• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Using a Propane Smoker

FargoGrilling

Newbie
10
5
Joined Dec 22, 2020
Hi, everyone,

I have a question regarding use of a propane smoker. I have had an electric Masterbuilt for about 6 years and just changed over to a propane Masterbuilt that I got at a great price. Everything is working well, but I have some issues on learning to use it. I haven't dived in much yet, but when I did the first pre-seasoning to get it ready, I noticed that the chips or chunks (I used chunks to see how it would go) are basically just catching on fire and burning up without much smoke at all. Is this how it's supposed to go? I have not had to deal with anything like this in the electric smoker, so it's a new experience.

Unfortunately, Masterbuilt's manual doesn't say much beyond putting it together and a token recipe. The website isn't much better at all, with little to no getting set up advice. If you have ideas or can point me in a direction for some more advice on using a propane smoker, I would appreciate it.

Warren
 

Kevin DeShazo

Smoking Fanatic
522
1,545
Joined Nov 7, 2018
If the propane are like the electrics, they are designed for chips, not chunks. Try it with chips and let us kmow how it goes.

Have a buddy that used chunks after I told him not to and if I recall he kinda had the same issue, plus more
 

bill1

Smoking Fanatic
716
234
Joined Apr 25, 2015
This discussion is happening in another current thread as well...
Transition to flames happens even quicker and less controllably with chips--it's a surface area-to-volume ratio argument. With pellets it's even worse.
It's a problem with electrics too, but not as bad because the "flame" isn't adjustable...the element is either thermostatically full on or full off. So once you get the element-to-chip-pan distancing right, it will always be right. (Although if your thermostat permits large enough temperature swings, the time "off" may be long enough that it's hard to get your wood smoking again on the next "on" cycle.)

I find using a cast iron skillet for a chip pan over a gas flame works best...it changes temp a little more slowly because of the added mass and if you squirt in some water to cool things quickly if doesn't warp or crack like other pans.
Also chunks can pretty much stand straight up in a pan. But with chips or pellets, it's best to fill it below the top, then put a cover on the pan that's only slightly perforated for air. Slowing down the airflow is a good way to slow that transition, that you want to avoid, from smoke to flames. Once it happens you'll see it on your temp gauge(s). About all you can do then is pull the pan, dump the flaming chips into a metal can (with airtight lid), quirt a little water in the pan for quick cool-down, then refill with chips and start again at less flame, less air to the inside of the pan, or more spacing from the flame to the pan.
 

JCAP

Smoking Fanatic
SMF Premier Member
671
734
Joined Jun 12, 2019
I started in a propane smoker and ran into similar issues. I did one of two things after a while: 1. Used chunks directly in the pan without any issue. But I do think bill1’s idea with a cast iron is a good one. 2. You could make foil pouches of your chips. They won’t catch on fire. Just make a bunch of pouches and throw one in every 30-45 min or so.

Good luck!
 

rc4u

Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
270
78
Joined Jun 4, 2015
bill has it right. i use both cast n the iron that came with i put the cast on over burner with chuncks n chips ti get started but have the iron pan on top of cast to get going later and have it covered loose with used tin foil from before.. then i put other side in later.. my smoke hollow has 3 large cutouts in bottom. i even use my charcoal starter with lump n wood under center hole , fits tight perfect.. easy to keep constant low temps. or higher
 

shaneyb72

Fire Starter
SMF Premier Member
69
63
Joined Jan 11, 2014
I started with a propane smoker, but have since moved to a pellet smoker.
But when I was using my propane smoker, I used a mix of pecan chunks and fruit wood pellets every time. I occasionally had issues with flare ups...but could control them rather well by soaking the chips and chunks ahead of time. Still, I kept water nearby to douse any flame ups. I used the stock pan and lid every time as well.
So it was an issue, but nothing I couldn’t work with.
 

ChuxPick

Meat Mopper
159
64
Joined Oct 11, 2017
I use a MB propane smoker, I have a CI skillet resting on the chip tray rack (chip tray removed) I use chunks in the CI,in addition I also us a Amazin tube that I put pellets in. The tube I angle the open end up slightly. I place the tube above one of the bottom vent openings allowing it to draft fresh air . I never use water to keep the chunks or pellets from catching fire, never been an issue for me. Sometimes I have to use the torch and set the chunks on fire for 5 minutes or so then blow them out so they will smolder.
 

Cabo

Smoke Blower
147
86
Joined Apr 10, 2019
Which MB smoker do you have?
I have found that the size and placement of chunks (no chips) makes a huge difference on how they smoke.
 

FargoGrilling

Newbie
10
5
Joined Dec 22, 2020
Which MB smoker do you have?
I have found that the size and placement of chunks (no chips) makes a huge difference on how they smoke.
I got an MPS 230S propane smoker—cheapest propane that Masterbuilt makes. It's a 30 inch smoker with 2 doors, which was one of the attractions in addition to the propane. My electric smoker had one door and you had to open it to get to the water tray.
 

FargoGrilling

Newbie
10
5
Joined Dec 22, 2020
I use a MB propane smoker, I have a CI skillet resting on the chip tray rack (chip tray removed) I use chunks in the CI,in addition I also us a Amazin tube that I put pellets in. The tube I angle the open end up slightly. I place the tube above one of the bottom vent openings allowing it to draft fresh air . I never use water to keep the chunks or pellets from catching fire, never been an issue for me. Sometimes I have to use the torch and set the chunks on fire for 5 minutes or so then blow them out so they will smolder.
Thanks for the ideas! A CI skillet/pan is a new idea for me that makes sense. I also have both an Amazin tube and a Maze that I use for smoking cheese. I'll kick these ideas around a little more.
 

FargoGrilling

Newbie
10
5
Joined Dec 22, 2020
I started with a propane smoker, but have since moved to a pellet smoker.
But when I was using my propane smoker, I used a mix of pecan chunks and fruit wood pellets every time. I occasionally had issues with flare ups...but could control them rather well by soaking the chips and chunks ahead of time. Still, I kept water nearby to douse any flame ups. I used the stock pan and lid every time as well.
So it was an issue, but nothing I couldn’t work with.
Soaking has been something I've thought of. Since I've been using an electric smoker that essentially is a "set it and forget it" setup, I may have to change my behavior. I typically checked the electric every 30 minutes, but the propane may require more attention.
 

FargoGrilling

Newbie
10
5
Joined Dec 22, 2020
If the propane are like the electrics, they are designed for chips, not chunks. Try it with chips and let us kmow how it goes.

Have a buddy that used chunks after I told him not to and if I recall he kinda had the same issue, plus more
I'll do chips in the next test. Stay tuned as that may be a few days off. We are in the middle of a blizzard right now! I'm serious; can't see down the street outside the living room window.
 

clifish

Smoking Fanatic
486
259
Joined May 25, 2019
I used a MB propane for a few times and kept having the same issue, before I stumbled on some mods for it an electric one had fallen in my lap. The propane one has been banished to my shed...any one want a propane one?
 

Cabo

Smoke Blower
147
86
Joined Apr 10, 2019
I got an MPS 230S propane smoker—cheapest propane that Masterbuilt makes. It's a 30 inch smoker with 2 doors, which was one of the attractions in addition to the propane. My electric smoker had one door and you had to open it to get to the water tray.
I have the same one. Definitely use a cast iron pan in place of the chip tray. I got a 7" from walmart.
I have good luck using smallish chunks (not soaked in water).

If you're still having trouble, the amazen tube for pellets is a great alternative.
 

SmokinAl

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
46,765
7,609
Joined Jun 22, 2009
I’m not familiar with your smoker, but I have had a Smoke Vault 24 for ever, I have rebuilt it twice & I always use chunks in it, BUT I cut the chunks from wood splits, it’s much cheaper & it burns very well. Just buy wood splits & cut discs with a miter saw about 1/2” thick & put them in the chip tray. They will smoke for about 45 minutes & you just add another one. It’s kind of like feeding a stick burner, but with way less wood. The flavor is about as close to a stick burner as you can get with propane.
Al
 

FargoGrilling

Newbie
10
5
Joined Dec 22, 2020
Where exactly do you put the Amazen tube? On the cast iron? Inside the smoker?

I have the same one. Definitely use a cast iron pan in place of the chip tray. I got a 7" from walmart.
I have good luck using smallish chunks (not soaked in water).

If you're still having trouble, the amazen tube for pellets is a great alternative.
 

cmayna

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
3,244
924
Joined Jun 23, 2012
I also use the Amazen tube in my Masterbuilt Gasser. My tube resides just inside the lower front door.
 

ChuxPick

Meat Mopper
159
64
Joined Oct 11, 2017
1608775289146.jpeg

I was smoking a brisket and I placed both my CI skillet and my tube on the bottom most grate. The CI is just above the left bottom vent and the tube is on a MB rib rack to give it a slight upward angle. The tube is just above the right bottom vent.
 

FargoGrilling

Newbie
10
5
Joined Dec 22, 2020
Merry Christmas and time for an update:
I went out this morning and switched to chips in the tray. I have a lot of Smokehouse chips and chunks and put chips in the tray once I had things warmed up to about 200-225. And....they caught on fire. Some smoke but short-lived.

So—the next one is a trip to Fleet Farm (the local Wal Mart substitute that I like better in spite of the ugly orange vests they wear) and get a cast-iron skillet and start experimenting.

Unless someone has a better idea.....

Warren

I'll do chips in the next test. Stay tuned as that may be a few days off. We are in the middle of a blizzard right now! I'm serious; can't see down the street outside the living room window.
 

Latest posts

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.