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Painting the Inside of a Smoker


Joined Jan 22, 2021
Hi, all. I've been lurking around here for quite some time. There is so much great content and advice, and I've learned a great deal from you all over the past couple of years.

I have a pellet smoker, and the air box has rusted through in a couple of places. It was made of a thin sheet metal and only lasted a couple of years. I went by my local metal supply shop and purchased some 1/8" steel and planned to weld together a new box. I'm not sure why it didn't cross my mind before, but I never considered how to coat it. I've looked and looked online, but I can't seem to find any good answers. I know that many of the grill paints out there are meant for the *outside* of the grill, and I've seen several people ask about painting the grill racks (not a good idea), but I haven't stumbled on any posts/articles about painting the inside surfaces of the grill. Obviously, coating these must be possible since all grills come from the factory with a coating. Rustoleum has a food safe paint, high-heat paint ( 8400 System Food & Beverage Alkyd Enamel ), but it seems to only come in two colors--white and mustard. I need to coat the bare metal with something, but I don't want to endanger my family with any caustic chemicals that burn off during cooking. I would appreciate any advice you can give me--thanks!


Fire Starter
Joined Oct 7, 2020
Figures, they only make the paint in weird colors. I have come across this so much. The smoker will be black inside soon enough to cover the terrible colors?

Just thinking out loud


Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Oct 4, 2012
I wouldn't paint it. I would oil it like you would cast iron and heat it to the proper temp for the type of oil you are using. Do this 2-3 times. That will protect it from rust and there will be nothing that may become harmful.

The paint that you have listed is not a high temp paint and shouldn't be used anywhere near a smoker. Its temp rating is only up to 212°f. This paint is meant to be used on surfaces not exposed to high heat to prevent mold and inhibit rust, So like the Outside of a commercial fridge (or inside as its rated down to 18°f)

For the piece you have if you were to paint (which I wouldn't) you'd need to use something like caliper paint (1200°f rating). The problem with these paints is they require extremely well prepared surfaces and most require that you follow a precise curing process involving high temps that are hard to achieve unless you have the proper ovens and ventilation.


Joined Jan 22, 2021
Thank you for your replies! Well, the coatings that come on grills seems mostly worthless, anyway. The paint on the airbox was flaking away inside of a year, and the ambient moisture was enough to cause significant rust. I was actually trying to cover a small hole with a scab piece of metal and 1/2 of one side of the airbox just caved in.

Regarding oils, should I use 5w30? 10w30? (LOL!) Is there an advantage to using a specific oil (canola, vegetable, olive, etc.) and where would I find curing methods on them? The air box will be hottest near the pellet pot, and I would think significantly cooler towards the pellet hopper. Should I try to "cure" the oil on the airbox in an oven before I install it in the smoker?


Master of the Pit
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Jun 30, 2018
Canola or vegetable oils are prefered for their higher smoke points. Avoid olive oil due to its lower smoke point and the fact that it goes rancid.
Give everything a light coat of oil and then run the smoker at 350 degrees for an hour. Let the smoker cool down and repeat the above one more time.
A smoke patina will develop inside the smoker during subsequent cooks. This patina will help protect against rust too.

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