How can I seal my smoker?
March 22, 2006 9:00 AM   Subscribe

How can I seal my home-made steel smoker? It's made out of a never-used oil drum, shaped like a giant flask. The problem is that the hatch, while large enough to cover the opening, doesn't form a perfect seal because of the body's curvature. Imperfect seal = imperfect smoking. What kind of material can take the medium heat of smoking, is non-toxic (no fiberglass!), and is slightly soft, to mold itself to the surface?
posted by paul_smatatoes to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
Photo of said smoker?

You might check out a pottery supply store. I think they have hard-wearing woven fiberglass tubing that you might be able to use as a seal and won't be prone to leaving sharp little bits of nasty everywhere.

You might also be able to use wet clay, but you'd have to replace it every run.
posted by Good Brain at 9:04 AM on March 22, 2006

Aluminum foil?
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:06 AM on March 22, 2006

Ceramic clay.
posted by delmoi at 9:20 AM on March 22, 2006

Most barbecue supply stores will sell silicone gaskets. They're made for sealing smokers and barbecues.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:35 AM on March 22, 2006

Silicone. Silicone is food-safe, pliable, and has excellent heat tolerance (which is why it is used for things like muffin tins and bundt pans). You could pick up some silicone tubing that's the right size to fit the void, glue it in place, and you're done.
posted by adamrice at 9:36 AM on March 22, 2006

When making steam roast, I use fresh dough to seal all openings between the big pot and the cover. I dont know if you have to open the hatch repeatedly because my solution would be practical for one time hatch closing and then waiting till the steaming/smoking is done.
posted by adnanbwp at 10:13 AM on March 22, 2006

I second (third?) the silicone. It's what you want.

"glue it in place, and you're done."

I don't, however, know of a high-temperature, non-toxic glue. Might want to research that a bit.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:29 AM on March 22, 2006

Something else to think about, if you felt like making your own seal. As for glue, food-safe varieties such as this aren't too hard to find.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2006

What you want to do is a little bit of college level ceramic work.

Step One: Buy a big block of clay.

Step Two: Mash it into something usable/pliable.

Step Three: With a rolling pin, roll it (on a FLAT surface) to a size larger than the opening you have (by a couple inches).

Step Four: Have a beer, every hour, for about two days. The clay will dry out a little bit into firmer piece.

Step Five: This is important. After sobering up, take the flat piece of clay off the flat surface and place it around a smooth area of the smoker. Basically møld the clay to the same curvature of the smoker. Let it sit for a day (occasically wettingg a paper towel aroudn it to help keep the shape).

Step Six: Now you have a covering, that is larger than the opening, and at the same curve of the smoker. You need to create a lip inside the curve, to match the shape of the opening. Make this out of clay, look at a tutorial to learn how to join pieces of clay together if needed.

Step Seven: Fire the lipped, curved, clay door at your nearest community college, with an art department.

Step Eight: Using a drill (at high speed) mount a handle to the new clay door. this can be purchased froµ any home depot.


It should take a couple trips (one to get the clay, once to fire it) to the local community college, but well worth the effort for a door that fits just right. Remember to always ask for help if you want to do it right!
posted by omidius at 12:18 PM on March 22, 2006

I was going to suggest flat woven fiberglass gasket from your local fireplace shop (once installed it does not shred fibers).
However i will fourth the Silicone tubing. Depending on your door you could slit it the long way and put it over the edge. As for attachment use the red Rtv silicone glue from your auto parts store, same stuff is used to glue the fiberglass gasket/seal on woodstove doors.
I sell a lot of the fiberglass gasket rope for homemade smokers and homemade gun safes.
posted by blink_left at 12:52 PM on March 22, 2006

See, we bought some of the fiberglass gasket rope, but the packaging warned that it would flake fiberglass. So we took it back. I'll check on the silicone, tho.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 1:26 PM on March 22, 2006

Tin sheet?
posted by pompomtom at 4:03 PM on March 22, 2006

High temperature non-toxic glue for silicone tube = silicone sealant. Get the neutral-cure kind (roof and gutter sealant) for use with metals.
posted by flabdablet at 6:26 PM on March 22, 2006

flabdablet has that right, although if you really care about toxicity, use Aquarium Caulk, which is (ta-da!) silicone caulk that is non-toxic. Silicone itself is non-toxic, but the solvents that keep it goopy may not be. Aquarium Caulk is kept goopy with vinegar/acetic acid. I figure if it's good enough to not kill fish, it's good enough for a smoker.
posted by plinth at 7:16 AM on March 23, 2006

Silicone sealants are not actually "kept goopy" with solvents; they're just naturally goopy until they cure.

Unlike the drying process for some plastic glues, the curing process for silicone sealants does not involve simple evaporation of a solvent. Instead, it's a chemical reaction triggered by atmospheric moisture. Various volatile chemicals get released as part of that reaction.

Silicone sealants designed for use with glass or tiles, like Aquarium Caulk, generate acetic acid during the curing process, giving the sealant its characteristic vinegar smell. Acetic acid is corrosive to metals, which is why roof and gutter sealant - designed for use with galvanized steel - uses an alternative chemistry.

If you let any kind of silicone sealant cure for a couple of days, the curing reaction will have run to completion and no further volatiles will be given off. Cured silicone sealant is nontoxic.
posted by flabdablet at 6:25 PM on March 23, 2006

« Older Bank recommendations   |   How do I find and feed blog posts into my website? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.