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A-MAZE-N Smoker -Is a single, double, or quad burn most recommended for hot smoking in MES 40?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by hkeiner, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. Any suggestions on the burn rate (single, double, or quadruple ) or the amount of dust to put in the A-MAZE-N 6x8 box (full, half, twice, etc. ) when hot smoking ribs, pork butt, brisket, or turkey legs in a MES 40 (or similar)? I understand that everyone has their preferences on smoking and I will need to do some of my own trial and error smoking, but I thought I might get a good start by seeing what others are doing using the MES 40 and 6x8 box.

    I just ordered the 6x8 A-MAZE-N smoker box and am looking forward to using it in my shiny new MES 40. While I am waiting for the A-MAZE-N smoker to arrive I did a little research to see how it might be best used for hot smokes on the MES 40, such as ribs, pork butt, brisket, and turkey legs in particular. I looked at a various forum postings and You Tube videos and saw examples of guys lighting the box in different possible ways, such as (1) lighting only one end of the dust , (2) lighting both ends of the dust, and (3) lighting both ends of the dust as well as the middle of the dust.  I expect that method (2) will double of up thickness of the smoke and method (3) will quadruple the thickness of the smoke (with a corresponding shortening of the total burn time), but I am not clear which method(s) would be most appropriate for hot smokes of ribs, pork butt, brisket, and turkey legs. Also, I am not sure if I should fill the 6x8 box partially, completely, or refill more than once when smoking ribs, pork butt, brisket, and turkey legs. I have both Apple and Hickory dust to use.

    Thanks in advance for any opinions on this.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2010
  2. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Most of the time I light both ends, because I am a smoke hound. If you only want very light smoke, you can light only one end.

     Even I have never lit the middle along with both ends. That could be even too much smoke for me, but I usually use Hickory, which is strong to begin with.

  3. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    When I am doing poultry I fill 2 lanes. It seems at the higher temps,250 and up the unit gets too hot and it jumps the lane. I reload with another 2 lanes and it works for me.

    At the lower temps I fill it up and start it using one lane . Works great for me.

    Todays bacon smoke I fill it and light both ends and refill if it needs more later.

    It will be part of the learning curve for you, have fun!!

  4. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    how bout you just wait to get your A Maze N Smoker..and read the instructions....this exact example is laid out for you.  For hot smokes he suggests filling the AMNS with dust leaving the second "isle" empty so fire doesn't jump to the next row.  He also suggests lighting ONE end where the dust "tapers off" at one end.

    It's that simple.

  5. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    See below.

    These are GREAT TIPS from Dan & Craig!  [​IMG]

    I got mine before Todd had his instructions completed. I might have helped him with some of his tips.

    I'm glad to see he puts that "skipping rows", when using high heat, in his instructions.

    After working with Todd for nearly a year, I have to say I believe the man is a genius!

    And he never stops trying to perfect his invention.

    Now he's probably blushing!  [​IMG]

  6. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    I am a tinkerer by trade, and after I looked at the AMNS and read the instructions..I wondered about creating some type of "heat shield" on the "corners" in the AMNS??? maybe a couple small squares of steel plate or something spot welded into place...any thoughts

  7. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I've done a number of heat shields, and Todd has done many more.

    He's working on some special things as we speak.

    I'm wore out (brain drain), but he keeps experimenting every day. He'll figure something out.

    The thing wasn't originally designed to "hot smoke", but it does very well in very hot temps by skipping rows.

    Todd will come up with something to make that little problem disappear---I guarantee it.

  8. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    yeah...Like I said,...once I read that about "jumping rows" on a hot smoke..I thought some sort of shield or thicker wall structure in those areas would work great.

    I hope whatever Todd comes up with is a "retro fit" so we can add  it to existing models, once he comes up with something.

  9. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    You know it is funny and maybe due to my smoker configuration but so far I have only had it jump once on me. My AMNS goes right next to the chip box and I know it gets hot [​IMG]  ( cause I was stupid and I am sure I dont need to elaborate) but I have not had that problem and I am running the 6X8. I have not tested the new one he sent me yet but that will happen next week if it ever stops raining here.
  10. Maybe I did  jump the gun a bit by posting this question before I got the AMNS delivered with instructions, but I thought it would be good to get some opinions before it arrived so I would be good to go with my first hot smoke in my shiny new MES 40 (after seasoning). I didn't want to make an obvious mistake on my first smoke. I might have done the "light only one end" method and I probably would have been disappointed with the result. I previously used a Brinkman All-in-One gas smoker annd used wood chips wrapped in aluminum foil packets for the smoke.  Pain to control the temp in the right heat range and replenishing the foil packets required moving the grates and meat each time. Glad that is behind me now.

    Anyways, the "light both ends" method will be the way I'll go for my first hot smoke. I imagine the instructions will explain how to do the "skipping rows" thing so I won't ask about that here. I expect to place the AMNS in a shallow pan on the lowest rack, which is just below the rack with the water pan, so I am  hoping that the risk of  "jumps" won't be a problem for me.

    Thanks again guys.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2010
  11. My AMNS just arrived and I am looking forward to using it for the first time to (hot) smoke some ribs. At the risk of looking like I am dumb, over thinking, or beating a dead horse with my questions on how to use the AMNS for hot smoking, I am still uncertain on the recommended way to fill the box for smoking  ribs  , while also avoiding the risk of the flame/smolder jumping and having a long enought burn time from a single load of the AMNS box. The concept seems simple enough... do not have two rows filled with dust next to each other so that the flame/smolder can not jump over the barrier between rows. If one were to number the rows in the AMNS as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (starting at either end) and defined "normal" as filling all the rows and lighting only one end, it might make it easier to explain.

    Instructions provided earler in this thread said:
    As I read the instruction literally, then only one row (row 2 or row 4) is kept empty with the remaining 4 rows filled. This does not sound right. If one changes the intended instruction to plural "second isles",  then rows 1, 3, and 5 would be filled resulting in 3x smoke strength (which might be too strong for ribs) and a burn time that is only 1/5 the normal duration (maybe too short of time for ribs)

    The instructions on the A-MAZE-N website say:
    Filling rows 1, 2, 4, and 5 (keeping only row 3 empty) would result in a 2x smoke strength with 2/5th of the normal burn time. This might be just fine for ribs. However, I do not see how this would avoid the possibility of the the flame/smolder jumping from row 1 to row 2 or from row 4 to row 5. 

    Anyway, I guess I'll  try the latter instruction (leave row 3 empty) for a 2x normal smoke strength and a 2/5 of normal smoke duration on my ribs and see how it goes.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  12. athabaskar

    athabaskar Smoking Fanatic

    Not having tried the method of lighting in the center, I'm no authority. However, I've lit both ends many times, and it never over smokes anything so far. The smoke level is always perfect to my taste.
  13. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    I'm not sure what you know, or what the instructions say, because I got mine a long time ago (before there were many instructions), and reading some of these posts on the forum gives me a headache.

    I will give you what I know about them, and if I'm talking out of turn, Todd or somebody else can correct me.

    I hope my post doesn't create many headaches, from trying to figure out what I'm saying.

    #1  The AMNS was designed for cold & warm smokes---Under 180˚. 

    If you're smoking something under 180˚, you can fill the whole thing, no matter which AMNS you have.

    You can light one end for a light smoke. Light both ends to double the smoke. Light both ends & the middle to quadruple the smoke.

    #2  If you want to use it over 180˚/200˚, you could have a problem with burn-thru (through an interior wall). This burn-through would take the burning of one place, and add the burning of two more places, because where it burned through, it will go in both directions in that row.

    I have two different AMNS. One has 5 rows, and one only has 3 rows (prototype). When I hot smoke, I like double smoke, so below is what I do:

    On the one with 5 rows, I only fill row #1 & row #5, and I light one end of each of those two rows.

    On the one with 3 rows, I only fill row #1 & row #3, and I light one end of each of those two rows.

    If I want to put more smoke on with the same AMNS after it burns out, I just put a welder's glove on, grab it out of there, and dump it in a steel bucket.

    Then after it cools off for a few minutes, load those same rows again & light them. Then put it back in the same way.

    DO NOT use water to cool it off. The water will stay in the perforations, and the new load of dust will absorb it, making it hard to light.

    Todd is working on trying to fix this problem every day for many months. I just got three emails from him yesterday, explaining the newest experiments he has been doing.

    Even though they were originally only for cold & warm smoking, he is trying to make them work all of the time, no matter what the temp. He'll get there, but it takes time. He will never quit until it's either perfect, or the men in white coats come and get him!

    Hope this helps,

  14. Bear,

    Thanks for the reply. Your clear explanation of how you use the "5 row AMNS" for hot smoking was very helpful.

    While I did not understand some of the earlier responses quite as well, I did appreaciate everyone else that provided a response too.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  15. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    hkeiner, I was one of the original beta testers for the AMNS mine is the 6x6 model.  I do mostly hot smoking over 200º.  Initially I had a problem with the smoldering dust jumping over the rail.  But my problem was due to me trying to have a hood using one of several that I created.  I mount my AMNS on the two cross rails that support the heat element, as close to the left wall as possible.  The reason for the hood  was to prevent drippings from fouling the dust.  My solution was simple.  I took alum. foil measured and folded so it goes over each separating divider, that solves any heat issue thru the dividers.  Also I use my own dust.  I have a lot of oak saw dust from firewood, and have a simple method to sift the dust and I use slightly larger particles than what is normally supplied with the AMNS  (note this is my own preference and is no reflection on the quality or performance of the dust supplied with the AMNS which is fantastic and works as advertised.)  I just have about 15 or more gals of Oak dust/particles and want to use it up.

    I prefer lighting both ends of the AMNS, but have had more burn outs than when I only light one end.  This could be due to a variety of causes, but I think mainly it happens due to opening the hatch.  The AMNS requires very little air to keep smoldering, so the top vent on the MES is almost shut completely closed may 1/8" if that open.  Of course the 3 little holes are supplying inlet air.  When the door is opened a huge rush of oxygen enters the cabinet which can cause a fast higher heat reaction.  Since my older MES doesn't have a door window I have to check the AMNS after about15-20 min to make sure it is operating properly and that door opening may be causing the cross-over burn outs.  Learn to trust the smoke coming out of the exhaust vent!
  16. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Sawdust can be combustible at temps above 200°.  It's just the nature of the beast. 

    The AMNS was originally designed for "Cold Smoking", but many guys found it useful for producing smoke at higher temps.  I'm working on a few modifications that will allow the AMNS and sawdust to work at higher temps.  For now, keeping the center row empty stops the fire from jumping thru the dividers and into the middle row, causing the entire AMNS to burn up quickly.  You should get a minimum of 3 hours out of 2 rows, and most guys are lighting both ends to get more smoke.

    Hope this Helps!

  17. Todd,

    Your advice is golden and much appeciated.  I want to do what most guys are doing for hot smoking ribs and such (learn from their experiences) so I thought I would rephrase what you said a bit to see if I got it exactly right. I hate to waste good advice by misunderstanding it.

       Fill only rows 1, 2, 4, and 5. Leave row 3 empty.
    If I light one end of row 1-2 and light one end of row 4-5, the burn will last about 3 hours and result in a 2x smoke strength.
    Most guys light both ends of row 1-2 and light both ends of row 4-5. This burn will last about 1.5 hours and result in a 4x smoke strength. This method would likely require a refill of the AMNS during the smoking process (for example ribs and butt need more that 1.5 hours of total smoke time).
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  18. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    >>>>>Most guys light both ends of row 1-2 and light both ends of row 4-5. This burn will last about 1.5 hours and result in a 4x smoke strength. This method would likely require a refill of the AMNS during the smoking process, for example ribs may need 3 hours of total smoke time  

    I don't know where you got this information. I have never started 4 rows smoking at one time.

    2 rows ..yes.

    When the temp is at 230 area I fill 2 & 1/2 rows, it lasts for a long time.

    It's not rocket science. If it looks like it's going to run out too soon...put some more in.

     Have a great day

  19. I was trying to restate my understanding of what Todd said in his post to see if I correctly understood what he said most guys are doing. I want to do what most guys are doing.  I was very detailed in describing what I understood so that it would be apparentl if I got it wrong.  It seems that I did get it wrong. Todd probably meant that most guys are concurrently lighting one end of row 1-2 and one end of row 4-5, resulting in a total of two ends burning in the AMNS at the same time.

    I may seem overly obsessive, but I am glad that I persisted because I did want to use the good advice I was getting without misunderstanding it.  I am totally new to using the MES and the AMNS so I can not easily tell if I am getting it wrong. Thanks again to all that posted information on this thread.  I am looking forward to the first use of my MES and AMNS for smoking ribs this coming weekend... 

         Quote from Todd's post:
         My WRONG interpretation:
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  20. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member