You can expect some smoke to escape from your smoker. But when you see it billowing out in large quantities it may be time to do something about your smoker door. A leak in the smoker door can create issues with the smoker temperature and the air flow which in turn will lead to uneven smoking of the food.
In order to properly seal a smoker door you can use one of the following:
- Silicon gaskets
- RTV Sealent
- Ceramic ClayFire or Stove Rope
- High Temperature Caulk
Each of these products require a specific technique to be used to seal a smoker door. These options should give you an airtight, or a close to as possible, cooking chamber so your smoker works optimally.
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Options to Sealing a Smoker Door
Various products may be used to seal a smoker door. You may also find your brand smoker will have specific products geared to sealing smoker doors so make sure to contact the company. They can give you the best advice and product for your specific smoker if it’s available.
But here are some of the ways you can seal your smoker if you want to DIY with minimal fuss.
Silicone gaskets is a surefire way of solving any leaking smoker doors. Silicone can handle an extreme range of temperatures with a high heat tolerance. Silicone gaskets are designed to be pliable and handle compression at both low and high temperatures. This makes them the ideal product for sealing areas such as the smoker door.
Gasket tapes are easy to apply and either come with adhesive backing or a strong adhesive glue. For ease of use, I recommend the adhesive backing because all you need to do is cut the required length, peel off the taping on the adhesive and stick to the rim of the door. If you wish to try the tapes, you can go for the LavaLock Smoker Seal that works great with the most common smokers on the market. You can get on Amazon clicking this link.
Silicone is also waterproof, so you won’t need to stress about steam affecting the seal nor when you wash your smoker.
RTV sealant can be purchased from any local hardware or on Amazon clicking on this link. It comes in a tube and is used for any general purpose work around the house requiring a sealant. It’s also known as RTV silicone and we already know silicone is heat resistant and makes an excellent seal.
Most owners of smokers like to use the RTV silicone route for sealing their smoker doors. Make sure you remove any old sealant from the door opening before applying RTV. You can use a degreaser to do the job. Apply the RTV silicone straight from the tube in one continuous bead. You can flatten it slightly with your fingers. Once applied leave for 24 hours to cure completely.
This is quite a novel way of sealing your smoker door. It requires a bit of patience and expertise especially if you haven’t worked with clay before. You’ll need to buy a packet of clay from either your local hardware or an arts shop.
Use a rolling pin to break the clay down enough so it becomes flexible. Roll it out into a shape big enough to cover the areas which need to be sealed. Leave it for about two days to dry out slightly. The next step is to mold it around the opening of the smoker door and leave it for another day. Remove it and fire it in a kiln – you may need to find someone with a kiln to do this for you.
Once fired, you’ve got a covering that can be placed on the opening of your smoker door. This will create a seal every time you close the smoker door.
Fire or Stove Rope
The fire rope is also another way of sealing your smoker door. It’s also known as a stove rope and is most used to seal stove doors. This product gives an excellent airtight seal. It used to be made with asbestos but since that material has become a no-no, stove ropes are now made with fiberglass.
You’ll need to get a good adhesive or sealant. Apply this around the rim of the smoker door and then stick the stove rope onto it. Keep the stove rope in place with tape or pegs. Leave it for up to 24 hours to ensure it’s attached securely.
High Temperature Caulk
You may hear someone talk about high temperature caulk as another option for sealing your smoker door. This product can be made from silicone, latex, rubber, or polyurethane. It can be used as an adhesive as well as a sealant. It’s more rigid than the silicone type sealants and tends to crack after some time.
It’s good to point out high temperature sealants, caulks and silicone can be used interchangeably. When you buy a product for your smoker door sealing purposes it’s always a good idea to read the label. Make sure it’s suited for the conditions it’s going to be applied to.
Tips for Sealing a Smoker Door
The abovementioned products will help you to seal your smoker door but here are some other tips you can use to seal your smoker door:
- Door hinges: Check the hinges on the smoker door. They may have come loose during operation so make sure they are tightly screwed in. You could also apply some silicone to the hinges to keep them tight and well-sealed.
- Door handle: Is the door handle latching close properly? If not, see if you can repair it or else ask the manufacturer to do the job.
- Multiple door clamps: You could consider adding some extra door clamps to help shut the door tightly and keep it airtight while you’re smoking. This method could get a bit tedious though when you need to keep checking your meat or temperature.
- Steel lining: This is very much a DIY job and you’ll need a welding machine to use this method. Get some strips of steel and weld them onto the door or opening rim. This method is best for your older style smokers – I wouldn’t use it for sealing electric smoker doors.
- Aluminum foil: This method is a quick-fix solution on the day you’re using your smoker. If you find your smoker door is leaking smoke and heat too much, fill up the cracks with aluminum foil. Newspaper is another option, but both methods are only suitable for a short term solution.
- Door alignment: This may seem obvious to most of us but it’s worth pointing out especially if you’re using a smoker with a lid. Always make sure the door/lid of the smoker is aligned neatly with the part it closes onto. The slightest misalignment means you won’t get a good seal.
- Speak to your local hardware: You’ll be amazed at the range of products available for sealing smoker doors. Speak to the local hardware guy and get his advice. While I’ve mentioned the most used products for sealing smoker doors, your hardware may have a better solution.
Watch this video to see how you can place a gasket on a pellet smoker to prevent smoke and heat loss.
When You Need to Seal a Smoker Door
While some smoke coming out of your smoker is normal you don’t want too much getting out. Smoke adds flavor, which is why you’re smoking food in the first place and it keeps the meat tender. It’s interesting to note new smokers will have a certain amount of smoke coming through the door.
This is not the time to panic. You’ll notice the more you use your smoker, the less smoke is escaping. This is because the carbon buildup along the smoker door opening is acting as a seal. But if you feel more smoke than necessary is being released then consider sealing the smoker door.
Why it’s a Good Idea to Seal Your Smoker Door
Besides the smoker adding flavor and keeping your meat tender, there are other reasons why your smoker door needs to be sealed.
- Temperature control: When using a smoker one of the key tricks to producing a perfectly smoked meal is managing the temperature in the cooking chamber. Most times, you’re aiming to keep the temperature low and consistent especially if you’re cooking for a long time. If your smoker door is not properly sealed, you risk losing heat. In effect, you’re wasting your time trying to manage the internal heat if it’s leaking out through your smoker door.
- Air flow: One of the key ways of managing temperature settings in the cooking chamber as well as keeping the burn going is air flow. Most smokers come with dampers or air vaults to help with better air flow. So, if your smoker door is not sealed sufficiently, you’re going to find the air flow will be hampered. Any air escaping or entering through an insufficiently sealed smoker door is going to mess with your air flow management.
While I’m talking about sealing smoker doors if you’ve got an offset smoker you may also want to consider sealing the door if too much heat is escaping.
A Final Word on Sealing a Smoker Door
Smoking food is an art in itself. When you have a smoker door that won’t seal properly it can get quite frustrating. And your result may not be as good as you had hoped it to be. So, sealing your smoker door is important when you want to prevent too much smoke loss as well as heat loss.