What wood to use to build a hot/ cold smoker?

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Original poster
Oct 10, 2016
Hi everyone,
Quick question, what is a safe wood I can use to build a hot/cold smoker with a heat source at its base? I'm new to all this so any info helps; thanks.
it would depend on the temperatures you are trying to reach... likely most non-engineered products would work, i personally wouldn't be too concerned with regular plywood, but my first choice would be ceder since it wouldn't need any treatment or paint for weather or bug protection. pine would be my next choice because it's cheap. wood isn't going to ignite at smoking temps, but you'd obviously want to have adequate space around the heat source.
Thanks uzikaduzi. I was planning on keep the smoker at about 200 f or less so I'm guessing that would work?
Yeah, you'll be fine with most wood products... I would avoid treated lumber but honestly I doubt there would be risk unless the meat physically came in contact with it or it ignited... I'm keeping an eye on Craigslist list for free cider fencing slats as we speak... it's funny I would see them frequently when I didn't have a use in mind.
Yeah tell me about it. That seems to be the case with everything. Thanks again for the info.
Two thoughts come to me - NO treated wood, NO imported plywood -----

I would NOT use treated wood.

You do not KNOW if it's ok or not, and in a smoking chamber, with minimum draft and the same smoke hanging around the meat inside that enclosure bothers me.

And understand, I am not afraid of treated wood of any type like some are.

Also, treated is not necessary just because it's outside.

Untreated wood can last for yearssss,  Especially if not exposed to termites (Above ground a bit) or like exposed to constant moisture, in a hot VERY humid climate, in total shade.

I bet you can find hundreds of cobbled together OLD smokers in Kentucky or wherever countryside like.

If I used plywood, I would make sure it was USA made, not imported, as much is, especially at Big Box stores.

The chances of somekinda weird adhesive or chemicals used in it's manufacture, then "offgassing" around your meat is VERY possible if imported.

WAY less in USA products.

You can look into it, it's not just my opinion.

Sounds like a great project !!  Enjoy !!              

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Hello marc,
Treated wood does scare me actually, id rather just go with the all natural stuff. Right now im thinking cedar sounds like a good idea and US wood sounds good too. Thanks for the info; much appreciated.
Yes, i just want to make a small one for small batches of meat and fish but if i can get away with an actual fire/wood heat source that i can put at the bottom of the smoker in a clay pot or something id rather do that; assuming that would work and wouldnt ruin the meat in some way?
Ya, cool.

I just meant, electric only makes overall end result sense if a smaller volume smoker.

Sounds like you're on the right track.

The pot idea is something to experiment with.

Make sure you know about the "Mailbox mod" to provide cold smoke (NO heat, that's elective, and a separate source if you want it.).

A new version of the old remote fire w underground tunnel idea.

AND using AMNPS.                       Marc
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In simple terms, the "Mailbox mod" is attaching a commonly available rural style mailbox to the smoker w 3" AL flex, solid pipe, angles, etc., to act a a smoke source.

Could be 1' away, could be 10'.

Smoke is most commonly provided using AMNPS 5" x 8" tray w pellets in mailbox.

So that gives you a "cold smoke" like for cheese in your smoker chamber.

If you want to "hot smoke" anything, Then you ALSO turn on a heat source in the chamber, as usual.

Main advantage of the mod is - extended times between having to re fill smoke fuel, (many say up to like 10 hours) and ability to cooler or cold smoke if desired, because the smoke amount does not depend on enough heat in the smoking chamber.

It kinda is a modern, and much more compact  takoff of the oldddd remote fire w underground duct to smoking chamber idea.

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