Masterbuilt Cold Smoker Attachment Burns chips too fast

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by headgeek, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. headgeek

    headgeek Newbie

    I have the Masterbuilt Cold Smoker and am using to hot smoke on a MES 30. Basically I wanted something that doesn't require me to check it every 30 min. I have a AMNPS but don't like the taste of the pellets. The wood chips give result in a much better flavor in my opinion. The Cold Smoker works well but even if I fill it with chips it only lasts 2 hours and many are reporting 5-6 hours. The smoke is also quite heavy (probably too heavy). I have contacted Masterbuilt and they have suggested I soak the chips which is interesting because the instructions say to use the chips dry. I am going to try that this weekend on a pork butt.  The other option is the unit is faulty and getting too hot causing the chips to burn too quickly and I am getting close to the end of my (short) warranty period.  I get almost no ash even after 5-6 hours or more of smoking. 

    Just wondering if anyone has any opinions or thoughts.Thanks

  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I have one too & I have found that the harder wood like hickory will last longer than a softer wood like apple, but even with the hickory I will only get a little over 3 hours. Also you may want to run the smoke thru a piece of pipe to clean & cool it. It will make a difference in the flavor you get. 

    Here is my setup, I'm using it to cold smoke bacon in this photo.

    Hope this helps.

  3. headgeek

    headgeek Newbie

    Thanks Al, 

    I actually saw your setup when I was looking before I posted. I understand why you do it for cold smoking. Obviously this unit burns hot and given that it is literally attached the the smoker, I would expect it would add heat. The part that I don't understand is the part about the taste. Why does it make a difference in the taste? Taste is pretty important to me and that is why I gave up on pellets so if it makes it taste better then I might give it a try. Also is the fan part of the setup and what role does that play? Thanks

  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    If you notice when you smoke something the glass in the MES gets all dirty with creosote. If you have the smoke going thru a pipe first the smoke cools & creosote sticks to the inside of the pipe & comes out clean in the smoker. The proof is the glass never gets dirty when I use the pipe. You get a much cleaner flavor without any creosote in the smoke. The fan is strictly for cold smoking. It keeps the smoke rolling. If you don't have the heating element on in the MES, it doesn't draft well. The fan blowing at the smoker with the ash tray out a little is enough to get it moving thru the pipe & out the exhaust in the MES.

  5. headgeek

    headgeek Newbie


    Your answer makes sense and I have noticed a slight bitter flavor especially with the Cold Smoker. So I decided to rig my smoker up pretty much like yours. The only difference is I used a flexible aluminum tube because my setup is not permanent (I have to move it in and out of the garage). In any case it worked pretty well and I did 2 6# bone in pork butts. I saw nice thin blue smoke coming out of the smoker and I could smell it so it wasn't just steam. I used a 50/50 mix of cherry and pecan. The people from Masterbuilt also recommended that I soak the chips which I did. The roast was tender and juicy and no bitter taste but it also didn't have a strong smoke flavor. Much milder than the other pork butts that I have done. I kept the smoke going for about 8 hours at 240 and then wrapped it and finished the rest of the way. The good news is it was probably the best meat I have had but that is probably due to using a different butcher. The drippings were great and they had some of the best flavor we have had so I am baffled why the meat was so mild. 

    The soaking did seem to slow down the burn rate (got 2.5 - 3 hours) but if it watered down the flavor then I really didn't gain much. Now that I am using a "cleaner" smoke, do I have to use a stronger wood like Hickory? 

    One other question. Have you every tried wood chunks in the Cold smoker? They would probably be too big for the hopper but if you split them they would still be bigger than the chips and presumably burn slower. The chips I have are very small so that may be why they are burning so fast. 


  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    First off I would not soak the chips. I think if you use hickory it will burn slower & give you more smoke flavor.

    I don't think chunks will work, but why not give it a try.

    Just fire up the cold smoker with chunks for an experiment & see what happens.

  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One additional thing to look at...  Make sure the meat is warm and dry on the surface....  NEVER smoke cold meat...   Condensate will form on the meat and water and smoke mix to make "acid rain" type coating, which is bitter and acrid tasting....

    You can warm the meat in the smoke with NO smoke addition..
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2016
  8. miatawnt2b

    miatawnt2b Fire Starter

    I've done a couple things on mine.  First my MES cold smoke attachment is on a rheostat so I can turn down the element.  Seems to work well about 75% of max. Second I've found I have better luck with chunks in mine. I do have to split most of the chunks from the bag with a chisel to get them to fit, but they burn a lot cleaner and slower IMO. Third if you look through some of my posts you can see that I have extended the tube between the MES and the cold smoke unit much like above, though I ran mine around the back of the MES so the cold smoke unit still can sit beside the smoker for a clean look.

  9. headgeek

    headgeek Newbie

    Thanks for all the information. I actually asked MasterBuilt about the chunks and they said that might work as well so that is the first thing I am going to try. I am a woodworker so I have a Chisel and lots of ways to split it up. I will try warming the meat and also not soaking the wood. It is interesting that even MB instructions say use the wood dry so that bothers me a bit that the tech support suggested that idea. The rheostat idea is also something that I can try. Very simple and a way of toning it down a bit. Lots of things to try. 
  10. I just got a masterbuilt cold smoker and I used it for cold smoking cheese.  I put a piece of  3ft aluminum pipe for the smoke to travel in to cool the smoke off.  I was wondering if it matters how long the smoke travels from the cold smoking unit or not.  Should I have a longer pipe?  The smoke that was coming out was also thick white smoke.  Sorry if this is a repeat question I have been searching the forum for about two days and couldn't find this answer.  Thanks in advanced.  
  11. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    The longer the better.  If you have room, get two more 3' sections or the aluminum flex pipe. Whatever sticks to the pipe isn't getting to the food chamber.  I'd use it all the time not for just cold smoking. 

  12. What 
    Could you please recommend a rheostat? Can I get one from one of the big box home improvement stores?
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This is the dimmer switch I use to control the heat in my MES 30...  The 1500 watt is overkill but it has to get rid of a lot of heat...  I've been using it for about 5 years no problem...   I found it on ebay and I saved some money.... on pics to enlarge......

    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  14. markj247365

    markj247365 Newbie

  15. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I just bought and hooked up this SCR...  Never heard of them..... never used one....   BUT....  I wanted to control the output heat of a 1500 watt element in an electric frying pan... 

    Let me say...   I works AWESOME... better than expected...   I can set the frying pan temp to what ever I need...  It just idles along... never goes off.....   Of course if I turned the thermostat to a set temp, the thermostat would regulate the temperature without the wild swings seen from all 1500 watts.....

    May I suggest you try this unit...  you can reduce the heat output of the heating element so it doesn't get so hot....    I have a dimmer on my MES 30 and this SCR will do what the dimmer does for a lot less money.... on pics to enlarge.........

  16. markj247365

    markj247365 Newbie

    If you don't mind me asking, how did you go about getting this all setup? I see there are 4 connections for the wires for this regulator, I know how to do some basic electrical. Also, how did you go about finding out the watts to temp configuration? And is setting one of these dimmers/regulators make a huge difference? I am becoming very passionate about smoking and want to learn from as much as I ca. Thanks much
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is 110v in....    110v out....    Turn the knob to adjust the heat....   If you have an IR temp gun, that will tell the temp of the element..  or turn it on and up until you have smoke..   To know the amps , put an amp tester on it....    It's really not that complicate.. 
  18. Roger,

    Same situation as you... what kind of setup/materials did you use for that flexible tube?  

    Looking for a solve just like you...

    The first time I used my Cold Smoker for a brisket, I noticed that I wasn't getting a good bark and there wasn't much smoke coming thru my MES 40 BT.  So after about 6 hours I switched back to just using that tube that goes with the smoker for my smoke.  Seemed to get more of the desired TBS and a more noticeable bark.

    Thanks in advance.

  19. markj247365

    markj247365 Newbie

    I am assuming you have  a female connection, at the end? or how does this unit get power? Sorry if it seems like a dumb question. What I can think of how this is setup is you have a female connection and you plug in a power strip and then plug in the cold smoker into the power strip and then regulate the power from this dimmer?
  20. markj247365

    markj247365 Newbie

    The tube? Are you referring to the feeder tube you put the chips in? Also I have heard (Not tried yet) to put smaller wood chunks in mixed with some pellets (not too many pellets) and charcoal. 

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