Ever feeling frustrated by the unpredictable rain on your planned grilling session? My thoughts are with you dear Melburnians. From my research on this topic, here is the short answer to using a smoker in the rain.
Using a smoker in the rain is generally safe when safety measures are in place. Rain is usually accompanied by the winds, which can get cold. Smoking can continue if there is no sudden drop in the temperature as it could lengthen the overall smoking time.
As you get your ingredients ready for an awesome smoking session, you see the rain from your kitchen window. What you should you do in this instance? Read on to find out more.
Things to Look Out for When Using a Smoker in the Rain
1. Check the brand and model of your smoker
First, check the brand and model of your pellet smoker. This is because not all smokers are built the same.
Even though there are many users from Reddit commented that it was quite safe to continue using their smokers in the rain, one should always be cautious of any exposed electrical parts.
In this instance, a brand like the Traeger mentions:
“Your Traeger grill is built to be able to operate in most weather conditions including rain and snow. You may experience a abnormalities, though none to significantly affect your grilling experience.”– Traeger Grills
On a rainy day, Traeger grills can still function and protected from the rain as long as the rain spray is less than 60 degrees from vertical.
Be sure to check the rainproof ability of your smoker with the manufacturer before attempting to use it under the rain or drizzle.
2. Use a thermal blanket to insulate your smoker
Temperature may vary during rain fall especially when it gets windy. The smoker may be slower to ignite due to increased in humidity and there is a chance where the smoker runs at a lower temperature than initially set.
In this case, using a thermal blanket like the Green Mountain Grills 6004 Thermal Blanket from Amazon Au (if you are using a Jim Bowie grill) would be a smart move to do. Being covered by an insulated blanket, you are left with a smoker that allows you to control heat better on colder weathers.
Another plus by protecting your smoker with a thermal blanket is that it can allow you to use less pellets to keep the smoker ignited. Not forgetting to mention that the smoker will be less prone to rust.
3. Make sure the pellet hopper is closed
The pellet hopper must be closed at once when it starts raining. You wouldn’t want damp pellets sitting in your smoker.
Water or rain can easily damage the wood pellets causing them to swell in size and get lodged in the feed to the fire pot inside the smoker.
Additionally, wet wood pellets tend to be more challenging to ignite and thus creating more ashy smoke, which nobody wants.
Aim to get thin blue smoke, which is the clean and perfect type of smoke everybody wants for smoking food.
4. Make sure any extension cords are for outdoor use
Before you get on to your smoker and start grilling, make sure the extension cord (if any) connected to the pellet smoker is rated for outdoor use. Electrical parts and water do not mix well.
Ensure you avoid any hazards by using a proper extension cord even if it is under the shade and protected from the rain or water.
An outdoor extension lead like the Ultracharge Heavy Duty Extension Lead would be suitable. You can find a similar one from Amazon Australia.
5. Move smoker to an area with shield (set up gazebo, move to area with extended roof)
This is another way to protect your smoker when it gets drizzly or rainy. To better protect the smoker, you can move it to an area with shield.
When you move the smoker to an area with extended roof of your house, it becomes better protected from the elements. Do make sure to move the smoker to an area with a lot of ventilation to prevent dangerous inhalation of smoke or fire hazard.
To avoid being exposed to the rainy weather and ruin your BBQ session, you could place your smoker under a BBQ gazebo like the MasterCanopy Grill Gazebo. You can purchase it from Amazon Au. It is a good addition to the garden and protects you from the rain too while using the smoker. Make sure you have enough height between the gazebo and pellet smoker to avoid fire risk.
6. End the session if rain gets heavy or super windy with lightning
This is a no brainer but I should still remind you that when the weather gets extreme, please end the session. No grilling or smoking the perfect food is worth getting injured by fire or electrocution.
Maintaining the Smoker After Being Exposed to the Rain
We know getting moisture on the pellet smoker can encourage rusting and you probably want to dry the smoker/grill as soon as possible.
However, the grill will be extremely hot and still be releasing the heat over time. So you should wait at least 24 hours after using for it to cool down before attempting to dry it to avoid hurting yourself.
Once the pellet smoker is cool enough (after 24 hours), use an absorbent washcloth to wipe the exterior and interior of the smoker.
After the smoker is dried, you can proceed with your normal cleaning procedures. You should also check for any wet wood pellets in the hopper and remove them safely as they may jam up the auger.
Leaving the Smoker Outdoor for Long Periods of Time: What will happen to the smoker?
Depending on the model and the material of the smoker, they react differently to outdoor exposure. Rusting is a common issue when pellet smokers are left outdoor for long periods such as for a whole season.
Pellet smokers made of stainless steel will withstand better being left outdoor as compared to pellet smokers made of carbon steel sheet.
All types of grills are prone to rusting when they are consistently in contact with water, exposed to harsh weather conditions and improper care even if they are made of stainless steel.
To prevent rusting of the pellet smoker, it is best to protect the smoker with a grill cover after you are done using it. A good grill cover can be found on Amazon Australia such as the Green Mountain Grill Jim Bowie Smoker Cover.
You could also keep the pellet smoker indoor like a garage after usage and if you plan to use it after winter ends. Keeping the pellet smoker indoor when not in used for a long time is the better bet rather than leaving it outdoor to rust.
Leftover pellets should be removed from the hopper and kept in an airtight container. This is because the pellets will be at risk to moulding and rotting especially when it is humid. Smoking with rotten wood pellets can bring in unpleasant flavour to the food you smoke/grill.
For smoking, wood pellets tend to be a better choice as they last longer, giving a richer smoky flavour to the food. Wood chips burns quicker and are used in the traditional grills rather than a pellet smoker, where only pellets are suitable to be used.