Flamin' Smoker

I've been tinkering with my smoker set up for a couple of years now and it's just about getting to how I want it: or so I thought until today when the wood chips burst into flames!

Anyway, the partridge I was smoking seem to be OK, but what should have been a simple job became an absolute pain.

Smoked Partridge

The problems are basically my fault, the original sketches I did have a metal plate between the burner and the smoking chamber:

Smoker drawing

The burner in the filing cabinet to the left is for cold smoking

The burner set-up for hot smoking:

Smoker detail

Regrettably we failed to install the metal plate. Not only would it physically stop the flames from igniting the wood, but it would also restrict the air supply to the wood, meaning less chance of ignition. I also thought that the pebbles on a mesh shelf, which spread the smoke so successfully, would be sufficient to stop any fat dropping onto the wood. Oh, how wrong can you be? A good drip tray will be simple to install, I can do that myself, but the metal plate will have to wait until my Nephew, Mickey, can get time off from refurbishing his house to do it.

Why the apparently over elaborate set up, when you can hot smoke easily in a barrel or metal drum? It's true you can, or even a biscuit tin and a small burner. The reason I do it this way is because I smoke sausages. These have specific temperature control requirements that would be very difficult to achieve using a less controllable system.

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There are six comments

David Maradiaga

I´ve used two brands of wireless thermometers on my smokers (similar in design to yours), and both have gone bad. I´ve been told that they´re built for regular ovens wich run dry, whereas a smoker builds up a lot of humidity during the drying phase.

I hot smoke a batch of sausage in 7 hours. How long does it take you?

Comments? Suggestions?

David Maradiaga, - 17-08-’09 01:25

I don’t really know the answer to this as I haven’t had a problem (yet). I know though that the join between the sensors and cables on mine should not be immersed in water as it is not water tight.

However, I tend to dry meat in my fridge rather than as a separate phase in the smoker. I think my last lot of sausage took about 5 hours they were in 42mm pigs (hogs) casings.

It may be worth asking the question about the thermometer on one of the US based BBQ or smoking forums – the guys on those do an lot more smoking than I do and have far more experience.


Phil, (Email ) (URL) - 17-08-’09 13:16


Great site with loads of info, info I have been searching for for ages, I have a small farm where we rear our own pigs for own use our previous attempts at hams and bacon have failed miserabley however we hope that will change using info from your site, one thing I am confused about is smoking sausages and hams you say sausages must be cured first, yet I have no idea what this means or how to do it can you help, should I cold or hot smoke?? and for my hams if hot smoke will they be cooked after smoking????

Richard, - 12-05-’12 07:58

Hi Richard

Thanks for your kind comments.

The reference to curing sausage before smoking refers to adding cure #1 to them to provide safety from the spores that cause botulism – these spores love to be in warm air-less places like smokers.

In the UK it would be normal to cold smoke hams and then cook them afterwards. In the US they tend to be hot smoked and cooked at the same time.

I hope this helps.

Phil, (URL) - 15-05-’12 19:25

Well, just having a read and no disrespect but it certainly seems like an over elaborate set up. I hot smoked a 14 lb pork shoulder & 3 chickens yesterday & fed 20 people. The temp was controllable & my charcoal smoker ran at 220 f for 12 hrs with only minor adjustments every 2 hrs without any refills,& the smoker has a water pan which catches any drips and keeps food wonderfully moist . Turned up to do salmon fillets in 20 mins at the end, beautifully smoky with oak chunks, I do hot oak smoked sausages in I hour, try the weber smokey mountain , not cheap but how much is your time worth & u only buy once !!

Tim, - 03-06-’12 08:52

Hi Tim
I’m glad that you have found your WSM to be good – with practice and good meat you’ll find that you’ll need the water pan less and less. My own preference would be for an offset smoker for bbq. Whilst my smoker can produce excellent bbq, it’s not designed primarily for that; it’s for either hot, or cold smoking (although the cold smoke box has been replace with a ProQ CSG).

Items such as luncheon meats and some sausage are smoked/cooked at far lower temperatures than 225F to avoid the fat melting – 225F would ruin a 4” luncheon meat. They’ll smoke at 130F, gradually rising after a few hours to a maximum of around 170F – 180F. That’s what my smoker is designed for, it’s not really complicated, it’s only a steel box with a burner in it that copies those sold for the purpose in the US. So far it’s cost about £50!

Phil, - 10-06-’12 23:15

I'm somewhat incapacitated at present so replies may take some time. Please post urgent enquiries at the www.sausagemaking.org forum.

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