Smudge Pot Directions

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Smudge pots were used to prevent freezing in orchards.
Smudge pots were used to prevent freezing in orchards. (Image: trees in an orchard image by sharon hitman from Fotolia.com)

Smudge pots are oil-burning devices with a round base and a chimney extending up from the center. Smaller, modern smudge pots use a wick to draw fuel. In the early 1900s, smudge pots were used to keep orchards from frosting over in the winter. The heat and smoke from the burning oil would keep the surrounding area warm by creating a smoke blanket to reduce heat loss in the fruit. We now know that burning crude oil is not so good for the environment, so this method is not practiced quite as much. Nowadays, you can purchase a smudge pot to go on your patio or porch that will provide a small amount of heat and can repel insects when using the correct type of fuel.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Oil-soaked wood chips
  • Match
  • Citronella oil
  • Grill lighter

Orchard heater

Place the smudge pot in an open area. Check to make sure the chimney is clean by shining a flashlight up the chimney from inside the base.

Fill the round base with the oil-soaked wood chips. Wash your hands after handing the wood chips and before striking the match.

Strike a match and toss it into the base, igniting the oil. Toss the match deep into the base to prevent the match from landing outside of the smudge pot.

Let the oil-soaked wood chips burn down. The heat and smoke from the fire will warm the surrounding area and repel insects.

Patio Smudge pot

Pull the top off of the patio smudge pot. The wick sticks out of the top and will come out with the top when it is removed.

Pour the citronella oil into the opening in the top of the patio smudge pot. Fill the smudge pot roughly two-thirds of the way full. Do not overfill the smudge pot with oil. If you can lift your patio smudge pot, lift it frequently while fueling to get a feel for how much oil is inside. Stop pouring fuel while you lift to smudge pot.

Replace the top of the smudge pot. Insert the wick into the opening and down into the oil. Wait five minutes for the wick to draw the oil. Light the wick with the grill lighter.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are many different types of fuels that you can use in your smudge pot.
  • Make your smudge pot is on a level surface and has no chance to fall or tilt.
  • Orchard heaters are not used much anymore because they are bad for the environment.

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