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Pellet Tray -vs- Pellet Tube ~ How Do Smoke Amounts Compare?

thirdeye

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I have added a 5X8 pellet tray to my arsenal of A-Maze-N smoke generators. When lit on one end only, does the pellet tray produce more, less or about the same volume of smoke as the pellet tubes? I'll have some hams ready to cold smoke later this week and the daytime temps are in the high 50°, so I plan on smoking overnight where I'll have temps in the high 30°'s.
 

SmokinEdge

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I think the tray with dust puts off the most smoke, but I can’t keep it lit.
I think I read somewhere that the tray doesn’t work well at higher altitudes. So they started making tubes, and those work better at altitude. I have both and use the tube, but in my smokehouse it’s just not enough. The tray starts out good, but them smothers out.
 

thirdeye

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I started using the sawdust tray when it first came out for my smoked cheese and butter, and for me.... it makes way less smoke than my tube. It's is about equal to two cigarettes sitting in an ashtray. I really have to look at the top vent on my Mini WSM when smoking cheese to even see smoke. The only trick I use with the sawdust it to mix it well each time before filling the tray, and I have top and bottom vents open all the way. It burns fine for me.

I think the altitude question on pellets might be the other way around. The back-story, as I recall it, was that I began ordering 20# bags of different flavor pellets to use in my Big Chief once a year. Then one year I decided to order a tube and Todd sent it at no charge so I could test it out at my altitude (5400') because he had doubts. It worked fine and I get about 6 hours of burn time.

Do you happen to have the pellet tray? With it's longer 'advertised' burn time I'm hoping to start with my tube around 7pm, then add the pellet tray by 10pm. I'll get double smoke for a few hours, then the tray should take me to 10am or so when I can move the hams back to the fridge until the next evening.
 

zwiller

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For me, the tube produces much more smoke than the tray. I get 2hr out of 6" tube and get 12hrs+ from full tray. I have heard that you can mod the tube with a u bolt and reduces the smoke and extends time to around 4hrs.
 

thirdeye

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For me, the tube produces much more smoke than the tray. I get 2hr out of 6" tube and get 12hrs+ from full tray. I have heard that you can mod the tube with a u bolt and reduces the smoke and extends time to around 4hrs.
I do have the U-Bolt mod on my 12" and 6" tubes and it does improve burn time. The second photo shows the amount of smoke from my tube.
jkKeUem.jpg
LCM5RvF.jpg
 

pushok2018

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I don't use dust with my tray. More precisely, I used dust for couple of times but switched to pellets. From my experience, the tube produces at least 2x - 3x more smoke comparing with tray...
 

Winterrider

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I'm with the majority, more smoke with the tube. I do the mailbox mod.
About 3 hrs with 6" tube, about 9hrs with pellets in tray, 11 hrs with dust in tray.
 

gmc2003

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Thirdeye are you talking about how long it will produce smoke, or how strong/heavy a smoke it produces while burning.

It's my understanding the tube was created for higher altitude and gas grill use. I don't use the tube in my 22" WSM because it will produce to much smoke. I like the tray because it seems to produce the correct amount of smoke for my needs. Again, since I only cold smoke bacon and cheese - I'm only using dust. For the cleaner a smoke flavor.

Chris
 

Bearcarver

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I have a Tube & only used it twice, because no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to produce anything less than Too Heavy a Smoke.

The Tray I used for 11 years, and once I'd get it going properly, it was perfect for 10 to 11 hours with only lighting one end.
I lit both ends of the Tray once, and it was much too much smoke for my MES 40.

Bear
 
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chopsaw

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I get 8 to 10 hours out of the 12 " tube and easy 6 hours out of the 6 " .
Both have the u bolt on the front only , and the 12 " I use the most is the older style . No holes in the solid end cap .
I light mine " slow " . I use a torch to just get it burning . When it starts to go out , I hit it with a blast from the torch . Once it burns on it's own , I let it go a couple minutes then blow it out . I let it smoke for a minute , then I blow on it until it burst into flames . I look at how many pellets are white ashed when I do this . I want about 8 . When it flames , I let it burn a bit , then blow it out and it's ready .
 

SmokinEdge

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Well I don’t feel so bad now. I was hoping the tray would help in the smokehouse when I have to run the burner hot to keep temps. With dust it just won’t stay lit, but when I first light it it gives very good smoke, but then it just withers and dies.
My tube is the extendable one. It burns ok, but in the smokehouse it’s not even noticeable volume. Does ok in the pellet grill, but only if I place it at the edge of the grate next to the lid where the fan air gets to it, otherwise it goes out there to in the middle of the grate.
 

JckDanls 07

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For me.. the tube puts out more smoke (and heat)... I use the expandable one (expanded all the way) full of pellets and get about 8-10 hrs with the tube standing straight up in the smokehouse when smoking/cooking snack sticks...

The pellet/dust tray (5x8) burns about 3.5 hrs per row of pellets... a lil longer with dust ... The dust I prefer for cheese.. hard boiled eggs.. Etc. (true cold smoking)... Pellets when heats applied ...
 

JckDanls 07

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Also.. My belief is.. lighting both ends of the tray equals about what the tube puts out... smoke wise.. you lose half the smoke time when doing so...
 

thirdeye

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Thanks for ALL the input. I decided to do a test burn, which is looking good. Burn time on this amount of pellets was 3 hours.
NXYtVkS.jpg
 

daveomak

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Well I don’t feel so bad now. I was hoping the tray would help in the smokehouse when I have to run the burner hot to keep temps. With dust it just won’t stay lit, but when I first light it it gives very good smoke, but then it just withers and dies.
My tube is the extendable one. It burns ok, but in the smokehouse it’s not even noticeable volume. Does ok in the pellet grill, but only if I place it at the edge of the grate next to the lid where the fan air gets to it, otherwise it goes out there to in the middle of the grate.
Your smoker is heated with propane ????
The flames are consuming the oxygen and there isn't enough for the dust to burn....
 

thirdeye

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Thirdeye are you talking about how long it will produce smoke, or how strong/heavy a smoke it produces while burning.

It's my understanding the tube was created for higher altitude and gas grill use. I don't use the tube in my 22" WSM because it will produce to much smoke. I like the tray because it seems to produce the correct amount of smoke for my needs. Again, since I only cold smoke bacon and cheese - I'm only using dust. For the cleaner a smoke flavor.

Chris
My question was about the smoke itself and whether the smoke from the pellet tray was stronger, noticeably less, or about the same as the tube. Most have said the tube produces more (or stronger) smoke, and after my test burn I would agree. And I also think the pellet tray produces more smoke than my sawdust tray.

I also use dust for cheese and butter, and I'm very careful in adjusting the draft, because I like long smoke times and gentle delivery. My cheeses are edible throughout the entire process, although I mellow them a day or two before packaging them.

I have a Tube & only used it twice, because no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to produce anything less than Too Heavy a Smoke.

The Tray I used for 11 years, and once I'd get it going properly, it was perfect for 10 to 11 hours with only lighting one end.
I lit both ends of the Tray once, and it was much too much smoke for my MES 40.

Bear
I only have a couple of friends with a cabinet style smoker and they came to the same conclusion. I tried my tube in some of my smaller smokers, and the small volume and not enough draft did not work for me either. When I use my tube in my drum, I have much more volume and also draft. Since I can't control the smoke, I use the lid as my control. Blocking it farther open if the smoke is a little on the heavy side and changing the blocks if it's producing less smoke. My drum is actually 6" or so taller than a standard drum and this combination works pretty good. Here I'm cold smoking some cured pork loins, this would be way too much smoke for something delicate like cheese.


Thirdeye, in post #5 is that pellets in your tube or dust?

TIA
In those photos the tube is loaded with pellets. The top one is a few minutes after lighting, and the second one is during the smoking of some bologna. The video above shows the smoke in real time.
 

zwiller

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VERY good info and agree with your points. I think this sort of thing is typically glossed over. Yep, approach depends on the product for best results. For me (MES30) cheese is tray and dust inside smoker. I call this NIBS nearly invisible blue smoke LOL. Almost go more by smell that looks. I used the same technique for cold smoking meat but I felt it was too light and have moved on to warm smoking but admit I have not gotten the results I want either way and store bought being better. That said, I have not tried cold smoking with pellets or the tube and interesting you hit it harder for meat than cheese. Something to think about.
 

thirdeye

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VERY good info and agree with your points. I think this sort of thing is typically glossed over. Yep, approach depends on the product for best results. For me (MES30) cheese is tray and dust inside smoker. I call this NIBS nearly invisible blue smoke LOL. Almost go more by smell that looks. I used the same technique for cold smoking meat but I felt it was too light and have moved on to warm smoking but admit I have not gotten the results I want either way and store bought being better. That said, I have not tried cold smoking with pellets or the tube and interesting you hit it harder for meat than cheese. Something to think about.
I think a better description would be that I use what I perceive to be the right amount of smoke when cold smoking bacon or ham.... but I use much less smoke for cheese. And even though I like to cold smoke hams, I will do a couple of hours of hot smoke so I can finish to a ready-to-eat temperature. My bacon is a true cold smoked product, and some batches never even see 55°F.

Regardless of what I think is my sweet spot for type of wood and amount of smoke I've seen plenty of examples where people use a lot more.
 

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