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Hello everyone, Montreal Canada - with a new cold smoking setup based on ideas here

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well I found this site the other day after ruining some trout (way too salty) and I wanted to find out why. That one was WAY too long in brine (24 hours), then 24 hours for drying in the fridge, then 18 hour smoke.  What a waste, should have been about a four hour brine at most, next time I'm going to be too shy with the salt and under do it, but 1/2 hour brine is the plan.


Well, cold smoking, or at least control of temperature independent of smoke, has been a long held ambition of mine.  I tried an aquarium pump version of a cold smoke generator, BIG MISTAKE:



I ran this thing full of chips (pre lit with a torch) for a few hours with an aquarium pump supplying air, and it billows smoke but also sputters creosote out the pipe.  A quick test smoke (1/2 hour of smoke on a piece of ham) was very bitter and bad - "sooty" would be the term I would use.


After reading here, I thought I could do one better than the "soldering iron smoker" so here is the result (brand new 20W weller used):







Sorry about the orientation on the last one there, but you get the idea.  I used muffler cement which happened to be sitting on my workbench at the time.  I burned the can out first by turning it red-hot with a torch (had some sort of sealing paint inside).  It does not fully resolve the issues of wiring, but it sure looks better than a soldering iron stuck in a can.  No worry of lead, remove the tip by unscrewing it before you do this.


Cheers everyone.

post #2 of 13

welcome1.gif to SMF!!! We're happy you found us! You've come to the right place, there are lots of great people here who love to share and help each other out!

Would you do us a favor and update your profile to include your location, Thanks!

post #3 of 13

Hello and welcome1.gifto SMF - glad you joined in the fun

post #4 of 13

Hello and welcome, that system looks interesting, and should work.  let us know how it works out.  When I smoked fish I left mine in brine in fridge for about 4-6 hours depending on size and thickness.  Courious about your next venture.  It has been a long time since I smoked fish.  I may not remember right way.  What do you use for brine?  Keep on keeping on, Steve

post #5 of 13

Hello and welcome to SMF! Nice job on the smoke generator. I use the soldering iron in a can sometimes when I'm lazy...it's inside the smoker so I don't have to look at it!

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well, the soldering can generator worked out well for the first smoke, still a little refinement needed so I can leave it in the smoker when I bring the smoker online and up to temp (275F max, electric smoker).   I smoked several chili peppers from the garden and tested a piece of cheese (3 hours over an ice bath, no significant sagging noticed, but 3 hours was a bit much as far as smokiness goes on the cheese).  I then continued to use it while bringing the smoker up to 120F for some sausages for dinner.  I ramped up the temp to 250F by the end of that 5 hour smoke, and by that time I had smoke from both the can and the smoker pan.  I noticed the wires and poor marrettes starting to sag just a little.  I tell you the salsa today made with those smoked peppers is to die for.


For fish smoking brine, I used to use kosher salt in say, 1/2 gallon of water up to a concentration of salt where a raw egg in the shell starts to want to float, then perhaps 1/2 cup of brown sugar, maybe some garlic or herbs in there.  I have in the past used a lemon zest and/or maple syrup rub prior to going into the smoker.  I forgot this last time that it was the drying time (pellicule formation) that I wanted to extend to a full 24 hours, not the brining time and the drying time.  I think that's how I ended up with a salty mess.

post #7 of 13

Cool, I am going to visit my son in Tacoma, WA next month to catch some fish.  I will be looking forward to smoking some when I get back.  That is if I catch anything.  Steve

post #8 of 13

welcome1.gif to SMF . You have come to the right place for smoking info. This site is loaded with great info just use the search bar at top of page to find what you are looking for. If you can't locate the answer just ask folks here are willing to share there knowledge. Check out  the 5 day e-course on smoking its chuck full of great info, and may help ya out. Smoking  5-Day e-Course For cold smoking the best thing I have found is the A-MAZE-N smoker you can get it here A-MAZE-N Products, LLC

post #9 of 13

Welcome to SMF welcome1.gif

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well.  Just a little bit has happened since this original thread.


1) the "float an egg" theory for brine seems to be WAY off. 


With my new smoker modifications, I smoked some trout the other week at 12% Brix (1/2 Kosher salt, 1/2 brown sugar), measured with a refractometer, 2 hours in brine - rinse with cold water, smoke at 125F for 6 hours, ramp to 135 for 3 hours.  Maple wood + apple mixed.   Wow.  Just awesome.


2) soldering iron can - not sure if it's because I took the tips off the soldering irons, or they aren't meant to be plugged in for hours and hours on end, but I went through 3 of them (burning them out) before I gave up on that idea.


3) I never liked the way the MES "controls" temperature.  I converted mine to a PID controller with an SSR controlling heating power.  It now holds temp at +/- 1 degree, even lower if I take the time to tune it properly.  I still had issues with smoke generation at low temperatures though.


4) COOLING fan - that's right, I built a little box with a large computer style fan inside (120V), that sucks the air out of the vent hole.  It has two settings (well, three if you include un-plugging it):  always on, or inverse of heating power - so if my heater is at 30% power to hold temp, my fan is at 70% power.  This has allowed me to get consistent smoke generation down as low as 125F, while still letting me heat all the way up into the high 200's.


I can't wait to find something else to smoke, but so far, the trout was awesome, and my ribs were probably about the best ever.  I used a 6-3-2-0.25 method:  Dry rub overnight, 6 hour smoke with maple + apple + oak at 125F -[basting with apple juice and olive oil every hour or so], 3 hour smoke while ramping from 125F to 150F [again with the basting], wrap in aluminum foil with apple juice and place back for 2 hours @ 200F, finish on the grill with sauce (only 15 minutes or less, just to caramelize the sauce).  There wasn't a scrap left after dinner.  My four-year-old probably ate 3 or 4 ribs, whereas he would usually not even finish one.

post #11 of 13

Here seems to be the answer as to why the egg didn't work. Saw your post and had never heard of the egg test before. Had to look it up.


interesting thread talking about it here http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=15375&sid=01faa022e49235182c0efa4b521ec186 


 "Old-time picklers couldn’t accurately measure the salt needed for making pickle brines, since the density of commercially bought salt varied from year to year. To get around this potential problem—too little or too much salt can cause pickles to spoil—many recipes recommended using 'enough salt to float an egg' in the brine. While this method yielded fermented pickles that could keep all winter, they were too salty to be eaten. Picklers had to soak the pickles in water for days to make them edible" 

post #12 of 13

Welcome to the forum from Gary in East Texas. Pretty interesting, I'm just and old charcoal and wood RF smoker I do like reading and looking at other types and method's


Gary S

post #13 of 13



Welcome to the Smoking  forum.   You’ll find great , friendly people here, all more than willing to answer any question you may have.  Just ask and you’ll get about 10 different answers—all right.  LOL.   Don’t forget to post qviews.



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