Before cooking with your smoker, the following steps should be closely followed to both cure the finish and season the interior steel. Failure to properly follow these steps may damage the finish and/or impart metallic flavors to your first foods.
- Brush all interior surfaces, including grills and grates, with vegetable cooking oil.
- Build a small fire on the fire grate or pan with charcoal, being sure not to lay coals against the walls.
- Close door. Position damper and smokestack damper approximately to one quarter open. This burn should be sustained for at least two hours (the longer the better). Then, begin increasing temperature by opening the damper and smokestack damper halfway and adding more charcoal.
Your smoker is now ready for use.
Cleaning your grates will help reduce any rust buildup that might occur while at the same time preserving the quality taste of your food. You’ll want to scrape your grates after each use using a nylon-bristled cleaning brush, but you should also expect to do a deep cleaning at least once a year.
For a quick clean:
- Let grates cool completely after a cook. Using a nylon-bristled cleaning brush, scrape in a vertical pattern up and down the grates.
- After scraping your grates clean, dry and saturate the grates using vegetable oil to prevent rust from forming. DO NOT USE WATER.
For a deep clean:
- Mix 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda in a garbage bag.
- Seal the grates in the garbage bag with a rubber band or tie.
- Soak the grates overnight.
- Remove the grates and rinse them off with water. The food that was originally stuck on the grates should fall off, but if there’s anything still stuck on you should be able to easily scrub off the rest.
- Pat dry with a towel and saturate the grates with vegetable oil to prevent rust from forming.
The frequency of clean-up in and around your smoker is determined by how often the smoker is used. Make sure coals are completely extinguished before cleaning the inside of the unit. Thoroughly rinse with water and allow to air dry before using again. Wipe out the interior of the unit with a cloth or paper towels. When finished cooking, and the unit has adequately cooled, clean out all remaining ashes. Ashes collect moisture, which can lead to premature rusting and decay. Use the Oklahoma Joe's® Blacksmith Rake & Brush to cleanout any coals and ash from the firebox after everything has cooled into a non-combustable garbage bin and dispose of according to your local trash service's guidelines.
Rust can appear on the inside of your smoker. Periodically coating the interior surfaces with vegetable oil will aid in the protection of your unit. Also, occasional touch up of the exterior paint will be required. We recommend the use of a commercially available black high temperature spray paint. NEVER PAINT THE INTERIOR OF THE UNIT.
To build your fire:
1. Stack charcoal briquettes or wood into a pyramid-shaped pile on top of the charcoal grate or ash pan. We recommend using 2 pounds (approximately 30 briquettes) to start your fire, adding more as needed.
2. If using lighter fluid, saturate the charcoal briquettes with lighter fluid and let it soak in for approximately 5 minutes. If using a chimney starter, electric starter, or other type of fire starter, light your fire according to the manufacturer's instructions.
3. Always light the fire with the cooking chamber and firebox lids open. Leave lid open until briquettes are fully lit. Failure to do this could trap fumes from charcoal lighter fluid in grill and may result in a flash fire when lid is opened.
4. Never add charcoal lighter fluid to hot or warm coals, as flashbacks may occur causing injury.
5. You are ready to begin cooking when the pile of briquettes ashes over and produces a red glow (approximately 12 – 15 minutes).
6. Depending on your cooking method, either leave the briquettes in a pile or spread evenly across the charcoal grate using a long-handled poker.
7. Avoid laying coals on smoker walls.