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50 gal. steel drum vs. 250 gal propane tank

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by moose8327, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. What are the pros and cons of using (2) 50 gal. steel drums (restaurant grade) vs. a 250 gal. propane tank. Obviously the cooking surface will be smaller with the drums, but is there a huge difference in heat retention? I have a million other questions, but this is a good place to start. Oh yeah, I have also already acquired the drums, but am having a difficult time finding the propane tank. Thanks for your time.

  2. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now I would look into the build section of this website or even the wiki section should answer alot of your questions. But my call on the matter is the thickness of the metal would cut down on the heat lost. You might want to contact a gas company they have to get rid of older tanks after so many years I believe.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  3. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    The difference in the thickness of the two is huge. You know how thick the drums are the propane tank would be either 3/16 or 1/4"
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  4. I don't know how thick the drums are, but I know they are not that thick. Is there anyway to line the steel drums to maintain heat? Should I continue this line of questioning in the build forum?
  5. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    This thread is in the smoker build section. I don't know what part of the country your in but I can find propane tanks down here if I look hard enough and am patient. My own personal feelings are that if I'm gonna put the time and effort into building a big smoker I want it to last as long as I can make it. I have a Lang which is 1/4" metal and I have no doubt it will be passed on when I'm dead and gone with just a little care
  6. matts

    matts Smoking Fanatic

    Like the others have said, heat retention is the big one.  Also like mentioned the LP tank is going to last forever.  Keep those drums and make UDS smokers out of them.  That is your best bet.  If your looking at making something to haul around to parties and such, definitely stick with a LP tank.

    Barrels are usually around 18 gauge (.05") or 20 gauge (.04") compared to LP tanks that are  3/16" (.1875) or 1/4" (.25). 
  7. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree, for a large capicity rig, go with a LP tank or another type of large heavy wall tank or pipe.

    The UDS route isnt a bad idea either. Ten lbs of charcoal and very little tending for 20 plus hours.

    It all depends how much you want to smoke at a time.

    I most always only use the top grate in my UDS and I can fit,

    Two whole packer briskets or 1 1/2 if they are flat and point.

    Two slabs of giant spares or maybe 4 slabs of BBacks

    Four pork shoulders

    at least three whole chickens standing

    I do have a high dome lid on mine.

    My point is, unless you are cooking a large amount of meat two drums should work.

    Everyone has there own ideas and some really want an offset or a vertical, its all about chioce.
  8. I really appreciate all of the advice. I probably will build a UDS out of the drums. My friend is slightly OCD mixed with some ADD, so trying to keep him patient is sometimes tough, but next week I am going to scour the junk yards a LP tank. We do plan on smoking large quantities of meat so that they can add a smoked meat section to the menu. The UDS will give me that extra experience while we try to find all the parts for the large smoker. Thanks again.
  9. hemi

    hemi Smoking Fanatic

    Another source for a tank is an air compressor tank.  No worrys about fumes when cutting. I would still be careful with the cutting and follow proper procedures.  We used to put alchol in ours in the winter..
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010