That elusive TBS, how do you get it in your smoker?

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
Dec 29, 2022
Vernon, BC Canada
I started a thread a few weeks ago when I first bought my Mes30 asking what was the best electric smoker for a PID, and that turned into a smoke discussion and I thought I should start a separate thread for how to get TBS or how do you get a good smelling, proper smoke in your electric smoker. Here is the original thread.

So, if you look at that thread, you can see I’ve tried about five or six different things. I have yet to see blue, although I am honing in on a good smelling smoke. I went to my friends, sausage making business today and he gave me a bag of shavings that he uses for smoking, it’s a hardwood blend with no specified types of wood on the outside of the bag, he buys them in commercial quantities from a company in Wisconsin, which is crazy as that’s in the centre of North America and we are in British Columbia, and he is probably not as particular as we are about the mix. However, of all the things I have tried they burn the slowest, and smell the best so far, although still not blue I am just getting a whispy trace of smoke now, for almost 2 hours with only half of one smoker tray row filled.

I would love to hear how you achieve that elusive TBS or close to it and what you do or use in your electric smokers.



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Are you getting decent smoke on foods you cook in it?

Are you getting decent smoke on foods you cook in it?

Yes, I can get lots of smoke, or very little smoke depending on which method I use, but nothing smells like the real wood chips or lumps I add to my charcoal smokers or offset stick burner.

Several years back I came up the idea to ubolt modify an Amazen tube so that it would burn slower using whole pellets.This worked ok but it still put out more smoke than I liked.

Then reading a thread that chopsaw chopsaw began about burning dust I started grinding my pellets in a blender and making dust.This worked almost perfectly.The next step was to find the best pellets for dust and on that I ended settling with Lumberjack pellets and have never looked back.Always get TBS now.

Reading your other thread I've seen that you've done this with limited success.Moisture content of the pellets could cause thin white smoke I suppose.All my pellets are stored in sealed containers and I make dust at the time of the cook and in some cases if I'm using say 100% cherry dust I will put the tube full of dust in the smoker for an hour at a low temp to dry the dust,with hickory or oak I just grind and go.

If you click on the link in my signature there's a full write-up of what I do.
.Moisture content of the pellets could cause thin white smoke I suppose.
That and the moisture that's in an MES 30 / 40 or the Masterbuilt electric smoker ( analog )
The U-bolt mod is a great add for a tube . I don't even look for TBS from my electric . To much moisture inside the box . Tube burns clean , and I can smell the smoke coming out of the smoker is clean .
I also go by the color I get .
Thanks guys,

I'm actually using the toolbox mod, mailbox but cheaper. I think I posted pics in my other thread linked above.

Going to try ribs today, cold smoke first then maybe try the MES as intended, with the chip tray. I also found a good use for my Brinkman SnP. :emoji_laughing: A couple of days in the hot sun and the moistened pellets are dry dust.

Appreciate the help.


If you use a water pan the water vapor mixing with smoke is white, till the water vapor dissipates and you see the smoke float away. With the sun behind you while looking at smoke can give you the best result of TBS or white. The same way to view a rainbow.
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I made back ribs last night for my son last night, and tried two different smoke methods, one I started off with chips in the tray as intended with the smoker set for 275 then when they ran out after 45 minutes lol I stuffed the smoke tube in the toolbox and continue that for a few hours and was able to get thin smoke just not blue but both my son and I agreed that it smelled pretty good. I finished the ribs on higher heat in the pellet smoker as I couldn’t get the Mes30 over 285 or so. Ribs were awesome, nice Smokey flavour. Used hickory chips then random mix of dust from pellets.

Tonight I’m cold smoking a pork blade steak with cherry dust from pellets, I learned last night that even the wood hickory chips, smelled pretty darn close to the pellets, and still didn’t burn blue. I think I’m giving up on blue smoke from pellets, or dust in the electric smoker. Definitely had blue smoke out of the pellet grill I also think I learned that I can now smell the difference between the types of pellets, whereas when I first bought the smoker, it all seem to smell the same to me. I have a little fan on the exhaust port on the top of the smoker, helping to pull the smoke through the toolbox and through the smoker so nothing gets stale. It smells pretty darn good.

More later.

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I use a oval tube smoker, primarily pellet dust and have no issues getting TBS. The tighter I pack the pellets the less smoke produced and longer burn times. If I use whole pellets I can’t fill the tube up otherwise I get Thick White Smoke. I’ll fill the tube to about 1/3 full of whole pellets then shake the tube so the pellets sit in the bottom 1/3 of the oval giving me 1.5-2 hours of relatively TBS. Once I’m sure the pellets or dust is burning I close the damper on my mailbox mod to almost closed. A neighbor gave me a bunch of maple shavings from his lathe and I’m just now experimenting with them in the oval tube. No food, no smoker just the mailbox. My experiment is currently to keep mosquitoes at bay while sitting outside by the fire. First run was very minimum packing, worked excellent for the mosquitoes but ended up with fairly thick blue smoke lasting about 45 minutes. Second run was the exact opposite, packed them as tight as I could, ended up getting a very TBS after fighting the keep the tube lit. Mosquitoes didn’t like the little smoke I was generating but were still sneaking in for a meal. Somewhere in the middle is where I need to be to replicate TBS compared to pellet dust. Must admit I like the smell of maple shavings way better than mosquito coils. As a side note I have a bag of spruce pellet dust that I use exclusively for mosquito control, way cheaper than hardwoods.
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Don't worry about TBS. As long as you can smell the smoke coming from the exhaust your golden.The only time you need to be worried is if you're seeing heavy white billowing smoke.
I use the chip tube feeder on my MES40 for short smokes (2 or 3 hours, or less). Only use 4 or 5 chips each time I add chips. Typically add a few chips every 20 to 30 minutes.
For longer smokes, I use the AMNPS.
I never use water in the water functions as a foil wrapped drip pan.
Tonight I finally have time to grill the pork blade steak I smoked the other night. It’s been raining here for the last three days. Crazy for July. Here’s a picture of the little fan I have set up on the top of my smoker, works very well.


Fan Video
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Nice info.
It reminded me to take advantage of this Texas heat and I just sprayed down about 35 pounds of cherry pellets with water.
I figure sitting out in the sun in a giant tote over the next 3 days should do the trick converting them to dust :D
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