Thinking of selling my MES 30

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by johnmeyer, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    It is covered with foil, and there is a hole in the foil so the grease can drain out, although I usually put a pan under the big piece of meat to catch the juices, so the pan hasn't gotten very dirty.

    I don't know how much the air from that hole contributes to the air flow through the smoker, compared to the three holes in the chip loader. Interesting question.

    I just finished cleaning the inside and while it doesn't look a whole lot different, I think I got the worst of the top layer off, especially on the door which had several times the build-up and which seemed to have stuff that didn't smell too nice. Also, it came off almost completely, whereas the black "varnish" on the interior was quite thin, and didn't want to come off.

    And speaking of smell, I always leave the door open for several hours after a smoke to let it dry out from the moisture coming from the meat, and then I heat it up for about 30 minutes, and then let it dry out again. Even in a relatively dry climate like ours (central CA), this "dorm room refrigerator" smoker cabinet is going to mildew just like it would if it WAS a refrigerator and you kept the door closed for several weeks and left it at room temperature.

    As a result,  don't have any mildew.
  2. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Someone mentioned a candle test in another thread.  How long does the candle need to burn for?
  3. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    That question is probably better asked in that other thread where the OP was having a tough time keeping the AMNPS lit. However, since you asked it, and since the idea is to test if there is sufficient oxygen to keep the AMNPS lit, and since the picture in that other thread showed about two hours of burning before it went out, I'd say the answer is: at least two hours, but preferably three or four.
  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi John,
    I've just read all the posts on this thread, and I was going to ask you how thick the smoke in your MES looks through your window, until you said you don't have a window in yours.

    This is but one of the reasons I like the window in mine, and would never buy an electric smoker without a window, now that I've been spoiled by my last two MES Smokers.

    So without a window, can you tell me how thick the smoke is when you open your door:

    #1   So Thick that you can't see anything inside for a couple seconds?

    #2   Cloudy, but not that thick?

    #3   Barely Smoky?

    If the answer is #1, that's too heavy a smoke. You need to find a way to produce less smoke or to get more smoke to leave your smoker more quickly.

    If your answer is #2 or #3, try not using any smoke at all, because there shouldn't be any over-smoked or creosote flavor with that amount of smoke.

    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A number of guys like that mod. For cold smokes, I'm going to try out Bear's advice to use Dust instead of pellets.

    The true test of whether the smoke has been thinned out or not is in the taste. A number of guys complain the AMNPS doesn't produce enough smoke for their tastes but I think they prefer "in your face" smoke. From my personal experience the AMNPS produces the right amount of smoke. I've repeatedly said that smoke should enhance, not overpower, the taste of food.
  6. I don't know much about MES smokers but I do know this:

    I bought a 2-door 38" propane Smoke Hollow with a window on the door and started smoking meat less than a year ago. I took it out of the box, seasoned it, did the water boil test on the thermometer, read a lot about meat smoking on this forum, bought Jeff's book and rub recipes, bought a Maverick 733, and then went to work smoking outstanding meals on about a weekly basis. I love the thing. It's currently my favorite toy by far. I haven't done a single mod and the thermometer on the door is accurate within 5 degrees. I have some favorite go-to smokes but also really enjoy experimenting with all sorts of different recipes and haven't had a failure yet. I consider myself an absolute rookie and have already become famous among my friends, family and neighbors for producing great smoked food. The hobby of smoking meat for me is both fun and rewarding and I feel like I really owe it all to this forum and the extremely user friendly Smoke Hollow

    I'm not trying to brag, just point out that success can quickly be achieved without much prior skill or knowledge. My unsolicited advice is to try a propane smoker if your MES isn't working out for you. I think you'll be happy that you didn't give up when you hit your full stride and start consistently and confidently pumping out smoked nirvana. Get rid of the MES if it's frustrating you, but stay in the game. You won't be sorry. 
  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The smoke inside my MES 30 conforms to #1. When I open the door  I've got to step back for about 15-20 seconds to let it dissipate so my eyes don't burn and tear up  so I can see the food. But at the same time I either have heavy or TBS rising from the top vent, depending on where I am in the smoke. So, what I'm saying is that even though the AMNPS is producing a lot of smoke, enough of it escapes out of the MES so that food is not oversmoked.
  8. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I live in the Seattle area and store my MES under its cover in my un-insulated garage. While white mildew will grow inside my Weber charcoal kettle grill over the winter (charcoal briquettes grow green mold) I've never had any mold or mildew problems with my MES in the almost 4 years I've owned it. After or before smoking I wipe down selected interior surfaces with a damp paper towel. I never use vinegar or any cleaning chemical inside the smoker I wash all removable parts like smoking racks and drip/grease trays with soap and water. I take them out to the smoker, reinsert them, and leave the smoker door open to let them completely dry. If on TV you watch pro BBQers in competition or if you see segments on BBQ restaurants all the smokers are black and grimy on the inside. If food inspectors are OK with the insides of smokers looking like that then mine is fine as well. I think it's important to clean any surface food touches. But again, I wipe it down. The interior cooking heat will kill any nasties on the walls during the cooking process unless you're cold smoking.

    I make sure both sensors on the back walls are wiped clean. I also clean the ceiling to remove deposits that can fall on the food below, and I clean the creosote and other buildup from the inside of the top vent. You might be surprised over how much buildup there is inside that thing.
  9. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Can I answer "yes" to all three questions? I've had all three experiences, although never #1 when using the AMNPS as the smoke source. Most of the time, the answer is #2 and, sometimes, #3.

    The thick smoke (#1) happens when I sometimes have had to open the door not long after adding chips (when I'm not using the AMNPS). As you know, the MES method for heating chips tends to produce smoke in bursts, with the smoke intensifying during the heating cycle, and then diminishing (although not disappearing altogether) during the time the electric element is off.

    Question back to you: do you ever use the MES chip tray, or do you always use the AMNPS as the sole source of smoke? If you do sometimes still use the MES chip tray, on what smokes do you use it?

    Based on all the feedback I've gotten, and now that I've scrubbed off most of the heavy gunk (creosote??), and then let it run at top temperature for several hours until no residual smoke came out of the vent, I'm going to try a few more basic smokes before I give up, starting with tri-tip and then chicken. I still have some Costco almonds, and may do a small load of almonds after that, since they seems to provide the best test of smoke bitterness and numbing. I've been doing those using the MES chip tray with standard hickory chips. This time I'll do it with the AMNPS.
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have not used my Chip burner since Todd invented the AMNPS, and I have never had Creosote flavor since I stopped having the vicious "No smoke, to light smoke, to heavy smoke, to too much smoke" cycle you speak of by using the chip burner. STOP using chips or chunks in your MES chip burner!!!

    If you are getting too much smoke flavor with the AMNPS, it would have to be because you're using Mesquite pellets, or you're lighting more than one end, or for some reason the smoke is not leaving your smoker like it should.

  11. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    I totally agree: I'd rather eat food thinking, "I wish there was a little more smoke" than eat food where I wished I could somehow remove some smoke. The former is still really tasty, but it is almost impossible to make over-smoked food taste good because smoke seems to trump almost every other spice or flavor, so you can't counteract it or cover it up.
    If I do sell the MES, I'll be looking at all other alternatives, so I appreciate that recommendation.
    Yes, that vent interfaces to the outside, and on especially on cold days, the condensation, and subsequent buildup in that area is unbelievable. Even after just one smoke, the vent often gets stuck after it cools down and the smoke particles cool.

    I did find as I was cleaning yesterday that isopropyl alcohol does an amazing job at cleaning the stainless steel vent. While it doesn't cut through the black on the rack holders or the sensor, because those are baked on, it almost instantly dissolves the gunk near that cooler section in and around the vent because it hasn't been baked on.
  12. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic


    Thank you, thank you, thank you. That is really helpful advice, coming from someone with infinitely more experience at this than I have, or will ever have.

    So, message received. I'll save the remaining wood chips for the smoke box in my Weber Genesis BBQ, and now only use the AMNPS as my smoke source, either with Todd's chips or his sawdust.
  13. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are cold smoking cheese or butter, use Todd's dust.  Otherwise I'd use his pellets, though I did not know about Mesquite pellets giving off too much smoke until Bear brought it to our attention.

    Then again, since I don't smoke with Mesquite........
  14. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    You can fill the rows of the AMNPS as you feel is right. Just not to the top. A quarter of an inch from the top is standard. As long as it's at least half full. Hopefully you'll start a new thread on how I almost sold my Mes.
  15. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    It would help if you could record a video of your smoker output.
  16. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    By the way, I don't claim the MES is the best smoker out there. I contend that it's the best smoker at its price points. A well-constructed made in USA smoker costs several hundreds of dollars and way up. For $190 (could've been lower) I got a great smoker that does exactly what I need it to do and it's easy to use. If I were a rich man I might look at more expensive smokers.
  17. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Since I restore video, film, slides, 78 rpm records -- and all other forms of media -- for a living, I can definitely take some video of the smoke and post it. I actually may have some from a video I created, but never posted, showing my method for lighting the AMNPS using only the heat gun. The process not only lights the pellets, but the process of using that much hot air also does a great job of preheating all the nearby pellets. The thing is ready to go in no time.

    As for the other questions, I don't think I've ever gotten excessive smoke with the AMNPS using pellets. I've only used the sawdust once, and the smoke from that was extremely light.

    Finally, I don't think I will ever cold-smoke in this again, unless I do the mailbox mod. Looking back on everything I've done over the past 3-4 months, the worst tasting smoke happened when trying to put smoke through a cold cabinet. So, what I'm going to do the next time I want to cold smoke is to use my Weber BBQ, using the "trick" I posted in my thread about using the AMNPS, placed in the drip tray of my Weber Genesis gas grill. I originally did this to smoke a rotisserie chicken, but it should work even with the grill turned off. I'll probably need to light both ends of the AMNPS because the Weber isn't really set up to contain smoke.
  18. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I used regular hand sanitizer but it barely was lit.  There was a TINY blue flame.  Is that enough?
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I didn't say too much "Smoke" from Mesquite.

    I said too much "Smoke Flavor", which is true for most people, as is my favorite Hickory for many people.

    And I prefer using Dust in my AMNS for anything I smoke with temps under 220° smoker temp, and Pellets in my AMNPS when using Smoker temps above 220°.


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