Apartment Rookie

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Dec 15, 2013
Orangevale, CA
Hello everyone. I have not started smoking yet. I'm still in the research phase, which lead me here. I live in an apartment with a really small backyard, but I am not allowed to have anything with an open flame (stupid CA laws), so I am planning to buy or build an electric smoker. I have a clean 55 gallon drum which I got for free and will probably end up turning that into a real simple smoker with an electrical hot plate as the heat source. Anyone had any experience with a similar plan? I am concerned about the hot plate not providing enough heat.

Jeff Mardock
Glad you joined us Jeff, :welcome1: from North Dakota!
I have no experience with a 55 gallon drum and electric, but if you use the search feature and enter "Electric UDS" there is quite a bit of info on the forums.
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but I am not allowed to have anything with an open flame (stupid CA laws),
Hi Jeff

Does this mean that all charcoal BBQs are prohibited in CA? A UDS smoker would fall into the same category as a garden BBQ I would have thought.

There are several threads that you may find interesting. You will find most of them in 


A link to one of the threads below


Good luck - They are fun to build and great to cook with.

No Wade, I live in the central valley and can use anything, look at my pics. JEFF must live in an area were they have major fire restrictions. He also lives in a apartment and that is management s decision. They might have to follow a stupid law. JEFF your drum should work, my friend in same scenario.
Welcome to the group Jeff!  This is the best place I know for sharing ideas on smoking, grilling, curing, etc.  There are plenty of friendly, knowledgeable folks who really enjoy helping one another.  Looking forward to your input here, and just ask when you need anything...someone here will surely have the answer.  As others have already mentioned, you can research "electric UDS" to get you started with that 55 gal drum project.  

Good luck!  Be sure to let us know how it turns out.

Welcome to SMF, great place to learn and share.  Here in Md it is also against the law, $250 fine, to have an open flame device on a balcony
Thank you for the feedback everyone.

I think the law is actually a county law. You have to have a certain distance from any building or fences to have an open flame if you live in an apartment or condo. I guess it makes sense. If I make a mistake, I burn down other people's homes too.
Hello and welcome from East Texas. This is a great site, lots of information and great people that are willing to throw in their two cents worth on about anything.   
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