View Full Version : Pellets igniting while "cold smoking"

Doug Crann
06-09-2017, 11:43 AM
Wrecked a few pounds of cured belly first time it happened....using Hickory Pacific Pellets in my amnps. Been following the same procedures as always. Dry the pellets in the microwave, light them with a bit of Rutland Gel. After 10 minutes extinguish the flame.
I use our XL Big Green Egg for cold smoking. AMNPS on the bottom of the Egg. Fire grate goes in with a piece of foil to block some of the heat. Exhaust wide open, dome propped up about .500" to avoid condensation.
Always happens towards the end of the final row. First time it happened was very windy that night and I left the bottom vent wide open, just like I always do. Figured the wind fanned the smoldering pellets causing the flare.
Next time it happened I had the air intake shut to about an inch. Was windy again. Out of curiosity I tried a dry run, nothing in the Egg. Intake open about an inch. Bit windy still, burned the entire tray with 0 flare. Tried smoking the next batch of belly, made it thru the smoking session with 0 flares. Hmmm...
Loaded it up last night. Was windy, being a bit paranoid I shut the air intake to about 2 credit cards wide. Went to pull the belly after 8 hours, 0 smoke. Crap...meat pulled. Grates taken out, bottom of foil covered in soot...it flared again.
Could it be, that for some reason, this particular bag of pellets just will not smolder? Have ran thru close to 20 pounds of Pacific Pellets, Maple and Apple, cold smoking with 0 issues.

06-09-2017, 04:31 PM
I don't have the BGE, but I have never had that problem with pellets.

I don't microwave them, just put them in the maze and hit them with a torch for a minute until I see orange coals, and blow the flame out.

Don't have an answer for you.. Try it without microwaving them, or maybe a different brand of pellets?

06-09-2017, 06:15 PM
I don't have a BGE either, but your comment about "windy" makes me wonder whether the smoldering pellets are getting blasts of air coming through the vent. Is there a direct shot where this could happen -- air in the bottom and out a downwind vent in the top? If so maybe put the AMNPS on a metal windbreak, even some foil. Seems like kind of a long shot but I have been using the AMNPS for several years with no such issues. In fact, I usually leave it flaming after a minute or two with a torch and close the smoker. It always goes out.

06-09-2017, 06:39 PM
I have used an AMNPS in my Pitt Boss which is egg like. Bottom vent open about 1/2" AMNPS on TOP of charcoal grate, not below (no direct breeze). Drip pan with ice/water several inches above AMNPS on CGS spider to block direct heat and keep it cool. Lid closed, top vent maybe 1/3 open.

My pellets were from A-maze-n and were dry but straight from the bag. No nuking or other prep. Light with a propane plumbers torch. Get a good glow and blow out. No problems with fire flaring up or burning out.

06-09-2017, 09:34 PM
I use Cookinpellets Perfect Mix in my AMNPS, in 2 cookers. One is basically a redneck WSM22 made from a kettle top and bottom with a custom insert that holds 2 racks. No door in that insert. The AMNPS sits right at the bottom on the sweeper vent (literally on the bottom, below the charcoal grate), and goes for the ride if I open or close the one touch sweeper vent. Sometimes if I want to warm smoke, I'll add a single or two-wide snake of briquettes around the perimeter of the charcoal grate to add a touch of warmth and draft. Either way, there's a big piece of folded up foil on the charcoal grate, directly over (by a couple/few inches) the AMNPS to prevent drippage from extinguishing the maze.

The other rig is a stainless 55 gallon drum that I only use for cold smoking, basically a UDS with a single 1.5" inlet on one side, all the way at the bottom. It wears a Weber kettle lid, but not very snug, as the drum is a little banged up and only somewhat straightened out. I don't bother fixing the seal at the top, because I don't like AMNPS smoke hanging out on the food for too long, or it gets bitter. You NEED to have a little draft, and let the smoke out before it cools and collapses on itself in the smoker. In rigs the size of mine, the AMNPS adds about 10-20 degrees over the outside temperature, which is enough to create steady draft, IF it has somewhere to go to quickly exhaust.

In the redneck WSM, I rarely get a flare up, I believe it's because the vent is barely cracked open, and the ash pot and ring that are at the bottom of the kettle body act as a wind block. The times that rig has flared up have been when I had the sweeper vent open pretty far and allowed wind to blow "up her skirt".

In the cold smoker drum, I've had flare ups every time I'm using it when it's windy, UNTIL I move the AMNPS away from the intake vent, then it ALWAYS stops flaring up, and runs perfect. It's kind of a balancing act; too close to the air supply (especially when windy) and she flares up. Too far away, and she starves for oxygen and goes out, especially when I'm running a briquette snake for supplemental heat, thereby further diminishing the oxygen in the cooker from the extra combustion.

I know this has been a bit rambling, and not in an Egg, but I believe the way these mazes behave has some similar characteristics regardless of the cooker they're being used in. Hopefully by enough of us sharing info, we can all glean something from it.

Smoking Piney
06-10-2017, 07:55 AM
I cold smoke frequently in my BGE with an AMNPS maze and I've never experienced a flare-up. I keep the bottom vent wide open, no daisy wheel, plate setter in, and the dome closed.

I also don't microwave the pellets. I'll fill the maze, light it with a torch, blow it out after a few minutes, and let it rock on.

You might be getting too much air circulation with the dome propped open.

Doug Crann
06-12-2017, 10:24 AM
Appreciate the thoughts. The reason I use the gel is because I have had 0 luck lighting the pellets with a small butane powered torch. Perhaps I am just not patient enough? If I don't run the pellets thru the microwave, 35 seconds with a 5 minute rest 4 times, the pellets will smolder about half way thru the first row before going out. When I use the Egg I put it on the bottom because I stack 5 bakers cooling racks with cheese on top of the Eggs fire grate normally. When I smoke belly in the Egg I put the AMNPS under the fire grate and place a piece of foil on it the grate out of habit.
Just out of curiosity Saturday night I put a l9aded AMNPS in the Egg, put the fire grate in it with a piece of foil. Closed the intake down to about a credit card width and,went to bed. About 9 hours later I remembered it. No smoke. Picked up the foil to find it partially melted. Loaded the AMNPS again, lit it and put another piece of foil on it. 11 hours later was still smoking. Checked the foil, other than the normal oils f pil was fine.
Still have 2 pieces of belly that need more smoke. Nuked the pellets and put the AMNPS in the firebox of my Reverse Flow. Got them smoldering, shut the air intake down to just a crack open. Belly in the cook chamber. This was at 10:30 Sunday night. Checked at 4a.m., still smoking. Went to pull belly at 6a.m., no smoke. Opened Firebox to find the pellets blazing. About ready to give up...

06-12-2017, 10:36 AM
... I also don't microwave the pellets ... Me, neither. IIRC I had some once that I thought might be a little damp, so I baked them in the oven at fairly low temp for a while. But that was a one-time thing. Maybe you should experiment without nuking.

Doug Crann
06-12-2017, 10:48 AM
Me, neither. IIRC I had some once that I thought might be a little damp, so I baked them in the oven at fairly low temp for a while. But that was a one-time thing. Maybe you should experiment without nuking.

I have. One resulted in the pellets igniting, the other resulted in them going out about about half way thru the first row.
Have tried 5 different bags of pellets, 2 different brands. Has happened at least once with each bag, if not more. Thong that is very frustrating is I have cold smoked 250 pounds of cheese just this past winter, with 0 issues.

Doug Crann
06-12-2017, 10:50 AM
Have failed to mention I also have tried to "dry" the pellets in the gas grill as well....still resulted in them blazing by the time they hit the last half of the last row...

06-12-2017, 01:52 PM
Have failed to mention I also have tried to "dry" the pellets in the gas grill as well....still resulted in them blazing by the time they hit the last half of the last row...

I think you need to stop drying the pellets.