Smoking meat is a fantastic hobby that sometimes comes with a few frustrations. One of the difficulties that many people face when they are starting out is how to keep the gas smoker hot enough or how to increase the heat.
If you want to increase the heat of your gas smoker, you need to introduce more air into the mix. Allow more air to enter the smoker by opening the intake damper (bottom vent) and partially open the exhaust damper (top vent) to allow some smoke to exit. Do not allow the door to the smoker to stay open.
A basic principle to understand when you are interested in smoking meat is the ‘fire triangle’. It is associated with the three things necessary to have fire, oxygen, heat, and fuel. Without any one of those factors, fire does not exist.
The gas to your smoker will provide the fuel, and the heat is introduced when you light the fire. As far as the temperature of the smoker is concerned, it is almost entirely controlled by the oxygen flow. Understanding that simple fact can start you on your way to success.
That isn’t to say that the flame has nothing to do with the heat. Adjusting the flame can make a difference in the temperature of the smoker, but regulating the oxygen supply will either drop the temperature or raise it as desired.
You will have to be cautious that you maintain a balance when it comes to the flow of oxygen. Use too much oxygen and the heat will rise quickly. On the other hand, not opening the dampers on the top of the unit will keep the smoke from escaping.
At times, you may have a problem adjusting the temperature because the intake damper is obstructed. Make sure that the damper is operating properly and free of obstruction and you should not have any problem getting all of the heat you need.
Allowing oxygen in through the intake valve raises the heat but opening the front door will allow the heat to escape quickly. Even opening the door for a few moments could result in a significant drop in temperature.
It is also important to consider the timing of opening the intake damper. While you are smoking the meat, it might be best to leave the damper fully open.
When it is time to start cooking the meat or while it is cooking, you may need to raise the temperature of the smoker and you can do so by closing the top damper and opening the bottom damper.
Be cautious, because introducing even a little bit of oxygen to the smoker can raise the temperature a few degrees in a hurry. It is best to ease into the correct temperature until you know your smoker and what it is capable of doing.
You might also need to consider how the oxygen can be adjusted to lower the temperature if at all necessary. If you find that the smoker heats up quickly and gets too hot, it will affect the finished product.
You can lower the temperature by closing the lower damper and opening the upper damper. A combination of both or one or the other will lower the temperature. Eventually, you will know how to do this without even thinking about it.
If at all possible, keep the door closed at all times while you are smoking your meat. Adjust the temperature with the intake and exhaust dampers and leave the door to the smoker alone. The meat isn’t going anywhere!
Why Is My Smoker Not Getting Hot Enough?
Gas smokers are relatively simple pieces of equipment. There may be times, however, when you can’t seem to get enough heat out of the smoker. Here are some reasons why that might be the case.
Aside from the fact that the temperature drops when you open the door, you might also consider the heat sink. This allows the smoker to retain some of the heat when the door is open but it will not retain all of it.
Additionally, gas smokers tend to run hotter than other smokers, but if it isn’t getting hot enough, it may have to do with the water in the pan.
The water in the pan reduces the temperature in the cook chamber to a certain extent. Using too much water can make it difficult to raise the heat. It might get hotter, but it will do so slowly.
How to Keep Chips from Flaring up
Another problem that many smokers experience is the woodchips flaring up and catching on fire. This is undesirable, to say the least.
As you adjust the temperature by opening the intake damper, you might find that your chip pan is getting too hot. This is a problem with some smokers, but there is a way to fix it.
Some people find that wrapping aluminum foil around the chip tray helps to reduce the temperature enough that the chips smoke and don’t flare up. If that doesn’t work, you can put the chips in a cast-iron skillet and put it on top of the chip tray. That slight separation can do the trick.
As is the case with anything with your smoker, it is a balancing act. By regulating the flame and the amount of oxygen moving through the smoker, you can regulate the heat. You might even find that you are getting good enough at it that you can get it within a degree or two on the first try.
The more consistent you are able to be with your smoker’s temperature, the more you will appreciate the finished product. Variations are going to occur and at times, it may be necessary to raise the heat quickly by opening the damper.
More often than not, however, it’s the subtle differences that really make smoking meat worthwhile. Once you get the temperature regulated, you can start to worry about the other factors and enjoy the hobby to the full.