A-Maze-n Tube and Maze Smokers


The item(s) contained in this review were purchased by The Naked Whiz website, using funds sourced from reader donations and web site advertising. No considerations, financial or otherwise, were given to or received from the manufacturer.


Introduction
As we write this article, it is October and fall weather is fast approaching. As the temperatures drop and the the leaves begin to turn color, thoughts turn to cold smoking cheese. We wrote an article Cold Smoking Cheese quite some time ago in which we showed how to use a few briquettes and wood chunks sliced into little slabs to cold smoke cheese. We also published an article about using paint can and some dryer duct to make a smoke generator. We've always been curious about these smoker tubes and mazes, so we finally decided to buy a couple and see how well they function. The two products we will be looking at are a 6-inch smoking tube and a 5" x 8" smoking maze from A-Maze-N Smoking Products.


Specifications and Features
Here are some specifications for the two devices:

The Smoker Tube

The Smoker Maze


The Smoker Tube
First we'll have a look at the A-Maze-N smoking tube. They have tubes in different sizes including tubes that are adjustable in size. We picked the 6-inch tube since we didn't need longer than 2 hours of smoke time. We also chose a bundle that included the 6-inch smoking tube, a small bottle of starter gel, and their Pitmaster's Choice (Hickory/Cherry/Maple) Pellets.

Fuel: The smoking tube uses wood pellets. A-Maze-N sells pellets, but any pellets can be used. Included in our bundle was 12 ounces of their Pitmaster's Choice (Hickory/Cherry/Maple) Pellets. A-Maze-N notes that cherry pellets may be hard to keep burning and they recommend that you mix cherry pellets with hickory, maple or oak pellets.

Fill: Fill to within one inch of the top of the tube.

Lighting: With the tube lying on a horizontal surface, use a propane torch on low to light the pellets through the open end for about 45 seconds. A small flame should appear. Allow the flame to burn for 10 minutes then gently blow out the flame.

Optionally, you may also squeeze a generous amount of gelled alcohol onto the pellets through the open end and light with a match.

Burn Time: Our first smoking session with no ice lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. Our second session with the ice tray lasted 3 hours and 15 minutes, presumably because the pellets burned more slowly in the cooler air.

Cooker Temperature: In our first smoking session with no ice, the temperature climbed from 60°F to 135°F. It remained below 80°F for only 23 minutes. In our second smoking session with the ice tray, the temperature stayed between 60°F and 72°F.


Smoking With The Smoker Tube
After our first smoking session with the Smoker Tube and seeing how hot the cooker got, we decided to do two sessions, one without a tray of ice and one with a tray of ice. For both sessions, the tube was filled and ignited per the manufacturer's recommendations. Once adequately burning, the Smoker Tube was placed in the bottom of a medium Big Green Egg Cooker.

Smoking Without An Ice Tray: For this session, the temperature was measured at the normal grid level.


Smoking With An Ice Tray: For this session, the temperature was measured at the raised grid level since the ice tray occupied the normal grid level. As for an ice tray, we took a 9x13 foil pan, filled it with ice and then added water and froze it into a solid block of ice. While it did keep the temperature down, there was so little draft that smoke couldn't escape out the top of the cooker. Smoke poured out the bottom vent instead. However, looking down into the top vent, we could see smoke swirling around in the dome of the cooker.


The Smoker Maze
We broke down and decided to try one of their smoking mazes in addition to the tube. They have two types of smoking mazes. The 5" x 8" maze that we chose can use either pellets or sawdust for fuel. Their 6" x 6" maze uses only sawdust. Included in the box was the maze and a little over a pound of pellets. Nowhere does it specify the type of pellets included since it says on the box that pellets aren't included.

Fuel: The smoking maze uses wood pellets or sawdust. A-Maze-N sells pellets, but any pellets can be used. Included in our bundle was 1 pound of pellets. The packaging doesn't state what type of wood pellets they are. A-Maze-N notes that cherry pellets may be hard to keep burning and they recommend that you mix cherry pellets with hickory, maple or oak pellets.

Fill: Fill with pellets or sawdust. Be sure to keep the fuel below the top of the dividers to prevent the burn from jumping from one row to the next.

Lighting: With the maze on a level surface, use a propane torch on low to light the pellets through one of the starter holes for 45 seconds. A small flame should appear. Allow this to burn for 10 minutes then gently blow out the flame.

Optionally, you can squeeze a generous amount of gelled alcohol over the pellets near the start hole and light with a match.

For more smoke, you can light the maze through both holes so that the pellets burn from both ends.

Burn Time: Although A-Maze-N advertises a 12 hour smoke time, we only got 11 hours and 24 minutes because we decided to remove a small portion of the pellets to insure that the fire didn't jump the wall of the maze. A few more pellets and we would have had 12 hours of smoke.

Cooker Temperature: For most of the time, the temperature hovered around 100°F, but about halfway through, there was a curious excursion to 140°F which lasted about an hour.


Smoking With The Smoker Maze
To test the smoker maze, we moved up to a large Big Green Egg having seen how hot the medium Egg got with just 2 hours of smoking with the tube.


As you can see in the following graph, the temperature inside the large Big Green Egg cooker stayed around 100°F for most of the time, except for that curious excursion up to 140°F which lasted about an hour. We have no idea what happened as we were asleep when it occurred. So, it seems that if you wanted to do cold smoking, the addition of a tray of ice would work pretty well as long as you monitored the smoke and had a few extra trays of ice ready as needed.


Cooker Temperatures
As we played around it became obvious to us that the size of the cooker had a huge impact on how hot the smoker tube was able to heat things up. This is obviously important for purposes of cold smoking. So, we bit the bullet and let the smoker tube run for 2 hours with no ice tray in (from smallest to largest) a BGE MiniMax, BGE Small, BGE Medium, BGE Large and Kamado Joe Big Joe. Here's the result:

Size of
Cooker
Maximum
Temperature
Degrees Above
Ambient Temperature
BGE MiniMax (See note)225.9°F152.3°F
BGE Small149.9°F75.1°F
BGE Medium135°F60°F
BGE Large116.8°F40.5°F
Kamado Joe Big Joe105.3°F23.4°F
Note:
Our first attempt at using the smoker tube in the BGE MiniMax resulted in things heating up so much, that the pellets ignited in the smoker tube sending temperatures above 350°F. We had to close the vents (contrary to the smoker tube insturctions) to throttle the airflow enough to keep the pellets from igniting. With the vents barely cracked, the cooker topped out at 136°F. With vents opened to about 1", the MiniMax hit the 225.9°F level.

Bottom line, to keep the temperature below 80°F for cold smoking cheese, you need a cooker at least as big as a BGE medium, and a tray of ice.


Cold Smoking Cheese
When we began this article our thoughts had turned to cold smoking cheese. So, we had to go there. The smoke put out by these two devices was pretty thick and white, so would it be suitable for cold smoking? Or would it prove too strong and ruin the cheese. To find out, we placed four small blocks of medium cheddar cheese and four small blocks of pepper jack cheese into our large BGE cooker along with a tray of ice. Here's what it looked like (after we had removed the first pair):


We recorded the temperature in the cooker during the entire smoke and here's how the temperatures looked:


We removed one block of each type of cheese, every 15 minutes. So the four pairs received 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes of smoke. We bagged each pair of cheese and popped them into the refrigerator to mellow. We started tasting the cheese that day and on each day thereafter for a week. The first tasting indicated that 30 minutes of smoking was plenty for our taste. By day 3, however, the 60 minute cheese was tasting pretty good.


Summary
The A-Maze-N Smoke Tube and Smoke Maze certainly are able to generate lots of smoke and for as long a time as the manufacturer states. They are suitable for cold smoking if you use a suitably large cooker such as a large Big Green Egg or larger. Even then you'll find that you need a tray of ice as these two smoking products do produce quite a bit of heat. The quality of the smoke was just about what we would expect and produced some very nice smoked cheese. So if you are looking for a smoke generating device you might give the products from A-Maze-N a look. Note that A-Maze-N appears to have recently been bought by Pit Boss Grills and this transition appears to be still a work in progress.


Availability
A-Maze-N smoker tubes can be found on Home Depot, Lowes and Wal-Mart websites and in Ace Hardware Stores.


Contact Information
Pit Boss Grills

Phone: (480) 923-9630
Web: https://www.pitboss-grills.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AMAZENSMOKE/


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