HOWTO Make a trashcan meat-smoker for less than $50

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20 Responses to “HOWTO Make a trashcan meat-smoker for less than $50”

  1. Icaruswing says:

    I really don’t think you need to worry about zinc oxide unless you get your smoker roaring hot, for a couple of reasons – first off your smoker just isn’t going to get hot enough, and if it did your food would be charcoal anyway. Zinc melts and starts to oxide at dangerous levels at 419.53 °C -or- 787.15 °F which is WAY hotter than you need to get your smoker to cook meat. Second – before you use your smoker you are going to want to season it – which means that are going to burn your smoker without any food in it for about 6 hours – this will give the smoker a film of tar that actually covers the interior of the smoker – this coating would burn off long before you would ever get any zinc oxide issues. Further, this coating of tar, is black, zinc oxide forms as a white crust on burned galvanized steel and as a noxious white smoke when it is being formed. the white would show up clearly against the black seasoning that will coat the smoker before you use it. I have a smoker rigged from a weber charcoal grill that I love, and have been using for over a year without any sign of zinc oxides forming, even in the areas closest to the charcoal. http://www.flickr.com/photos/riverrats/sets/72157594254309641/

  2. cessnapix says:

    We have used these trash cans for cooking turkeys, called “trash can Turkeys”. A new trash can is always “seasoned” first to burn of the galvinised layer. To do this build a campfire and place the trash can upside down in the fire for a while turning around and burning off the Zinc being careful not to over heat and turn the can red hot. We don’t use the lids for “trash can turkeys”, but for the smoker you will need to do the lid as well.

    As for the trash can turkey you need a Stainless steel rod 12″-14″ long with a welded “L” shaped peice about 6″ up from the bottom on each side of the post to hold the turkey up. Place this stake in the ground with aluminum foil layed out around this stake extending about 8″ beyond the top of the trash can, which will be the bottom. Place the turkey on the stake, the trash can upside down over the turkey. Next spread out a 5# bag of charcoal banked up around the bottom on the aluminum foil and the can and a layer on the top of the can. light the charcoal and cook for about 1.5-2 hours for a 10-12# turkey. After doing this a few time you will get the time just right. They are tasty!

  3. dmm says:

    The Food Jammers (a show on Canadian Food Network) built a smoker in an office filing cabinet so they could enjoy smoked meat sandwiches on the job.

    foodjammers.com

  4. Adam says:

    this looks pretty cool but i have to comment about the cooking-method definitions.

    true BBQ is actually more closely related to smoking in that it is done with more of an indirect heat source and requires more time (lower temperatures). but BBQ can be done with any heat source.

    grilling is, as stated, a direct application of heat and can be done with gas, electric, charcoal, or wood (or whatever other heat source one might find).

    the history channel (i think) recently had a show about this. wikipedia also discusses the issue at hand.

  5. cineguy says:

    Jeff Smith, in his 1984 (paperback) edition of The Frugal Gourmet (pp. 311-12) presents exactly the same design.

  6. 5000! says:

    That’s great and all, but you can buy a perfectly serviceable charcoal smoker for about $50. I guess if you’ve got some insatiable need to plug something in, making an electric one out of a trashcan might seem like an option.

  7. JCD says:

    Good point 5000. You can buy a decent electric one for about that price too, and I have seen one at Lowe’s for less than that.
    Building your own seems much more interesting though, especially since it’s such a simple device that even a guy like the one from the Home Depot commercial with the plunger stuck to his head could handle.

  8. Bottlekid says:

    #13 “The Food Jammers (a show on Canadian Food Network) built a smoker in an office filing cabinet so they could enjoy smoked meat sandwiches on the job.”

    Damn, I wish we got more Canadian TV programming in the US. I’ll bet Red Green made one out of an old K-car and some duct tape.

  9. MM says:

    “HOWTO Make a trashcan meat-smoker for less than $50

    “Brian figured out how to hack together a damned fine trashcan meat-smoker for less than $50:

    “So for just over $50, you can build a smoker.”

    Que?

  10. 8ww says:

    Zinc poisoning from the galvanization on the trash can anybody?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc#Zinc_toxicity

    Maybe it doesn’t get hot enough to burn off the zinc? In any case zinc doesn’t belong in cookware.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Alton Brown (of “Good Eats” fame) recommends using a terracotta pot instead.

  12. mdhatter says:

    What #1 said

    A good sized ‘disposable’ cheap briquette grill (of the sort one takes tailgating or camping) is probably just as good as a huge trash can, and only costs about 20 bucks more than the zinc-plated galvanized can.

  13. Korpo says:

    I doubt it gets hot enough to do anything to the garbage can, as the article says the temperature of the smoker was between 220F and 230F.

    Even if the temperature gets higher, how are you proposing the zinc would get from the can to the food? They don’t touch, and I’m sure zinc vaporizes at a much higher temperature than 230F.

  14. Korpo says:

    I doubt it gets hot enough to do anything to the garbage can, as the article says the temperature of the smoker was between 220F and 230F.

    Even if the temperature gets higher, how are you proposing the zinc would get from the can to the food? They don’t touch, and I’m sure zinc vaporizes at a much higher temperature than 230F.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Since traditional BBQ is made in an earthen pit, a better solution than metal would be a terra cotta pot and a terra cotta saucer as a lid.

    The clay will hold heat better than metal and radiate said heat back into the vessel which the metal won’t do as well.

    Plus, the terra cotta pot already sports a hole for drainage though which one could feed the electrical cable.

  16. Doran says:

    I’d rather go with Alton Brown’s Corrugated Vapor Colloid Applicator.

  17. csbmonkey says:

    Alton Brown did this on Good Eats using a large terracotta flower pot instead of a trash can.

    http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season7/Q/QTrans.htm

  18. cavalaxis says:

    #5 beat me to it.

    Alton Brown’s version has a much cooler name too.

  19. csbmonkey says:

    *heh* Yeah, same here CAVALAXIS. I think I was searching for the transcript while Doran was posting.

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