Editor’s Note: This tip comes from our new “Prepare for Anything Survival Manual.”

When it comes to smokers, you can spend a lot of money buying one in a store. Restaurants will spend thousands on elaborate smokers. But you can make a backyard smoker out of just about any box, including cardboard.

First, you need a box no more than 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and 2 feet (0.6 m) wide. Cut a door in the bottom of one side to remove and reload wood chips during cooking. Next, insert two parallel dowel rods through the box at 12 and 36 inches (30 and 90 cm). You’ll place your racks (one pan to catch drippings and a wire rack to hold food) on top of the dowels.

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Insert your heat source and wood chips into the bottom door. You can use a hot plate and wood chips in a cast-iron skillet, or similar arrangement.

Set a similarly-sized box over the top once you have your fish or meat safely on the rack and your
smoke source going. Then monitor the temperature as closely as possible. A probe thermometer inserted at food level works well.

Change your wood chips as needed, and follow the recipe for internal meat temperature and smoke time. It should go without saying that monitoring a smoke source inside a cardboard box is essential.