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How to prevent outside rust on the Oklahoma Joe


Smoke Blower
Joined Dec 24, 2012
I'm pretty anal about keeping my stuff in good shape. I keep a cover on the OKJ when not in use and I powerwash the inside of the smoker every other month or so depending on how often I use it. Recently, I've noticed a bit of rust build up on the SFB and just a small bit on the cooking chamber. While PAM is good on the inside of the cooking area, I'm not so sure it will work on the outside of the SFB or the cooking chamber of the OKJ.

I'm hoping someone could point me in the right direction regarding rust prevention. While I realize that there will always be some rust due to the nature of the material involved, there should be some retardant available to slow the process down. Kinda like a cast iron pan I would imagine.

Any help would be greatly appreciated !


AMNPS Test Group
Joined Sep 8, 2011
Phosphoric acid will change the chemical makeup of rust basically turning it back into metal and leaving a paintable surface. There are a variety of brands available at your local auto parts store in the auto paint and body section.
I would think this would be safe on the outside of a firebox that won't be in contact with any food.


Master of the Pit
Joined Jan 12, 2013
Look for "Ospho"  on google.  Company called Skyco makes a product to paint on (prep) just before you paint it.  Rustoleum high heat in quart can is what I have seen recommended here.  Brush on with foam brush or spray it direct from can, no thinner if you have a power painter. 

Good Luck,



Meat Mopper
Joined Dec 3, 2012
I would not power wash it like that.

I have an OK Joe and I never have power washed it and I have no problems like you are describing

I do cover it and if it happens that I cannot cover it due to it being hot and then it rains before I can cover it, the fire box will surface rust a bit around the door and when that happens I just hit it with a wire brush followed by a few coats of Rustoleum flat black grill paint in the spray can, it matches perfectly. I keep it handy and hit any surface rust spots as they appear.

I keep my pit clean by using drip pans, I see no need to power wash as that can remove the seasoning that helps protect the cook chamber.

I just lightly brush any accumulations that I see
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Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Sep 30, 2010
What has been described works well. I have seen others keep a can of vegetable oil near there smoker and while it is warm and cooling down they will brush the oil on the outside. same principle of seasoning cast iron.....

Ospho works very well. Just keep it on the outside and away from food contact surfaces. Wire brush and a can of high heat paint is what we do with my FIL smoker, and he keeps his in a garage, but in Florida still a ton of moisture in the air to battle......


Fire Starter
Joined Sep 12, 2013
I agree with ButtBurner, I spot paint with the Rustoleum grill paint and it seems to do the trick.

I clean out my smoker, by hand, but the only time I pressure was it is when I get ready to move (I'm in the military)...and the movers demand it. Then I always have to reseason it.

I would think that the every other month pressure washing may be expediting the rust since it removes the loose paint and opens the surface up to the environment.

Just my $0.02.



Smoke Blower
Thread starter
Joined Dec 24, 2012
Thanks for all the responses guys! I will stop power washing as often as I do and will repaint the outside with Rustoleum high temp grill paint after wire brushing the rust off. 


AMNPS Test Group
Joined Sep 8, 2011
I would treat it with some Ospho or similar phosphoric acid to kill the rust before painting or it will just be back in a couple of months.


Master of the Pit
Joined May 10, 2012
The rustoleum is actually a very good product with no primer required. It has rust inhibitors built right into the paint. A small wire brush to clean the surface rust off, then touch up with the Rustoleum BBQ paint.

Or you could just spray it with cooking oil like some suggested, the only problem there is it will attract dirt and not look as nice.

As far as pressure washing, I do the same, I can stand it when the grime builds up in a cooker, and I don't prescribe to the whole "it adds flavor" ideal.   But I never use soap! Never ever on the inside, just hot high pressure water. Then fire it up and dry it out real good. The rustoleum is actually better applied while the steel is fairly warm ( warm , not hot) and any moisture has been evaporated away and can be applied anywhere that is not in direct contact with the food or flame.
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