Homemade SmokerWood Pan
Instead of wrapping smoker wood in foil, why not use a homemade smokerwood pan that can be made of something you'd normally just toss into the trashcan?
I use a couple of different types of containers to hold the wood chips and chunks I use in my smokers. There's one I use in my Brinkmann electric smoker, and something a little different that works very nicely in my gas grill, for whenever I want to add some smoke flavor to my grilled foods.
My Electric Smoker Wood Chip Pan
In the electric smoker I have I use a plain old tin can, the size that holds 15 or 16 ounces. I think mine is an old pork and bean can. The only thing "special" about it is that when I opened it up, I didn't cut the lid completely off, leaving a couple of inches of the lid's circumference attached to the rim. After eating the beans, it was washed out, the label and adhesive was removed and it was ready to use.
I just made a bend in the lid where it's still attached to the can rim, raising it up to add the wood chips or chunks, then folding it back down before putting it right next to the electric element in my smoker.
The reason for leaving the lid on? If it falls over, the lid prevents wood from falling out onto the element, where it could ignite, getting ashes on the food. It also provides something to grab with the tongs with moving it in or out of the smoker. Cheap (free) and it works well. And if it ever rusts out, or the lid breaks off, all I need to do is eat another can of beans!
Gas Grill Smokerwood Pan
This one actually cost something, but not much. It's a bread pan, the size that makes a standard size loaf of homemade bread. I think I paid $1 for it at a dollar store a long time ago. The shape of the bread pan is perfect for my gas grill, because the flat pan bottom catches a lot of heat from the grill, and the wood takes just a short time to start smoking.
Use a plain metal pan, one without a non-stick coating. The non-stick surface would burn away, releasing chemicals inside your grill that would get on the food. So plain metal is the way to go.
Fill the pan with wood chips, or chunks of smoker wood, then cover it with a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil, crimping it around the edges of the pan. Prick a couple of small holes into the center of the foil and it's ready to go. I've been able to reuse the foil "lid" many times, as long as I took care removing and replacing it on the pan.
A couple of times I noticed that the smoke flowing out of the hole in the foil had burst into flame, creating a small jet of fire! It could have been the type of wood I was using, or that I had the burner underneath the pan set for "Medium" heat. I simply removed it from the grill with my tongs and it soon went out.
So if you always wrap your smoker wood in foil when using it in your grill or smoker, consider the possiblities of making your own homemade smokerwood pan. You don't necessarily have to use a pork 'n bean can, or a bread pan, but with a little looking around and some imagination, you should be able to find the perfect reusable container for your smoke wood.
And whatever you use, once the wood chunks or chips are smoked out, the remaining blackened wood is actually homemade lump charcoal, that you can save up until there's enough to grill a couple of steaks, or just add to your briquettes next time you fire up the charcoal grill. Waste not, want not....
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