I am building a smoke generator based on heating mineral oil with a resistance wire. The smoke will be used for automotive diagnostics. I've read on this site where calculating the temperature of the wire is complicated due to the large number of variables. The recommendation was to experiment. I don't want the oil to get so hot it bursts into flame but I want smoke. For this question assume the desired temperature is 350F. The voltage will be 12v (car battery).
My thought was to attached one end of a 3 foot piece of 0.5Ohm/ft. wire to one side of the battery and attach the other lead to various points along the 3 feet. At each point I could use a thermocouple to measure the wire temperature between the two battery leads. Would this work? I am concerned about the effect of the extra wire that is outside of the two battery leads.
The determined length, using this method, will be a good starting point as the straight wire configuration does not represent the final design. The final design will have the wire wrapped around a 2-3 inch length of Tiki Torch wick. The ends of the wick will be in the oil and the wick will pull the oil into contact with the wire.
My question is will my method work for determining the wire temperature. I could cut wires of various lengths but would like to avoid doing that if I can use a long wire and put current through just a portion of it. And is there a better way?