How I Keep My AMNPS Burning

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by daricksta, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    For those of you who complain you can't keep the AMNPS lit, well, this is how I solved the problem in my MES digital 30 Gen I.

    I'm smoking two racks of baby back ribs today. Although I don't normally use the water pan, I decided to experiment with it today to see if, like many smoker articles have stated, it would keep the meat more meat in an electric smoker.

    For the AMNPS I filled three rows with a combination of apple wood and Todd Johnson's Pitmaster's Choice pellet. I fired it up with a propane torch for a minute or so putting the torch through the Hole and underneath the pellets just behind the hole until I got flame going. I then set the AMNPS down on the ground and left it alone for about 30 minutes. When it was time to put it in the smoker I blew out the flame but then continued to blow on the pellets to get a good cherry. The flame came up again and I blew it out just before placing it in the smoker. I also pulled out the chip loader about an inch or so.

    I checked about 30 minutes later and the AMNPS was out. It must have stopped burning within 10 minutes of being placed in the MES. So, I went back to my tried-and-true methods. I dumped the water out of the water pan and foiled over the top. I re-lit the AMNPS following the same procedure I described above except I only let it burn for about 5 minutes. This time after getting that good cherry I inserted the AMNPS so that the lit end was facing the rear wall. I figured that with the top vent and the wood chip loader both on the right side the air draft should be greater there. When you insert the AMNPS with the lit side facing the rear, the outside smoking row is on the right as well. Yes, the pellets will still burn toward the front and turn back again but the key seems to be to giving the AMNPS a good, hot jump start and then it keeps burning until all the pellets are ash.

    So, after foiling over the water pan and inserting the end with the smoking pellets to the rear, after an hour the AMNPS is putting out great smoke and is almost at the point where it's about to turn the corner to light the next row of pellets.

    I strongly advise against putting water in the water pan. You might have noticed that when you open the smoker door you get hit with a wave of smoke AND of steam. It's that steam from the water pan which is putting out the fire; the interior of the smoker is too humid and so the smoldering fire in the AMNPS in effect gets smothered. I've done a lot of smoking in my MES 30--even a turkey breast--and everything comes out tender and moist without water in the water pan. I keep the pan in the smoker because as someone else told me, the MES was designed to have the water pan in place and the heat disbursement might be altered if it wasn't. Other guys may differ but this is the suggestion I've followed with great success.
  2. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    The surface area of the water pan in toe Old Model MES or MES Gen 1 is too large for the size of the cabinet, and creates way too much water vapor.  The result is smoke mixes with all this steam, and creates "Black Rain".  This "Black Rain" drips down the door and inside walls, and ends up on your food.

    Have you ever opened your door and this black liquid drips off the bottom of the door?

    The New MES Gen 2 has a much smaller water pan than the Old Model MES

    Seems Masterbuilt may be making an adjustment to the their smokers

  3. Rick

    One more thing. You can add sand to your water pan. That will help keep the temps stable.

    Happy smoken.

  4. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, Todd. I feel I've become somewhat of an advocate for both you and for Masterbuilt (as a company. I can only speak from my experience with the Gen 1--which I greatly enjoy). I didn't notice the Gen 2 water pan was smaller because I've only seen the inside of one a couple of times at Lowes and never looked that close.  But you're the one who first advised me to leave the water pan empty. Your AMNPS, I tell you--words aren't sufficient to express how it's made smoking so much easier and fun. I used it AND wood chips yesterday only because I don't currently have pecan wood pellets, something I will rectify soon as I recently told you. I used the wood chips only for their wood flavor but the wood pellets in the AMNPS were my primary source of smoke.

    As for the "Black Rain", I'm cursed with wearing bifocals and so when I open the door (as I did yesterday) smoky steam fills up my eyeglass lenses blinding me until I back away and the fog clears. I have noticed pools of black liquid in spots inside my smoker and I clean those off. What I have experienced is black sediment from the ceiling of the smoker falling down onto food when my arm rubbed against it. That's why I also wipe off the ceiling before placing food on the racks. You should see the nice, black-speckled cheeses I smoked a few weeks ago. They taste great but I have to shave off both surfaces before eating them.

    But, what do you think of using the water pan with just enough water to create a little steam to keep meat moist?
  5. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Rick

    I usually inject my meat, so I have no need to use water in a water pan.

    That said, I do have some customers who insist on using water in their smokers.  It's not the amount of water, it's the surface area of the water in the Gen 1 water pan.  It's almost the same as (2) large stew pots boiling on your stove top.  I tell these guys to go to the Dollar Store and buy some small disposable loaf pans.  This is plenty of water for your size smoker
  6. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Wow, I never knew the water surface area of the water pan was that big.

    Disposable loaf pans? That's a brilliant idea! I'm definitely going to give it a try. I think the pork ribs turned out

    I've tried injecting meats just a couple of times when cooking in the kitchen oven. I thought about doing it for the turkey breast and for the chuck roast I smoked recently. I typically skip it because so many times I'm running late and getting the smoker fired up an hour or so later than I had planned. Usually it's all I can do to get the rub on and get the meat into the smoker in time for it to finish at a reasonable dinner time. It's also why I rarely post Qviews.

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