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I'm seasoning my new Weber Smoky Mountain smoker according to the excellent instructions, given for free, on Amazon, by a 20x BBQ grand champion. (What an amazing thing for this guy to do!)

Anyway, I'm using a Weber RapidFire chimney starter, and both times I've used it so far, it's completely filled the entire backyard with wood and paper smoke.

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My upstairs neighbors sleep with their windows cracked when it's warmer (which is when I'll be BBQing), and so I'd really like to not smoke them out of their own bedrooms at 6 in the morning. Any advice for minimizing smoke when using a chimney starter?

There's some advice here about using only one sheet of newspaper doused with a bit of oil, but I don't know if that mitigates smoke.

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I use one too, with Webers lighting cubes. I can't remember that that made it smoke. Where do you place the chimney starter? Is air flowing freely from below? –  johnny Apr 24 '12 at 13:31
    
Yes, I place it on the grate. –  Rich Armstrong Apr 24 '12 at 14:34
    
At least with mine, the newspaper smoke runs out fairly quickly, but then there is plenty of charcoal smoke. Not sure how you'd avoid that. –  derobert Apr 24 '12 at 15:10
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

First off, I'd cease using paper as your tinder. While it is the cheapest way to get your charcoal started, it does create a lot of smoke and ash flying around. And avoid oil-soaked paper. This will create even more smoke (I speak from experience).

I started using firestarter cubes, as they burn hotter and longer, meaning my coals are ready for cooking faster. Also, another side effect has been that the only smoke I see is from the charcoal itself. I started using the Weber ones, but they are expensive and don't burn as long. So I switched to a different fire lighter. You'll have to forgive me, as the name escapes me -- once I get home I'll edit this answer with a picture of the bag. Anyway, they're cheap, at about US$ 5-6 for a bag of 72. And they burn long, hot, and smoke-free.

The only remaining problem you'll have is that when charcoal begins igniting from a low starting temperature, it puts out quite a bit of smoke. If you are still worried about smoking your neighbors out, you will probably want to experiment with different brands and types. Stubbs briquettes are a bit less smoky on ignition, as is most lump charcoal. If you use lump, though, you should make sure you pack the charcoal ring in your WSM nice and tight, or it will burn very hot and fast. Also, put a piece of expanded steel on the charcoal grate to keep the small pieces of charcoal from falling through.

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