How to build a smudge pot

Written by wade shaddy
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How to build a smudge pot
Fires from smudge pots, used to heat orchards, were once common. (fire [1] image by Freddy from

Smudge pots are heaters. They were used to heat orchards when fruit-bearing flowers were threatened by frost. They work by heating the air and creating a protective smoke layer over the trees. They were deemed environmentally hazardous and their use was prohibited in the late 1970s. You can build a retroversion of the smudge pot using lantern or citronella oil that is environmentally safer. They are also known as "choofa" pipes because of the sound they make when burning.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Metal paint can with lid, 19 litre (5 gallon)
  • Stove pipe, 15 x 90 cm (6 x 36 inches)
  • Bell Flange, 15 cm (6 inch)
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit, 3 mm (1/8 inch)

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  1. 1

    Unscrew and remove the 7.5 cm (3 inch) cap from a water-based paint can. Turn it on its side. Place a garden hose inside and spray it clean of paint. Turn it upside down and let it drain.

  2. 2

    Place the stovepipe on top the can, to one side of the 7.5 cm (3 inch) lid. Trace around the pipe. Using the reciprocating saw, cut out the circle. Force the crimped end of the stove pipe into the hole. Penetrate about 15 cm (6 inches).

  3. 3

    Insert the bell flange over the top of the pipe. Slide it down to the top of the can. It should cover part of the 7.5 cm (3 inch) lid.

  4. 4

    Drill about 50 or 60 holes into the pipe with the 3 mm (1/8-inch) bit and cordless drill in random order around the pipe's diameter just above the bell flange.

Tips and warnings

  • To light the smudge pot: put an old sock on a stick that's about 1.2 m (48 inches) long. Saturate the sock with lantern fuel. Light the sock on fire and hold it over the 7.5 cm (3 inch) cap. If it won't light, insert the burning sock into the hole. The object is to light the fumes, which are pulled into the pipe which is actually the combustion chamber.
  • You can buy stove pipe and a bell flange at most home-improvement stockists. Even though there are still environmental concerns, you can burn any old oil, kerosene or any type of outdoor patio oil.
  • Never, ever try to burn petrol in a smudge pot, which will result in an explosion.
  • Always use extreme caution when lighting a smudge pot. There will always be a slight "poof" when they ignite.

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