Introduction: Smoking Cauldron

So I really want to have a Festive Halloween House this year. I have already done a few projects and while at Target getting some other items, I saw a smoke machine that I thought would add another dimension to the trick-or-treating experience.

Soooo, I went ahead and bought the smoke machine and decided I could use it to make a smoking cauldron for the front step. This one is nice because it has a remote and I can choose which trick-or-treaters get to see it function. I try hard not to scare the little ones too much and I already have some spooky decorations up!

I'm sure there is more than one way to do this and you can certainly use your own available components. So modify it as you see fit. I hope this gives you some good ideas!

Step 1: Gather the Components

The items you will need are: a smoke machine, a stand of some type, a cauldron and some piping (that will fit the smoke machine).

Basically, you are just trying to get the smoke machine to dump the smoke into the cauldron using the piping.

The items in detail:

1. Smoke machine. Buy your favorite kind! I saw one with lights...I didn't think the extra $$$ was worth it. I bought just the basic one that made smoke.

2. I was fortunate to have a plaster of paris plant stand left over from the 90's up in the attic (from Garden Ridge). At one point it was mostly brown, but it has been bumped and jostled...left out of the rain and quite possibly eaten (just a little) by some mice. It has a great weathered look! It is 20" high.

3. I also had a plastic cauldron that we have used to store Halloween stuff in for years. It is 14" in diameter. You could go bigger, but I like that it fits the stand.

4. Misc tubing. What I used was an old sink drain pipe and a flexible PVC hose. The hose is 1" black PVC. I used this drain pipe because it has a 90 degree bend (actually it is a T pipe and I had cut one part off and covered it up with duct tape. The drain pipe is 1 1/2". The 1" PVC tubing fit perfectly into the pipe. As I said, use what you have available!

5. 16 ounce plastic container. This was a takeout container that we had after buying miso soup from a Japanese Restaurant. Should be easy to find something similar. Just make sure it is flexible and you can cut it.

Tools: I used a hole saw with a 2" bit and a 1 1/2" bit. I also needed a pair of scissors.

Step 2: Prep the Pedestal

Really straight forward step. I initially toyed with the idea of getting the smoke machine inside of the pedestal. but realistically, it was too much work and too many modifications. If I ever had to replace the smoke machine, I would have to redo most of this project. It made much more sense to put the smoke machine next to the pedestal and pipe smoke into and then back out of the pedestal.

The nice thing about the pedestal I chose is that it has a hollow center. All I had to do was put a hole in one side and another in the top. The first picture shows my basic plan on how I will connect the piping.


1. I made a hole 2" in diameter and 3" above the bottom of the pedestal in one side. It does not really need to be a super neat...You just need it big enough to get your pipe in. !!!Before you drill!!! Measure your smoke machine from the middle of the smoker hole, to the bottom of the machine. In my case, it was 3". So that is is how I determined how high up the center of the hole would be.

2. I made a second hole in the middle of the top of the pedestal 1 1/2" in diameter.

3. I then fed the elbow pipe into the side hole and the black tubing went in from the top. I could then reach in and connect the two pieces.

Items to note:

*You want to have at least 1" of tubing sticking up from the hole. This will ensure the smoke goes in the cauldron and keeps the cauldron from getting bumped off of the pedestal.

**Try to make sure the piece that comes out the side of the pedestal is parallel to the ground. It will connect to the smoke machine much more easily. This is why you measure the smoke machine to know where to drill into the pedestal.

Step 3: Prep Cauldron

You will want to cut a 1 1/2" hole in the bottom of the cauldron. It should be the same size as the one that you put in the top of the pedestal. Then when you place the cauldron on the pedestal, the hose should stick into the cauldron just a little bit.

Make the diffuser:

1. Cut three triangular cutouts from the top of the 16 ounce togo container. I have tried it with more, but 3 seems to work well. They are about 1" high.

2. Place the diffuser over the hose in the bottom of the cauldron.

If you don't put a diffuser in the bottom, the smoke will just shoot straight up. In order to get a more bubbling cauldron feel, you will want to put a diffuser in place.

Step 4: Connect the Pedestal to the Smoke Machine PART 1 FAIL

Ok. To be honest, this is where I had trouble. I had thought that the pipe coming out of the pedestal would fit over the tube coming out of the smoke machine. NOPE.

If you don't care about my fail, then skip to the next step.

I thought about leaving this out. Heck, I thought about entering it into the EPIC Fail contest (which I might still do). But in the end, decided to include it to illustrate a point. In this project, you really need to use what you have available that works with the tools you have to build with. Solutions are there, you just need to think it through like a puzzle.

I was stumped, stymied, and frustrated. But I didn't give up and kept thinking about how I could make this work with what I had.

The quick rundown:

1. crap. The smoke machine doesn't fit in the is just a tad too large.

2. I know, I will use a similar sized connecting pipe and put cuts on either side so it can fit. Nope, the plastic was too hard.

3. Hmm, I can use my heat gun to soften the tube so that it will melt just a bit and fit...well, this sort of worked, but I needed it to stay in place.

4. A hose clamp, definitely a hose clamp.....nope, not a hose clamp. The tube kept sliding off anyway.

5. The trusty fallback! DUCT TAPE. The skies parted, the sun beamed down as I wrapped the connection in duct tape. Yep! It covered the tube just fine...but apparently the people who made the smoke machine coated it in some sort of teflon. The duct tape...yes DUCT Tape, which sticks to everything, did not stick to this. ARGHHHH!

6. So I contemplated a solution...using screws to hold it in place, maybe some wood block to make this vice contraption ...maybe bungie cord wrapped around the machine... sigh. This is too complicated.

7. My dog was looking at me all through this. I feel bad for him because he has been having to take lots of medication for an issue. Cute right? He is a Yellow Lab and about 1 1/2 years old. Very playful.....WAIT! HAH!.

8. He has a pill bottle that is just about the right size and he just finished that medication. Maybe that would work if I cut the bottom off???!!!?

Success, finally! On to part 2....

Step 5: Connect the Pedestal to the Smoke Machine PART 2 SUCCESS!

Once I had figured out how to connect the tube from the pedestal to the smoke machine, things got easy again.

I used a pill bottle that was about 1 1/2" in diameter and cut the end off to make a tube. It fit into the pipe coming out of the pedestal and also fit perfectly around the smoke tube coming out of the smoke machine.

With the connections in place, I put everything together.

Step 6: Finished...almost!

Give it a test!

You can also add led lights to this project. Either fixed or flashing would work nicely depending on what look you are going for. Note that the smoke coats things, so what you put in the cauldron should be somewhat resistant to humidity. You might want to put the LED in a clear ziplock bag to protect it.

But, that's it! a smoking cauldron! I also added some "bloody gauze" to cover the smoker. I liked it as it covers the smoker while still allowing air to pass through. You don't want to cover the smoke machine with anything substantial because it is producing a lot of heat. The gauze was nice because the infrared sensor still worked through the material.

Here is a link to the cauldron in action:

Good luck with your project! Check out some of my other Halloween ideas too!


But wait! There is MORE!

Step 7: A Great Addition!!!

After publishing this instructable, a member of the community brought to my attention something called an "ice chamber" which would help keep the smoke in the cauldron longer. Props for this addition go to oldsmarracin!!! I admit that I am not sure exactly what an ice chamber is, but I figure it helps cool the smoke so that it stays lower to the ground.

So, I didn't want to use dry ice due to safety reasons for trick-or-treaters but it just happened that I had 3 bottles of frozen water and a black plastic serving plate. So I quickly made what I thought would work.

Items needed:

1. (3) 1/2 liter bottles of frozen water

2. a black plastic plate just large enough to fit inside the cauldron mouth


This was really easy. I placed the three frozen water bottles around the diffuser and then put the black plastic plate on top. I ended up with the plate being about a 1/2" all the way around from the edge of the cauldron.

It worked GREAT!!! This was good before, but now it is GREAT! Thank you oldsmarracin for the idea!

Halloween Decor Contest 2015

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2015