difficulty: **** I can do this
prep time: ** 30 mins or so (ugh)
clock time: *** 6-8 hours. plan ahead

You can cold-smoke your own salt, for making oven-friendly rubs or just awesome table seasoning. This has to be done outdoors, as you are generating a LOT of smoke. The smoke isn't hot so it tends to linger and pool, so you may want to run it away from the house or on a breezy day.

What to buy

  • Salt: medium is OK for rubs, but "fine" grain works well in rubs and for table seasoning
  • A tray or "splatter shield"
  • A cold-smoker pellet tube
  • Fire (propane torch)
  • Tiny zen garden rakes
  • A water spritzer / spray bottle
  • A pellet funnel
  • Shaker bottles for storage and serving


Spread the salt in a thin layer over the tray or splatter shield. The rakes can help smooth it out a little.

Mesquite flavors are the most bold, hickory does OK.

Smoker method

Fill the tube with pellets, leaving about an inch open in the top.

Use the torch to set the pellets aflame. Let them burn on their own like a big candle for a few minutes, then blow it out. You need a good set of embers in there.

Lay the tube on its side on the smoker grates. The tray of salt goes beside it. Close the lid.

Check on it every hour.

  • Spritz the salt lightly with water; this helps the smoke "stick" to the salt
  • Use the zen rakes to stir the salt around; the top exposed layer will be darker, you want to expose the lighter, covered salt.
  • The tube will need a pellet-refill about every 2 hours; if there are still smoking embers at the bottom, just refill over top of them and you won't have to relight it.

You can stop when you think the salt is dark enough; I usually run 3-4 tubes for a batch of salt.


A different funnel/scoop can make it easier to collect the smoked salt and put it into shaker bottles.