Cold Smoking Troubleshooting
During every batch of dust we manufacture we take moisture readings to ensure the dust falls within our parameters, in addition we also complete a test burn to ensure that the dust burns correctly.
Throughout thousands of hours test burning since we have been manufacturing our own dust we have found that the following can make a difference:
1. If there is a build up of smoke, and therefore not enough air passing over the dust this can starve oxygen to the dust. To rectify this, either keep all your vents open , or ensure that the top and bottom vents are fully open to allow maximum air flow through the bottom vent, over the CSG and through the cooking chamber and finally allowing the smoke to exit.
2. Baking the dust in the oven will reduce the moisture level of the dust but there is no need as the moisture level of the dust is already dry enough to start with. By completely drying out the dust you are effectively destroying all the natural sugars and flavours so you will not fully benefit the great flavours that the wood naturally produces.
3. Drying dust in the microwave has an initial reverse effect on the dust. We have found through tests that by microwaving the dust this will produce excessive steam and create additional moisture within the dust, this will increase the moisture level of the dust by up to 90% until the dust fully cools down and the steam has fully evaporated. Our experiments have shown that by microwaving the dust and waiting for the dust to cool down you will only lower the moisture level by 1 or 2%.
4. Through experience I have found that if the dust burns for a while and then goes out after burning for some time the small mesh holes of the cold smoke generator may be blocked with carbon therefore starving the dust of oxygen:
If the dust was burning OK, and then went out, something has changed for it to go out. You have selected the dust randomly from a bag which has been added to the Cold Smoke Generator, therefore It can't be the dust as it was burning fine previously.
Going back to basic fire making, you need a fuel source (the dust), an ignition source (the candle), and oxygen to maintain combustion, if you emit one of the above you will not manage to light your dust.
5. In most cases if the dust goes out straight away it is because the dust has not been lit in the first place. I have found that keeping the candle lit and in place for around 10-15 minutes , or until the lit dust has travelled about 2.5 - 3 cm's, therefore proving that the dust can remain lit and burn without the aid of the candle flame.
6. I have found that by spraying the Cold Smoke Generator with oven cleaner every couple of uses helps to dissolve and remove the build up of carbon that can block the fine mesh on the walls of the CSG. This will allow better air flow through the fine mesh walls of the CSG.
7. I have also found that if you are using an old tealight, or the wick of your candle is not long enough the flame will not reach the dust and will not cause combustion.
8. A couple of years ago we conducted a study of seven of the most popular dusts, Apple, Beech, Cherry, Hickory, Maple, Oak, and Whisky Oak. All the dusts had different moisture levels ranging from 7% (which is the moisture level of the average internal house door) up to 23 % which is a very high and excessive moisture content for dust. Each species of dust completed the burn cycle , however the only difference was that the dusts with the higher moisture content took longer to complete the burning cycle and produced more smoke throughout the burn.
We have reproduced and recorded the experiment using time-lapse photography to demonstrate the results.
The first video is using dust with a moisture content of 7% and 27% to indicate that high moisture levels will not impede the burning of the dust.
The second video is to illustrate that if you restrict the air flow to the dust the dust will not remain alight. THe moisture level of this dust is 7%.
THe moisture level of our dusts range from 7% to approximately 14% depending on species.