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Unfortunately, not all of us can live in a place with warm weather year-round. Yet when the cold winter arrives, you do not have to stash away your meat smoker. While smoking in cold and/or wet conditions will make your smoke harder, using a smoker blanket can help you produce the yummy BBQ you desire, even in the worst of conditions.
But Are Smoker Blankets safe and should you use them?
Smoker blankets are very safe to use as they are generally made of a silicone coated material. Not only is silicone non-toxic, but it has a high heat resistance and can withstand temperatures well over 500° Fahrenheit. Smoker blankets are a safe and effective way to add an extra layer of insulation to your smoker.
If you experience cold weather during your winter months, here is why you should absolutely be using a smoker blanket.
What Is A Smoker Blanket?
Weather plays a huge roll in controlling your smoker’s temperature. Wind, heat, rain, and cold can all effect your smoker’s fire making it hard to keep a consistent temperature. This can ultimately lead to temperature spikes and uneven cooking.
This is where smoker blankets come in handy! Commonly called, insulated smoker blankets, smoker blankets, or smoker jackets, these heavy duty covers usually made from high temperature silicone that are designed to be placed over your smoker while smoking meat. Most smoker brands make a smoker jacket specific to your smoker with holes in the correct places to ensure proper ventilation. These smoker blankets add a layer of insulation and protect your smoker from the elements, but the benefits do not stop there.
Why Should I use a Smoker blanket?
As stated above, smoker blankets add a layer of insulation to your smoker when you cook. This is particularly helpful when cooking in poor weather conditions. Whether you are trying to smoke meat in the rain, or are experiencing outside temperatures below 50° Fahrenheit, here are the reasons you should be using a smoker blanket.
Adding an extra layer of insulation vastly improves your ability to maintain a constant temperature in your smoker. This is the same principle as wearing jackets during the winter. When you put on a jacket, you are not only helping to keep the cold from getting to you, you are also helping to keep the warmth from escaping you.
Using a smoker blanket adds the same buffer zone to your smoker, making it much harder for the outside weather conditions to affect your smoker while keeping the heat from escaping the cooking chamber. The result, a nice and steady fire that allows to you smoke at a constant temperature, the key to any great BBQ.
Lower Fuel Consumption:
Another great reason to use a smoker blanket, it is will help conserve your fire’s fuel source. Whether you are using wood, pellets, charcoal, etc. you will use less! When your smoker is protected from the outside elements, your smoking chamber is able to hold its heat better. The more heat that is held inside the smoker, the less work your fire has to do to provide the heat. This results in fuel consumption savings.
Evenly Cooked Food:
The last reason you should use a smoking blanket, is that it will help cook your meat more evenly. When your smoker is not insulated from the outside elements, you can end up with inconsistent temperatures inside the cooking chamber. The image below is a side profile a smoker. The image of the left shows the heat distribution inside a smoker that is not insulated. You can clearly see that the temperature around the edges of your smoker is going to be cooler than the interior. Now contrast that to the image on the right representing and insulated smoker, and you will see a more even temperature distribution. An even temperature distribution will allow our meat will cook more evenly, ultimately leading to a better finished product.
Do smoker blankets actually work?
You may be saying, “well that is great in theory, but do smoker blankets actually work?”. Yes, they do! The video below is a great resource, where Dave takes a scientific approach to see if smoker blankets actually work. This is the same video where I found the graphic above! In his experiment, he ran two identical smokes including the same weather, the same procedure, the same meat, etc. The only difference between the two smokes was the first one was done without a smoker blanket and the second was done with a smoker blanket. Dave found that when using a smoker blanket, his smoker used significantly less pellets, maintained a much more consistent internal temperature, and produced a better finished product.
Can You Use A Welding Blanket On A Smoker?
Yes, you can! Welding blankets are a cheaper alternative to smoker blankets. Welding blankets are durable and can resist temperatures up to 2,000° Fahrenheit making them a good option for insulating your smoker during a cook.
Smoker blankets can be expensive, so if you are interested in in using a smoker blanket without spending all that money, welding blankets are the way to go. Smoker blankets are awesome in the fact that they are custom designed to fit your smoker perfectly. They have holes in the right places to ensure proper ventilation and straps to secure it to the smoker; however, with some modifications, you can create a DIY smoker blanket using a welding blanket that will work just as well.
Smoker Blanket DIY
Each smoker is designed differently, but by following these steps you can create a smoker blanket designed specifically for your smoker.
Step 1: Purchase a welding blanket. You can find them online or pick them up at harbor freights. When selecting a welding blanket, generally the thicker the blanket is, the better insulator it will be. If you do end up with a thinner welding blanket, you can always fold it in half to add more insulation.
Step 2: Cut holes for the exhaust: When using a welding blanket, you need to make sure you are keeping proper ventilation. If you are using a smoker where the air intake vents and exhaust vents are off to the side, then you will not need to cut your welding blanket. Simply lay the welding blanket over the cooking chamber. Otherwise, cut holes in your welding blanket where your vents would be so that when you lay the blanket over the cooking chamber, your smoker can still breathe. It is also important to note that you should not lay the blanket over your fire box if you have one.
Step 3: Secure the welding blanket to your smoker: You can simply drape the welding blanket over you smoker if you would like, but that can get annoying anytime you need to open the lid. Likewise, wind can kick up and knock it off your smoker. Secure your blanket to your smoker using straps or magnets. The video below shows a great example of a DIY smoker blanket.