Trash Can Turkey

I spent the past two Saturday afternoons with some really great guys. See, the boys in my Cub Scout Webelos Den will be “crossing over” into Boy Scouts in a few months, and we had the opportunity to visit three Boy Scout Troop campouts over the course of the last two weekends. They all included a family dinner on Saturday evening, and, since it was November, the obligatory main course was turkey.

While most Thanksgiving turkeys are still oven-roasted, the deep-fried method is gaining quickly in popularity for those who don’t mind spending some time outside this time of year. I say this because basic safety rules dictate that it is NOT to be done indoors. In fact, even outside, there are safety precautions you’ll want to take:

Two of the Troops we visited successfully deep fried their turkeys, and I heard they were awesome (I, regrettably, wasn’t able to stay for dinner.) The third Troop (and the one my oldest son belongs to) prepared their bird, as they have for years, in a trash can. The leaders of this Troop are all seasoned (pun intended) Dutch oven enthusiasts, so the Trash Can Turkey is right up their alley.

There are, of course, safety precautions that apply to making a Trash Can Turkey as well, most of which concern the handling of the charcoal. An important one, though, involves the trash can itself: most steel trash cans are galvanized, which means they’ve been coated in zinc. If you get this coating hot enough, it’ll release toxic fumes that, when inhaled (or ingested by eating turkey that’s been directly exposed to them), can cause what welders call “zinc fever,” which exhibits flu-like symptoms for a day or two. While there’s still debate about long-term effects, the short-term effects – I assume I’m not the only one with an aversion to “flu-like symptoms” – make a strong case to avoid this at all costs. Good news is, you can easily prep your Trash Can Turkey trash can by building a fire in it first. Do it outside (of course) and don’t hover around it. This “burns off” the zinc oxide, and, assuming you handle the raw bird properly, and cook it to an internal temperature of 180F (best measured in the thick part of the thigh), you should avoid any ill effects, except for a tryptophan-induced drowsiness, which is arguably NOT an ill effect, if you have access to a comfy sofa on Thanksgiving Day afternoon.

At EXAIR, we’re committed to safety as it relates to the use of compressed air in general, and our products in particular:

*Always wear eye protection when using compressed air for blowing off materials. Even if you’re using a Safety Air Gun fitted with a Chip Shield…it’s a protection enhancement, not a safety replacement.

*Don’t use a Reversible Drum Vac for flammable liquids, or those with low flash points.

*OSHA prohibits the use of compressed air for cleaning unless the pressure is reduced below 30psig, or (and this is where EXAIR products come in) a relief is provided for, to prevent dead-ending, which can cause a dangerous air embolism. All EXAIR products are impossible to dead end, making them safe for operation at those higher pressures that are sometimes necessary to do the job.

If you ever have any questions about the safe use of compressed air, give us a call…we’re here to help.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax

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