They are easy to make from old propane tanks, and yes, you can put a torch to a propane tank, just fill it with water first to drive out all of the explosive gas. Drain it and cut away, the odor that remains is not propane but is rather a florocarbon added to make propane have an odor. Propane explodes, odor does not. When the tank is open for a couple of weeks the odor exits. I have made many trailer mounted units, the 120 cubic foot 'stubby' horizonal ones are very good for this, horizonally mounted above the axels with a 100 pound home tank crossing it in a T fashion underneath as the fire box.
Not sure how big you want, they go from breadbox to large shed size.....What we use for smoking salmon is a homemade plywood box with a door on the front, box is the size of an oven rack, tall enough to hold 3 racks with about 10" between racks and about 18" up from the bottom to the first rack. Put a single burner hot plate and small cast iron fry pan in the bottom. Chips go in the fry pan. The door is actually 2 sections dutch door type so I can open the bottom part of the door and get to the pan to add chips without messing with the racks of fish. Works for us.
You can make a smoker out of just about anything that will contain smoke. The real question is: does your friend want ideas for a hot smoker or a cold smoker?
Cold smokers are things like smokehouses that you put meat that has already been âcuredâ (weeks in brine solution) to give them a little extra flavor. Usually done with hams, aged cheese, salted fish and the temp inside a cold smoke unit are usually below 165F and often below 65F. Cold smoking is done to flavor foods that are going to be stored for some time. Usually best to use a knowledgeable butcher to do this kind of cured /smoking for you.
Hot smoking is using heat (and smoke) to cook your food, usually done in the 165-250F range. No need to cure or brine food ahead of time cuz you are going to cook and eat it same day.
If your friend is looking for hot smoke ideas do a search online for BBQ pit plans or barbeque smoker plans, they will find all sorts of designs that will hot smoke food.
If your friend is lazy (like me) and likes things that can do multiple tasks, have them go out and get a Weber grill. You can get the old charcoal kettle grill or a new fangled gas grill and use it to smoke food. I own both and you can do an excellent job slow cooking/hot smoking food on either. The principle is the same. Use the heat source (gas or charcoal briquettes) to slowly cook your food item and add wood chips on top of the heat source to give your food that smoke touch. Lid on the grill contains the smoke. Nothing to it. You can also use the grill to actually grill food (cook with high heat searing on either side) by simply adding more briquettes or turning up the gas.
If you are really lazy (like me) you will purchase a rotisserie unit with your grill. Using this little beauty, the food cooks much more evenly and you donât need to baste you food cuz the fat dripping out of the food will baste itself. I do the thanksgiving turkey every year on the gas grill, using the rotisserie and a smoking pan. Stuff the bird cavity with a couple of sprigs of rosemary and or sage before you begin. Cook it on the rotisserie at about 225F (turn front or rear burner only onto med or low) adding chips to smoke box every 30min-1hours till bird is done (175F at breast). Frees up the inside oven and it will be the best turkey you ever had. If you want to really go crazy add a couple of strips of bacon or a few pats of butter into the bird cavity. Let the rotisserie do the rest.
Like many have said it all depends on what you want, how large of scale, and your budget. Every survival book has information on a Smoke teepee or smokehouse. They are as simple and as cheep as they come if it is a small-scale project. You can find all of the materials in a forest/wood lot.
They can be as simple as making one out of a metal trash can. Cut the bottom out. Find a old grill from a charcoal grill and modernize it so that it will fit down inside the trash can about 1 foot deep. Drill about 2 or 3 small holes in the lid. Build a coal fire, place about 3 bricks or concrete blocks in a triangle around the hot coals and place your trash can on top of the bricks. Presto you have a hot smoker.
Lots of good ideas here.
If you want to cold smoke, all you need is a container to hang the meat that will hold smoke and a fire pit about 10' away from it. Tunnel the smoke from the fire to the container either with pipe or a covered trench.
A barrel works good for the container, hang the meat or use racks for the fish.
Smokers can be made out of old refridgerators and out of old filing cabinets.
I have a hot smoker made out of 30" pipe with a fire box on the side. It's big enough to do a whole hog.
Find out if your friend wants to hot smoke or cold smoke.
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