless, you may still experience so much smoke coming out of your smoker. 

This is usually a result of the type of wood used (greenwood, softwood, resin-containing woods), the condition of the wood (wet wood), the amount of airflow, and the condition of the smoker (damaged or dirty).

Therefore, to ensure that your smoker isn’t producing so much smoke, make sure that you use the right kind of wood, pay attention and read the smoke signals, and adjust your smoker if necessary.

This simple knowledge will help you to carry out your food smoking perfectly, every single time. 

Now get out there and fire things up without leaving your neighbors to wonder if your house is on fire?

If you have any more questions about smokers or want to know how to get thin blue smoke from your smoker, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information, and we will gladly provide answers to all your questions.

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