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View Full Version : Cleaning A Smoker. Need help!



roostershooter7
04-09-2012, 04:13 PM
I've tried all of the conventional methods for cleaning my smoker and can't come up with anything that works really well.

I'm the kind of person who is obsessive about my stuff being clean when I clean it, so to leave my smoker looking like the inside of a stovepipe just isn't satisfactory for me. If I'm going to take the time to clean something I don't want it to be just 'ok' when I'm done. I want it to be completely devoid of buildup and grime.

I've chipped, scraped, and burned with a propane torch. Nothing will get all of the tar out of the inside of my smoker 'hood'.

Do any chemicals come to mind when you think about removing the creosote and tar from the inside of a smoker? I'm thinking of soaking it overnight in something to dissolve the build up. Any ideas?

BeeCurious
04-09-2012, 04:22 PM
I get pretty good results with a propane tourch... I'd try that again.

Tazcan
04-09-2012, 04:23 PM
Try alcohol, works well for tar and should work on the smoker, i am a newbee so i don't know alot but i know about tar

AmericasBeekeeper
04-09-2012, 04:26 PM
oven cleaner or Simple Green

Ryan McEachern
04-09-2012, 04:29 PM
Although a squeaky clean smoker isn't on my list of priorities, I do have quite a bit of experience with cleaning tar off of stainless steel. The product you are looking for is called "smokehouse cleaner". We use it to get all the tar out of our stainless steel smokehouses. A large chemical supplier should be able to get it for you. You will need to rinse well after cleaning. It is very alkaline and you will need to wear gloves. A little goes a long way, it gets diluted with water.

Andrew Dewey
04-09-2012, 05:30 PM
I've found a wire brush helps, but is not a complete solution in and of itself.

Ben Brewcat
04-09-2012, 05:39 PM
If a weed burner doesn't get it clean enough, you need to spend some more time beekeeping or just buy new each year ;).

Joseph Clemens
04-09-2012, 06:07 PM
It sounds to me like you're gonna need a continuous stock/supply of "clean", new smokers.

My present smoker is more than twenty years old - it's primarily SS. I don't ever really clean it, other than dumping out the ashes and ramming a wooden pole into the smoke port, while it is still soft and warm to keep the creosote from solidifying and closing off the port. I did replace the hinge-pin rivet with a SS bolt, and the bottom grate with a piece of heavy gauge SS formed to imitate the form and function of the old grate. The outside of the can is starting to look quite a bit beat-up. I am thinking of getting a second smoker, fairly soon, as backup, in case/when this old one finally quits on me - if it ever does. Clean-up, I really don't have enough time for that.

doc25
04-09-2012, 07:30 PM
I would try alcohol. Drink enough and you really won't care how dirty the smoker is!

sqkcrk
04-09-2012, 07:36 PM
I'm sorry. But, yes, as you say in the title, you do need help. Smokers work best if they aren't cleaned. But I have never washed my 2005 F-450 since I bought it. So that tells you something about me.

I'm sure you will find a more satisfactory answer. I just wanted to contribute. You could buy a bronze one.

Keth Comollo
04-09-2012, 07:59 PM
Cleaning a smoker? NO need to do that. They burn cooler with all that stuff inside I think!!

Steven Ogborn
04-09-2012, 08:21 PM
I haven't "cleaned" mine. It's a smoker, not a platter. But, when it gets too sticky in the lid, and the top
gets hard to open or close, I get a really hot fire going in it by pumping it alot until the sticky creoste
stuff in the lid catches fire. After the sticky stuff burns, it gets crusty and can be chipped out with my
hive tool or knife. Then the lid fits again. This might not be good for the barrel of the smoker but, it
makes the lid work again.

Benthic
04-09-2012, 08:54 PM
I use a product, manufactured by Dawn (the dish soap company), called Power Dissolve to periodically clean the inside of my BBQ grill. That might work. You should be able to find it at WalMart, or a grocery store.

Brian

odfrank
04-09-2012, 09:44 PM
>I'm the kind of person who is obsessive about my stuff being clean when I clean it

It's a smoker.

You need a psychiatrist.

roostershooter7
04-09-2012, 10:08 PM
>I'm the kind of person who is obsessive about my stuff being clean when I clean it

It's a smoker.

You need a psychiatrist.

Doubt it. I just take care of my stuff. :D

I was raised to not start a job if you weren't going to see it to the end. In my opinion ... why half do it and simply knock all of the junk out and call it quits when I'll be right back to square one next week?

Do it right one time, and I might only have to clean it once a year instead of once a month! See my point?

If I spend a little more time on doing it right .... I'll cut down on my down time.

I never have been a 'duct tape' type of person. I fix it until it's done. I don't do patch jobs. :)

Too many lazy people want to take the short and easy way out, but they just end up spending MORE time fixing instead of working.

Paul McCarty
04-09-2012, 10:17 PM
My smoker is held together with wire and old nuts and bolts. It looks like the tar baby. If I clean it it will fall apart.

roostershooter7
04-09-2012, 10:18 PM
oven cleaner or Simple Green



I'm not sure that would work. The way oven cleaner works is by transforming the oils in food products to soap! If there aren't oils in the smoker debris then the oven cleaner wouldn't work.

Granted, I don't have to have a shiny new smoker. Just to clarify. I just want to get all of the debris out of the smoker, and leave a smooth surface. The reason your smoker builds up creosote so fast is because you start to build up layers for it to 'grab' onto. Same concept as a chimney. You don't get your chimney squeaky clean. You just remove the surfactants that the creosote can bond with.

That's what I'm looking to do. Clean my smoker and make it devoid of anything that creosote can bond with. That way I can use it for a year without having to clean it every week. That takes 10 minutes out of your time. Why not let it soak overnight and spray it off, and be done with it? Makes sense to me.

From a monetary standpoint. Why spend $1 in propane every time I clean my smoker weekly when I can spend $3 to clean it for the year with the occasional 'knock out' of debris that plugs the opening?

berkshire bee
04-09-2012, 10:23 PM
"I'm the kind of person who is obsessive about my stuff being clean when I clean it, so to leave my smoker looking like the inside of a stovepipe just isn't satisfactory for me."

The problem is, that it IS the inside of a stovepipe.

Ben Brewcat
04-10-2012, 09:38 AM
As noted above, a little creosote helps the lid seal. I only clean when it gets hard to open and close the lid from gunk buildup. But hey it's his smoker, if he wants it to shine I don't see any harm. Let it bee.

Katharina
04-10-2012, 10:09 AM
You did pick the wrong hobby, because nothing will ever be clean as new in beekeeping. I do clean my equipment when needed, but never get it as new. Perhaps the hive tool looks like new after cleaning it with rubbing alcohol. I do clean the smoker with a brass bush used for removing paint out of paintbrushes. It gets most of it without scratching up the stainless steel. I never try to get it back to it's original state, just as a maintenance of reducing the buildup. I'm sure there are strong chemicals out there removing all of it, but do you really want to use those? They are rather toxic to you and the environment, and are better to be used when really needed. You can try baking soda and see if it grabs the tar while rubbing on it. I personally prefer to go for a hike with the dogs instead of cleaning a smoker. :)

Intheswamp
04-10-2012, 04:50 PM
<snip>
Too many lazy people want to take the short and easy way out, but they just end up spending MORE time fixing instead of working.

...or spend MORE time cleaning instead of working. ;)

But, it's your smoker. What you need is a very hot fire in it...much similar to folks who <shudder> "burn out" their chimneys. Pick you up a MAPP torch...big brother to the propane torch...they get a LOT hotter than propane, though.

Or...you could simply buy new smokers and sent me your old ones!!! :D

Best wishes,
Ed

willyC
04-10-2012, 06:33 PM
I shudder to think about when you encounter propolis and burr comb....
And, yup I burn it out as any proper blacksmith/beekeep would:)

Barry Digman
04-10-2012, 07:16 PM
I clean my hive tools with the propane torch I use to light the smoker. I figure it does a fair job of sterilizing, which may help prevent the spread of disease. The torch makes it look brand spanking new. And yes, I've picked it up before it cooled off. The smoker just gets shaken out.

broodhead
04-10-2012, 07:19 PM
Propane torch on the lid only, clean the lid and she will burn better.

willyC
04-10-2012, 07:36 PM
. And yes, I've picked it up before it cooled off.

As a blacksmith, I can empathize.

Ravenseye
04-10-2012, 08:05 PM
Ugggh. Used a propane torch to clean a hive tool on Saturday. Burned off the junk and tossed it on the work bench. Popped the top on a beer and walked by the bench. Without thinking, I grabbed the nice clean hive tool. I broke the giant blister on my finger today. OWWWWW, that hurt.

However, I do use a torch to clean my smoker which often burns cedar chips. The hot torch gets the junk soft enough to scrape off. The rest stays in the smoker and I'm happy that it's there. It's a smoker, not a surgical tool.

Undertaker
04-10-2012, 09:05 PM
I would try alcohol. Drink enough and you really won't care how dirty the smoker is!


I'm with Doc on this one....

pwadstein
04-11-2012, 01:27 AM
I'm with Doc on this one....

have u try to leave it in cold water over night?
next morning just clean it whit your hive tool..
easy and no chemicals...;)

RogerCrum
04-11-2012, 02:53 AM
Rooster, mix up a 10% solution of sodium hydroxide and let the stainless steel smoker soak in it overnight. Use chemical resistant gloves, a plastic apron and wear safety goggles. Rinse well and keep solution away from children.

I managed a commercial chemical tanker cleanout facility and that is what we used to clean paints, resins, truck bed liner coatings, undercoat, can liner, undercoat, etc.we would always get the insides of the tankers 100% clean.

WWW
04-11-2012, 03:41 AM
I have never cleaned my smoker other than to pick off the large flakes that form under the funnel lid, if I felt the need for it to be spotless each time that I used it then I would have to find another hobby, each time that I open my smoker to light it and see and smell the tar and creosote inside a feeling of joy comes over me with memories of my Dad taking care of his bees years ago, quite frankly I like my smoker just the way it is.

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
04-11-2012, 05:24 AM
How about a sand blaster, or a steam ginny??

Better yet, just hire Serve Pro to clean it. They specialize in fire cleanup and restoration.

I scrape mine with a hive tool, and it works fine.

cchoganjr

RickR
04-11-2012, 05:48 AM
If you insist on cleaning the smoker you might try a fireplace glass cleaner. I use a product that I get from Lowes called IMPERIAL 22 Oz. Clear Flame Glass Cleaner IMPERIAL Clear Flame Glass Cleaner (http://www.lowes.com/pd_63687-85334-CH0127_0__?catalogId=10051&productId=1191235&UserSearch=fireplace+glass+cleaner&Ntt=fireplace+glass+cleaner&N=0&langId=-1&storeId=10151&rpp=48) to clean the glass doors on our fireplace insert. I does an excellent job of removing soot and creosote from the glass, and it hasn't harmed the metal frame around the glass. It's is a very strong alkali solution like lye so be very careful if you use it.

StevenG
04-11-2012, 10:27 AM
I've had mine six years, during the season it gets used weekly. Only cleaning is to occasionally clean the creosote off the top of the barrel and the inside of the lid so it will close again. It gives me no problems, no difficulties. I'd rather spend the time with the bees, in the shop, or with family than cleaning the smoker.
Regards,
Steven

Michael Bush
04-13-2012, 12:40 PM
How about acceptance? I would use the torch when there is too much...

Jeffrey Todd
04-16-2012, 11:53 PM
I love the sound of the hum of bees at work, the sight of newly-drawn white comb, the warmth of the summer sun on my hands while working, and the aroma of a well-used smoker with a steady curl of smoke drifting up and out to mingle with the fragrance of fresh nectar. Whenever my smoker is unlit, I carry it in the cab of my truck just so I can enjoy the sweet smoky smell that evokes so many fond memories and reflections on my decades of beekeeping. On cold winter days I like to have my smoker close by me as I work in the shed; instantly I am transported out to the apiary, working with the bees. When the day comes that I no longer can keep bees, I will still keep that smoker,. Uncleaned

chaindrivecharlie
04-17-2012, 01:10 PM
Isn't that called compulsive something or another. :) I have never cleaned a smoker ever. That being said, I probally never will either. Been keeping bees on and off 44 years. 2 smokers are all I ever needed. The first 1 worked with 450 hives for 10 years. It lasted another 5 after that with less hives. Its a smoker, its supposed to look that way.

notaclue
04-20-2012, 12:54 AM
I first found this at UMN apiary section poster 160

http://beelab.umn.edu/Resources/Free-bees/index.htm

max2
04-20-2012, 04:15 AM
I love the sound of the hum of bees at work, the sight of newly-drawn white comb, the warmth of the summer sun on my hands while working, and the aroma of a well-used smoker with a steady curl of smoke drifting up and out to mingle with the fragrance of fresh nectar. Whenever my smoker is unlit, I carry it in the cab of my truck just so I can enjoy the sweet smoky smell that evokes so many fond memories and reflections on my decades of beekeeping. On cold winter days I like to have my smoker close by me as I work in the shed; instantly I am transported out to the apiary, working with the bees. When the day comes that I no longer can keep bees, I will still keep that smoker,. Uncleaned

This is real poetry! Thanks

PS I believed that cleaning a smoker was bad luck?

indypartridge
04-20-2012, 04:18 AM
Do it right one time, and I might only have to clean it once a year instead of once a month! See my point?
If I spend a little more time on doing it right .... I'll cut down on my down time.

My down time for cleaning is zero since I've never cleaned my smoker. Ever. In fact, it never even occurred to me to clean it.
However, to each his own. Hope you find something that works for you.

MrHappy
04-20-2012, 09:33 AM
I understand the need to make sure things are done and done correctly. I wouldn't personally use cleaners on it though as when it burns again the chemicals will be blown into the hive and into your honey. I personally love the steel wool from Amway. It called Scrub Buds. It is stainless steel also and has sharp edges that cut under anything and remove anything it can get to. I use it for the top and outside of my smoker and it works perfectly.

If you do go with chemicals, I thing an oven degreaser should work. I think the buildup actually is the oil in the product vaporizing and sticking to the sides. Maybe not though. Just a thought.

BeeCurious
04-28-2012, 05:53 AM
http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj305/js06807/Beesource/Smoker.jpg

In time, I too may honor my smoker with a few lines of prose...




Jeffrey Todd

I love the sound of the hum of bees at work, the sight of newly-drawn white comb, the warmth of the summer sun on my hands while working, and the aroma of a well-used smoker with a steady curl of smoke drifting up and out to mingle with the fragrance of fresh nectar. Whenever my smoker is unlit, I carry it in the cab of my truck just so I can enjoy the sweet smoky smell that evokes so many fond memories and reflections on my decades of beekeeping. On cold winter days I like to have my smoker close by me as I work in the shed; instantly I am transported out to the apiary, working with the bees. When the day comes that I no longer can keep bees, I will still keep that smoker,. Uncleaned

rail
04-28-2012, 02:48 PM
Before repair welding stainless steel exhaust and shrouds, I clean all the coke (carbon) with oven cleaner & scotch-brite pad.

Scrapfe
04-28-2012, 03:52 PM
If you want a squeaky clean smoker, letting the fuel burn completely up instead of smothering the fire out will help. There is a small danger of an accidental fire using this method. I donít think you'll burn enough extra fuel that it will result in the tropical rain forests being clear cut. However, the prolonged heat may degrade the metal used in your smoker.

Michael Bush
04-28-2012, 08:14 PM
Buy two smokers. One that will remain pristine and one you will use...

HONEYDEW
04-28-2012, 11:46 PM
It's a smoker.

You need a psychiatrist. awww that was just plain mean....:lpf: Especially coming from someone who uses a Subaru for a bee "truck"....:D

throrope
04-29-2012, 08:18 AM
This is just plain too much fun. roostershooter7, I hope we don't run you off.