Few things can turn on an outdoor party like having a great outdoor smoker. With the right smoker, there is little that the cold weather can do to spoil the fun. The trick is to know how to operate the smoker and be extra vigilant. Whether you’re using a wood-fired or charcoal smoker, barbecuing in cold weather brings various challenges. In this post, you will learn practical Cold Weather Smoking Tips on how to use a smoker in different cold weather conditions.
The temperature between outside and inside of your smoker is always different. You see, on a warmer day, the internal temperature of your smoker before you lit the fire might be about 100 F. It means if you want to get a temperature of around 250 F, you should get a fire that will increase that temperature to that limit.
But on a cold day, the internal temperature of your smoker can be 40 F or even less. Therefore, you need a significant amount of fire to increase the temperature to reach 250 F. As a result, on a cold day, consider increasing the temperature to make a hotter fire with your smoker.
Another important factor you should consider in cold weather smoking is the effect of wind. While some smokers feature an airflow way, others don’t have. This means when the wind comes into the smoker, it moves into the cooking chamber and gets out. Therefore, if this wind blows in the direction of your smoker, it might burn the fuel faster and increase the temperature. This is the reason why you should close the air vents tightly while on a cold windy day.
On the other hand, if the wind is not blowing in the direction of the smoker, the airflow can also be affected. There might not be adequate airflow inside the smoker to reach the desired temperature level. So you should allow some airflow to happen instead of stopping it completely. Here is how you can do it, place your smoker in the same wind direction to match its natural airflow.
Cold weather with light rains or snow
Understandably, it can be tricky to smoke in cold weather with light rains or snow. When the water gets on your smoker, it tends to evaporate. Therefore it takes away the heat from your smoker. If you see that it’s raining, your best option is to open the smoker’s vents and raise the temperature to mitigate against the heat loss.
It’s in your best interest to place your smoker in a sheltered place to reduce the effects of either wind or rain. You can also build windbreaks around your smoker to prevent the wind from interfering with your barbecuing. However, you should only do this if you are using inflammable materials. This is because the wind can carry with it sparks over quite a large distance.
Alternatively, you can use flame-resistant insulation materials to keep the heat in smokers. These include water heater blankets and fire-resistant insulation, which you can find in many local hardware stores. If you intend to use these, you should cut them to fit around the smoker.