new cold smoker

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Original poster
I'm thinking about turning a broken MES into a cold-smoker for bacon, sausage etc., using an AMNPS for smoke.

I've read that people like to smoke at 80 -90 degrees. Now that the outdoor temperature is in the high 30s, does anyone have a suggestion as to how to get the MES up to that temperature for a couple of hours?

I just had the idea that maybe I could put a metal tray holding a couple of pieces of lit charcoal on the low rack. I'd probably need to add charcoal every couple of hours, and it would be kind of tricky for an overnight smoke.

Thanks for any help.
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Smoking Fanatic
Sep 3, 2011
Akron, Ohio
Something with a small electric heating element. Big soldering iron, coffee cup warmer, the heater that attaches to my desk by magnets (100 watt), hair dryer. Small propane torch.  A second AMNPS.


Original poster
Thread starter
Thanks don.

I should have mentioned that there's no electricity near where the smoker will stand. Wondering if I should start looking at a weather-protected slow-burning wood-burner, and pipe some heat and smoke into the smokehouse that way, maybe still use the AMNPS for consistency and volume.

I'm also having trouble getting a handle on how long I have to keep my bacon in the smoke. I'm reading everthing from 2 hours to 3 days on the forum.

If I only  a few hours, It should be relatively easy. Those overnight sessions are a bitch, though.


Meat Mopper
Aug 5, 2013
Buffalo, NY
I don't think it's necessary to maintain 80-90 degrees, but if you go higher than that you're really not cold smoking anymore, you're cooking.  On the other end, if you're less than refrigerator temperature (36-40 degrees), you're probably too cold for the meat to absorb much.

As for the length of time to cold smoke, a lot of that is up to personal preference.  Some people just like more smokey flavor than others.  I just cold smoked some bacon using 1 1/2 trays of hickory in an AMNPS, and that will be plenty smokey enough for our taste (was about 6-7 hours smoking time).

As for heat, not sure how much heat an AMNPS will add to an MES, but it might be enough except on really cold days.  Maybe one of those micro backpack stoves would work?

I don't have one of these, so I don't know how much (or little) heat you can get out of them.  Just throwing ideas out there.

You could also light both ends of your AMNPS, you just have to refill it twice as much.


Original poster
Thread starter
Thanks for the ideas, Swede. I was thinking about a gas flame, but had a bigger one in mind. The small one would probably have less tendency to get things too hot, though. Wonder how long they burn. I'm also thinking about putting a small smoker in a hole or box to protect it from the rain and wind. That would tend to keep the fire slow and steady

Well, if you're suggesting that I can smoke anywhere from 40* to 90*, that will clear away a lot of problems and make things a lot easier.

Frankly 6-7 hours sounds like a good starting point for me--heavy, but not crazy. I could start in the morning and finish before bedtime, too.

I emailed Todd @ AMNPS, and he said his device doesn't emit any significant amount of heat.

The thing I'm struggling with now is getting some pork bellies at a good price. Most places are asking about $5 per pound. That's only a few cents less that Safeway gets for bacon.

I saw one youtube today that interested me. The guy had a movable fire barrel with both a long and a short pair of removable chimney pipes that he could swap. Use the long one for cold smoke and the short one for hot. Pretty slick.

Thanks again for the ideas.


Dec 8, 2013
Scottville Michigan
Sternos put out a ton of off Chemical smell, which would probably relate to flavor. Not sure I would combined them.
I smoke in a similar temp in the winter, only problem I have is keeping the amps burning, probably damp pellets at that temp with any meat being smoked.
I also found if you get your amps burning per instructions you can relight it before closing the door and choke the vent down to put the flame out with lack of o2. It will usually get the heat to 80 degrees at a outside temp of 35-40 degrees.

Smoke on bud.
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Jan 21, 2014
portland, Oregon
Ancient thread, but maybe someone else will use this............

I think a 60 watt light bulb will make enough heat, just run a drop light into the smoker and shield it with aluminum will work great.

if not use a 80 watt bulb...

I think this will get you there and the next time you need your light it will smell nice and bacony. <- made up word of the day
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