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tim currie 03-19-2011 02:11 AM

* Galvanized Alert *

Ok so I am a dumb ass. That's outta the way.

I built my UDS last summer, probably used it 10 or so times, it works awesome - thanks to this thread.

It was a very basic, cheap, build. I looked at expanded steel for my firebox but couldn't figure out how the hell I'd make it into a ring for my firebox - no welder or welding skills here.

So, I grabbed what I now know is "welded wire" and bent it around the larger weber fire grate and bailing wired it together. It worked perfect and I thought I was clever.

Looking over this thread recently and wondering why people ONlY used expanded steel and I am.

So question is: I've already used it, can I build a blazing fire in there and burn it off, use the acid trick, or just find a shop to weld me a new expanded steel firebox?


inv3ctiv3 03-19-2011 03:17 AM

Yea to be honest I wish I knew about the zinc/galvanized thing before. Now I need to remove the washers we welded to my basket and the handle. Not to mention replace all the other hardware.

chobint 03-19-2011 03:41 AM

This is one of those things that nobody really agrees on, but I'll try to put in a moderate point of view...

As an engineer, and generally scientifically minded person... I would not use anything but steel for the fire basket, b/c I know it gets hot enough to oxidize pretty much anything (including zinc). That said, if you look at the pics of my UDS, it has lots of galv hardware pretty much every where else. There are lots of detailed threads out there describing how zinc oxidizes at over 700-something degrees. Unless it's the fire basket itself, I have a hard time imagining that you will ever achieve 700+ degrees with your other hardware. There will be some that throw caution to the wind and say the galv. concern in a myth. There are also others that won't even buy cars with galvanized parts (I joke of course). Anyway, I think I'm fairly moderate on the issue and hope that helps the concerned posters above.

h20loo 03-19-2011 08:15 AM

If you got penetration then I'd say "washers we welded " are safe. Galvanizing does not repair itself and once burnt it is done.

inv3ctiv3 03-19-2011 01:02 PM

Well we welded washers to the fire basket but I haven't burned anything in the basket yet. I burned the drum out but haven't seasoned the barrel and fire basket. I bought all new stainless stuff yesterday....

expatpig 03-19-2011 03:00 PM

I still wouldn't worry about what little bit of zinc that hypothetically, you may ingest, the HCA's and PHA's from the cooking process would kill you first.

gromit 03-19-2011 04:03 PM

Got 'er done!

Finished my UDS this week...Pretty much like all the others. Got a brand new unlined barrel at a local barrel warehouse (they do nothing but barrels in all sizes and materials). Drilled 3 one inch holes about 3 inches from the bottom and burned it just to be sure. Used the Weber charcoal grate wrapped with expanded metal for the charcoal basket and a 22.5" Weber for the cooking surface. Brass bolts hold it about 8" below the lid. Air control at the bottom is via fridge magnets.

Friday I got her going with a half load of Home Depot purchased Cowboy Lump with a few hickory blocks mixed in. One hour later it's running 220 deg. and steady. Chicken legs and full breasts with ribs go on with some Italian sausage to keep them company. Pulled off the sausage about 2 hours in, chicken went for 2.5. Rave reviews from SWMBO. (She Who Must Be Obeyed).

Today I get to the public market for 2 racks of ribs. Also had some boneless chicken breasts that needed cooking today. Wrapped those in thick sliced bacon and on they went. Three hours in now, about to pull the bacon wrapped breasts and see what we got...

tim currie 03-19-2011 05:23 PM

So I guess final question on my galvanized wire fire basket is....

Since I've already used it, if I just build a monster fire in that thing will I burn it all off and make it safe? Or should I just make a new fire basket?

All my other hardware is good to go, made sure of that in the first place.

45fan 03-19-2011 05:29 PM


I am not sure on your basket. But, I can tell you I made one with expanded metal and I cant weld or anything. You can bend it. I just started it in a circle and wrapped it around a propane tank and then used SS screws to attach the ends and then to the grate.

I know nothing about metals so I didnt want to take any chances...

But I am an idiot so if I can do it with expanded metal...anyone can.

El Ropo 03-19-2011 05:47 PM

For folks who are worried about zinc plated hardware, you can give 'em a 3 minute bath in Muratic acid, rinse, rinse, and be done. 48 hours later all the hardware will be developing rust, meaning no more zinc.

inv3ctiv3 03-19-2011 07:36 PM

I'm probably overly paranoid about it, I just don't want to make any friends/family sick you know? I am gonna probably burn out the fire basket tomorrow With some really hot coals just in case.

This is also the expanded metal I bought at Home Depot, it says for barbeques right on it so I am going to assume it doesn't have zinc and it's not galvanized.

tim hawk 03-19-2011 09:24 PM

Put a burn on my first uds build it came pretty clean with very little brushing today.

locodrvr 03-19-2011 10:14 PM

On the zinc plated issue. All i could find were bolts plated in zinc. Thought grade 5 or 8 steel bolts might not have been but were. I happened to have a respirator mask you can get from home depot and just took a torch to the bolts. You can watch the zinc coating just melt away after getting them hot enough. 15 mins of work and it saved me all the hassle of trying to track down uncoated bolts.

coewar 03-20-2011 09:31 AM

4 Attachment(s)
Hey guys.. so that's good to know about the zinc removal by burning/melting it off. When I was buying bolts and stuff I was selecting the Stainless Steel type. Certainly there were a few things that were just zinc coated. I figured that the amounts of it were too small to cause harm. On top of that, after just 1 or 2 burns, all the metal is coated with smoky stuff. After some cookings, everything is covered with "meaty goodness" as I call it. So not sure how much of a problem it is. I did stay away from things called "galvanized" because it just appeared like it would soak things up and leave residue (and I thought that galvanized steel would have more zinc than just zinc coated.)

Regarding fire baskets.. I don't weld and it was a piece of cake to do. I just took very small bolts (stainless steel) and 2 "fender washers" (the larger discs) with 2 nuts and just used 2 or 3 of these bolts where the metal ring over lapped. Stays put just fine. Used it like 20+ times by now. All bolts and washers were I think 1/4" size.

Smoking Chicken: Whole chicken particularly comes out great if I put it on a very low grate (about 1/2 way into the barrel) and run that at 350-375 per advice from a friend. ~90 minutes later, the chicken (3 three pound birds) cooked and the skin was crispy and wonderful.

But I've also modified my smoker several times.. and it's got quite the capabilities now of cooking different ways. I added a smoke stack coming out the side of the barrel rather that straight out. I think that because of the nice draft it's creating it's allowing more moisture to get in there because the cooler air is not being given so much time to get dried out by the heat. Yet the heat control is excellent and can run in very unpredictable wind situations. Also, by not allowing the moisture to escape straight up, there is a lot of moisture that is caught in the elbow of the stack.. near the end of cooking I take it out and poor it over the meat and it just does this wonderful sizzling that makes my tummy smile. :)

I also added some removable baffles for when I'm doing something slow and don't want the heat from below to do as much direct heating. It also allows the air inside to really move around and make the heat even throughout.

Also attached picture of one of my designs to get the air moving around inside and include more moisture... I used it just once and changed my mind.. but I might get back to it some time.

Oh.. and I made another type of diffuser for when I want the heat direct, but still allows meaty goodness to drip and fall into the fire. Using angle iron, this grate also helps heat the sides of the barrel, increasing the ability to more evenly heat the inside.

Pictures attached.

majdurham 03-20-2011 12:53 PM

OK, you guys got me.....I'm going to the metal pile now. Wish me luck!

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