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In Reply to: painting a smoker posted by paulsbbqpit on April 02, 2013 at 17:12:53:
I found the following on the internet some time ago and saved it.
If the paint is peeling from the exterior of a barbeque smoker, I recommend going to a large hardware store, and buying the best heat paint you can get. Try for Rust-o-leum 1000F, or 1300F paints if you can find them. When heated, epoxy paints are TOXIC and cannot and should not be used on food equipment like barbecue pits. The paint breaks down when heated and gets inhaled, so to speak. Not real good for you. You might not die right away, but it may be harmful to you.
Most commercial smoker manufacturers usually use 500F or 700F paint. As I understand it, charcoal burns at 700-959F. Hardwoods burn at roughly 1050-1180F. Due to the expansion and contraction of the surfaces of barbecue pits made from sheet metal and steel to 1/2" thick, I have found that the metal can move as much as 1/8" during the heating and cooling process. The heat oxidizes and embrittles the paint, and the repeated expansions tear it, causing it to flake.
Start with the best paint you can find. I use 1300F paint on my barbecue pits. I give them five coats, painted over a three day period and dried a week before I will let a customer touch them. Smoking out (curing) the smoker should also help set the paint just like you would a new skillet. Wire brush the bad areas well and then wipe down with water and allow that to dry. You can even light the smoker with a LOW FIRE, say 200F, to help expand the metal so the paint will penetrate deeply into the pores. Then spray or wipe the paint on while the smoker is warm. This helps bake it on. Apply a few coats, with an hour in between. Let the smoker cool naturally. Cold water or high humidity at this point only counteracts the steps taken. Be sure there is a 70% humidity or less for the application of the base coat of paint if possible.
Your smoker will probably peel again as there are very few paints of the quality needed for this application that the average person could afford. You can also apply Pam or peanut oil to the outside of the firebox after it has cooled when you finish cooking, as this will help keep the paint pliable, thus inhibiting cracking of the paint to a small degree.
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