Old oil tank

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Dec 19, 2005
Beautiful Grand Rapids Michigan
My wife just mentioned that there is a free oil tank if I want it to make a smoker out of.

It was used years ago for heating oil.

Is it possible to get the oil out of there enought to be able to use this as a smoker?

Is this a good deal or is free still too expensive?
Don't know much about heating oil. We have natural or LP down this way. But I do know that down here we take old propane tanks, fill them with water and cut them open to be converted into smokers. The gas soaks into the tank, so cutting them open sounds like the 4th of July, so you need to know what you're doing converting one.

Looks to me like you could burn it out, then season it and it would be fine. But like I said, I know nothing about heating oil other than you guy's up that way use it, and we don't.
Hey buddy, i forgot you asked about that, i'll shoot ya a pic of mine, it's empty and dry, pretty solid, if that one doesn't work for ya!

BTW, you'll get a lot af naysayers against the fuel drum but i know some good ol boys down south who have cooked on em for years and never hurt nobody

Even if it were possible to make that tank 100% safe for food there are other considerations. Even if it is dead empty, since it has contained heating fuel the tank is considered hazardous waste and must be handled according to Hazmat rules and regulations.

There are those who would poo poo what I am telling you but aside from the fact that I dealt with removing one from a house I owned (expensive process) I now work in an occupation which occasionally deals with hazmat materials.

If you want that type of a smoker, last I knew a 275 gallon fuel oil tank cost under $300.00.

Best info I can offer!
If you do it, get it steam cleaned. Cut it open then sand blast the insides real good.

I had a welder cut on an old diesel tank to make it fit in my pickup. He steamed it first, then filled w/water and cut into it. I sure as heck wasn't going to do it. Vapors are dangerous.

Monty has some very good points. Also, what if you cook for someone, they get sick(due to just about anything not involved w/your cook'n) and blame you and the tank? Everyone is look'n for a free ride anymore, and they'll take it from anyone.

Good luck w/it. 99% of the time there won't ever be any problems, it's that 1% that scares the ________ outta me.
I just talked with my buddy from Duluth. Aside from the environmental issues raised here, he said that they are thin walled so rust could be an issue unless rust-proofing were applied. He said that he personally knows, and has eaton food cooked off same and aside from a minor tick the left side of his face, he's suffered no ill-effects.
Seriously, with caution taken in preparing the unit during the building phase, I don't see where any harm would come from it. I've cooked on my former propane tank for 15 years and aside from being stuffed to the gills, nobody has ever complained of being sick. I guess I'm one of those 'good ole boy's from down south' that Steve-aka- Bbq Bubba is referrin too.
About 40 years ago one of the guys I rented farm land from had me make a whole hog smoker out of one of these.

I put a stoker motor and gear box on one end and a spit was fabricated to slooowwly turn a whole hog...this was before our society became afraid of everything...He used it to cook for public gatherings and no one ever became ill eating from it...but as you know some folks are looking for a quick litigation so if you plan to use it for other than your own needs then do so with great caution.

I do remember that it consumed a large amount of charcoal
Cheech;67203 said:
My wife just mentioned that there is a free oil tank if I want it to make a smoker out of. It was used years ago for heating oil.
Is it possible to get the oil out of there enought to be able to use this as a smoker?

I know a little bit about it because heating oil is the almost the same as jet fuel. I have known a few unscrupulous operators who ran their jets and even diesel equipment on home heating oil in the past. As far as using an old oil tank for a smoker goes, I would say, "Good Luck". It's almost imposable to get the smell of jet out of anything it has been in. Perhaps high heat for a long time might make it workable but I would be scared of the health issues even after that. If you can find an old propane tank that would be a much better alternative than anything that once contained kerosene. Wide cut kerosene, Jet A and heating oil are all pretty much the same thing. Good luck,
I'll go along with that. As I mentioned earlier, I don't know squat about heating oil. Given the explanation, I would concur. And yes, an old propane tank would be much better. Have fun cutting it open. You need to fill it up with water and let it sit for a few weeks. Even at that, it will sound like the 4th of July when you go to cutting it.
Cheech, I believe that the barrel that I made Beula out of was at one time a heating oil barrel. I found it a few years after the 93 flood. I finally decided to try and use it in the spring of 98. I drilled a hole through the barrel and used a jig saw with metal cutting blade to cut the doors out. Washed it with soap and water, rinsed it a couple of times. When I found it there was just water in it, no smell of any kind of fuel. Just my story, you need to make up your own mind on what you do.
This is one of those things no one is ever going to agree on Cheech. It's just too tempting of a way to get a bunch of smoker for a little cash.

A couple of things to consider about what has been mentioned so far is that the kind of sick these types of barrels may cause won't most likely be seen that afternoon at the hog roast. Long term exposure is more the issue here IMO. These chemicals contained in these barrels actually can impregnate the metal and without expensive, very high heat "washings", will remain there. Gypsyseagod can give you a better description of this process as he has made a living in this industry before and is more aware than I of the "possibilities".

I have eaten and will continue not to be scared to eat off this type of cooker sometimes if it is what someone happens to use. However, to me, it is not worth saving a few bucks to use this type of material. For week after week cooking for my family I wouldn't do it. It's just not worth the risk IMO. YMMV.
i just happened to read this cause i do know & i care about people. bds is right. if it's had anytypeof fuel oil chemical etc in it- it's in the pores of the metal & also having been a blaster/painter for a few years, ya can blast down to "white metal". yer still not gonna get it all out. think of it like this -right on yer bag of charcoal it says carcinogen & known to cause cancer in the state of cailfornia..now my pappy inlaw has black lung from coal mines & coal dust. and we cook on this readily & weekly.... would you cook out of your piston cylinder ??? just a thought bro....
Fuel oil is a hydrocarbon and will stay in the pores of the metal, unless you do an extremely hot burn and long burn. I one of my past lives I used to clean up hazardous waste. You will never get it all out, the PPM's are probably not enough to worry about after a proper cleaning. The cost of having it cleaned and cut will out weigh (unless you know someone who can do it) the cost of a new tank. IMHO. Personnal I would do it if you can get it cleaned!
Fuel Oil? I am not afraid, that doesn't mean that I am very smart, just not afraid.

Me? I would take the tank if it were given to me for free and ready to load on my truck. Maybe if it were full of fuel I would concider a labor swap to remove the tank if it was a gravey job to get the tank out and I had a buyer for the fuel. Maybe for a freind, neighbor I would help get the tank out. But I would reccomend taking it out whole even if it meant making a hole to do it and patching back. That is why I would not do it for free. The labor cost is more than the tank is worth.

Is the result of eating food cooked in a used fuel oil tank bad for you? Most likely, there are no benifits from that is for sure. I would bet that the amount of food that you ate before the fule oil had an effect on you would be worse for you than the fuel oil.

Disclaimer. Anything you do can get you killed, including, doing nothing!
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