DIY PolyScience Form-Factor Smoke Guns Part I

Smoke guns are culinary gadgets used to apply smoke to food.  Under the hood, these devices are basically handheld electric vacuums with a pipe attached to the input nozzle.  You turn on the vacuum, apply fire to the pipe, the vacuum pulls the fire into the pipe, setting the woodchips or herbs in the pipe on fire.  The smoke travels through the vacuum and out through the exhaust, and onto your dish.  They are far less cumbersome than stovetop smokers and are great if you just want to give smokiness to any dish.  While PolyScience sells one of these units for approximately $80, a lot of people made their own version.  Oh lookie, here comes one now:
Chadzilla's MINI-VAC Smoker.  Cite: www.chadzilla.com
These DIY models were based on the Mini-Vac vacuum, which you can buy off of Amazon for about $17.   This approach is pretty functional, and all said and done probably costs $25-30 to construct, not including your labor.

Alternatively, you can buy one of these pre-constructed at any full service smoke shop.  You know, where they sell "tobacco" equipment.  The mini-vac approach is great, but there are some shortcomings:


  1. They don't survive heavy use.  This has to do with the heat produced by the smoke as well as the amount of usage.  In other words, it won't last in a professional kitchen and may not even be able to survive heavy home use.  
  2. Which would be fine if it weren't for the fact that they are not THAT cheap.  At $25 a pop, you may spend more on DIY smokers than on just buying a PolyScience Smoking Gun.  
  3. As if that weren't enough... they. look. ghetto.  No really, your friends will definitely think you are doing drugs.  Without a doubt, the PolyScience one looks way slicker:
PolyScience Smoking Gun.  Cite: www.polyscience.com
I had seen an early version of the Smoking Gun that looked like it was put together with some off the shelf parts.  In fact, it looked like someone glued a pipe jammed into a vacuum.  After an hour of scouring the Internet, I found a Syba vacuum that looked pretty close:

Left: PolyScience Smoking Gun.  Right: Syba Vacuum.  Hrm.
Several clicks later and I had two Syba vacuums shipped to my lair.  Tune in next time and I will explain:
  1. How to construct a Syba based smoking gun.  Spoiler alert: It will even have color pictures!
  2. If and what the differences are between the Syba vacuum and the PolyScience Smoking Gun.  Spoiler alert: There are differences!
  3. Is it worth all of this effort?  Spoiler alert: Just kidding!
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