Cold Smoker from Cocktail Shaker

Picture of Cold Smoker from Cocktail Shaker
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If you're like me, you are tall, dark and handsome, and have a thirst for bacon!   Here is a quick, easy and cheap way to generate cold smoke for makin' bacon, smoked cheese, eggs, or for smoking your own malt for brewing beer.

We like to eat good, local meat, fruit and vegetables, and we enjoy making food from "scratch," or as close to it as possible.  I've wanted to cure and smoke our own bacon for awhile, so I read a bunch of good articles on the Interweb.

I made this in about 2 hours, including photography, for about $25 total, including the pump.   If you use simpler materials (coffee can/bean can, etc), it should cost a lot less and take you less time.

The idea came from, after viewing MissBetsy's excellent Instructable on a cold smoke generator:

This is a great explanation of the venturi principle and how venturi smokers work ,and their last diagram explains why I installed the smoking-blowing pipe at the top of the smoke generator, and why it is attached to the bottom of my smoke chamber (where the bacon and cheese live).

This type of smoker is known as a venturi-type smoker, and relies on the venturi principle.

The main focus is to generate cold smoke, you don't want to cook the food, just flavor and further preserve it.  That means we want a slow burn, not a hot smoke.  Hot smoking is a different process.

Issues with Safety:  wear goggles when drilling, grinding, scraping, wiping, mincing onions, swimming, etc.  Remember: sharp things are sharp, burny things burn and cutty things will hurt you.  Be prepared, be safe, do it right, save $$$ on Emergency Room costs.

Careful with that open flame!

Do not leave the smoker unattended.  Have a fire extinguisher handy.  Only use this outside; dangers include fire risk and carbon monoxide (CO) inhalation, which leads to CO poisoning.  That is a Bad ThingTM

Wear gloves, as stainless steel edges are sharp.
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Fitchett4 months ago

I am having an issue keeping either wod chunks or pellets lit for more than 20 mins unless I feed air into it. Can you tell me how powerful your pump is?

I have drilled some small holes in the base under the chips so that as the smoke is drawn out it draws air in under the chips

streetrod5 (author)  Fitchett1 month ago

Fitchett, the pump is not very powerful (29 Gal/Hour or 1/2 Gal/Min), just a little aquarium pump off the shelf. Half the problem we have is the volume of air between chunks/pellets, half is that H2O is a byproduct of combustion. The water from combustion tends to wet the wood; so in a perfect world, you'd have airflow into the chunk/chip/pellet chamber and some kind of outlet for the moisture, and also some really dry wood.

puggirl4152 months ago

Hi there fellow meat curer and smoker. I want to build a big smoker but this small model was too cute to pass up. I could see using this to cold smoke small items in a modified terracotta pot, possibly through the top hole. Just spit balling:)

My comment is to give you a good ratio for calculating your basic meat cure. Here it is from Michael Rhulman: 2 parts kosher salt or equivalent, 1 part sugar, and 10% of their weight in curing salt (pink salt, sodium nitrite)

For example:

225 grams of salt, 75 grams of sugar =300 grams so then weigh out 30 grams of pink salt and add. (or you can use ounce measurements) This is just the basic cure, to which you might add herbs and spices depending on the flavor you want for different types of meat. I simply coat the meat with as much of the base cure as I need to cover all sides. You don't need a bunch of extra cure in the bag.

The rule of thumb for curing is about 3 days per pound of meat. So something thick that weighs one pound will take a bit longer to get the cure to the center than something that is thinner and weighs 1 lb like say the thin end of the pork belly.

After 2- 3 days I will shave off a small piece of my curing meat rinse it, dry it and fry it up to taste the saltiness of it and assess the color. If it is pinkish on the inside and tastes right I stop curing then. Otherwise it keeps going another day.

Also you probably know this but drying the meat after rinsing the cure off is essential to getting smoke to really stick to the meat. You can dry meat on a cookie rack in the fridge for 12-24 hours which works well.

Just did 4 lbs of pork belly as well as duck breast and a bunch of smoked trout. It all came out with a very subtle smokey flavor. I think I want more smoke on it so will use a couple different woods next time. Cheers

streetrod5 (author)  puggirl4151 month ago

puggirl415, that's great info, thank you for posting! My stomach is rumbling just reading about all those cuts you smoke. Terra cotta pots are a nice idea as well.

Just spreading the word:) Curing and Smoking is fascinating and tasty.
For some reason I want to learn to cold smoke and do tons of stuff like smoked cheese, butter, sugar, salt, cocktail, sauces etc. That way I can add smokey flavor without smoking directly whenever I cook.
Fitchett4 months ago

I've been able to fix the issue with it not burning long enough. Now I can get all the smoke I want for as long as I next concern is how to achieve thin blue smoke. All I can get out of this is thick white smoke

streetrod5 (author)  Fitchett1 month ago

Well, from my experience, blue smoke = oil. White smoke seems healthier, and black smoke seems bad (petroleum/tar products?)

I have your original problem. My wood chips won't stay lit for very long.

How did you fix it?

dw2830 lemonduck2 months ago

I have seen some smoke generators with a slide on the inside so the chips or pellets keep sliding to the bottom as the chips/pellets burn off. Keeps from having to keep moving the chips/pellets to where the fire is in the crucible.

Ganhaar made it!3 months ago

Thanks for the ideas. I used a recycled s/s water bottle for the flask and an old tap spindle to attach the venturi at the top. The thread on the tap spindle matched the thread on the water bottle and drilled the spindle housing out to fit the copper pipe.


Cold Smoke Generator.jpg
streetrod5 (author)  Ganhaar1 month ago

Wayne, that is badass! Thank you for sharing the image of your smoker.

MSawyer4 months ago

Besides chips and chunks, will it generate smoke fron stems and twigs ?

R.I.P. Jesse Winchester

streetrod5 (author)  MSawyer1 month ago

MSawyer, I'm guessing any dry hardwood that isn't resiny should work fine, no matter the shape. You might even have better luck, since smaller chips will get soaked with H2O from the combustion and have to be cleaned out and replaced more often.

Errol19518 months ago


I made one similar but the small pipe that you have used for the air pipe I put a smaller pipe inside so that it goes past the tee piece to create a draft like a venturi and stop the air blowing down into the wood chips. I like the style of yours looks better than mine

streetrod5 (author)  Errol19511 month ago

Errol, I think your design is pretty close to mine. There is no air blowing down onto my wood chips, just the venturi pulling smoke through the outlet. As long as yours works, bravo!

RushFan1 year ago
​This is a work of art! I can't wait to make it!
jputnam22 years ago
This is awesome, I just need someone to build it for me since I'm not allowed to touch anything with fire coming out the end which means handling a torch is completely out of the question :-)
As a displaced Seattle native whose been around I'll take those cloud covered sunny days anytime. It's my most favorite place in the world, crazy as that may sound to some.
streetrod5 (author) 2 years ago
sunshiine, yes, the bluest skies are indeed over Seattle, you just have to get above the cloud cover to see them!
sunshiine2 years ago
Your last picture is so beautiful! Nice instructable thanks for sharing. The bluest skies are in Seatlle, right? Have a splendorous day!