How To Use A Smoker Tube (3 Easy Steps)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

Using a smoker tube is a great way to infuse your food with delicious smoky flavors.

With over 2 years of experience in grilling, I’ve perfected the art of using smoker tubes to enhance the taste of grilled dishes. In the process, I’ve discovered 3 easy steps to using this griller effectively.

To provide you with a more insightful guide, I also did extensive research and collaborated with fellow grill masters.

In this article, I will guide you through the process of using a smoker tube ensuring that your next outdoor cooking adventure is a flavorful success.

Quick Summary

  • Steps to use a smoke tube include filling the tube with wood chips, lighting it, and letting it smoke in a closed grill.
  • Optimal wood choices for a smoke tube are hardwoods like oak, hickory, or fruit woods like apple and cherry.
  • Smoke tubes can be used for both hot and cold smoking to add flavor to various foods like meats, fish, and veggies.
  • For a hassle-free grilling experience, check out our list of quality pellet tube smokers that will surely last.

How To Use A Smoke Tube Efficiently?

smoker tube in a grill

Using a smoker tube efficiently adds depth and complexity to your grilled or smoked creations.

Here are three easy steps to maximize its efficiency:

1. Fill the Smoke Tube

To efficiently use pellet tube smokers, you must first fill the pellet tube with wood chips or wood pellets until the entire smoke tube is full.

Small wood pieces are best because you can maximize the space better that way.

Always knock the pellet tube slightly on the ground to get the wood further in. If there is still some space to fit in a few small pieces of wood, add them in.

2. Light The Tube

After filling the pellet tube, it’s time to ignite it. Make sure your wood catches fire and let it burn for 6-7 minutes. Blow the fire out and then use it in the pellet grill.

You can light it with a butane torch, Brulé torch, or large kitchen lighter, and always light the smoke tube vertically. Remember always to take safety precautions.

3. Let The Tube Smoke

When using a smoking tube, it is best to use a pellet grill that you can close, as that way, you will get the best-smoked effect. If you have an open grill, place it under the grate.

The pellet tube will automatically continue to smoke once you place it down horizontally. It is the easiest way to infuse a smoked flavor.

How Does A Smoke Tube Work?

A smoke tube is a fantastic tool whether you are trying to add smoke flavor to your meat and other foods or use it for cold smoking and curing.

A pellet smoker tube works in a pellet grill by burning the wood inside and releasing smoke.

The smoke encapsulates the food and gets absorbed as flavor. It smokes for 2-5 hours, depending on the length of the smoke tube.

What Wood Should You Use In A Smoke Tube?

handful of wood pellets

For optimal smoking results, you should use hardwoods like oak, hickory, apple, or cherry.

You can also use any wood pellets or chips like mesquite, and pecan among others.

Avoid softwoods such as pinе or cеdar, as thеy can rеlеasе rеsinous, unplеasant flavors and potеntially harmful substancеs.

Hardwoods burn clеanly and еvеnly, making thеm idеal for smoking meat.

Ideally, you would want smaller wood chips that will easily fit into the smoke tube and allow maximum space usage.

If you have larger pellets, it is recommended that you first cut them up to fit more efficiently into the smoke tube.

Rеmеmbеr, thе typе of wood you sеlеct significantly influеncеs thе tastе of your smokеd dishеs. Thеrеforе, choosе wisеly basеd on your flavor prеfеrеncеs and thе food you'rе prеparing.

How To Use Smoke Tubes For Hot Smoking?

To use smoke tubes for hot smoking: 

  1. First, fill the smoke tube with your wood chips, light it vertically, and let the flames burn for at least 6-7 minutes, or longer if necessary. This will depend on the wind and the type of wood chips.
  2. After letting the flames burn for several minutes and you are sure it is burning correctly, blow the fire out.
  3. Then place it horizontally on your pellet grill. You are now ready to add your food. 

You would typically use this method to add a smoked flavor to your barbeque meats, chicken, fish, and veggies.

How To Use Smoke Tubes For Cold Smoking?

smoker tube lighting

A smoke tube for cold smoking works similarly to the hot smoke method with a slight difference.

After you have filled the pellet tube with wood, light it vertically. Let the flames burn for around 6-7 minutes, or up to 10 if needed.

After leaving the flame to burn, blow it out and place it horizontally on the gas grill.

Now here is where it differs from hot smoking – you have to close the lid and let it be for a couple of minutes to produce smoke.

When you notice that it is smoking, you can put your food on the grill and close the lid again.

The pellet tube will smoke for around 2-5 hours, depending on the size, type, wood, and environment.

Cold smoking is incredible for your fish and cheeses or any other food that you can cold smoke.

Related Articles:

What Foods Can You Smoke With A Smoke Tube?

grilling meat with a smoker tube

A smoke tube can be used for many types of food options. You can practically smoke anything you desire.

You can smoke foods like meats and chicken, bacon, cheeses, corn, fish, nuts, and tomatoes with a smoke tube.

You can smoke salmon using a smoke tube for cold and hot smoke [1].

The longer you leave the food to burn in the pellet tube smoker, the better the smoke flavor you will get.

“Happiness is best served slow-smoked and sauced.”- Tony Roma, Top Chain Restaurateur [2]

How To Prevent A Smoke Tube From Dying?

To prevent a smoke tube from extinguishing prematurely, it is crucial to ensure a steady oxygen supply.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Place the tube in a well-ventilated area to maintain a consistent airflow.  You can raise your chimney cap to increase the airflow and, if needed, fan it slightly to help with the burning.
  2. Additionally, choose appropriate fuels, such as hardwood chips or charcoal, as they burn more steadily. 
  3. Avoid using damp or wet materials, as they can smother the flame. 
  4. Regularly monitor the tube to prevent it from going out unexpectedly.

Smoke tubes are very unlikely to die out. Once you ignite it with a proper lighter torch and allow the flames to remain for 6-10 minutes, it will not die.

If the smoke dies it is probably because you did not light the tube smoker properly, or there was a lack of oxygen the chance it died out.


How do I Light a Smoker Tube?

You can light a smoker tube, using a propane torch or a lighter to ignite the pellets at one end of the tube. Let them burn for a few minutes until you see a consistent flame. Then, blow out the flame, leaving the pellets smoldering, to produce the desired smoke.

Where Should I Place the Smoker Tube in My Grill or Smoker?

You should place the smoker tube in your grill or smoker in a spot where it won't be in direct contact with the food but allows the smoke to circulate around it.

How Long Does a Smoker Tube Produce Smoke?

Generally, a properly filled smoker tube can produce smoke for 2-4 hours. The duration of smoke production depends on the size of the smoker tube and the amount of wood pellets used.

Can I Use a Smoker Tube on a Gas Grill?

You can use a smoker tube on a gas grill. They allow gas grill users to introduce smoky flavor to their dishes easily. Simply place the lit smoker tube on the grill grates and let it work its magic.

Are There Any Safety Precautions I Should Take When Using a Smoker Tube?

When using a smoker tube, handle it carefully, especially when lighting it. Use heat-resistant gloves and ensure the smoker tube is placed securely in your grill or smoker. Always follow safety guidelines for open flames and hot surfaces.

Can I Reuse the Wood Pellets in a Smoker Tube?

It's not recommended to reuse wood pellets in a smoker tube. Once they have burned and produced smoke, their flavor is largely spent. For the best results, start with fresh wood pellets for each smoking session.


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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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