I want to smoke a brisket tomorrow.
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Remove the chip burner. Place Amnps in bottom left. Pull chip loader out a inch or 2.....Make sure you have dry pellets. Microwave them a Min. to make sure. Make sure tha AMNPS is gooing real good. Blow on it a few times. Take 10 min or longer to get it going real good. It should have a cherry like a cigar when it is ready.
Water tray is not required. It helps to hold the heat. In mine I filled it with sand and wrapped it in foil. It is used as a heat sink that way. Some will tell you you have to have water. If they want water then water it is. Ask 10 smokers a question and you will get 11 answers.
Which pellets are you using? Seems not long ago I heard people having problens lighting straight cherry pellets. Just a thought.
Make sure and put something over the tray, juices dripping really mess with the pellets also.
I preheat my MES before I add the meat, I leave my aux. smoke gen on the rack while heating, I live in south Louisiana we have humidity. The tray is hot when I light the pellets but I find it drys out the pellets some and helps the continued burn.
And don't worry nearly everyone has a problem initially, its just a learning curse.
I wish you luck, and hope you have a good smoke!
I put the AMNPS filled with pellets and unlit on top of the chip tray assembly while the the MES is heating up to temp. This seems to dry out the pellets so that they burn quite well when lit a little later just before I put the meat in the MES. I place the lit MES on the lower left rails during the smoke. Just another of many tips you will find on getting the AMNPS to work well.