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soldering iron and cold smoking

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by daveomak, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have read several posts where a soldering iron and tin can were used to produce smoke for cold smoking.

    Wish I had thought of that!

    I have several pictures in my head as to how that might work.

    Would the inventor of that "cool tool" post some pics as to how to set it up? Would definitely appreciate a starting point for this project. No need of re-inventing the wheel.

    One reason I asked, curiosity. I picked up one of those "mammoth" soldering irons, at a pawn shop, a few years back. I used it for a few projects and now it is sitting idle in my shop. All the smoked cheese posts, paprika, etc. are definitely on my "to do" list after learning about the "iron technique".

    Thanks, Dave
  2. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Can't help you with pictures but all the one's I saw used a pencil soldering iron, one of those 15-25 watters, poked through the side of a tin can with the wood above it.  If your monstrous soldering iron is one of the old type that was intended for plumbing and electrical work (knob and tube soldering), heavy duty work, you might burn up your wood before you got the smoke you wanted.  Just my observation.
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the tip. You're right on. It's an old iron about 1" in diameter. I will scrap that idea and use a small iron.

    This solder-iron concept opens up a whole new world to smoking delicate foods.
  4. jsdspif

    jsdspif Meat Mopper

          For mine I bought a low wattage one from harborfreight (orange handle , maybe 30 watts ? ) drilled a hole in a cleaned out soup can on the side near the bottom about the same size of the barrel of the soldering iron . Then I took out the screw that holds the tip of the iron , put the iron into the hole and then put the screw back in and that prevented the iron from falling out of the can ( or the can falling off the iron , if you want to look at it that way ) I think it was a condensed soup , I used it because the metal ring of a canning jar ( smaller jar  ) fit on it just right when I stretched aluminum foil over the top of it . Then I  throw in a handful or so of chips , stretch foil over the top , put the canning jar ring on ( I'm not sure if that's the correct term , the part that screws on the jar to hold the lid on ) , poke some holes in the foil , and place it in my smoker as close to upright as I can get it ( in my smoker I have to have it slightly tilted ) and plug it in . I used mine for cheese I'd leave it plugged in for an hour and then I would unplug it and wait another hour and then remove the cheese . Mine worked fine . Just keep the handle as low or lower than the bottom of the can , if it was higher than that I think the handle would probably melt . The can gets pretty hot so I never reloaded mine . I never had the need I suppose , because the method I used and the timing made it the way I liked it . It's a pretty cheap way of doing things .

          I started with a new iron that I put in the smoker and plugged it in (the iron ) for an hour or so just to burn off any residual stuff that may be on it (mainly oils or whatever ) and after I drilled a hole in the can I baked it for an hour or so at 275 just to heat off any residue or whatever . I'm sure someone may say something about toxic things coming off the iron itself but I figure if you use it to solder up a circuit board or something you would be exposed to it's hot tip so I never really thought of that until now .

       One last thing to note , the top of the can where the lid was removed could be sharp , so if you are washing out the can don't put your hand inside it trying to clean it without doing something with the sharp edge . I actually think if you rinse it really well as soon as you have dumped the soup out , it wouldn't need to be washed because you're baking it anyways .
  5. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Seems like a great ideal, I never thought of smoking, in that manner......Thanks SB
  6. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here's a video on Youtube

    Kinda Cool!

  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now that method of cold smoking is kinda out of style to say. Now days there are many products on sale around here and other places too. Try the a-maze-n smoking product on TJohnson signature and you will see wome of the newest. 
  8. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Nonetheless, it still works.
  9. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is another variation on this where you install a light bulb in the side of a coffee can. Then get some screen mesh (like window screen or screen door), drape it down into the  can so the screen is contacting the top 1/3 or so of the bulb. (Think of putting a 12x12 piece of screen flat on top of coffee can and then pushing down in the center)

    Then fill your the top part of the can/screen with your wood chips, and plug in your light. The only thing you have to do is keep an eye on it every once in a while to make sure the element in the bulb doesn't burn out.
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great ideas and points. I originally had concerns of the chips flaring up and bursting into flames.

    The u-tube can lid closed and foil covering the lid would put an end to that problem.

    OK. Now everybody imagine smoked dried onions and dried garlic. Smokey mashed taters w/onions & garllic! Smokey onion/garllic dip! On smoked pepperjack triscuits!

    This is going to happen, seriously.
  11. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Dave, I'm not sure how cold it is their where you're at, but if cool enough  you can get away with a couple briquettes in a can with some wood chips or dust on top. An uninsulated smoker will also help keep the heat down and indirect smoke is even better.

    Here's a cardboard indirect smoker I built for an ice cream smoke last year

  12. o0infidel0o

    o0infidel0o Fire Starter

    I wanted to experiment with cold-smoking cheese this weekend, however my old Big Chief is too hot, and the new Traeger is entirely too hot. I found this thread and gave it a whirl. I put the can/soldering iron contraption with alder pellets in the bottom of the Big Chief smoker and used one small brick of medium cheddar. It smoked for about two and a half hours before I decided it was good enough...or just wanted to shove some cheese in my face. Either way, I shut down the contraption and removed the cheese. Turned out pretty good. Should have let it sit for a few days...but my stomach said otherwise.

    While smoking, the internal temperature of the Big Chief never got over 75 degrees. Unfortunately, the brand new soldering iron didn't like the idea and shot craps. It wouldn't turn back on. I thought the idea was pretty cool, and it served its intended purpose...if only for a brief couple hours. Kept me entertained for a while. [​IMG]
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Did you tear apart the soldering iron to find out where it died? Just curious?

    Could you have done something different that the iron would have lived longer?

    If you figure it will always be a one-shot-wonder, 20-30 bricks of cheese would make it worth while, considering the cost of smoked cheese in the store.

    Vacuum pack and prepare for Christmas gifts.
  14. xjcamaro

    xjcamaro Smoking Fanatic

    I have used the tin can/soldering iron method for years with the same iron. Its on of those pencil irons but works great! I use the wood chips and i can pack the can full and let it smoke for 4+ hours. Its always worked for me so i dont try to fix what isnt broke. And its simple enough to use, dump some chips in a can, stick the iron in, and plug it in. Perfect. Here is one smoke i did that shows the can method.

  15. o0infidel0o

    o0infidel0o Fire Starter

    I pulled the soldering iron apart, didn't see anything out of the ordinary that would have kept it from working. Inside is some white material, which I assume would be some sort of insulation. That insulation had a crack in it and small pieces was falling out. It was only $15.00 from Ace Hardware, so I wasn't too concerned about it. Later in the day, I picked up a 1000W variable temperature hotplate, and used a pie pan of pellets shoved off in one corner of my Traeger to smoke six or eight chunks of cheese for a neighbor. We're still experimenting.

    Yesterday, I ordered the cold-smoke gizmo from the A-Maz-N Products website...once it arrives, I'll be giving that a whirl and see how it turns out. [​IMG]

    As far as doing anything different to help it live longer, I would be guessing something rated higher would've survived better. The one I used was rated at 25W and 750 degrees @ 110V. I could have used the heavier duty one and probably would have been ok. It is rated at 80W and 900 degrees @ 110V. However, I don't know if the 900 degree tip would heat the pellets to the point they flame up.
  16. johnyd

    johnyd Smoke Blower

    I had a "melt down ' on my soldering iron when I got too keen and had it sitting too deep into the can, I now wrap a double layer of Ali foil around the plastic handle section and smooth it down onto the shank of the iron, and try to only use the tip section inside the can.

    I use a 60 W iron
  17. smokinsteve

    smokinsteve Fire Starter

  18. I don't quite understand how cold smoking works but in my mind it would work
  19. xjcamaro

    xjcamaro Smoking Fanatic

    All that cold smoking does is apply the smoke to the food without cooking it or applying heat. You would use this for cheese where you dont want heat because it would melt the cheese, and cheees doesnt need cooked. And bacon, due to it being cured, and your going to cook it before you eat it, you can cold smoke it for a long time without having to worry about heat and getting it too warm.  The tin can method produces the smoke without barely any heat (hence, cold smoke).
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  20. sunman76

    sunman76 Master of the Pit

    LoL I did this last night to try smoking some cheese.  I used a coke can and cut a door like a little smoker in the side of it

    poked about four holes in the opposite end you drink from and put the soldering iron into the hole you drink from.

    put some apple wood chips in it shut the little door and got after it[​IMG]