Rusty Smoker? How To Treat and Prevent Rust On Your Pit

No matter what type of smoker you have, rust is going to be something you have to deal with at some point. I do have some experience with rust, so we’ll give you all the tips we’ve picked up over the years about how to remove rust, and then how to prevent it from coming back. But before we can get into all that, first we need to understand what exactly rust is.

Most smokers are at risk of forming rust because they are constructed out of metal. Rust forms on your smoker when iron mixes with oxygen in moisture to create iron-oxide. Your smoker is more likely to rust if you leave it outside exposed to the elements. When it rains, oxygen and iron mix with the moisture, and forms rust. The best way to prevent rust is to season the inside and exterior parts of your smoker with a protective layer of oil. There are also a number of chemical products on the market that are effective in preventing and treating rust.

Key Points

  1. Buy a waterproof cover to remove moisture from the equation.
  2. Store your smoker undercover or indoors in a shed or garage.
  3. Season your smoker with oil to create a protective layer.
  4. Use rust prevention products such as CARON & DOUCET, Q-SWIPER, GOO GONE or Kona spray.
  5. Regularly clean and maintain your smoker as part of rust prevention and treatment.

1. Buy A CoverPurchase a waterproof cover to remove moisture and prevent rust from forming on your smoker.
2. Store Your Smoker UndercoverMove your smoker indoors or store it in a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
3. Season Your Smoker With OilSeason your smoker with oil to create a protective layer and prevent rust. Canola oil is a good option, but be sure to check the burning point of the oil you use.
4. Rust Prevention ProductsUse rust prevention products such as CARON & DOUCET, Q-SWIPER, GOO GONE or Kona spray to prevent rust from forming.
5. Keep Your Smoker CleanRegularly clean and maintain your smoker as part of rust prevention and treatment.

What Is Rust And How Does It Form On Your Smoker?

Rust doesn’t just show up on your smoker without warning – it’s a gradual thing. Your meat smoker will rust at some point if you don’t take preventative action. Ceramic smokers are the exception, however, but even they have metal frames that can rust, so no matter what smoker you have this advice is important.

We all know rust as the reddish-brown flakes that appear on metal.

How To Treat Rust That Has Already Formed

The best way to remove rust from your smoker is with chemicals marked safe for use with food production products. I’ll cover some great options below, but for now let’s just focus on the process. If you’ve got a rusty grill or smoker, then follow these steps to fix it:

* Get smoker as hot as possible – this helps to loosen the rust. Then allow it to cool.

* Once cool, take a stainless steel brush and scrub at the rust. This should remove the worst of it.

* Take your safe-to-use chemical spray for harder to move rust. Spray according to package instructions and then scrub with the stainless steel brush again.

* Treat the smoker with oil so it forms a protective coating over the smoker to prevent rust from forming.

Treating rust is easy enough, but now you need the best chemicals for the job.

Best Chemicals For Smoker Exterior

We’ve found a few great options that are all safe to use on rusty grills and rusty smokers. Any of these should do the job, but do some research for yourself too just to make sure it’ll do what you need it to.


This is perfect for rusty smokers because it’s completely non-flammable.It’s a little pricey, but they’ve designed it for smokers, so it’s guaranteed to work. You get a lot of product too, so if you’re serious about getting rid of rust for good try this. The Rust Doctor is easy to apply and turns rust into a black iron oxide and then painted. You can find it here.


Perfect for grills. It removes rust quickly and leaves metal shining like new. You can pick this up from Amazon for a reasonable price. Here’s the link.

Five Ways To Prevent Rust on Your Smoker

If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent a lot of money for your smoker, so the last thing you want to see is rust. preventing. In order to prevent rust from forming on your smokers and grills, you can do several things.

1. Buy A Cover

The first thing you can do to prevent your smoker from rusting is quite easy, and that is to purchase a waterproof cover. Removing moisture from the equation makes it less likely that rust will form. Yes, moisture in the air outside can still cause rust even if your smoker isn’t being rained on all the time, but a waterproof cover will prevent the worst of it.

2. Store Your Smoker Undercover

If your smoker is transportable, you can also move the smoker indoors, into a shed or garage. But we know this isn’t always possible, so the waterproof cover should be your first port of call. Thankfully, there are other things you can do to prevent rust, and we’ll be covering those in a little more detail below.

3. Season Your Smoker With Oil

Seasoning your smoker is the single best thing you can do to prevent rust. And the best thing is, you can use almost any type of cooking oil to do it. Just be careful with certain oils that have lower burning temperatures because they’ll burn quicker and not leave as good of a protective layer. We’d say something like a canola oil is best, but if you have something else to hand just do a quick search online to find out its burning point. Canola oil is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, so look for something in that ballpark. Now, here’s how to season your smoker:

  1. Spray the entire inside and outside of your smoker with your chosen cooking oil spray.
  2. Build a large fire to get your smoker as hot as you possibly can.
  3. Allow to heat for as long as possible until the smoke from the oil has disappeared. This means the burning point has been reached.
  4. Turn off your smoker and allow it to cool.
  5. You should notice a protective layer over your metal now.

4. Rust Prevention Products

The best form of treatment is prevention, and there are a few products Amazon on the market that help prevent rust from forming on smokers and grills in the first place. Even though these are helpful products, there’s no substitute for seasoning your smoker.


This is a natural BBQ, grill, and smoker cleaner and the oil helps prevent rust. You can find it here.


And finally, if you want something that’s natural and kinder to your smoker whilst still being powerful, use this after every cook to prevent rust. Here it is.


The Goo Gone product we spoke about earlier is actually great at preventing rust because it’s so effective at cleaning. This is biodegradable and is a great overall product for cleaning grills. Just be careful not to use on faux stainless steel or aluminium. Here’s the link.


Our last suggestion is this spray from Kona. It clings to the rust well and helps reduce the time you’ll be standing and scrubbing. Here it is.

5. Keep Your Smoker Clean

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of regularly cleaning and maintaining your smoker. A clean smoker will produce clean smoke, and will reduce the risk of grease fires and temperature swings. Your rust treatment and prevention should be a part of your smoker maintenance.

Before you start a thorough clean of your smoker, you’re going to need these things:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Dish soap
  • Cleaner spray (that’s safe for grills and smokers)
  • Paper towels
  • Sponges
  • Hard-wire and soft-wire brushes
  • Bucket
  • Garden hose

First, you need to remove any grill grates on the inside of the smoker, and set these aside for cleaning with water, dish soap, and your cleaner spray. You may need to use one of the brushes to remove stubborn bits of dirt.

Next, focus on the interior. Your plastic putty knife is great for reaching those difficult places and removing built up grease. You’ll need your rubber gloves for this part too, because lots of black bits of burned carbon will fall down and you don’t want to be covered in all the nasty dirt. The key to cleaning the interior is being cautious. Don’t use any water and only a little cleaning spray because too much liquid can damage your smoker and prevent certain parts from working. Use sponges and brushed to remove stubborn dirt, and paper towels to remove all the dirt that accumulates at the bottom once you’ve finished scrubbing.

Your last job is the exterior. Be even more gentle here than on the interior. Use sponges, dish soap, and a little water and work in the direction of the stainless steel if that’s what your smoker is made of. Doing this ought to bring out the shine again. Never use wire brushes or wire sponges as this will scratch the metal and make your smoker look beat up.

My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools

Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.

Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.

Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.

Wireless Thermometer: The latest thermometers on the market have no wires and can be controlled by wi-fi via your phone. Airprobe 3 is the best of this technology.

Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.

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Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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