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Chip quantity in MES

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I've been reading threads on using chips in an MES smoker.

Seems folk talk about using 5 or 7 or so chips at a time for 30-45 minutes.

Today is my day for asking clueless questions.

1. Do folk generally soak these chips?
2. Are we talking about the same size chips (really small bits as small as a single pinky joint though narrower.)
3. How far down do you close the damper in this case?

Just seems like the chips I have are very small. I can't picture half a dozen providing strong smoke for 45 minutes, but I'm more than happy to be taught otherwise.
post #2 of 3
I don't have a MES, but I can comment on the chips in general.

First, there is never a dumb question! You might get some dumb responses (mine is a case in point), but there is never a dumb question. We all had to take a first step.

Regarding soaking of chips, it seems to generally be discouraged. I never soak anymore. The water won't penetrate more than 5% of the wood, and really doesn't do anything for moisture. You will get a better and more consistent smoke by using dry chips.

Regarding size, I have smoked with entire chunks of wood (preferred method) down to what looked like shreds of wood. The smaller the chunk, the faster it will burn off, so you might have to babysit the smoker a bit more.

Hope this helps!
post #3 of 3

I have been using my MES for about 9 months now. I buy my wood chips at Wal-Mart in a small bag. They are about #2 pencil size. I find no good reason to soak them. The MES chip loader limits the size of chips you can add so the large chunks that are used in other smokers are off limits. I think it's these large chunks that some people place 5-7 at a time for 45 minutes of smoke (like in a GOSM gas smoker). We MES users should use a small handful of chips about every 45-60 minutes. That's about a half cup. You want light blue smoke, not huge white clouds. Regarding the damper, I say leave it wide open. Every time I have tried to close mine, the smoke starts exiting other places including the chip loader. That's not getting the smoke all over the meat. I have been told that closing the damper can result in incomplete combustion producing creosote, a bitter oily substance, sticking to your meat. Yech!

One more thing about chips, overloading the chip box can cause "poofing", where the large amount of chips produce too much heat and catch on fire, the poof noise, then go out after burning all the oxygen, then repeats every few minutes. This happened to me once, it's a strange sound coming from the MES!

Good Luck and great food,
Oak Cliff Boy
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