I always enjoy grilling and smoking with family and friends especially during holidays. However, when a holiday falls in winter, the weather sometimes won’t permit us to enjoy smoking and grilling. This is why I considered using a smoker blanket so we can smoke meat all year round.
Smoker blankets are generally safe to use as they are made of materials that can withstand high temperatures. However, when using one, make sure the vents are not covered. Using a smoker blanket can help lessen fuel use and maintain a steady temperature, particularly in cold seasons when grilling and smoking is extra challenging.
There are more reasons to love smoker blankets aside from using them in colder months.
What is a Smoker Blanket and Does it Work?
Smoker blankets are also known as smoker jackets or insulated smoker blankets. They are made of non-toxic silicone material that is high-heat resistant. A smoker blanket is placed over a smoker while it smokes the meat. It is used as protection for the smoker and adds an extra coating of insulation.
Smoker blankets can be very handy during colder months. Meat smoker enthusiasts know how weather can affect the smoker’s temperature. Keeping a consistent temperature is very important when smoking meat, but rain, wind, heat, and cold can all affect the smoker fire, which can result in uneven cooking.
Most smoker manufacturers also produce smoker blankets specific to their smokers with holes that are placed where the vents are. It is important that vents are not covered when smoking using a smoker blanket to prevent fire. But do smoker blankets work? Yes, they do and they work like magic!
How do I know that? Because I tested it with my own hands. I tried experimenting when the weather was a bit cold. I used the same meat, procedure, and smoker like I would in warm months. I tried smoking one meat using a smoker blanket and the other meat without one.
What I noticed was with a smoker blanket, I used less fuel and was able to maintain a steady and better internal temperature.
While the smoked meat without a smoker blanket turned out to still be good, it was more challenging maintaining the temperature since the weather was a bit cold. Apart from that, I kept adding just to maintain my desired temperature.
So, if you ask me if smoker blankets are safe and effective, my answer would be yes to both.
What are the Benefits of Using a Smoker Blanket
People use smoker blankets for several reasons. I basically use it when the weather is not too friendly to smoke meat. But apart from that, there are other advantages to using a smoker blanket:
Significantly Reduce Fuel Consumption
Whatever type of smoker and fuel you use, whether it’s charcoal or pellets, your fuel consumption will be noticeably lower. Since the smoker is shielded by wind, rain, cold, and other elements that may affect the smoking chamber, it will be able to hold heat better.
Since there is more heat kept inside the smoker, the fire won’t have to work hard to provide the heat, resulting in lower fuel consumption.
As the name suggests, smoker blankets or smoker jackets work just like the way you use your blankets in bed or wear jackets when you feel cold. They are used to keep the cold away and to keep the warmth from getting out. The same principle applies to smoker blankets.
The smoker blanket makes it hard for outside weather conditions to get through the smoker and at the same time keeping the heat trapped inside the cooking chamber. This gives the smoker a steady fire that allows it to cook the meat evenly at a constant temperature.
Cooks Food Evenly
One reason why food does not cook evenly is because of the elements outside that may affect the temperature inside the smoker. As the smoker blankets protect the smoker from outside elements, it keeps the heat inside.
Maintaining consistent heat inside the cooking chamber will result in an even distribution of temperature. When the temperature is evenly distributed, this means all parts of the meat will be cooked evenly, resulting in a more palatable finished product.
Great to Use All Year Round
Smoke meat any time of the year, regardless of the weather. Outside temperature can affect smoking meats. For people who live in very cold conditions, it can be very difficult to keep the temperature slow and low.
This is particularly true when using an analogue controlled smoker or valve. In order to keep a steady temperature during the colder season, you will be forced to use more fuel than usual. However, smoker blankets can be used not only during the colder seasons but all year round.
Insulation Jackets or Welding Blankets?
Aside from smoker blankets, there are other ways to protect the smoker from outside elements. The most common insulation options for smokers are welding blankets and insulation jackets. But which of the two is a better alternative to smoker blankets? Let’s find out.
Insulation jackets are somewhat similar to smoker blankets with some differences. One difference is that they can be used for other products aside from smokers. Compared to smoker blankets that have vent holes, insulation jackets don’t have one. You need to cut the holes for the vents.
Insulation jackets are also made of lighter materials and may not be so effective to hold heat. Foil is often used on both sides to help keep the heat from escaping.
Since they are made with lighter materials, the heat and fire resistance may vary. It is best to check first that it can accommodate the smoker’s highest temperature.
While it is not so great when it comes to temperature control, similar to smoker blankets, it may use less fuel compared to when not using one. Another downside of insulation jackets is that they may be hard to fit on the smoker. However, it is recommended to buy a size larger than your smoker.
When installing the insulation jacket, be sure to cut the vent holes bigger than the smoker’s vents. As a safety precaution, don’t cover the pellet hopper or firebox.
You can also add a chimney so that the exhaust is directed away from the smoker or jacket. Lastly, make sure that it is safe to use above your smoker’s maximum temperature and is fireproof.
A welding blanket is also a great alternative. Just like smoker blankets, they are great in insulating and trapping heat inside the smoker. They are also fire-resistant, so there is a smaller chance in catching fire. However, similar to insulation jackets, they should not be used around the firebox.
Welding blankets are not custom-made, so holes should still be cut around the vents, flue, or smokestack. One advantage of using welding blankets is you can make your own and customise it for your existing smoker.
It is easy to find and purchase a welding blanket online. However, when buying one, be sure to pick something that is thicker. If you can’t find a thick welding blanket, you can always fold it to make it thicker and insulate better. Welding blankets are also more affordable than smoker blankets and insulation jackets.
So, which is a better alternative, insulation jackets or welding blankets? Well, both have their advantages and disadvantages,
But if you are looking for a more affordable alternative, welding blankets are a great option. Insulation jackets, on the other hand, can be used on other products aside from smokers.
A smoker blanket is worth buying because it gives a lot of benefits to your smoker, especially if it is a thermal blanket.
A thermal smoker blanket is not just a cover for your smoker, but it can save you money by increasing your smoker’s performance. Less heat escaping from the smoker means that you will save more fuel in the long run.
It is also very beneficial during cold weather because it can decrease your startup time. A thermal smoker blanket can regulate the temperature better because there are less wind and heat escaping from your grill.
You need to insulate your smoker to hold and maintain temperatures for a much levelled and even result. Your food will be cooked much faster and will have a tastier and more smokey flavour.
It is very helpful during the cold weather because it helps the smoker heat up faster and control the temperature much better.
Smoker blankets are typically made of silicone or any materials that are fire-resistant and can work at very high temperatures. However, there are other types of insulations for smokers such as welding blankets.
This type of insulation is usually made of leather, fibreglass, and felt. But the most effective material for welding blankets is fibreglass. While leather and felt are also effective, it’s best to choose fibreglass if available. Another option is an insulation jacket that normally has foil in it.