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I have a smoker that has an issue with the lid getting creosoted shut. It is a real pain to open. Is there a trick to preventing this or should I just get a better smoker? I won't mention the maker, but it is from one of the major supply houses.
 

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Creosote is from the fuel, not from the smoker design. I burn it off with a torch. IMO, a self igniting propane torch is a must have tool for the apiary.
 

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Happens to nearly everyone, and best I can tell, every make of smoker. Every so often you have to clean it, that's all.

Something to watch for, as your smoker gets gummed up, the hole at the bottom where the air from the bellows blows in, also gets clogged up. People often clean the smoker but don't think to clean that hole. The more that hole is restricted, the faster the rest of the smoker gums up. So keep that hole as clean and open as you can.

JConnolly is on it also. Different fuel types block your smoker up at different rates. I've also found that damp smoker fuel clogs the smoker up faster than bone dry fuel, not sure why that is.
 

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What fuel are you using? I had been using wood chips and the creosote build up was bad. Switched to dry grass and haven't had to burn it off yet. When you have it, burn it off with a torch as has been suggested. J
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have been using dried grass and pine needles. I usually have to pry at the lid quite a bit to get it freed up. I have scraped it off several times but this only lasts for one fill. I'll have to think on an improvement. I do fabricate and weld Stainless Steel. A torch is relatively simple.

I was hoping someone would tell be to use some butter or other on the lid seal.
 

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What helps for me is that I always empty my smoker out while it is still hot and never leave it with fuel still inside. Hope this helps. JConnolly is right on the propane torch. Makes lighting the smoker lights easier as well.
 

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Common beekeeper problem. I usually flick mine open with a hive tool.
I lever mine off too - it never sticks that badly, so I don't see it as much of a problem. I use sawdust/shavings and like to leave half-burnt fuel in the smoker to ensure an easy re-light next time. Doing this does cause some carbon build-up, mainly in the spout.

So - about every 2 or 3 months I generate flames within the open smoker body and then pump away like a blacksmith's forge ... I then flick the spout into place, ensuring that there's (say) about an inch gap there to allow extra oxygen in. The flames then lick up into the spout, and burn-off the carbon and tar. Which stinks - so I stand up-wind.

When cool, it's then a quick run around with some kind of scraper to dislodge the loose burnt-off carbon, and this cheap Chinese smoker is then ready to use for another 2 or 3 months.
LJ
 

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Dry fuel and a hot fire reduces creosote whether is a wood stove or a smoker.Pine needles and firewood are collected the year before and both sit in a shed overwinter.
Never jam your lid down all the way,especially if its hot.The lid only needs to be closed enough so that it will not open if it gets knocked off a hive.
 

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What helps for me is that I always empty my smoker out while it is still hot and never leave it with fuel still inside. Hope this helps. JConnolly is right on the propane torch. Makes lighting the smoker lights easier as well.
+1 if you leave the smoker with the last of the fire just burn out, it sticks worse.
Open and dump while hot saves some of the build up.

GG
 

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Probably doesn't need to be said,but if you do dump the contents while still hot,dump it in something fireproof or douse thoroughly with water. I have a fireman friend and have heard some real bone-headed mistakes that had horrible consequences. Most people admit that it was a stupid thing to do but they just weren't thinking,were pre-occupied,in a hurry,etc. It happens to all of us,especially when doing something routine. Think twice. J
 

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IME pine straw makes a lot of creosote. I used that for a few years. Now I'm using fruitwood chips, this year it's a plum tree that I cut down last year. It burns cleaner than pine straw and the smoke is much more pleasant for me to use.

Cleaning the smoker is one of the 'winter chores' for a lot of beekeepers.
 

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I have been using dried grass and pine needles. I usually have to pry at the lid quite a bit to get it freed up. I have scraped it off several times but this only lasts for one fill. I'll have to think on an improvement. I do fabricate and weld Stainless Steel. A torch is relatively simple.

From a fuel side- conifers [pine] are creosote trees as are the needles, dry maybe a bit less than green, but the resins remain after drying. maybe consider semi dry deciduous tree leaves over the dried grass?
 

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I am only a 2nd year Beek, but I plug the smoke outlet when done with smoker and it seems to prevent the build up. You can just get a stick and whittle the end so that it fits into the hole and plug it up. This will smother the fire and greatly reduce the incomplete combustion products.
 

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1st time poster....I use pine needles and they do produce creosote, but I dump out (safely 🙂) and leave the top open til next time. Works.
 

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One other thing to consider: Heat expands metal so if you put your smoker away hot and closed, it seems to contract as it cools and wedge it on tighter. Add some creosote and it's basically glued on there. I have to use the hook of my hive tool sometimes to yank it open. I try and not mash the lid down too tight lest I be fighting it to get it open.
 

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I understand that smoke, while it can gentle bees, creates a crisis reactions as if there is a fire and they need to eat lots of honey and be prepared to leave the area. I was told that sprying with honey water or water will calm the bees without creating a crisis response. I have the impressiont hat it is not as effective as smoke in calming them, but that it is overall better for their sense of well being. I sprayed yesterday when I was moving combs around to eventually get the black comb out. They were pretty upset, but they calmed down very quickly, which I took as a good sign. Thoughts?
 
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