How to make a smoking chamber

I’ve been going to make an all-purpose smoking chamber for a long time. For five years I’ve been using «Bradley» but it stopped being good enough first of all because of the volume, secondly, when smoking you were obliged to watch the process all the time. Also, I was dissatisfied with the excessive consumption of too expensive sawdust briquettes. And the main — «Bradley» was impossible to adapt to cold smoking.

I needed an all-purpose device for hot and cold smoking, with minimum interference, no constant watching and adjustment of parameters.

I started searching for an old big refrigerator but I had to drop this idea after a test for high temperature (brought to 110C and kept for 1 hour). The filler in fridge walls is foam, similar to plastic foam, which is not suitable for high temperature, and when melting the air-tightness of fridge walls is broken. The inside plastic is also deformed by 100C.

Bad or good luck but controller module in my wine cellar with a glass door, perfect volume and utility — it was broken. Repairing works would cost a lot, almost 80% of the new wine cellar’s price. So, I spent half an hour mourning about my huge loss and decided to do its reincarnation to get a new smoking cabinet as a result.

The task was simple: minimize involvement of a man in the cabinet’s functioning; maintaining of set temperature in hot smoking and possibility of long term cold smoking with good filling of smoke throughout the volume.

All the working parts were removed from the wine cellar. The grids for products were installed. Also I drilled four holes: by 90 mm for smoke out; by 25 mm for smoke generator; two holes by 10 mm for the wires of ventilator, heater and temperature sensors.

Heater
I chose a domestic heater by 900 Watt, cost 20 Euro. It had enough power and a grid for protecting the heating element.
It was connected through the device to maintain set temperature.

For cold smoking I simply take it away.

Smoke generator

I’ve been using for more than a year a smoke generator «Smokai» produced in New Zealand. It’s a well-made device, quite economic. Filling it by 800 gr of sawdust (pellet) is enough for 8 hours of smoking. The main drawback is large amount of condensed water which is hard to fight against.
Recently I’ve purchased a device «Копти Сам» (Kopti Sam), made in Nikolaev (Ukraine).

Of course, previously I’d made massive search by countries and continents and this Ukrainian device seemed to me the most appropriate. The tube volume by 2,5 litre was supposed to provide 12−15 hours of working, according to my calculations. Also I was pleased to see there was a special exit for condensed water.

When I received this generator I was happy with its design but it was far from being good in functioning. Its functional properties vanished like hickory smoke …

The device is made correctly, the condensed water has its exit (not all condensate), however… the smoking itself stops in about 40 minutes of working. I had to burn my hands and get dirty from top to toe with soot to discover that the entry hole is blocked by sawdust because of pulling, mistakenly chosen tubes' and injector’s diameters.

I spent more than 20 hours trying to cope with «Копти Сам» but so far, I didn’t manage to make it work properly. Since it’s nearly impossible to send the device back to Ukraine I’ll try to remake it myself though it’s not the best idea, of course. By the way, 2,5 litres of sawdust burn within 6 hours of working, which is hardly economical and a direct way to poverty and hungry death as a bright final.

So to conclude, I would not recommend the smoke generator with an ambiguous name «Копти Сам, а я не буду», which can be translated as «Smoke it yourself, and my hands off». So before it’s modificated and tested I will use my proven device «Smokai».

Thermometers

I use the following thermometer

It’s convenient in use because it transmits information to your application in mobile. It’s very useful when your smoking chamber is far. There are 2 needles to control temperature on different levels. Its price 70 Euro approximately.

Ventilator

I had many options. PC coolers suited best but I dropped this idea because a ventilator working in highly aggressive environment would not last longer. So I chose a really funny device, however, quite functional. This ventilator is charged by USB. It’s possible to make any adapter, adjust a timer, simple connecting to battery, which means it’s stand-alone. There’s no need in power for smoke running in chamber. And it perfectly copes with excessive humidity. It’s made of soft plastic which is easily washable after use. And what is more important — it costs only 5 Euro.

Conclusions

Smoking cabinet seems to meet my needs completely. Volume — up to 60 kg. Cold and hot smoking. Preliminary and subsequent drying of product. A very convenient in use glass door. No need to open the cabinet all the time, letting the smoke out, to control products' color and smoke’s intensity. And the glass is easily washable.

First smoking lasted for 4 days with night breaks. I used different sawdust and pellet. Being experienced already in using Ukrainian unpredictable smoke generator, I came up to the device many times to control, however, I had to fill in the sawdust only three times. Now I’m thinking over an idea of installing web camera in front of the smoking cabinet so that I could stop running outside the house every time I need to check something. Otherwise, I may lose weight to 110 kg…

What is left is a final test. I’ll wait till Spanish summer comes with its traditional high temperatures and try to set cold smoking, placing generators of cold with air circulation in the smoking cabinet. Last summer, when it was only +30C outside, my old smoking chamber surprised me with a hot smoking fish instead of cold smoking one. Without a heating element, by the way.

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