There are several things that you need to get into the habit of doing with your new barbecue smoker so that it will last for many years. Some smokers and grills are a significant investment for the backyard barbecue enthusiast, and a good, quality smoker needs to serve the family as long as possible. Follow these simple barbecue smoker maintenance tips for extended use to get the best use out of your barbecue smoker.
A new smoker should always be seasoned, just like a new iron skillet or grill. To season your grill, coat the inside of the unit and the grates with cooking oil. Peanut oil works well for this because it holds up well in heat. Vegetable oil also works, and canola oil will do fine as well. Olive oil will not hold up in the high temperatures produced by a smoker or grill.
Light a fire in the fire box. Bring the temperature up to about 500 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes and allow the fire to burn out. This will seal the oil into the interior of the grill and seal out the moisture, preserving it from rust.
Never leave charcoal sitting in the grill until the next time you use it. Allow the charcoal to burn completely out until you are sure there are no more hot coals. Never leave them in the smoker longer than overnight. When it is safe to do so, dump the cool charcoal into a garbage can or another container. Charcoal holds moisture, and leaving it in the smoker between uses will cause the smoker to rust.
When the cooking is done, use the steel brush to clean all of the food off of the grates. When the smoker is completely cool, wipe the grates down with a paper towel or rag. You can also use a commercial grill cleaning product to clean off the burned food. If the grill is well seasoned, the steel brush is all that you should need.
Be sure to close the vents and the chimney vent if it rains before the smoker is cool enough to cover. After the smoker is completely cool, wipe it with a dry rag and cover it well. If your smoker did not come with a cover, the separate purchase is worth it. If you have to use a damp or wet cloth on the smoker exterior, let it dry completely before covering it.