When we use smokers, the smoke from burning charcoal or wood is forced under compression to penetrate through the meat, cooking it in the process.
However, if the smoker lids are not tightly locked, the smoke inside leaks through, and the cooking becomes compromised.
If you are wondering how to seal a smoker, don’t worry, since there are many ways to do so, including easy-to-execute methods using a few home accessories.
We will discuss all of them plus the different types of cooking based on variation in temperature ranges and the type of food you can cook.
What Is a Smoker?
A smoker is an appliance used to cook food in a controlled, smoky environment.
It is not very technique sensitive, which makes it easy to use, even for beginners.
You can buy from a large variety of smokers available in the market, from different brands offering hundreds of unique models.
These include small portable smokers, camping smokers, custom made, and heavy ceramic door ovens.
In most cases, you can use a smoker for cooking meat and salmon, but you can also use it to smoke veggies, peppers, and tomatoes.
If you’re particularly feeling adventurous, you can use it to make bread and even pizza!
The Different Types
Here are some of the most popular types of smokers in use today.
1. Charcoal Smokers
Charcoal smokers are easier to use in comparison to other types of smokers like the stick smoker.
Once you put your coals on fire, adjust the temperature using the built-in dampers that control airflow.
Most of the smoke comes from the charcoal, but for added flavors, you can also add wood chunks and wooden chips.
When you cook meat over wooden smoke, though, it does not come out very flavorsome.
2. Stick Burners
These burners use wood exclusively for fuel, and you need to pay a lot of attention while using them.
You will find two types in the market: expensive models and inexpensive ones.
Inexpensive stick burners are usually notoriously flawed.
They sometimes have leakages or have poor heat retaining capacities.
So in our experience, it is best to start with an inexpensive stick burner and learn your way to the more expensive varieties.
3. Pellet Smokers
Pellet smokers are thermostatically controlled and easy to use, but they can be easily broken.
All you have to do is plug it in, set the required temperature, and let the smoker do the rest of the job.
4. Electric Smokers
Electric smokers do not have a live flame.
They use water, wood, and a heater or a heating component.
The lack of combustion and not real smoke from a flame gives the meat a very different flavor.
5. Gas Smokers
Gas smokers are good when you need consistent temperature throughout your meal preps, but they don’t render any smoke.
Thus, you have to add wood chips to enjoy that smoke and keep propane handy since it will fuel your smoker.
6. Kettle Grills
Kettle grills are the most popular appliances among home cooks but are not for hard meat that requires slow smoking.
Setting the kettle grill up, though, is easy.
Just place the charcoal on one side of the grill to allow indirect heat.
To generate smoke, you can add wood chunks or wood chips to the burning charcoal.
Also, place a thermometer nearby to keep an eye on the temperature changes.
Since there are different types of indoor and outdoor smokers available in the market, be sure to check out reviews and advice on which ones are better.
Smoking, barbecuing, and grilling are processes that would need a smoker.
It is a procedure for trained or experienced cooks, so it isn’t wise to try and smoke your meat if you do not have sufficient experience using it.
Smoking the outside of your brisket after putting wet wood chips over hot, burning coal will not do the trick.
When done correctly, the smoke must pierce through every piece of meat, and this can take up to multiple hours and sometimes even days.
There are two ways to smoke your meat:
Done at a temperature ranging from 68⁰F to 68⁰F, cold smoking is essentially done for flavoring.
This process is for meats that have been previously cooked or cured.
You can cook different types of food using cold smoking, such as salmon, scallops, pork chops, beef, sausage, cheese, steaks, and chicken breasts.
In comparison, hot smoking features a higher temperature range, between 126⁰F and 176⁰F.
You can do this when you want to infuse the smoky flavor in the meat or if you prefer your meat heated through and through.
That said, it’s important to keep the quality of the meat in check.
To do that, make sure the temperature doesn’t shoot higher than 185⁰F; otherwise, the meat will shrink or give off a burnt smell.
Such temperatures are for large meat cuts, like ham, brisket, ribs, pulled porks, and ham hocks.
Barbecue is a slow and low process used for tough meats like that of cows.
Cow meat tastes best when one cooks it for an extended period and at low temperatures.
However, the temperature range used for barbecuing is from 190⁰F to 300⁰F.
Barbecue meat is said to be silky and tasty, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t loosely or incorrectly use the term barbecue for grilling.
Grilling is a hot and fast process that locks in flavors and gives the meat a charred surface.
Temperatures ranging from 400⁰F to 550⁰F for a short time is required during grilling.
It is ideal for tender meat varieties like chicken, hot dogs, burger patties, ribs, strip steaks, and pork chops.
It can be done using charcoal grills, gas grills, and even infrared grills (for those who can afford it!).
You can find a list of modern, outdoor grill varieties here.
How to Seal a Smoker
With all the basics on your fingertips, it’s time to dive into the details of sealing a smoker.
Sealing a Barbecue Smoker
We’ll use a barbecue smoker as an example since it requires quite a bit of sealing as compared to other processes.
When converting a barbecue into a smoker, first get all the seals tight.
To do this, you need to buy pieces of steel and weld them inside the doors and lids.
Allow at least one to two inches of steel to make a perfect seal.
For this purpose, you may need to bend and cut the steel so that it fits snugly around the doors or lids.
Also, if you can, weld the steel from the outside.
This will fill any gaps, given that you’re ready to compromise on the appearance for better sealing.
Otherwise, you can replace all those fittings using a heat-resistant tape.
Alternatively, you can also use a mortar to seal off the gaps between the smoker, source of heat, gaps in gates or lids, and more.
Then, you can commence smoking your food. Just be careful and check for any gaps and check if the gate fits well.
Many such devices are readily available in the market now, which provide an excellent smoke seal.
You can check one of them here.
Sealing the Smoker Door
So, we’ve come to the important part: how to seal the smoker door from leaking.
Smokers meant for backyard barbecuing use wood burning, which aids in creating compression.
This compression is responsible for giving your food the barbecue flavor because it forces the smoke coming from the burning wood to enter your food.
As expected, the tighter the seal on your door, the faster the smoking process.
We all know most backyard smokers are built using scrap metals from fuel tanks and old barrels.
Have these items ready:
- A razor blade
- Wax paper
- High heat silicone rubber
- High heat self-adhesive gasket
Here are the steps to follow to seal the door properly:
Step #1: Open the Door Widely
Opening the door widely lets you access the inside panel and compartment’s exterior edge, which are two surfaces that should fit snugly for a tight, perfect seal.
Step #2: Find a Gasket
Find a gasket that matches your smoker’s heat requirements.
If the gasket does not fit, cut it until it fits perfectly and then peel off its backing.
Apply the adhesive and gasket to the inside of the door.
Step #3: Seal With Silicone Adhesive
Apply a single bead of silicone adhesive on the door where it meets the smoker chamber on closing.
Cut a strip of wax and place it over the silicone bead and close the door so that the seal spreads out into the needed shape.
Step #4: Air Dry
Open your smoker chamber to air dry the silicone.
Step #5: Final Touches
Remove the wax and use the razor blade to cut the formed shape of silicone.
Apart from knowing how to seal a smoker, like all machinery, maintenance of a smoker is a necessity if you want it to last a long time.
With time, smokers require replacement of its parts to remove grease, rust, and soot.
Other times, all that you need to do is for you to clean it thoroughly.
During the cleaning of its parts, though, be careful not to lose any screws, or chip away any fixtures that protect its seal.
If you accidentally do so, you can just follow our tips.