Top Rack?

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Original poster
Sep 30, 2006
Lino Lakes MN
I have always smoked salmon or made salmon candy by placing the thinner pieces on the upper racks and thicker on lower with the thickest nearest the heat source.

Neighbor came over and read me the riot act stating that heat rises, so thick goes on upper rack.

An old guy in Soldotna taught me this method, years ago. Was he right or wrong? I never questioned the method.

Opinion please?
I presume it would depend on the characteristics of your smoker. My Masterbuilt with a front door is electric and has four racks. It is a little hotter toward the top but not by much. If you could test yours with two thermometers you will know for sure. The meat load that you are cooking would contribute to differences also.

Just saw your intro and welcome from another Electric guy!

Was going out the door to a grandson's football game when I answered your post.

Additional thoughts to your question is that my smokhouse is insulated on all 6 sides and the solid state controller cycles the element on and off as needed. Since the temp sensor is in the top it makes sense to me that the thing would cool more on the bottom racks than the top ones between cycles.

If your smoker's element is always on that would present another scenario.

Most folks cook by looks and feel rather than meat temperature when they are working with the thinner cuts. This would be particularly true when working with salmon as there is a fine line between too little and too much as I am sure you know.

Not being familiar with your smoker I still suggest testing the internal temps with separate probes at different locations or trial and error is lots of fun too.

There is some good info in the electric smoker section as you probably have already seen.

Good luck with the new unit.

I searched and found the brand of your unit but was not able to find the "#4" model. Which model do you have?
The closest it's listed on the manufacturers site is 30166E. It's actually 30167E. They don't list the numbers that the cartons are identified with (no.3, no.4, no.5, etc.) Probably the only difference between 67 and 66 is the number of racks or grids. Instructions and specs are sketchy. Assume it only has a rheostat. Don't believe it has a therm. It is reasonably insulated. A bit different from my old Luhr Little Chief. That weighed as much as a tuna can and had no rheostat. This new one feels like 75 pounds.

Trying a link. You may have to higlight and drop/

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Well, a couple of things are apparent. This unit gets much hotter than the supplied thermometer indicates. It only took 4 hours and I was expecting 6-8. Probably the insulation will take some getting used to. Because it got done so quickly, I didn't sweeten the fish as a finish so it isn't as sweet as I like.

The imported (Chilean) salmon I got from Costco was not appropriate for smoking.. There was no skin and the flavor left some room. It was the only thing I found on short notice.

I'll get fish from a different supplier and adjust. Try again next weekend.

Your unit has some similarities to the Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse that I have.

The first time it was used we could not eat the whole chicken I attempted to smoke in it!

I have a post in the electric smoker section titled
"Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse" It details the problems encountered with it and what I did to correct them. Your unit does not appear to be vented either and I was wondering if you noticed a smoke overkill as we did?

from your post I urge you to obtain a good probe thermometer test it in boiling water for accuracy and test your unit for where to run it at.

There are a multitude of fine people here that are quit willing to help with any problem you can present.

Used to fish near Ely MN are you anywhere near there?
Now I'm really confused. In the daylight, I went out to clean up the unit and discovered that almost none of the wood chips had burned. I had apparant smoke by flashlight during the process last night but obviously not near enough. This fact probably lead me to the conclusion that the flavor was off and I, in error, immediately blamed the fish itself.

I reread the instruction manual and in small print the manufacturer states" The desied temperature for smoking is between 220F and 250F." I'm guessing that the chips never got hot enough to produce smoke.

I've never smoked any fish at that temperature before. I've always been in the 160-170F range for hot and 90 for the cold. The few time I've used a webber grille the temp was 80-120F.

Is this normal for an electric smoker? My retired little chief never got above 150 and always produced sufficient smoke. I always needed 2-3 pans of chips.

This smoker didn't use more than 10% of one pan.

I assume that it is not designed to smoke slowly and that it is actually more of a BBQ. This may be an incorrect use of terms because I'm not an expert by any means. I may be stuck with a product that doesn't do what I expected it to but is what the manufacturer determines is correct.

I'll call the manufacturer on Monday to get their comments.

It appears I should have done more research before purchase.
Sorry. Neglected to address your most recent comments. Nope not near Ely. I'm mid state, northern Minneapolis suburb. Been to Ely, tho. Nice area.

I appreciate the availablity of assistance. I may have to change my paradigm regarding smoking.


I agree if what you are wanting is a cold smoke for salmon you probably do not have the proper equipment.

There are folks on this forum who cold smoke and it is an entirely different layout of equipment.

I know my unit would act as yours did at those temps.

I think they pipe the cool smoke from a smoke generator to the smoking box to keep the temps down. Out of my knowledge area but maybe someone else can jump in and help.

Good luck in your pursuit!
More passing thoughts:

After reading again

You apparently are not trying to cold smoke. But are attempting to cook and smoke at a low and slow temperature. Hope you can get the needed smoke generation at that temperature range on you electric!
Somehow you are going to need chip ignition closer to the heat source by modifieng where you place them and not in a container that needs a lot of preheating. People have trouble with cast iron chip boxes sometimes. Others like me never soak the chips as that slows things down also. Have you tried putting dry chips in a foil pouch with a few holes poked in it and placing close to the element?
Thanks for the input. Some of that parallels the factory advice.

Talked to the factory guy today. He was very talkative and helpful. Twenty minutes worth. I'll test his suggestions, pick the most successful and report back. BTW, can we post PiX here?

Well, I have been trying a few things suggested by the factory guy.
1. Using the water pan as a smoke box (it sits closer to the heat element). Works great at higher temperatures. Goes out and won't generate smoke at lower temps that I want to use for the salmon or squaw candy.

2. Make a rack to get smoke box close to the element. Same results as #1. Used a jalapeno rack, upsidedown.

3. Asked if could put smoke box on the element. He said as a factory rep, he couldn't recommend itbut allowed that a lot of people do it. Worked the best so far but not as good as other methods in other smokers, in the past. Not the right texture but definately edible salmon candy. I'm getting there.

Still feel the element is too hot for this recipe but can't keep the smoke generating. The relative size of this element and the luhr jensen may be the key. The LJ may not have been able to do the larger chunks and birds that this unit should handle with ease.

4.Going to try # 3 again but am going to put a briquette in te smoke box to try and keep the smoke going and I am going to cut way back on the heating element.

5.The store manager advised he will give me full credit if I return the unit and buy a gas unit. He told me that a similar gas unit did not have insulation, tho. Never used a gas unit before so I'd better start researching.
sBc one other thought is that when I do it I use an iron skillet. Not sure if it is because the skillet will heat up and will continue to heat the chips or because it does still right on the element but it just works
Thanks Cheech for your info! My guess is that what you are doing will not work here. That big old refrigerator can use more BTU's than we can. Also we do not have room to do this.

sBc Is your smoker vented very much? It seems that if you could waste some of the heat through ventilation then you could run the heating element hot enough for combustion and still maintain your target temps of 100-160*
I am still not clear how you control temps. Do you have a rheostate or an on/off controller? Either way you will need to unload some of the heat it seems.

I am going to try Cheech's canadian bacon recipe and will be sliding my wood tray partially open to get my temps down. I think this will dump some heat and keep me down to 140-160* and produce smoke. I have noticed when I open the wood tray the smoke really roles out of the top vent of the modification to my smoker.

One comment you made says that your water pan is between the element and the smoke box. that seems really strange. My wood tray dumps onto a metal sheet with holes in it which is laying on the element.
So in effect the wood chips are separated from the element only by a sheet of metal.
Ventilation is thru the crack in the door and a 1/4 inch vent pipe. No Large vent.

Heat control is a rheostat. To keep smoke generating I seem to need it about 50%. Less gives me lower temp but also smoke quits.

Water pan fits into bottom rack along side wood chip tray. Water pan is 1/2 inch deeper so it is closer to element. Last batch of salmon candy didn't use the rack. Set the pan on the element.

Thanks to you guys for all the comments and encouragement.

Looked at the same brand smoker in the gas version. It does have vents but is not isulated. Insulation is nice for higher heat smoking of beef, birds etc but it may, with the lack of venting be most of my problem.
To my mind it boils down to this:
The rheostate at less than 50 pct is not generating enough heat to support combustion no matter where you place the chips.

There is not sufficient ventilation system to open up and require more BTU's.

Sounds like pushing a square peg through a round hole to me.

Maybe you should consider the refund on the gas unit.

Sorry that we were not able to help you! :(

Good luck and stay in touch :D
OK folks. Think I figured it out. This is an excellent smoker for beef and chicken. Very happy with the results. Corn on cob turned out great. Won't work for "cool" smoking salmon or squaw candy. Insulation and lack of venting seem to prohibit this. I'm guessing that if I modified it by putting a top hat style vent on top with a wood stove type damper it would work but if if this proved an incorrect assumption ...then could not return it.

Was invited to a guy's house about 30 miles north who had the gas version. Same basic unit as the electric, sans insulation. It does have one adjustible vent This guy put in two more.

The burner keeps the chips smouldering at 50% setting. The lack of insulation and the venting blows off btu's so that a cool smoking of the fish occurs.

Texture was perfect at 7 hours.

My gallon of Andes chicken corn soup and 6 pack of Corona went well with his batch of salmon candy.

I think the electric goes back tomorrow, as long as the retailer is so accomodating.

Thanks so much for your comments and encouragement. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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