Masterbuilt smoker vent position?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by northernsmoke, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. northernsmoke

    northernsmoke Newbie

    I picked up a Masterbuilt 30inch S/S smoker as a replacement smoker.  I had ribs to perfection in my old smoker but now I need to find my way again.

    I noticed in the owner's manual, very little reference is made to position of vent for the smoker during use.  I believe it said to have completely open during jerky or fish and this is it.  I tried smoking three racks of ribs at 220F.  I had the vent completely closed and at 4hrs...  they were still gray and rubbery, I opened the vent wide open and the finally started to brown.  Not very good in the end.

    Is there any advice with regards to vent position?  I have read a 1/16 inch to half to full open . 

    In my previous smoking experience, I have never wrapped anything in foil.  Am I missing something by not doing this?
  2. mossymo

    mossymo Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If wood is smoking in a smoker I advise ALWAYS having the exhaust vent completely open, otherwise you risk having the creosote on your smoked product. Only time I close the vent is for storage or if I am done applying smoke and just using the smoker for heat to bring the product to the final temp.

    Foiling on some things retains moisture after the smoke is applied.
  3. jamminjimi

    jamminjimi Meat Mopper

    I have the 30" MES also. I leave the vent open 90% of the time. Only time I close it is when I want heat and not applying smoke. Try the 2-2-1 for BB and the 3-2-1 for St Louis rib methods. What this is 2 hours smoke 2 hours wrapped in tinfoil no smoke and 1 hour unwrapped no smoke at 225*.  I have had excellent luck with this.
    kmac likes this.
  4. northernsmoke

    northernsmoke Newbie

    I have a pork shoulder on right now (4lbs).  I put it on at 1200 with the temperature set @ 225F.  I have the vent full open.  It has a nice light brown crust, nothing extraordinary though.  The internal probe reads 141F in the thickess part.  Now what?  Do I leave it alone and wait for it to hit the 195F mark, or should I wrap it in foil to help it achieve the desired temp.  It still seems pretty tough...  Any advice is appreciated. Thanks
  5. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry for not replying faster, so this is for your future reference....

    First on the vent, all the experienced MES owners both 30" and 40" operate the MES when smoking with vent full open, never adjusting it.

    There is now an exception and that is using the A-Maze-n-smoker, because it doesn't use chips it uses wood dust and very small bits, it ignites easily and with the vent choked down will burn for hours.  Other than that always full open.

    As for your butt, everyone here has a little different take on when to pull it out of the smoker.  Personally when I smoke a pork shoulder/butt, I'm going for super tender pulled pork, that is only accomplished after hours and hours of low n slow smoke/cooking that breaks down all the connective tissue and renders out most of the fat.  Figure about 1.5 hours per pound at 225º, some butts will cook faster some slower.  When to foil or not, and when to pull from smoker is a matter of individual preference.  So I will tell you what I do.

    When I first got the MES I usually foiled at about 165º - 170º, and cooked until temp was at 195º - 200º.  However the crust or bark was breaking down in the foil due to all the moisture released, and I wanted to have a little more crisp bark.  So now I foil at 180º - 185º and cook until 205º - 210º.  So far it has yielded more crisp bark pieces, and most butts have enough fat to keep the meat moist even when it goes over 200º.  One caution, I am only recommending the higher temp to foil and cook for larger butts 8 lbs or heavier.  Smaller butts may suffer and get over cooked.

    Good luck with your next butt........
    onefishook likes this.
  6. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I have a 30" MES and will differ from the general consensus here when I say that I leave my vent closed for the whole time.  I'm not concerned about the smoke becoming stale because it still exits the vent at a rapid rate, and the 30" MES is so small that I don't see any reason for concern about that.  Also, keeping the vent closed is recommended in the MES manual, and it has always worked best for me.  I have tried it both ways, and the temperature inside the 30" MES stays more consistent when the vent has been closed (and there is 1/2 pan of water in the water tray).  I don't even need to use a smoker temp thermometer anymore because I know that it will always be within 2 degrees of accuracy.

    For ribs, you need 5 hrs for baby backs and 6 hours for spares at 225 regardless of whether you foil them or not.  Every time you open the door, though, you lose heat and increase the cooking time.

    Here's the thread about some baby backs I just did with my 30" MES.  I left the vent closed the whole time:
  7. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The vent is used for controlling the humidity. In most circumstances it needs to be wide open. If you live in an incredibly dry area with little to no humidity then you may want to close off the vent to increase the humidity level. Too little humidity and you don't absorb the smoke as readily and you dry your meat out... too much humidity sours the meat. You never want to see humidity in the smoker... like water droplets. I never adjust my vent where I live... very humid in the summer and need all the ventilation I can get. Closing your vent is not the way to get more smoke flavor.. just sour taste. 
    ronp likes this.
  8. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think someone is pulling someone's chain here..

    {Post Edit}

    I withdraw the remainder of my post, as it may be interpreted as incendiary.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  9. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    We really don't mind differing opinions here as most of what we do can be done more than one way and much of it depends on one's own methods, techniques, and tastes. However we will insist that posts not be nasty, mean, or derogatory and when one is we would prefer you report it to us to handle instead of trying to reply to it.
    naturemuzic likes this.
  10. jeffrey98335

    jeffrey98335 Newbie

    You want to leave your vent open 50% to all the way.  I have tried smoking with the vent closed and you dont get much smoke and it makes the meat with a funny taste.

    If you doing jerky you want it open to let the moisture out anyways. 

    I did some pork shoulders last weekend that turned out awesome.  I smoked them until they got to 175 degrees and then wrapped em in foil and put them back in until 195.   Everyone ranted and raved about em
  11. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I thought this thread was closed, due to some of the language being used....... hmmm

    There is no law that says the vent can't be adjusted.  However there is common sense, you want the wood chips to burn and smolder.  Anything less than wide open for the MES is going to choke the process of a clean burn which produces TBS.  There are 3 tiny air inlet holes in the wood chip loader, The size of those holes are and designed for a certain amount of wood chips to catch, burn and smolder, with a wide open vent, any less air flow will restrict the process.

    The AMNS burns saw dust, so the vent can be choked way down since the material burning is easily ignitable and already burning.
  12. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That was me with the language -- I apologize, and those posts were deleted.

    My MES disagrees with you.  Not only do I get TBS with the vent fully closed, but I also get it for 5-6 hours using soaked chips without ever having to add any more.  Interestingly enough, that's exactly how the manual says to do it.

    So, if everyone here thinks that they know more about how a product was designed than the people that designed it then that's just fine with me.  I'm not going to argue about it anymore.
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I hate to get in this, but here goes. I think the vent should be open all the way when you're smoking. I remember when it was cold out, I thought I was getting good smoke, but when I opened the door there was no smoke in the chamber. Then it dawned on me that what I thought was smoke coming out of the vent was water vapor. I think you gotta let that out. IMO

  14. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Pretty much for all types of smokers a good rule of thumb it 50-100% open on the top vent. - with more emphasis on the 100% open. There will always be some exceptions to that like the Amaz-N-Smoker, or personal preferance. But like I said it is a good rule of thumb for when you are in doubt.
  15. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Before you start waxing about how a product was designed based on some mythical manual you read, you better scan the manual and post it before you quote it again to make your argument.  First we are talking about the Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse, there are basically two models a 30" and 40", which are sold through various outlets some with different names, but all have a digital control unit, and a wood chip loader (that allows the user to load wood chips externally without having to open the door).  This wood chip loader is on the right side facing the door.   Provided we are talking about a real MES, I have taken the time to check every MES manual at Masterbuilt support.

    FINDING #1   The word VENT is NOT USED anywhere in the manual.

    FINDING #2   The word EXHAUST is NOT USED anywhere in the manual.

    There is no mention anywhere in the MES manuals listed on Masterbuilt's website that remotely discuss vent position during operation or even when not operating.

    SO.... unless you can produce a genuine Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse manual for a MES as described above, your statement regarding what the manual say's is a gross error, or fabrication to try and make a bad argument stand.

    Masterbuilt Manuals

    Digital Smokehouse 20070407

    Electric Smokehouse (Bruce Foods) 70070106, 72070106, 72070206

    Electric Smokehouse 20070106, 20070206

    Electric SmokeHouse20070407

    The next are not MES they do not have the digital control, or side wood feeder, or dual wall construction.

    Electric SmokehouseESQ30B2, 20070210, 20070410, 090618

    Electric SmokehouseESQ30B2, 20070210, 20070410

    Further, while it is possible that your MES may have some sealing issues or uncommon holes for air to enter or leave, that is an exception and not the typical MES, thus accounting for your perception of reality.

     One thing for sure, there are three things required to normally get something to burn (heat, fuel, and an oxidizing agent usually oxygen).  Without sufficient oxygen, a fire cannot begin, and it cannot continue. With decreased oxygen concentration, the combustion process slows.  Smoldering is the slow, low-temperature, flameless form of combustion, sustained by the heat evolved when oxygen directly attacks the surface of a fuel like wood chips.   By depriving the combustion process of air, we are choking it and eventually extinguishing it; i.e, when covering the flame of a small candle with an empty glass, fire stops; to the contrary, if we blow over a wood fire, we activate it (by bringing more air).

    I did post above in a previous post, I did think you were attempting to pull our chain...

    Then maybe one can appreciate even more chain pulling...........

    On another note there may be something after all in the Masterbuilt manual that does account for this perception of reality.
    jpenny2525 and shutterbug like this.
  16. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think it would be a disservice as a reliable source of info to new folks scratchin their heads on this one to not discuss this statement further. I have never been able to get 5 to 6 hours of smoke from a handful of chips soaked or not out of my MES. I only get about 4 hours out of my Smoke Daddy using a full load of pellets. Maybe your confusing the steam coming from the unit for smoke. I'm sure if you take a look in the smoke tray after 30 minutes to an hour..... you'll find your chips turned to ash. I've been smoking weekly with the 40" MES for going on 2 years and I've never been able to get those kind of results or have I heard of anyone getting that kind of smoke time out of a tray of chips. If there is a method for getting 5 to 6 hours of smoke out of an MES chip tray I would like to use it.

    I don't think this is an argument...... I have had a bit of experience with the MES and have been sharing info about them since purchasing one. I now have a 30 and 40. I have also conversed with a lot of other MES owners and have never heard anyone getting that length of time out of a tray of chips. As far as the vent goes... I'd say do what works. I don't like the results I get when I choke the vent back... so I keep it open... results may vary.
    shutterbug likes this.
  17. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    They call it the "air dampener".  It's the same 30" that is in my sig, so I didn't feel the need to mention that.


    I can assure you that I'm not confusing smoke with steam because whenever I open the door I have to turn my head to keep from getting all of the smoke in my eyes.  While I start out with just a few chips and add just a few more while it's preheating, I fill up the tray after I place in the food.  It will then produce TBS for over 5 hours.  I say 5-6 because last time I shut it off after 5 but it was still going strong.
  18. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I have to turn my head too. but it is because of steam.

     Try not using the water pan and use the same ammount of chips you allways use .

     You will see a difference.
  19. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The page you are showing, is NOT in any of the manuals listed at Masterbuilt website, nor is it in my manual from 2008.  The page "Lets Get Started" is not in any of those manuals or mine.   Please scan all pages and post, including the top /first page and the last page.

    The information is obviously not current or endorsed by Masterbuilt since it has been omitted in all the manuals they list on their support site, as well as the manual I have.


    What year is your MES?  When and where did you purchase the MES (name of vendor)?

    I may owe you an apology if your manual is indeed a legitimate MES manual, and have no problem offering that apology, since you believe you are following instructions.

    I will go out and test your procedure and post the results.
  20. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I ordered it online March 12, 2010 from Walmart online (this one has the access panel in the rear).  I just looked for it over there again, but it isn't listed.

    Here's the manual (one of the pages didn't scan properly):  30in MES Manual.pdf

    Also, when I soak the chips I just soak them for 30 minutes then pour out the water.

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