Cleaning OK Joe or any offset smoker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by rhaugle, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    Hey all,

    Just curious on methods people use to clean their pits, and the order/process. My booklet says to spray it down with water, let it air dry before firing up again. THEN it says to wipe down with paper towels.

    What do you guys do? Wipe down the inside of the CC with paper towels? Do you hose off the inside? How do you get the "gunky" stuff out? Theres some drippings on the bottom that didn't make it to the drain, and also the sticky junk all over the inside. 

    I have a pressure washer I could use also.


    Smoke on
  2. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    On the OJ I would put tin foil on the bottom. When I was done smoking I would clean the grates while it was still hot. Then the next day remove tinfoil an add a new piece.
    My big RF smoker that takes me a couple hours to clean. But I don't clean the reverse flow plate every-time.
  3. valleypoboy

    valleypoboy Smoke Blower

    I don't clean (yet). IMHO cleaning with water invites rust. I've read about scraping the buildup with a spackle tool, that's what I am planning on doing.
    I just had to de-rust the top grate from the firebox, bottom probably needs it too. I seasoned it with flaxseed oil so hopefully that keeps the rust at bay.
  4. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    you don't clean it out after a cook? The drippings or anything?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  5. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    I pull the cooking grate out and use a long handled brush with some hot water and degreaser. The inside which is the bottom of a 250 LP tank I use an ash shovel and scrap it out, no water.
  6. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    Clean?  Whats this clean you speak of?

    If my grills or smoker are looking really junky, I just run a hot fire in them to burn the crap off, but I only do that at the start of the season.
  7. davidski

    davidski Smoke Blower

    so i leave the grates as is.. ill wipe down with dry paper towels. for the inner chamber i take a large folded wad of paper towels and poor some high temp oil on it.. like canola or peanut. i then take some mortan's salt and poor it on the grease on my towel. i then rub down the top 3rd of the chamber. i make another folded clump of paper towel add oil and salt... i get in the groves where the grates lay. at the bottom you should now have a go amount of salt and moist gook. with just papertowel and a little oil, rub and push all the gook into the drip can or collect it in the towel and throw out.  Now you've cleaned and preoiled your smoker for the next use. i only do this about every 4-6 smokes or at least 2 times a year. 

    I find the salt is hard on the gook, but not on the paint. 
  8. Cleaning is a little hit or miss.  The smoking chamber and the firebox are lined on the bottom with heavy duty aluminum foil.  I empty the ashes before each smoke. The ashes go into a galvanized trash bin with a tight lid to extinguish any coals.  My neighbor set his house on fire with week old ashes from a grill that still had some live coals hidden inside.   Every third or fourth time I remove the foil in the smoking chamber and wipe down the chamber with paper towels.  I use a spackle knife for stuff that doesn't come off.  When done, I wipe down with a thin layer of vegetable oil.  

    I clean the grates every time before starting with a grill brush and scraper, followed by wiping off with paper towels.  I follow this with a coating of vegetable oil.  

    I'm going to try the salt cleaning next time.  

    Citrus oil cleaner is a no go.  Green or not, it doesn't work very well and leaves an odor.  It is not worth the cost.  Ditto for any kind of oven cleaner.  Soap and water are also no go. My smoker is made of thin steel and I avoid any kind of rusting like the plague.  

    At the end of the day, the grease buildup is more cosmetic than hygienic.  Most of the buildup is in lower temperature areas where it doesn't vaporize anyway.  Grease also protects against rust.  
  9. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    After I'm done with a smoke i get my fire really hot and get my smoker to 325-350 degree in the CC. i open the door and take a long handled wire brush and scrub all the cooking surfaces then i spray with a garden hose around all the surfaces so that the entire CC is steam cleaned. Then I close up the CC and let the fire die. When the smoker is cooled then i cover with canvas and put in my garage. the next time i go to use the smoker before i build a fire i check the cook chamber for anything i missed and rub down with paper towels to get any residual grease or gunk. I repeat this process after every smoke. 

    Happy Smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  10. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    I scrape mine out of the loose or crumbly stuff with an old automotive window scraper. When it gets a bit too dull to remove frost and ice it works good and wont scratch. I use it in the main body and in the firebox. I scrape the outer wall and my heat management plate.
  11. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I assume everyone, like me, always preheats before cooking. At the high end of of the preheat, I have some long handle Stainless Steel welder brushes. It doesn't take much, it just knocks off the dingle-berries because the grate is seasoned. Then I mop the grate with my basting sauce (butter, vinegar, as spices) and it re-seasons anything that needs it. As long as you don't screw up your grill.smoke, nothing else will probably ever be needed.

    If you do, say get creosote in the chamber. Take it to a carwash, use the one with the big brush and an super hot wash water or steam. Afterwards re-season. If you have a friend with a 'Golden Rod" or a steam jenny, that works great also.

    It ain't rocket science.

    What ever you do, leave the cans of oven degreaser in the house for your bride to clean the oven. 
  12. gnappi

    gnappi Fire Starter

    I haven't heard the expression "dingle berries" in a very long time, you didn't by chance grow up in the Catskills?

    Anyway, now that I have a vertical smoker the bottom gets lined with foil, so no cleanup there. The stainless parts I clean in the kitchen, the doors and rest of the interior I wipe down with water as best I can.
  13. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sorry nope. Dingle-berries is one of those words with many various meanings depending upon the sititution. Although I believe the most commonly agreed upon is:

    Or on custom cars, Hmmmm... maybe they were called dingle balls....
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
  14. Few weeks back, I was cleaning my smoker, I reached in and under the RF plate thru the CC. I stuck my hand in a puddle of grease, I got as much as I could with paper towels. What is the best way to clean under the RF plate when it is welded in? Should I add a grease sump and drain to the bottom of my smoker?
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016
  15. valleypoboy

    valleypoboy Smoke Blower

    Killerb468, there's a drain on the left side of my OK joe, most of the drippings flow out it during a cook.
  16. I have a grease drain on my RF plate, I am referring to grease runningbdown the end and under the RF plate.

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