Smoke ring with MES?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by mummel, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I came across this article:

    Meathead is pretty against electric smokers.  Does the addition of a AMPS help to create a smoke ring?

    Remember, the heat in gas, pellet, and charcoal cookers comes from combustion which, when mixed with wood, produces gases that impart a distinct flavor. The heat in an electric comes from a glowing metal rod. Smoke is created by putting wood above the heating element and letting it smolder. But electrics don't usually produce the needed combustion gases, so the flavor is different and there is no smoke ring, the pink layer of meat on the outside that says "Southern barbecue". The ring doesn't add flavor, but it adds authenticity and creates visual expectations.

    The science advisor Dr. Greg Blonder explains why there is no smoke ring: "Electrics have low airflow since there is none needed for combustion. The lack of oxygen tends to lower the smoldering temp of the wood, which tips dozens of chemical reactions in a different direction than with other fuels. Wrong mix and levels of normal combustion gases, carbon monoxide and nitric oxide." He gets into more detail here. To get a smoke ring, add one or two charcoal briquets to the woodbox of an electric. They sometimes produce gases that help create a pink smoke ring. But sometimes they don't.

    Another drawback: Most barbecue competitions do not permit electric cookers, so if you ever thought about going for the gold...
  2. In short....nope. You won't get it a smoke ring with electric even when using the AMNPS.
  3. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    And what about flavor?  Is there a big diffs?
  4. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Electric smokers are about convience. You don't spritz, mop, or sauce because that moisture isn't needed. You don't need to get up at night to tend the fire. You don't  need to monitor the temperature to get that steady temp you want. Add more coals or another split, change the ventilation set up to optimize heat or smoke.

    In return, you lose the ability to achieve a smoke ring. You can't  smell, or taste a smoke ring although you can see it.

    Get to sleep all night or see a smoke ring..... Hmmmmmm........ I can live without it, but then again they sure are pretty.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  5. I would have to say that's a preference. Many claim that you can tell when something cooked over pellets rather than say wood splits on a reverse flow or something like that. Personally, I love the flavor the pellets give to what I've cooked. Add in the ease of use with electric and the AMNPS and I don't think I'll ever be getting anything else.
  6. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I can live without the smoke ring as long as the flavor is there.
  7. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    The flavor comes from the smoke itself. The ring is simply a byproduct of a chemical reaction. I can't notice any flavor difference between items on my MES or on my UDS when using the same wood.
  8. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    And the other advantage to using an AMNPS is you get access to wood varieties that are hard to find otherwise. I have pellets made from Bourbon barrels and wine barrels that would be pretty hard to get in wood chunks.
  9. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've posted links to this same article. A couple of guys have put a whole charcoal briquette in the wood chip burner or have crushed up a briquette and added it to the AMNPS. I think one guy either reported he got a smoke ring or was going to report if he had or not.
  10. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I made a small chip burner out of a tin can and filled it with wood chips and a lit briquette to provide the heat to burn the chips. Guess what, no smoke ring. Faking a smoke ring is not really worth my time as nobody has ever complained about my food not having one. 

  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Do you buy your wood pellets from Todd Johnson?
  12. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Yes I do. He is the only provider I know of that sells pellets that are 100% of the wood they claim to be.
  13. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thought so when you described the Bourbon and wine barrel wood pellets. I haven't gotten that exotic yet but I also only buy my pellets from him.

    And agreed: smoke rings are purely cosmetic and really only count in professional BBQ competitions. I curse guys like Guy Fieri who make a big deal out of them on TV.
  14. coffeeguy2

    coffeeguy2 Newbie

    Not to mention it's possible to fake a smoke ring with products like Morton's Tender Quick (probably the nitrates that do it)...So smoke rings don't necessarily mean much in some competitions. I'm one of those 'purists' who just love the extra something you get from wood smokers, no matter if some of it's imagined or not. I'm "that guy" who was given a propane BBQ grill in my single days, took the burner out, dropped in a piece of cut-to-fit sheet metal and converted it to a charcoal grill.

    I prefer to cook with wood/charcoal but that's just me...I've had some pretty darn good BBQ out of electric smokers and have to admit it's a lot less work.
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    When it comes to grilling I'm a purist. I own a Weber 22.5" kettle charcoal grill. I think propane grills are an abomination. If I'd had the backyard and the funds for it, I would've opted for a really good offset stick burner for a BBQ. But I can't keep stuff like that in our backyard and wouldn't want to keep it in our grassy area outside the fenced-in backyard. So with our limited budget and my even more limited experience I opted for a MES 30 Gen 1 as my smoker of choice and have been very happy with the results.

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