Bad smoke in my MES

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by zzrguy, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. zzrguy

    zzrguy Smoke Blower

    Ok I have a mes and love it but I'm getting a bitter taste and my lips tingling I've been told I'm running it to hot so what temp shold I run it at for ribs and pulled pork I've been running it at 225° should I be running a lot lower.
  2. riptides

    riptides Newbie

    Early in my quest to learn smoking (20 years ago now) I had someone argue with me that the purest way to smoke was to use split hickory smoldering in a smoker all day long to cook the food. Anything else was "slow cooking" like a crock pot he told me condescendingly.. Later he treated me to some beers then the pork he spent all day cooking in this fashion and it had this effect on my mouth. It was inedible to my palette and I could tell he was having problems choking it down as well.

    This is an effect of having too much "smoke" in the smoker and caused by creosote build up on/in the food. 225 degrees is the sweet spot for the MES. You just need to make sure you're not keeping the smoke in the smoker too long, let the top vent exhaust, and that side loader, i sorta leave it in place, but pulled out a bit loose to get better airflow. 

    When I do ribs with the 2-2-1 method I only drop chips two to three times during the first 2 hours, make sure it's chooching out the top, not fully open but like a 1/3rd open.. side loader a bit loose open.. and then after wrapping for second 2 hours, taste a done edge to see if it's flavorful enough to add any more for the last hour, which I usually prefer less smoky flavor. 
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  3. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The solution is the AMNPS from Todd.    Load it with pellets and you can cook at any temp you want.   Provides a nice clean smoke.  
  4. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Another option is a Smoke Ring from Smoke Daddy
  5. redheelerdog

    redheelerdog Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Trust your Super Mod for the SOLUTION to your PROBLEM.   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  6. zzrguy

    zzrguy Smoke Blower

    Ok thanks guys.
    I have noticed that I get alot of steam in the middle of the smoke is that normal.
  7. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I have an MES-40 2.5.  Unless I am doing a brisket, I usually quit with the smoke at no more than 3 hours.  The problem I have with the chip tray on the MES is that it makes a lot of smoke when the element is on and  just about the right amount of smoke when the element is off.  My solution is to put in fewer chips, more often - or use my AMZNPS.  

    If you read that Spanish book that came with your MES smoker - you know - the one called "Manuel", they are adamant about using just a few chips.

    As for steam - if you fill up your water pan too full, water will be directly above the element and it will boil every time the element cycles on. Lately I only use a cup or two of water in the pan and it works fine.  You can always add a little more later in the smoke if it is needed.
  8. Just one more opinion, Yes, you know you have bad smoke. Yes ,you have been told you are using too many chips. I will refer you to a picture the difference between the Good  (blue) and Bad (white smoke).

    This photo was submitted by Bmudd years ago.

    as originally uploaded to White Smoke.


    Proper heat and smoke management is the key to good flavorful Q. You have taken care of the heat side with the electric smoker. Now you need to learn the smoke side. If you are going to use chips you need to feed the smoker slowly and often. If you don't want to be tied to your smoker for hours learn how to use the amnps.  It will give you many hours of blue smoke Once lit properly. 

    Cfarmer,redheeler and myself and many others believe in the AMNPS smoke tray from Amaz-n smoker. Tod's ad can be found at the bottom of the page.Once again just a opinion.      Jted
    daricksta likes this.
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG]   Exactly!

    And also---don't put water in the water pan.

    Just wrap it in Foil to make it easier to clean every now & then.

  10. redheelerdog

    redheelerdog Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    They don't call it "OWPS" - the Order of the White Puffy Smoke... [​IMG]

  11. zzrguy

    zzrguy Smoke Blower

    Ok thanks but I don't add any liquid to the pan a lot of times the pan just full with the juice from the meat I dump the pan when I wrap the meat. Is that normal or am I doing something wrong.
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Depending on what meat it is, I like to catch the meat juices in a foil pan, especially when I foil the meat, with other juices.

    Then afterwards, I defat the juices in the fridge, and add the "Au Jus" back to the meat.

    I never use the water pan for juices. To me the Foil wrapped water pan is only in there to keep most of the drips from landing on the element, and to block the direct heat from hitting the meat.

  13. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    225° is perfect, zzrguy. A bitter taste is an indication the meat was over smoked. That's been my experience. You didn't say if you were using wood chips which I'm guessing you did. OK, what kind and how often did you refill the wood chip holder? How long did you smoke the ribs? Did you wrap them or leave them naked? Did you smoke with the vent open or closed? When you ate them did the meat still have a "tug" or were they falling off the bone? There's all kinds of variables to consider. I agree with the guys about Todd Johnson's AMNPS because that's what I use. But putting out great Q owes just as much to good smoking technique as it does to smoke source.

    As for the tingling lips, there's a world of possibilities that could cause that...[​IMG]  
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  14. zzrguy

    zzrguy Smoke Blower

    im useing chips and filling it about ever 45min to an hour. Im using apple and pecans some hickory. I usually fill the chip cup. Ill try using less and loading more. I do rap and use sauce.
    The vent is wide open and they have a little tug not chowy.

    Thanks for all the help.
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Apple, pecan, and hickory is a very cool blend. A basic rule of thumb many smokers follow is to mix a hardwood/nutwood with a fruitwood. Apple and pecan are both very popular for smoking pork Southern BBQ style. I think they're more popular than hickory down there. I'll mix hardwoods and fruitwoods sometimes but usually choose only one type of wood.  I've got a fairly good palate but it's not sensitive enough to fully discern the difference in smoke flavors but with your blend the apple would lend a bright, fruity flavor. Pecan imparts a similar flavor to hickory but not so much in your face so those two would balance each other out nicely.

    I also smoke with the top vent wide open. I use wood pellets in an AMNPS because, when they stay lit and they usually do, a full tray will give provide smoke for about 11 hours. There's no refilling wood chips every 20-45 minutes. I'm smoking a 5 lb. brisket today with the point attached. I plan to wrap it in red butcher paper at around 150-160° IT and keep it wrapped until just before it hits my finish IT target of 203°. At that point I unwrap it and brush on some BBQ sauce because that's the way my family likes it. I do the same thing with pork ribs although I no longer wrap those. But more often then not I overcook the ribs to the point where the meat is falling off the bone, not tuggy. But my family prefers fall off the bone rib meat so what's a backyard BBQ Pitmaster to do? [​IMG]  
  16. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Your original post sounds exactly like what I posted a few months ago ("the main problem is that the smoke taste is bitter and numbing"). Click on this link to go there:

    Thinking of selling my MES 30

    I didn't sell it, and while I think there are smokers that would produce a more pleasing end product, most of them don't offer the convenience and simplicity for a novice like me, so I'm still trying to get great results with what I've got.

    You can read that thread to see what people suggested. Our two threads are virtually identical and some of the people who posted back then might not re-visit the same topic now.

    Here are several things I have done which seem to have helped a lot.

    1. AMNPS. This has already been mentioned several times. I bought this very early in my ownership (I got the smoker ten months ago). I didn't initially use it all the time, but I found that when I used it, and did not use any chips in the MES chip tray to supplement the smoke, I got a more pleasing smoke.

    2. Temperature. In the MES, it seems that the lower the temperature, the more of this bitter smoke (creosote) you get. I still smoke salmon at 140-160 (to start with), and do the same with almonds. However, I always finish at 225 or higher and I always get the smoker really hot to begin with (see next item).

    3. Preheat. Always preheat before introducing the food. Also, don't add the smoke until it is completely up to temperature. From what I've read, creosote often forms when smoke hits really cold surfaces. I could be wrong about this, and others can correct me if I am.

    4. Plenty of air. When I switched to using the AMNPS, I read a lot about people having problems keeping it lit. Indeed, I have once in awhile had it go out. I then created a simple mod consisting of a length of duct with a tin can attached. I drilled holes in the can which provides several times more air into the smoker than you get from those three tiny holes in the chip loader. I don't pretend to understand much about the physics of how smoke attaches to the food, although I sure have read a lot about it in the past year. Most of what I read seems to suggest that you want lots of circulation, and certainly don't want a stale smokey steam bath. You sure as heck never want to close the vent at the top.

    5. Clean. As I'm sure you have found, if you heat up your smoker to its max temp (275 for my MES 30), it will smoke all on its own from the stuff that is attached to the walls that burns off and goes back into the smoker. Since you have created some bad smoke, this is now in your smoker and is going to continue to re-infect your food. The solution? Well, as I'm sure you've found it is next to impossible to clean the smoker down to the bare metal on the walls and I don't think that is needed. However, what I would recommend is that you crank it up to maximum and let it cook, empty, until you no longer see any smoke coming out.

    The one thing I have not yet done, and which would probably make the biggest difference, is to put the AMNPS into a "mailbox mod" with a fairly long hunk of metal duct between the mailbox and the smoker. This should help a lot of the bad parts of the smoke condense on the inside of the duct before it reaches the mailbox. Now that I have an ultrasonic cleaner, which can remove smoke almost instantly, I might even consider putting a metal mesh into the duct to condense out even more smoke.
  17. I haven't tried the AMNPS, but I'm very interested in it.  What I bought early on was the MES smoke generator, which I attach to the side.  I noticed bitter smoke once, then followed a guy's advice.  When I first light it, I leave the top open on the smoke generator and close the vent on my MES, until the smoke turns from ugly white to the beautiful blue.  Then I close the top of the generator and open the MES vent, and all's great after that.

    Plus, as others have said, I don't usually smoke for the whole cooking duration.

    I really need to try the AMNPS someday, just to get another data point.

    I will say this, I love my MES!  I can imagine there are better smokers, but I love the convenience.  :)
  18. smokesontuesday

    smokesontuesday Smoking Fanatic

    This is the best pic I've ever seen to show someone what TBS really looks like.
  19. zzrguy

    zzrguy Smoke Blower

    OK so let me give you guys a little more info I have two of these MES one at my Firehouse in the city and one at home.

    The one in the city make smoke and I think has a more accurate temp then the one I have at home I smoked some ribs this week at home and I really didn't get much smoke and I had a pile of chips in the pan when done but the ribs tasted great. I tried less chips at work and it seemed to work well. Mind you when I smoke at work I'm feeding 12 men so it make 6 racks of St Louis cut ribs 3 half racks per shelf could this be causing the issue with too much in the smoker.

    Now back to the home unit I was running it at 225 with 2 rack of ST Louis ribs on one rack after 5 hours the where still under done but edible and tasty just short of being done still a little rare not chewy but not fully done this is after I rapped them for close to 1 hour with sauces.   
  20. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A number of pitmasters suggest smoking low and slow at 225°. I've tried smoking at that temp but for me it just takes too long. You said that at that temp your St. Louis ribs after 5 hours were still underdone. My favorite temp range is 235-242°. I say "range" because in my MES 30, which is over 4 hours old and has a new controller, the controller will cycle a few degrees above and below the set point until about 5-6 hours in the temp remains stable. But my point is at that 235-242 range I can finish off two racks of STL ribs within 5 hours. At 6 hours the meat is too much "falling off the bone". To me, if a pitmaster is in a competition and has all day or night to cook up ribs, brisket or whatever, they can afford to keep the temp down at 225°. I have a beginner's smoker cookbook by Ray"Dr. BBQ" Lampe and he instructs the set point to be 235° for just about all the recipes. That temp range has worked fine for me.

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