heh, I started a fire!

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by dogwalker, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. Ok, I still haven't bought the AMZN yet, so maybe that should be my next purchase.  Meanwhile, I'm still using the chip loader.

    Ok, I thought, "hey, it does well when I fill the loader almost to the top, but I fill it OVER the top, it'll smoker longer!"

    Good thing I have a window on my MES, because as I was watching it, I saw some smoke puffs (I get those sometime), and suddenly I saw flames down at the bottom!  Pulled out the chip loader and could see that it was some chips that were just barely over the lip of the tray.  So I pulled out the tray and sprayed some water lightly on the chips to calm them down, and all was good after that.

    Lesson: I guess you shouldn't overload the chip tray!

    Hey, a few questions for you AMZN users.

    1) if you pull out the chip loader, do you have trouble getting your smoker to 275?  And does it have to leave the heating element on longer and more often?

    2) right now, I smoke for only about the first 1/3 of the time that I'm cooking, and we're all very happy with the amount of smoke, so I wouldn't use the pellets for the whole time.  I guess it's easy enough to get only 1-2 hours of smoke from it.

    3) have you used any other pellets with it?  I'd like to see what other options there are for pellets.

    thanks, and watch out for fires!

    and Happy New Year!
  2. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1) if you pull out the chip loader, do you have trouble getting your smoker to 275?  And does it have to leave the heating element on longer and more often? With the MES 30 Gen 1 it's OK to leave the chip loader in. I forget which MES size and generation you have. I never, never smoke at 275°. If I did (and had the money) I'd have bought a Big Green Egg or something like that. But if you insist on smoking at that temp, well, the MES was designed to smoke at a temp up to 275° and as such the controller will cycle on and off as many times as it needs to to sustain that set point.

    2) right now, I smoke for only about the first 1/3 of the time that I'm cooking, and we're all very happy with the amount of smoke, so I wouldn't use the pellets for the whole time.  I guess it's easy enough to get only 1-2 hours of smoke from it. If you only smoke for 1-2 hours just fill up one row of the AMNPS. That should be more than enough.

    3) have you used any other pellets with it?  I'd like to see what other options there are for pellets. Are you talking about other "flavored" wood pellets? Todd sells an abundance of different flavors.. I think I only use about six, including his Pitmaster's Choice. I go with the basics such as hickory, oak, apple, mesquite, pecan, and alder. Those woods can handle anything you want to smoke. I would use cherry wood pellets but I've read they're hard to keep lit by themselves and need to be mixed with a nutwood like hickory or oak. A number of guys like Jack Daniels wood pellets but they're made from the leftover charcoal used to char the inside of the whiskey-aging barrels. Just check the A-MAZE-N website and see which wood pellets look interesting to you.

    Hey, you should've let the fire burn. You coulda wound up with a smoke ring in the meat!
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  3. Weird, I had another small fire today.  I noticed that I was using these cherry chips from Academy Sports both times.  And I don't wet the wood, and the vent was wide open.  So I thought I'd close the vent, and that worked, but now I'm baffled.

    Next time, I may experiment with closing the vent half way or so, at least initially until some ashes are built up.  That seems to help the temperatures be more even, too.

    Oh, I have the 40" gen 1 with window (20070311).

    I generally smoke around 225, maybe 250 for some, but I've found that we really like smoking chicken wings at 275.  They still taste great and are tender, but the skin is better than when I smoke then at 225.  So I like having that option.  So I was wondering, if I leave the top vent open and pull out the chip loaded to let air flow for the AMPNS, does that affect temperatures and heat flow?

    As for pellets, I was wondering about other brands.  I've read glowing reviews about the "Cooking Pellets" on Amazon, so I was just wondering.  I'm trying to get an idea of the cost of using pellets versus using chips.  I know the pellets would be better for any long smokes such as pork or brisket.

  4. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    The Perfect Mix from Cookin Pellets is a blend of hickory, hard maple, apple and cherry.  This is my every day pellet.  Nice balance of flavors.  40# bag on amazon for $34.49 delivered.

    The other source I would suggest is A-Maze-N products.  They offer a wide variety of pellets/dust in smaller sized bags, from the standards like hickory, mesquite, cherry and apple to to some specialties such as grapevine, chili pepper spice and italian spice.  You pay more but you gain a lot of flexibility in terms of flavor profiles.  
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
  5. Thanks, Muralboy, that was what I was wondering.  Do you pull the chip loader out any when using the AMPNS?  If so, do you see any temperature loss?  Thanks again.
  6. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    I don't have an MES so I can't speak specifically regarding the chip loader.  If you reach out to Todd at A-Maze-N, I'm sure he will be able to advise.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
  7. Thanks, I'll do that, but it just dawned on me that I can test my smoker now!  I've turned it on, set it to 225, opened the top vent fully and pulled out the chip loader about an inch.  I'll check the temps, that'll help me see that part.  Thanks again.
  8. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I buy all my wood pellets from Todd Johnson because they're 100% of the wood type stated on the bag and because he's a great guy and businessman. I'm loyal to him. That being said, any wood pellet brand that guaranteed its pellets were also made from 100% of the wood named on the package and wasn't full of fillers would work.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
  9. Great point, and I like that.  If I buy the larger bags, the price per pound drops considerably, too.

  10. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I get all my 100% non filler/binder wood pellets from Todd as well. After a few posts I've seen on SMF on Cookinpellets I looked them up on Amazon. They only make 100% Hickory and 100% Perfect Mix (HIckory. Cherry, Hard Maple and Apple blend.) They are sold in 40# bags for $34.99. Directly from Cookinpellets.com for $22 + $14.20s/h = $36,20 and 1-2 delivery. Since Amazon has reviews, the hundreds of reviews were well over 4/5 stars. I'll have to try it for half the price when I'm out of Pitmasters choice. You can get a 3# trial package from Cookinpellets.com for under $6.00. I buy from two or three SMF sponsors. That doesn't mean I have to buy everything from them. I just wanted to note that because I don't want to start any wars.
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That Perfect Mix sounds like a great blend. I've still got a couple of bags of Pitmaster's Choice left. When those are gone I'll try a bag of the PM.

    I personally have no problem with you talking about other brands of wood pellets. Todd doesn't pay me to wax rhapsodically about his products. My rhapsodic waxing is due to the fact that he sells damn good products. Let me know how you like the PM.
  12. I have an MES 30 Bluetooth with an AMNPS.  I had no problem maintaining temperature with the top vent almost 100% open and the chip loader/ tray completely removed.  I sat my AMNPS on a grate that was directly over my empty waterpan, and it was all the way to the left.  The point of this is to make sure that the AMNPS stays lit throughout your cooking process.  It literally was a game-changer for me.  Also, the AMNPS doesn't produce as heavy of a smoke as the wood chips, so this sounds like it would be a good fit for ya. Happy smoking!
  13. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    I use the AMNPS when cold smoking. I have been using Pacific Pride (?) Pellets with great success. Todd pellets are a bit on the pricey side for those of us on a "fixed income".
  14. Thanks, everyone!  I've been real pleased with the smoke flavor I get from these chips, but I have to admit, I have nothing to compare, because this is my first smoker.  Would you say the flavor and power of pellets is about the same?

    Thanks again, y'all!  :)
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    From my own experience, if wood chips are used correctly their flavor should match that of wood pellets. The operative word is "correctly". Like a typical newbie I was afraid there wouldn't be enough smoke flavor by following the MES owners manual recommendation for how much in wood chips to load at a time and how often to load them. I thought more chips=more smoke flavor and so I would always add more than the recommended amount. I added them every time smoke stopped issuing from the top vent, which was every 20 minutes or so. The result was that everything I smoked was oversmoked--harsh and bitter. My wife later told me she didn't like the stuff I was smoking at all.

    After I switched to wood pellets and let the AMNPS take care of it all, the meats stopped being oversmoked and my wife came to truly enjoy the pork ribs and beef brisket that came out of my MES. My kids also preferred the meats smoked over wood pellets to the early ones over wood chips.
  16. Yeah, I've noticed that I'm not seeing large amounts of smoke, but thankfully, I'm too lazy, and so I wasn't adding the second batch of chips until maybe 40 minutes later.  In fact, since most of my smokes are short (chicken wings or spatchcocked chicken), I don't use much wood at all.  However, I really want to smoke a shoulder or ribs!  Unfortunately, ribs may have to wait, as Mrs Dogwalker keeps pointing out how much weight we gained over the holidays (it ain't purty).

    Thanks for the info on the pellets, sounds really good!
  17. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Rick, for my tastes, the wood chips give better flavor than the pellets do. I find the pellet smoke to be a bit weak, plus their flavor isn't quite as good as the chips, anyhow for me their taste isn't quite as good. For others like yourself, it is the other way around, so it comes down to a person's taste preferences. The pellets do have however, an advantage over the chips in that you have to keep adding chips whereas you light the pellets and you are done, providing they keep smoking and not go out as I have had happen 2-3 times, plus the chips are a PITA if you have long smokes. Meanwhile though, I will continue to use Pellets as I have approx $60 - $70 worth in my closet to use. 
  18. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    Not having a AMNPS tray (I have the tube) here's a thought....what if you filled the tray with pellets to keep the fire going but added some chips on top to provide a little bump?  

    Just asking
  19. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Interesting thought there...... Maybe try just a thin single layer of chips???? I might consider that the next time I smoke something.
  20. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Jim, my wife and I have learned from watching hours and hours of cooking competition shows that tastes are indeed personal. One judge might think a dish is undercooked while another thinks it's perfectly cooked. A judge might think a dish is perfectly seasoned while another swears it's too salty. To each their own.

    I prefer wood pellets because for me smoke should enhance food and not overpower it. And the only time wood pellets are a PITA is when they keep snuffing out.

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