Are you wondering how to insulate your smoker so that you can use it more efficiently, even on the coldest days and nights of the year?
If your smoker does not have proper insulation, it can lose heat and smoke, even in the summer. This means more smoking time, more fuel, and in many cases – disappointing results.
Thankfully, there are some easy and affordable ways to ensure that your smoker is insulated. Read on to find out about the different ways to insulate the BBQ smoker and how to maintain the cooking temperatures and the smoke levels consistent even in the winter.
Is insulating your smoker really necessary?
Yes, if you want consistent results and if you want to save money for fuel and for costly repairs of the smoker, which the weather elements can damage.
By insulating your smoker, you will prevent the heat and the smoke from escaping so the meat or other food is properly cooked and infused with that delicious smoky flavor.
With proper insulation, your smoker will maintain the desired temperature for the required period of time, no matter what the weather conditions are. Plus, the insulation will protect it from the snow, rain, ice, dirt, dust, and the sun.
Types of insulating covers
Insulation jackets are very popular for insulating all types of vertical smokers. They feature aluminum oil, which acts as a highly efficient insulator because it reflects the heat and contains the thermal radiation inside the smoker.
Most grill manufacturers make insulation jackets for their specific grills, so you can be sure that the jacket will fit perfectly. Then again, you can make your own insulation jacket.
Be careful to keep the insulation jacket away from the firebox because it can easily catch fire and burn.
- They are easy to find ready-made
- They are suitable for vertical smokers
- These jackets are easy to use
- They can catch fire if they cover the firebox, so they need to be custom fit to your specific smoker
Insulation blankets are different from insulation jackets. The difference is that with the jackets, the aluminum foil layer is on the outside, while with the insulation blankets, the aluminum foil is inside.
It does the same job of retaining the heat and smoke as an insulation jacket but is easier to make or find because it can be wrapped around any smoker and doesn’t need to be custom fit.
Again, you should, by all means, avoid the firebox when wrapping your smoker with an insulation blanket to prevent it from burning.
- It is one size fits all, so you don’t need to worry about finding one which is custom fit
- It works on all kinds of smokers
- It is very easy to use – you just need to wrap it around the smoker tightly, so it covers it
- It is efficient in keeping the heat and smoke in
- You need to wrap the blanket tightly several times and cover the smoker properly because otherwise, it will not provide proper insulation
- You should be careful about it not contacting the firebox
Welders use welding blankets to protect them from the heat and the sparks generated during the welding. If you happen to have a welding jacket, you can use it to insulate your smoker.
Once again, you don’t need to worry about finding the perfect fit. All you need to do is wrap it several times around the smoker and keep it safely away from the firebox.
A welding blanket works in the same way as an insulation blanket and thus has the same pros and cons.
How to insulate the firebox of the smoker
Now that you know that neither the insulation jacket nor the insulation and welding blankets need to cover the firebox, you may be wondering whether there is a way to insulate it as well.
You will need a fire-resistant material such as a cement board in order to insulate the firebox from the inside.
Here is a step-by-step guide for insulating the smoker’s firebox using a cement board:
- Make sure that the smoker is off, and the firebox is cool
- Use a tape measure to measure the inside walls of your smoker’s firebox
- Mark the cement board with the measures of all of the walls
- Place it on a flat table or another surface, and cut the marked shapes out until you have cutouts for all walls of the firebox
- Line the cutout pieces on the inside of the firebox wall by wall
It is a good idea to check what types of fibers and other components are used for the making of the cement board because, after all, it will be coming near to the food you eat.
You may also want to check how the particular material reacts to long hours of exposure to high heat before choosing which brand to use. If you find another safe and fire-resistant material similar to cement board, you can use it instead.
Tips to keep the cooking temperature in the smoker
The key to perfectly smoked brisket or any other low and slow-smoked food is the consistency of the temperature throughout the cook.
Here are some tips for maintaining the desired temperature inside the smoker for as long as needed:
- Avoid opening the lid unless it is absolutely necessary. Every time you open the lid, some heat and smoke will come out. This will interfere with the cooking and the smoking process and will cause the temperature to drop. Then the smoker will need more fuel to heat it up back again. If you want to keep a close eye on the temperatures inside the smoker and the internal temperature of the meat you are cooking, you may want to invest in a Bluetooth or other wireless meat and grill thermometer. This will eliminate the need to open the smoker to check the doneness and the ambient temperature.
- Open the vents to let more oxygen in and help the smoker heat up if the temperature drops.
- If it is raining or snowing, use an umbrella when you open the lid of the smoker to prevent it from entering and dropping the temperature.
You can achieve better results if you insulate your smoker externally and its firebox internally because this will help maintain the desired temperatures and smoke levels by keeping them in. You will also save time for cooking and money for fuel when smoking in rain, snow, and cold temperatures if you have insulated it properly.
The insulation will also protect the smoker from freezing, from the scorching sun, from dust, dirt, and other elements.
Best of all, you can continue using your smoker for cooking low and slow in the winter and still serve your guests perfectly cooked food at the end.