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Building a Small Smokehouse

The smokehouse described here is suitable for smoking small quantities of meat safely and economically.


  • (2) 55 gallon steel drums free of oil, grease and dirt
  • (6) Joints of stove pipe and 1 elbow, 6" diameter; black iron or galvanized or
  • (6) Joints of clay tile, 6", and 1 quarter bend joint (tile is preferred)
  • (2) Steel rods " x 3'
  • (1) Piece of sheet metal or metal roofing approximately 3' x 3', or use ends cut from steel drums
  • (6) 1" x 6" boards 3' long for smokehouse cover (cypress preferred)

Directions for Making

Use an old metal drum or tub 14"-16" high or cut a section from the drum to make a firebox. Set up the smokehouse as shown on the reverse side of this sheet and be sure that the tile or stove pipe smokestack is covered with at least two inches of dirt. The bottom of the smokehouse drum should be packed with dirt around the outside.

It is desirable to clean the smokehouse drum free of rust and paint it with an Epoxy resin base paint which is resistant to acids, alkalies, fats, moisture and high temperatures. Drums properly painted with this type ofpaint will last longer, clean easier and furnish cleaner smoked meat.

Directions for Smoking

Build a fire in the firebox with non-resinous dry wood. After the wood has burned down to red coals, put on a few pieces of green hardwood or hardwood sawdust. If green wood is not available, use semi-dry wood or hardwood sawdust.

Hang pieces of meat in the drum, 6 to 8 inches apart. Put cover on firebox and place wood cover on top of drum, weighting it down with a stone. Keep temperature in the drum below 140-150F. If there is not enough draft, raise firebox cover at the back. Smoke meat until it is a bright nut brown color. This may take several hours or most of the day, depending on the heat of the firebox and the outside temperature.

After this process, the product should be smoked, not cooked. The internal temperature of a smoked meat product is in the 140 range. Smoked products are NOT fully cooked and ready to eat. Remember: Keep wood or sawdust smoldering instead of burning. Use only non-resinous wood or sawdust. Never smoke meat until after it has hung long enough to be dry on the outside. Wet meat does not smoke properly.

Never use kerosene, gasoline or oil to start a fire.

Reprinted from UF/IFAS Document AS 14, First printed, October, 1980. Reviewed and reprinted June, 1997.

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