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Yes, the ideal burn is a completely charred bisquette. But you don't want the bisquettes burned to ash.
There are several factors that might prevent a full char.
Failure to preheat the bisquette burner. This can cause the first bisquette to be less than fully charred. A 20 minute or so preheat is usually adequate. (I turn on my bisquette burner the same time I start to preheat my smoker. If the bisquette burner runs a little longer than absolutely necessary, NBD. We're talking about wasting less electricity than the boss used when she dried and curled her hair this morning.)
Failure to keep the bisquette burner clean. I use a steel putty knife to scrape build up off the burner plate and feed chute after each use to ensure good contact between the burner and the bisquette.
Cold smoker cabinet. Some forum members report that cold smoking types of activities, where the cabinet temperature is maintained at less than 90F, can cause less than full charring of bisquettes. Similar burn patterns might be observed during unusually cold weather. Makes sense to me. You have to have heat to make something burn. If you don't have enough heat where your bisquette burner is located, you might experience less than full charring.
High compression of bisquettes. There has been some speculation that a bisquette that has been compressed to a higher than normal density may show some resistance to charring. Again, this makes some sense to me.
Type of wood. Some types of wood seem to char less readily than others. I seem to remember a discussion that oak didn't char as much as some other woods.
But, except for the first two factors, I don't think that experiencing less than full char on a couple of bisquettes is a problem. Nor do I think some minor lack of char will affect the taste of what you have smoked.
If you were to experience ongoing lack of near complete char, I'd be thinking about what would cause charring problems and make corrections.
As far as keeping water in the puck bowl is concerned, the water serves multiple purposes. First, it extinguishes burning bisquettes before they burn to the point where they are generating acrid smoke (the ash stage). The second thing the water does is keep any grease draining off the v-tray from getting so hot it catches fire. Third, the moisture provided by the water in the puck bowl may affect the appearance and moisture level of sausage you are smoking. The reason for changing the water in the puck bowl every two hours is that 6 bisquettes is about all that the puck bowl can hold. In some situations, some forum members replace the standard puck bowl with a water filled disposable aluminum pan to increase the time between water changes (This approach is helpful when doing a long, over night smoke, as some folks do with pulled pork).
If you're looking for some ideas or recipes, check out Our Time Tested and Proven Recipes at www.susanminor.org
. These are recipes, often including tips and observations/process modifications, from the forum's most experienced smokers.
One of the things that I have found helpful in developing my smoking skills is to keep what I call a smoking plan. Basically, before I smoke something for the first time I'll write up a plan for the smoke. Temperature, wood used, weight of the meat, time started, duration of the smoke application, expected duration of post smoke cooking process, finished internaltemperature of what I'm smoking, and anything else that I think I might want to know six or eight months from now, and not be able to remember. After the smoke is done, I'll make notes about any changes I made on the fly or observations for changes I would like to make for the next smoke. That way, I can duplicate successful smokes or improve on smokes that were less than fully successful. I keep my smoke plans in those plastic slide in sheet protectors in a three ring binder. That way my important notes don't get scattered around that house. (A plus for the boss.) And the plastic keeps the smoke plan clean and untattered.