Picture of Recycled Parts Food Dehydrator
   During one of my many voyages traveling the internet I stumbled across food dehydrators, and thought they were cool.  It also seemed apparent that it was fairly easy to build a functional one and start drying fruits, vegetables, and jerky.  I simply had to make one.

   This Instructable is showing what I did to make a food dehydrator using only recycled materials.  The result of this was a food dehydrator that works, but looks like something out of a nuclear apocalypse (which I kind of like).

   Materials are listed in the next step, followed by the ToO(Theory of Operation), so skip to Step 3 for the start of the build! 

**This project involves using power tools, sharp edges of tins cans, heat, solder, and mains voltage electricity.  Proceed at your own risk and be smart.

Thanks for the feature!! : )
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Step 1: Materials/Tools

Picture of Materials/Tools
I used the following materials and tools to make my food dehydrator:
 * Tin cans. 
          These came from diced peaches. (MMmmm peaches..)
 * A fan.
          This was the cooling fan from a broken microwave.
 * Lightbulb.
          I used two small lightbulbs taken from broken vacuum cleaners.
 * Wires, swtiches, and solder.
          The wires and switches were taken from old vaccuum cleaners and the microwave.
 * Rivets, and a riveter.
          Not salvaged, but a rivet tool and rivets can be bought cheaply.
 * A Dremel rotary tool.
          I used this to cut parts of the plastic base to mount my switches.
 * A can opener.
          This was used to remove the tops and bottoms of the tin cans.
 * Sheet Metal sheers.
          I used an "Open-it!" contraption that I found in the kitchen, and it worked.
 * Soldering Iron.
          This was used for connecting the wires and switches.
 * A drill.
          This was used to drill holes in the tin cans so that they could be riveted together.
 * Hot glue gun.
          This was used to attatch light bulbs to the cans and cans to the base, as well as insulate wire connections.
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humxa2 months ago

are the bulbs for heat? and does this have to made out of metal can't I make one with recycled plastic?

fozzy13 (author)  humxa2 months ago
The bulbs are in fact for heat. If you are only going to use yours for fruits and vegetables it's probably not necessary however. You can use anything for the housing. I've seen them made with wood and plastic before, but they should be food grade.

Nice job!

gluvit1 year ago
Like it
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Maybe you could scrap the heating element out of a cheap toaster...
1) I think incandescent bulbs will be available for several more years. There are many industrial and business devices that use these bulbs where fluorescents or lcds are not practical such as in rough service environments where bulbs are subjected to heat(ovens), cold(refrigerators) and/or vibration.

Try contacting to see what their plans for the future are.

2) Time for a Maker to come up with a safe nichrome (or other) heating element that can be custom wound to appropriate heat output. I have a boot dryer that uses a pair of ceramic power resistors that disipate 16 watts each.
fozzy13 (author)  augur454 years ago
Thanks for the comment and information!!

I have already been thinking about a nichrome heating element desgin. : )
I have heard that over in Europe, to get around this law, they repackage incandescent bulbs as 'heat lamps", which are perfectly legal. Same bulb, new name.
fozzy13 (author)  whiteoakart4 years ago
Haha, the things we will do to get around the rules.

Thanks for the comment!!
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fozzy13 (author)  DELETED_deyb14 years ago
I'm happy to help. Good luck with your project. Thanks for the comment!!
fozzy13 (author)  DELETED_deyb14 years ago
It is to my knowledge that at some point in the next few years incandescent bulbs will not be sold anymore in an effort to reduce our(The USA's) energy consumption.
However, the bulbs I used were salvaged from old vaccuum cleaners, so that is an option. Toasters, hair dryers, electric ovens, electric grills, crock pots, and many other common appliances use heating elements that can be salvaged. The heating element often can be omitted from the design as well.

Thanks for the comment!!
sjoobbani4 years ago
If you don't have a riveter, use pipeclamps!
fozzy13 (author)  sjoobbani4 years ago
Good idea!!

Thanks for the comment!!
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fozzy13 (author)  DELETED_kage_no_akiri4 years ago
I used three switches so that I could choose to have one light bulb on or two, to regulate heat, and I used another one for the fan because I felt like I should have one. Maybe I overcomplicated it, but I like how it turned out : )..

If you decide to make one make sure to post some pictures at least!!

Thanks for the comment!!
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fozzy13 (author)  DELETED_kage_no_akiri4 years ago
Thanks!! I can't wait to see the Instructable. A rheostat with a heating element would definately be a great upgrade.

ralls19354 years ago
if you would like to build a unit that will dry a large amount check out Backwoods mag online and look through their arcvie articles the have a good one.
Very very cool.
fozzy13 (author)  HeresyOfTruth4 years ago
Thank you and thanks for the comment!!
Just a thought, but an enclosed base that allowed the use of air filters to remove any airborne particles before it finds, and sticks to, the food.

All in all another Excellent project that covers the basics to prove the theory so that larger systems can be designed and built with this as the model.
fozzy13 (author)  GrumpyOldGoat4 years ago
I did think about air filters, but it was too much work for this model, but there is room on it where I could at them at a later point.

Thanks for the comment!!
jolshefsky4 years ago
Finally: a real use for those popcorn tins I keep picking up! Too lightweight for any practical storage (aside from popcorn, everything is too heavy), and crumbs get into the cracks. But they are fairly large!
fozzy13 (author)  jolshefsky4 years ago
Yes!! Those would work well.

Thanks for the comment!!
Nice! It doesn't matter what it looks like, you made it and it works. Some folks just talk and don't make.

I like it, though it is a bit small if you pick mushrooms like we do here. They grow by the sackloads :) I guess one could scale this up using larger cans like restaurants use. They just throw them away. Good materials free for the asking.

Mine is featured on the right side of the page, I use it every season and have gotten great pleasure from it. You will, too!
fozzy13 (author)  stringstretcher4 years ago

It is a bit small, but I only assumed I would need a small one since I'm just doing this for fun and not storing anything I grew. Restaurants do use larger cans that would be great for this project.

Thanks for the comment!!
shilohjim4 years ago
This is a cool mini dehydrator.

May I suggest the book 'Dry it You'll Like it'. It explains the proper temps for dehydrating and says that a fan isn't needed. You get the thermal convection from the rising heated air. You're not trying to cook the food just dry it so very little heat is needed.
fozzy13 (author)  shilohjim4 years ago

That book sounds really cool, and I have actually seen some designs for convection-based dehydrators, even some that use the sun to generate the heat. I like the process but thought that using a fan would be a simpler way to make a functioning unit my first time around.

Thanks for the comment!!
Just saying, this sounded really gross to me at first.

You may want to reword the title to something like Food Dehydrator from Recycled Parts. I don't think anyone wants to dehydrate their recycled food. haha

But then again, I could be wrong...
fozzy13 (author)  skittlespider4 years ago
Haha, I will have to think about changing the title. I had not considered reading it that way. Even still, I asume people don't recycle their food, but hey, I won't judge.

Thanks for the comment!!
Your welcome. I'm always glad to provide a different viewpoint.
Exscaly4 years ago
Whoa! This looks so cool! Good job.
fozzy13 (author)  Exscaly4 years ago
Thank you and thanks for the comment!!
Udon4 years ago
It really looks crazy - I like it. :P.
fozzy13 (author)  Udon4 years ago
Thank you and thanks for the comment!!

I like the look of it too, even if it is unconventional.
Andsetinn4 years ago
As far as I can tell, from the drawing, the light bulbs and fan are connected in parallel although the text says series. Nice work though. :)
fozzy13 (author)  Andsetinn4 years ago
Thanks for pointing that out!! Yes, I did mean to type "parallel" instead of series. I fixed it.

Thank you, and thanks for the comment!!
dataphool4 years ago
Your wiring is rather unclear from your written description. A diagram would be helpful. There is only one way to hook it up in series, but you have not explained why you would hook up 3 switches in series, since each switch turns the device on or off. Do you just want to complicate matters?

I suspect you of excess verbiage, and excess parts. Does your device needs the motor controlled by a switch? Or could you control the fan power with a hand on the wall plug?

What is the purpose of the lights? Do they provide light, or heat? Light but no heat could be supplied more efficiently with LEDs. Heat, but no light could be supplied by a resistive heating element. I think I know what you mean, but ...
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