The product smokes until the temperature rises to the point where it destructs the particles you can see, typically this is around 700-800 F. If you watch closely, the initial flame will go out then it will smoke until the charcoal reignites again. The initial flame is from the starter (lighter fluid or starter stick), when it goes out the charcoal is burning at a low temp, as more of the charcoal ignites, the temperature climbs and during this period the charcoal will smoke. Once the charcoal reaches cooking temperature, most of the smoke will be gone. You can also use the color of the briquets to tell when it is ready to cook. When 70% of the briquets are ashed over or grey, it is ready for cooking.