Drain Water Pipe Smoker

The majority of masonry smokehouses are rectangular in shape thus the meat smoker below looks different and more original. The firebox design is based on a round fire pit which is popular in Argentina.

Argentinian barbecue known as "asado". A round fire pit is a very practical, visually pleasing and inexpensive solution for confining hot fire in a designated area. Photo courtesy of the Calitina Wine Resort, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina.

Drain water pipe

Drain water pipe.

A drain water pipe is used to build the smokehouse. Such pipes are laying around wherever new housing projects are built in developing areas. They come in 10' length and are made of reinforced concrete about 3" thick. Inside diameters vary from 12" to 40" in 2" increments.

Due to its length and size, an average pipe weighs about 800 lbs, its transport is one of the most difficult parts of a project. The pipe will have to be cut down to size and the openings for a smoke delivery channel and clean out access have to be made. That can be accomplished with a portable motorized saw with a 12" diamond blade. A saw can be rented out or a paving contractor can perform the service.

Smoker-barbecue-grill combination

Smoker-barbecue-grill combination.

When cutting a pipe down to size the cut section can be saved to be used as an inside part of the fire pit, although an opening will have to be made for the smoke delivery channel. This way we can eliminate laying down the fire bricks. It is recommended to place masonry bricks on the outside of the fire pit and the smoker for a more elegant look.

This smoker has many advantages:

  • Smoke flows evenly inside due to its round shape (no blind pockets).
  • Smoker has a very good natural insulation due to its very thick walls.
  • Neither a meat loading door nor fire box door are needed.
  • It is very simple to build, there are no precise measurements or difficult hardware or hinges to install.

Due to its massive weight a solid 6" reinforced concrete foundation has to be poured down. Using concrete pipes for making smokehouses is quite common.

In place of smoke channel "B" the round pipe 6" in diameter may be installed.


Smokestack support

Smoker-barbecue-grill combination.

The beauty of this design is that both a smoker and a grill use the same fire pit. The amount of smoke or heat going into the smoker is adjusted by moving burning wood towards or away from the entrance to the smoker. This is accomplished by burning an open fire right on the concrete foundation floor. A metal grate with short legs can be placed in the fire pit and the wood will be burning faster and at a higher temperature having an extra supply of fresh air from below. The fire pit can be covered with a metal cover that will send all available heat to the smoker. Neither the smoker nor the fire pit employ any doors which greatly simplifies construction. Instead, a round metal cover is placed on top of the smoker. By moving this cover a smoke draft control is established. Smoke sticks can be easily mounted by drilling with a masonry drill right through the pipe walls. This is inconvenient when loading many small items such as sausages and impossible to hang a long rope sausage. A more professional solution is to install smokestick supports that allows for loading smokesticks outside. Supports for a safety screen can be drilled right through the concrete pipe wall. It is a wise precaution to install a safety screen to prevent the possibility of meats falling down on the floor during smoking.

A good idea is to make the outside bricks about 2" longer than the pipe. Metal rebars may be used as smokesticks and the cover will sit on top of the bricks above them. A crossbar with three arms separated by 120 degrees can be constructed and will permit to hang more meats in the lower part of the smokehouse.

Smokestack support

Smokestick support.

A cross bar support

A cross bar support.

Brick support over smoke channel

Brick support over smoke channel.

Grill/Fire Pit

A grill is nothing more than a metal screen suspended on supports inside of the fire pit. Such round screens are available in standard sizes at all department stores.

Grill screen support

Grill screen support. Left-Three metal supports imbedded between bricks and spaced equally every 120 degrees.Right-Firebricks used as a grill screen support. The easiest approach.

The supports can be 4" long pieces of rod or flat metal and should be inserted into damp mortar between the bricks. They can go on top of vertically standing firebricks which determines the height of the screen that is 9". The screen is surrounded by an additional 8" of bricks and that will confine heat in the grill area. When cutting the pipe down to size it is a good idea to cut another section for the inside wall of the fire pit, providing that fire pit and smokehouse are of the same diameter. Remember to also cut an opening for the smoke channel. This way the smoker and the fire pit will be of the same diameter. This is not a rule and the fire pit can be made wider than the smokehouse. The smoker is top loaded and at first it may seem too high and awkward but the top of the smoke delivery channel "B" serves as the 11" high step ladder and loading the smokehouse becomes quite easy.

Using the smoke delivery channel as a step ladder is the reason why the smoke sticks should be installed perpendicular to the smoke delivery channel. This provides a strong grip and facilitates their insertion or removal. There is a 8" x 8" clean out access "A" to facilitate cleaning the smoker or recovery of the fallen items. An electric heating element can be inserted through this hole when wood is in a short supply. It is a very unusual looking smoker which works very well.

There is no need to buy sawdust or wood chips. Logs of wood are used and smoking can continue for days or weeks with little supervision. If it stops at night, it can be very easily re-ignited the following morning.

The following photos provided courtesy Mr. Peter J. Van Brussel from Ohio:

Laying bricks around concrete pipe

Laying bricks around concrete pipe.

Building fire pit

Building fire pit.

Smoke delivery pipe

Smoke delivery pipe.

Laying firebricks inside fire pit

Laying firebricks inside fire pit.

Finished smokehouse

Finished smokehouse.

Finished smokehouse. A clean out door at the bottom of the smokehouse.

Finished smokehouse. A clean out door at the bottom of the smokehouse.

Some serious smoking takes place here. Pulling a pig out.

Some serious smoking takes place here. Pulling a pig out.

A job well done.

A job well done. Sitting from left to right: Jeff Banks, Jim Comerford and the proud owner Peter Van Brussel.

The above information is reprinted with permission from Meat Smoking and Smokehouse Design.

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