General Usage Questions (NEWB!) MES 30

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Proximo

Fire Starter
Original poster
Feb 4, 2018
32
1
Pennsylvania
Hey everyone

Just got my 1st smoker a couple days ago (I've never owned or even used a smoker before). Decided to go with an MES 30. They had a good deal at the Lowes in my area so I pounced on it. Also got a Maverick ET-732 meat probe.

(also, thanks to Bearcarver Bearcarver and @jimmyinsd for their helpful input in the other thread)

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Masterbuil...-Common-34-449-in-Actual-34-449-in/1000274391

Got it out of the box on Saturday and assembled it. Didn't get a chance to "season" it yet as it was pretty cold and rainy this past weekend. Will hopefully get it fired up this coming weekend and get my 1st smoke done!

So, a few questions as I'm getting started-
  • Can someone educate me on wood chips vs A-Maze-N pellets? I see lots of posts on here about these pellets and it seems like it's generally accepted that they're better than chips. But I also noticed several places in the owners manual it stated to not use pellets and only use chips...?
  • What is the real impact of using or not using the water dish while smoking? Is filling it up a necessity?
  • Any tricks to keeping the window clean and clear so that it's easy to see through while the smoker is filled with smoke? Or just wipe it down with a wet rag in between uses?
  • Any tricks to keeping the inside clean? Is it safe to put aluminum foil on some of the spots that might otherwise get covered with grease and what not?

Also any good random tips for a newb please share!
 
Hey everyone


So, a few questions as I'm getting started-
  • Can someone educate me on wood chips vs A-Maze-N pellets? I see lots of posts on here about these pellets and it seems like it's generally accepted that they're better than chips. But I also noticed several places in the owners manual it stated to not use pellets and only use chips...? I recommend you only use Pellets or Sawdust in an AMNPS or a Tube---Not directly in your MES chip drawer.
  • What is the real impact of using or not using the water dish while smoking? Is filling it up a necessity? Water or other liquids do nothing good in an MES water pan. IMO
  • Any tricks to keeping the window clean and clear so that it's easy to see through while the smoker is filled with smoke? Or just wipe it down with a wet rag in between uses? I use Windex & paper towels, but I'm careful to not allow overspray blow into the smoker. A lot of other ways told by others.
  • Any tricks to keeping the inside clean? Is it safe to put aluminum foil on some of the spots that might otherwise get covered with grease and what not? I cover the water pan with foil & put it in place "Empty", and I cover the floor of the smoker with foil. I only put racks in that I'm going to use, and wash them after or before use. I don't clean the ceiling & walls, other than rubbing anything loose that might fall on my food, with a rag. See my Step by Step Link (Below) for how-tos and Tips.


Also any good random tips for a newb please share!


Bear
 

Hey Bearcarver, thanks for the feedback, as always.

Putting foil on the floor I assume there's no way enough grease would be produced during a single smoke to completely fill the tray?

Also do you happen to know offhand if the AMNPS items are available at retailers or do I need to order online?
 
Hey Bearcarver, thanks for the feedback, as always.

Putting foil on the floor I assume there's no way enough grease would be produced during a single smoke to completely fill the tray?

Also do you happen to know offhand if the AMNPS items are available at retailers or do I need to order online?




I never had much of an accumulation of grease, but I don't do a lot of Chicken. The Chicken I do, I usually do in or above a foil pan.

Personally I would get the AMNPS right from Todd at Amazing smokers, and I'd get some pellets & Dust at the same time, because it's free shipping from him for over $49. But that's me.

I guess you can use Amazon too.
Also I think on the "Amazing Smoker" web site there's a list of stores that sell his stuff, listed by states.

Bear
 
Hey everyone

Just got my 1st smoker a couple days ago (I've never owned or even used a smoker before). Decided to go with an MES 30. They had a good deal at the Lowes in my area so I pounced on it. Also got a Maverick ET-732 meat probe.

(also, thanks to Bearcarver Bearcarver and @jimmyinsd for their helpful input in the other thread)

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Masterbuil...-Common-34-449-in-Actual-34-449-in/1000274391

Got it out of the box on Saturday and assembled it. Didn't get a chance to "season" it yet as it was pretty cold and rainy this past weekend. Will hopefully get it fired up this coming weekend and get my 1st smoke done!

So, a few questions as I'm getting started-
  • Can someone educate me on wood chips vs A-Maze-N pellets? I see lots of posts on here about these pellets and it seems like it's generally accepted that they're better than chips. But I also noticed several places in the owners manual it stated to not use pellets and only use chips...?
  • What is the real impact of using or not using the water dish while smoking? Is filling it up a necessity?
  • Any tricks to keeping the window clean and clear so that it's easy to see through while the smoker is filled with smoke? Or just wipe it down with a wet rag in between uses?
  • Any tricks to keeping the inside clean? Is it safe to put aluminum foil on some of the spots that might otherwise get covered with grease and what not?

Also any good random tips for a newb please share!

Hi Proximo, Congratulations! You got the other smoke box I was considering. But I'm nearly twice as old as you, so I decided on the next step down.

All the stuff I mined out about the MES indicates using wood chips, JM's smillin face dribbling some chips in the chip loader and so on. In the WARNINGS page, it specifically sez to NOT use pellets.
Well you can't tell me no, so I tested the idea a little. I had some chips smokin away, and put a dribble of Hickory pellets in. They never did ignite, not so's they'd work.
Bottom line: Pellets DO NOT ignite in the MES system.

BUT, with a proper burning device, like (I believe) the A-Maze-N products you can easily use pellets. And pellets are proving out to be the best fuel I have found in my tests. These guys are right, poo on the fancy chip loader, do an external modification (mod) to induce the smoke.
Makes the Smoker (MES) work as your Smoker/Oven, and your mod is the smoke generator. That way the MES does it's job independently, And the smoke is made separately so you can control that side of the equation. ;)

And here is why: There is always a why for things. The MES, as it comes, has the chip pan hung on a wire frame support. In mine, about 1/4" away from the heating element. That air gap does not let enough heat transfer to the chip pan to give ignition temperatures to the chips. (It might possibly with perfect fuel, but I don't think any has grown on the Earth yet.) It can work, but it's been a PITA for me.
Also, consider the baby sitting of the smoker as it comes. You have to hand feed the chips into it as the smoke burns away. Not my idea of set-it and forget-it... :( And I was disappointed in this basic flaw.
There is something that would make the MES work perfectly, what it was designed for, But I don't do Briskets. I do low temperature smoking.

So, reluctantly, I am working on my version of a mod. Many here use a metal mailbox as the chamber. Some use the MES cold smoker box, Others find a Popcorn tin made a great chamber, another has found a very good Spicy Lime tiny BBQ to use as a chamber. The Spicy Lime mod was to be my choice, but I found a steel box in my junk that is growing into my mod.
But whatever works for you is your choice and best way.
The point is controlling the two sides of the end result, a Smoker/Oven, and a way to make the smoke.

If I was your age, you young whippersnapper, I'd have one of these.
But I'm an old fart on a retirement income. :p So I'm having fun.

Oh, and I run my smoker dry. And in the past 50-odd years, I always have.
Until of late, smoking meat was a way to flavor and preserve it. Not give it a steam bath. YMMV
 
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I never had much of an accumulation of grease, but I don't do a lot of Chicken. The Chicken I do, I usually do in or above a foil pan.

Personally I would get the AMNPS right from Todd at Amazing smokers, and I'd get some pellets & Dust at the same time, because it's free shipping from him for over $49. But that's me.

I guess you can use Amazon too.
Also I think on the "Amazing Smoker" web site there's a list of stores that sell his stuff, listed by states.

Bear

Just checked out their website. Looks like the AMNPS 5x8 is the way to go? Burns both pellets and dust. I saw there's a 6x6, but that burns dust only.

Excuse my ignorance, but where exactly do you put the AMNPS smoker when in use? You just set it inside the MES above the heating element?
 
Hi Proximo, Congratulations! You got the other smoke box I was considering. But I'm nearly twice as old as you, so I decided on the next step down.

All the stuff I mined out about the MES indicates using wood chips, JM's smillin face dribbling some chips in the chip loader and so on. In the WARNINGS page, it specifically sez to NOT use pellets.
Well you can't tell me no, so I tested the idea a little. I had some chips smokin away, and put a dribble of Hickory pellets in. They never did ignite, not so's they'd work.
Bottom line: Pellets DO NOT ignite in the MES system.

BUT, with a proper burning device, like (I believe) the A-Maze-N products you can easily use pellets. And pellets are proving out to be the best fuel I have found in my tests. These guys are right, poo on the fancy chip loader, do an external modification (mod) to induce the smoke.
Makes the Smoker (MES) work as your Smoker/Oven, and your mod is the smoke generator. That way the MES does it's job independently, And the smoke is made separately so you can control that side of the equation. ;)

And here is why: There is always a why for things. The MES, as it comes, has the chip pan hung on a wire frame support. In mine, about 1/4" away from the heating element. That air gap does not let enough heat transfer to the chip pan to give ignition temperatures to the chips. (It might possibly with perfect fuel, but I don't think any has grown on the Earth yet.) It can work, but it's been a PITA for me.
Also, consider the baby sitting of the smoker as it comes. You have to hand feed the chips into it as the smoke burns away. Not my idea of set-it and forget-it... :( And I was disappointed in this basic flaw.
There is something that would make the MES work perfectly, what it was designed for, But I don't do Briskets. I do low temperature smoking.

So, reluctantly, I am working on my version of a mod. Many here use a metal mailbox as the chamber. Some use the MES cold smoker box, Others find a Popcorn tin made a great chamber, another has found a very good Spicy Lime tiny BBQ to use as a chamber. The Spicy Lime mod was to be my choice, but I found a steel box in my junk that is growing into my mod.
But whatever works for you is your choice and best way.
The point is controlling the two sides of the end result, a Smoker/Oven, and a way to make the smoke.

If I was your age, you young whippersnapper, I'd have one of these.
But I'm an old fart on a retirement income. :p So I'm having fun.

Oh, and I run my smoker dry. And in the past 50-odd years, I always have.
Until of late, smoking meat was a way to flavor and preserve it. Not give it a steam bath. YMMV

Hey Sonny, thanks for the feedback. Very helpful info.

And holy crap that Masterbuilt XL pellet smoker is a monster! That's nearly 5 feet tall. You could make quite the feast in that thing.

I have been reading some of the posts on here about the "mailbox" mods and what not. Interesting stuff for sure. I also checked out the A-Maze-N products website and will probably end up getting one of those nifty little smokers for now and see how that works. Probably try out both the pellets and the dust.
 
Hey Sonny, thanks for the feedback. Very helpful info.

And holy crap that Masterbuilt XL pellet smoker is a monster! That's nearly 5 feet tall. You could make quite the feast in that thing.

I have been reading some of the posts on here about the "mailbox" mods and what not. Interesting stuff for sure. I also checked out the A-Maze-N products website and will probably end up getting one of those nifty little smokers for now and see how that works. Probably try out both the pellets and the dust.

Yes, but it is a Genuine pellet fuel smoker. Not a BBQ that burns pellets.
Many here Love the A-Maze-N smoke makers. The length of run time is what really makes them great.
Leave the water pan dry, and put the tray, tube, over it to catch any ash.
If you decide on a mod box later, you have the A-Maze-N to use in it. ;)

I'm going to order my Maze through Home Depot. It's one of my local stores, it has free shipping (no minimum order), and if for any reason I'm not happy (hard to imagine) I can return it or refuse it on the spot.
Either way, Todd sells the maze.

Have fun with your MES. Remember to do the break in by the book. ;)
 
Just checked out their website. Looks like the AMNPS 5x8 is the way to go? Burns both pellets and dust. I saw there's a 6x6, but that burns dust only.

Excuse my ignorance, but where exactly do you put the AMNPS smoker when in use? You just set it inside the MES above the heating element?


If you have the AMNPS, you won't need the 6 X 6 AMNS, since you can use either Pellets or Dust in the AMNPS.

And it depends which Generation MES you have, but since I believe you have the Gen #2.5, the best place I've found for the AMNPS is to put the bottom smoking rack in & put it on the right end of that rack. That way the Chip dumper hole will be right below it, so if you need more air flow to the AMNPS, you can pull the dumper out a few inches. Then if you want less air flow, push it back in some.

Bear
 
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You've got some good advice here.
I would add the following:
--ALWAYS leave the top vent wide open to exhaust stale smoke
--don't trust ANY therm in the MES. Get a 2 (or more) probe digital remote therm
--I fill my water dish with sand (as a heat sink) and foil it. In real cold weather I prewarm it in the oven (400* for 1/2 hr.)
--cover your bottom drip tray with foil--makes for a lot easier clean up
--I always put a disposable foil drip pan under the meat I'm smoking
--remove the external drip tray. It's pretty useless.
--a stand is a very good idea. It eliminates crouching down all the time.
Gary
 
Hi there and welcome!

I just want to give a +1 on the advice/practice of:

  1. foiling the pan at the bottom of the smoker IN ADDITION to using a pan on a shelf under the meat to catch drippings. This will keep your smoker super clean where it counts. Just change the foil on the pan at the bottom of the smoker when it accumulates grease (to avoid fires)
  2. avoid the MES built in smoker temp thermometer and meat thermometer they are ALWAYS off, get at least a wireless dual probe thermometer. I like the ThermoPro TP-20 but there are a number of 2+ probe thermometers out there that should work
  3. almost all MES owners use the A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker tray (AMNPS), it is just too awesome to have set and forget smoke along with the set and forget temp control of an electric smoker, plus it produces Thin Blue Smoke (TBS) from the start with no extra effort on your part (as long as you work out quirks to keep the pellets burning)
Enjoy your new smoker!
 
You did get some great advice from the posters above, but don't overthink it. Season your smoker, get something to smoke, rub it down good with a nice dry rub, heat up the smoker, and put the meat in. Add chips every 45 mins. to an hour.

I don't have an AMNPS and I feel chops work just fine for me. I have smoked every weekend for the last 4-5 weeks and have made some great things.

Keep an open mind and be patient. I'm inpatient and have learned this is something you have to be patient with or you won't get good results.

Last but not least, enjoy!
 
If you have the AMNPS, you won't need the 6 X 6 AMNS, since you can use either Pellets or Dust in the AMNPS.

And it depends which Generation MES you have, but since I believe you have the Gen #2.5, the best place I've found for the AMNPS is to put the bottom smoking rack in & put it on the right end of that rack. That way the Chip dumper hole will be right below it, so if you need more air flow to the AMNPS, you can pull the dumper out a few inches. Then if you want less air flow, push it back in some.

Bear

Great advice Bear, as always. You kicked a rock loose in my head, with the AMNPS I could use oak shavings from my Jointer or Planer in the AMNPS.
I always look for two or more ways I can use a tool before I buy one. The dual fuel aspect is the key for me.
 
If you have the AMNPS, you won't need the 6 X 6 AMNS, since you can use either Pellets or Dust in the AMNPS.

And it depends which Generation MES you have, but since I believe you have the Gen #2.5, the best place I've found for the AMNPS is to put the bottom smoking rack in & put it on the right end of that rack. That way the Chip dumper hole will be right below it, so if you need more air flow to the AMNPS, you can pull the dumper out a few inches. Then if you want less air flow, push it back in some.

Bear

Got it. I went ahead and ordered the 5x8 A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker (comes with 2lbs of pellets), along with 5lbs of pellets (hickory) and 4lbs of dust (oak). Figured I'd get both the pellets and the dust and see how they compare.

Hopefully it gets here before this weekend and I'll be ready to rock and roll - I'll have the MES, Maverick ET-732, AMNPS, and plenty of pellets and dust. Just need to hit up my butcher for some ribs and then it's game on.

Of course I still have to "pre-season" the unit but I'll do that Friday evening or really early Saturday.

BTW this place has been a great resource as I'm just getting started. I wouldn't have gathered all of this info so quickly if I didn't come here.
Thanks.
 
You've got some good advice here.
I would add the following:
--ALWAYS leave the top vent wide open to exhaust stale smoke
--don't trust ANY therm in the MES. Get a 2 (or more) probe digital remote therm
--I fill my water dish with sand (as a heat sink) and foil it. In real cold weather I prewarm it in the oven (400* for 1/2 hr.)
--cover your bottom drip tray with foil--makes for a lot easier clean up
--I always put a disposable foil drip pan under the meat I'm smoking
--remove the external drip tray. It's pretty useless.
--a stand is a very good idea. It eliminates crouching down all the time.
Gary

Noted. Thanks for the tips Gary.

One question though, can you elaborate on filling the water dish with sand? I've never heard of this. What does it do?
 
Hi there and welcome!

I just want to give a +1 on the advice/practice of:

  1. foiling the pan at the bottom of the smoker IN ADDITION to using a pan on a shelf under the meat to catch drippings. This will keep your smoker super clean where it counts. Just change the foil on the pan at the bottom of the smoker when it accumulates grease (to avoid fires)
  2. avoid the MES built in smoker temp thermometer and meat thermometer they are ALWAYS off, get at least a wireless dual probe thermometer. I like the ThermoPro TP-20 but there are a number of 2+ probe thermometers out there that should work
  3. almost all MES owners use the A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker tray (AMNPS), it is just too awesome to have set and forget smoke along with the set and forget temp control of an electric smoker, plus it produces Thin Blue Smoke (TBS) from the start with no extra effort on your part (as long as you work out quirks to keep the pellets burning)
Enjoy your new smoker!

Hey, thanks for the tips!

Last week I decided to go with the Maverick ET-732, which had pretty good reviews. Haven't tried it out yet though, hopefully will get to it Friday/Saturday.

Right now the only thing I'm waiting on is the AMNPS and some pellets/dust.

Definitely going to be utilizing foil as you described to keep things clean. Thanks again.
 
Hi Proximo, Congratulations! You got the other smoke box I was considering. But I'm nearly twice as old as you, so I decided on the next step down.

All the stuff I mined out about the MES indicates using wood chips, JM's smillin face dribbling some chips in the chip loader and so on. In the WARNINGS page, it specifically sez to NOT use pellets.
Well you can't tell me no, so I tested the idea a little. I had some chips smokin away, and put a dribble of Hickory pellets in. They never did ignite, not so's they'd work.
Bottom line: Pellets DO NOT ignite in the MES system.


Not always true.
Some guys have had near tragedies from putting pellets in the MES Chip Drawer & having them flare up.
Depends on the air flow, the distance from the Heating element & the bottom of the chip drawer, dryness of the pellets, etc, etc.
That is why they don't recommend it.

Bear
 
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Noted. Thanks for the tips Gary.

One question though, can you elaborate on filling the water dish with sand? I've never heard of this. What does it do?


In case Gary misses this;
Some people put sand in their water pan as a heat sink, instead of water, because water adds too much humidity to an MES.
I recommend you use sterile "Play" sand, and cover it with foil to keep it from getting all kinds of grease & fat drippings mixed into the sand, creating a real mess.

I never did this, because I don't want my MES to have to heat up a pan of frozen sand, and Mrs Bear would never allow me to heat it in her oven before Doing a cold weather Smoke. However it must work, because I know at least a few of Fine Smokers using this method.

Bear
 
In case Gary misses this;
Some people put sand in their water pan as a heat sink, instead of water, because water adds too much humidity to an MES.
I recommend you use sterile "Play" sand, and cover it with foil to keep it from getting all kinds of grease & fat drippings mixed into the sand, creating a real mess.

I never did this, because I don't want my MES to have to heat up a pan of frozen sand, and Mrs Bear would never allow me to heat it in her oven before Doing a cold weather Smoke. However it must work, because I know at least a few of Fine Smokers using this method.

Bear

Hmmm interesting. I think for at least my 1st smoke I'm just going to leave the pan empty. May try the sand routine out in the future and see what type of impact it has.
 
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Hmmm interesting. I think for at least my 1st smoke I'm just going to leave the pan empty. May try the sand routine out in the future and see what type of impact it has.


Spoken like a True Pennsy' Scientist::)
Try it both ways, so you know what you like best.:cool:

Bear
 
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