I am determined to find a way to cold smoke in the tropics. The obvious problems we face here are a high outside air temperature (avg. 35° C) and high humidity (at times 85%) In order to get around this I have had the idea to channel the smoke through a functioning freezer which I redesigned with copper tubing on the inner walls to cool the chamber.

This will lead to a large amount of condensation collecting within the chamber, effectively dehumidifying the air.

My question is: Will this condensation collect on the meat or will it only collect on the copper pipes and walls of the inner chamber?


Condensation occurs when the temperature of humid air drops below its "dew point". In other words, at ambient temperature (35° C), the amount of water in the air is 85% of what the air can hold. But the air near the copper will be quite a bit cooler, enough to make that, enough to rise the relative humidity to 100%.

So with that rough sketch in mind, back to your meat. While the condensation is collection on your copper because the copper is cool, your meat should be warm throughout the duration of the smoke--about the same temperature as the air in fact--which would not cause the humid air to condense on it.

  • 1
    Ray, You are a gentleman and a scholar. thank you!
    – Monty420
    May 4 '12 at 9:41

Cold smoking at 35 degC is very dangerous. Do not do this! Between 20 and 60 degC is the most dangerous temperature at which to keep food, as that is the optimal temperature range for numerous food pathogens to incubate and/or generate toxins. Keep cold smoking temperature at 4-18 degC.

  • 1
    I'm not a smoker, but my understanding is that you need to get the meat sufficiently warm enough for the smoke to penetrate the meat ... so you want your box around 60-80°F (15.5-27°C). Wood smoke does have anti-bacterial properties, but it won't kill everything (eg. e.coli), nor does it protect against spores, so you still want to follow good sanitation practices.
    – Joe
    Apr 9 '15 at 13:06

Condensation during cold smoking Warm air can hold much more water vapor than cold air 1 kilogram of air at 5 degrees Celsius can contain a maximum of 5.7 grams of water vapor. If it is 25 degrees Celsius, 1 kilogram of air can contain up to 20 grams of water vapor. Or to put it another way: if you increase the temperature at the same amount of water vapor per cubic meter of air, the air will become a lot drier. (relative air humidity) We call this physical phenomenon the maximum vapor pressure. The maximum vapor pressure of a liquid at a given temperature is equal to the saturated vapor pressure of the liquid at that temperature.

When steam (= warm) condenses (= cools) then you get condensation = liquid. There is also condensation on a cold glass of beer on a hot summer day.

If you are going to cold smoke with an outside temperature where the humidity is so high that the saturated vapor pressure has been reached, then you only need small temperature fluctuations to get condensation on a slightly colder surface, (lid of your smoker / BBQ) Mist occurs at different temperatures, high and low and that just means that the saturated vapor pressure of water has been reached at that temperature. (Relative humidity is very high, 100%)

Cold smoking if it freezes well for a few days, then you will hardly suffer from condensation, after all, the icy air is very dry due to the frost and therefore contains little water vapor. If the dry air heats up without the presence of moisture, the air will only become drier and there is no chance of condensation if it encounters a colder surface.

This happens in practice: Air with temperature X saturated with water vapor enters your smoke barrel and is burned by the smoldering smoke moth and heated slightly, so it can absorb a little more water vapor that is present in the environment, the air rises and encounters the cold lid, causing the air again. cooling down, he can no longer retain the water vapor absorbed that this air had absorbed after heating by the smoke moth, since the air was already saturated with water vapor when it was still colder. this extra absorbed water vapor during heating must therefore let go of the air again and will deposit on the lid as condensation. As long as the relative humidity is low and the cool air can warm up and cool down again without becoming saturated with water vapor, everything is fine, without condensation.

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