1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Anyone use wood pellets in their MES?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by bikes blues bbq, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. Just picked up a new MES 40 today.  Have it all seasoned up and ready to go.  The manual says not to use "heat pellets"  My understanding is that there is a difference between pellets meant for heating (create heat, duh!) and for smoke flavor (not so much heat).  I have used the Traeger pellets in my other smokers.  I have even used the oak heating pellets after contacting the manufacturer who stated they use only oak, no glue/binders.   Does anyone use the flavor pellets in their MES?
    heavy d likes this.
  2. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

  3. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I don't.

    I haven't used the chip tray once since I bought the MES.

    I am an AMAZEN guy.

    Easy to use and inexpensive to buy and operate.
  4. vernski

    vernski Fire Starter

    Hi I have a smoke-pistol that just makes smoke I have used this on my Brinkman for 4 years and works well for cold smoking cheese and things that don't need heat. I bought a 30" MES from Cabela's I've used some of the pellets that didn't want to burn in the smoke pistol because the pellets take on moisture & humidity. You have to keep the pellet cartridges where it's warm and dry. The flavors are apple,cherry,pecan,hickory,oak,alder,sugar maple black walnut and mesquite. I used the cartridges that wouldn't light in the pistol in my Mes and they seem to work well and have a good smoke flavor no problem. I also use seasoned wood from my fruit trees And I can't tell any difference from the pellets. I don't see why you couldn't use bulk pellets if you know what's in them. JMHO...Vernski
  5. You may find that you will need to refill the wood tray often if you use pellets, as they burn up quickly. I have not tried pellets myself because of this reason. I did find that using chips also required frequent refills and so I got an AMNS and found it to be so good that I rarely use the wood tray for hot smokes anymore. The AMNS maintains a steady TBS for several hours on one fill, enough for smoking ribs, turkey legs, and such. I found that lighting two ends provides just the right amount of smoke density. I have to thank those that posted their many positive comments on the AMNS on this forum, which got me to buy one for myself. Just my opinion though...
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  6. tjohnson

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

    Pellets burn up quickly and create CLOUDS of SMOKE!!  1/2 cup burns in about 20 minutes and you'll have to refill.

    Pellets are really compressed sawdust, and not the same as wood chips.

  7. porked

    porked Smoking Fanatic

    Like fpnmf, you can't beat an A-MAZE-N smoker for an electric smoker, no way, no how, end of story.
  8. vernski

    vernski Fire Starter

    That's the nice thing about being a individual you can do what you want to if you so wish, but yours is not the only ball game in town there are other ways and other ideas to accomplish the same goal. So if pellets are just compressed sawdust what do you use in the "A-MAZE-N" smoker [sawdust] ?? If pellets burn up to quickly try turning the heat down a little FCS. I am pleased with my results and you are pleased with yours, what could be better than that?
  9. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    I have a mes 30 and have tried all three in experimenting with differant smoke. I used pellets and found that they do burn quicker then chips.Not much, a handful lasted about 35 mins.Then a handful of chips, they only lasted about 48 mins. Then i loaded one row in my amns and it lasted 2 hours.Are there other smoke generators yes and it is a personal choice what you use.I like my amns but i still don't use it ALL the time when i smoke, i use whatever i feel like that day. Try experimenting with differant types of wood to find what you like to use.As long as your smoking....its all good.
  10. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I started with chips, tried Pellets and didn't like them, went back to chips and Now ONLY use an AMAZE-N-SMOKER (AMNS) it is the only way to go...
  11. tjohnson

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

    What a great answer!!!

    It's kinda like going to the tool box and picking out which tool best fits the job.

    The inherent problem with the MES and other electric smokers, is that you can't control the output of the heating element.  It's either "On - Full" or "Off - Nothing".  The new 40" MES has a 1,200 watt element and when "ON', burns very hot.  This burns up the chips or pellets very quickly and when the element turns off, you get no way to ignite your fuel.  This is the very reason I invented my little gadget. 

    "Necessity is The Mother of Invention"!!!

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
    smoke83340 likes this.
  12. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    My MES is the old 800 watt. It works fine with traeger pellets. I put a couple of pieces of charcoal in the chip box when I start it up. That way it keeps smoking when the element is off, but like everybody else has said the pellets burn quick & you have to put some in every 20 minutes or so. That's why I got an AMNS. They are set & forget. You get good consistent TBS for hours. You could put a butt in your MES with the AMNS, go to bed, get up in the morning & the AMNS will still be smoking. It's really amazing. That's why a lot of folks use them.
  13. vernski

    vernski Fire Starter

    When I use the smoke pistol it will smoke about 4 hrs with a full cartridge, I mounted it on my MES and you control the burn and smoke with the air pump.You want smoke you turn up the air flow you want less smoke you turn it down, and sometimes you have to clean out the tube on a long smoke is the only con I can think of so far. I wonder if you could mount a better temp control for the MES that didn't take so long to cycle back on, just a thought...Vernski

    Oh I forgot to mention that I don't have anything against the AMNS I may purchase one when my pellets run out. I also have fruit trees so when I prune I have plenty of apple&cherry.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  14. tjohnson

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

    I've tried to find different controls to turn mine down, but they are expensive.  I found a "Variac" at a garage sale for $5.  These usually go for $75-$100+ on EBay.  I'll hook it up between the MES controller and the element to control the voltage.

    Masterbuilt has made some great improvements, but a "1/2 Power and Full Power Control" would be an awesome upgrade.  You really don't need the full 1,200 watts unless it's in the start up mode or recovering after the door is opened.

  15. smoker21

    smoker21 Meat Mopper

    I have a bunch of left over pellets.  The pellets burn a bit faster than chips but I  have mixed chips with pellets witout a problem. 
  16. saugeyejoe

    saugeyejoe Fire Starter


    I agree with you on the MES control method.  The time based on / off method of the heater element is crude but cheap to manufacture.  A variable voltage control would be nice to have with a voltage punch to ignite the wood chips.  The variable voltage control would also increase the heater element life quite a bit.  A few bucks and a trip to "AutomationDirect.com" you could probably make one for under a couple hundred bucks.  Once the controller or heater element burns out in my new MES 30 I plan to do this.  Hopefully that wont happen for a while, I use the amazn smoker quite a bit also.
  17. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I don't think the timing of the element going on & off can help, as far as chips smoking:

    If the element comes on more often to maintain a more even temp, it would never be on long enough to make the chips smoke.

    If the element's on off stroke is farther apart, it makes the chips smoke on the way up, and they stop smoking on the way down.

    This is why the MES chip-burning set-up works much better in the Winter. The element has to run a little more often & longer.

    Two things can help you get better smoke in an MES:

    #1    Take it apart & rip all of the insulation out, so the element has to run more often.

    #2    Get an A-MAZE-N-SMOKER, fill it, light it, and sit back with a nice cold brew.

    I choose #2.

    davidmc4 and topfuel like this.
  18. porked

    porked Smoking Fanatic

    I like # 2!!!  [​IMG]
  19. I tried posting several times a few nights ago and finally gave up. It never would complete just hang there telling me to wait.

     If I was to try to control the power of the element I would use the router speed controller from Harbor Freight Tools.

    It's rated at 15 Amps and costs about $12.95 or so. If it were wired in between the controller and the element you could control the

    infinitely. Turned up for warm up then turn down so element stays on most of the time for constant smoke.

     While I'm sure it would work well, the AMNS is still the easiest answer and it lets you cold smoke also. I just got mine

    on Saturday and haven't got to use it yet but I will soon.

     I hope this post goes through. It's getting discouraging.

  20.  That should have said you could control the element infinitely. That posted so quick it surprised me. No problems at all.

    Go figure.