Can you use a smoker under a tent or canopy? (More Than Fire Safety!)

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  July 6, 2022

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Summer is all around us! Smoking meat under a scorching sun or even in harsh weather is, of course, a no-no without something up over our heads.

If you don’t have good trees or patios around to cover your smoking, a tent or canopy is your go-to option for a smoker underneath covering.

But can you safely use a smoker under a tent or canopy? Let me tell you, it’s certainly not JUST a matter of fire safety!

Smoking under a tent or canopy

Yes, you can smoke under a tent or canopy, but you need to be careful about fire safety and ventilation. Plus, a canopy or tent made from the right materials helps. But certainly don’t forget about ceiling clearance as the smoke might stain your fabric.

I know you’re excited to try smoking under a canopy or tent for the first time. But there are some things you need to know first, and they can even save your life.

In this blog post, I’ll give you some tips and tricks for smoking under a tent or canopy.

What is the risk of smoking under a canopy tent?

The canopy fabrics are made of polypropylene and vinyl, which are highly flammable and can melt as fast as the fire digests the material.

Once the melting starts, it may be harder to save everything under the canopy as you could potentially incur second or third-degree burns.

Apart from fire accidents, the most important problem is the presence of smoke and odor in the air that can suffocate.

If the oil may have leaked onto the tent’s lining, it is always better to clean it out with soap immediately.

Watch out for other substances around you as well that are flammable. Keep them out of reach.

Is fire the only thing to worry about when smoking under the canopy?

This is a great question. But really, while the fire is scary, it’s actually the after-effects and the harm that it can do to you.

As mentioned, there is a potential for people to get burnt by drops of melting canopy overhead. This kind of burn is harder to heal and could hospitalize you for days.

You also risk your precious smoker getting ruined!

How can you smoke meat under a canopy tent safely?

It’s all about fire safety and following precautionary measures. It’s best to read the manuals and identify the materials used in your canopy or tent. Keep children on their best behavior too!

Eliminating hazards is your first step to safety, and here are some other ideas to avoid accidents.

  • Clear an area around the grill of any debris, including leaves and sticks.
  • Don’t use a grill that is too small for the food you’re cooking.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby or any other fire fighting equipment
  • Organize everything you need to smoke, like pellet grills and wood chips

But sometimes, despite how you pay your utmost attention to keeping everything safe, assurance could still not be on your side.

So, here are my ultimate tricks and tips to help you.

Tips for using a smoker under a tent or canopy

So, accidents can still happen despite the preparations, then what’s the point of preparation if there’s no assurances?

Wrong question. Preparation is still the best form of prevention for smoking accidents. The question should revolve around increasing the chances of safety assurance.

Smoking under a canopy shouldn’t be a question either—it’s just a matter of having the right tricks up your sleeve.

But unlike all other magicians, I for one would like to reveal my smoking secrets.

Choose the right canopy

So, the number one thing you should be looking for is choosing the right tent or canopy. Some really cheap tents are only made with thin clothes and vinyl. But what we are looking for here is your safety. In that case, choose canopies that have passed the CPAI-84 evaluation process.

The CPAI-84 testing procedure verifies the fabric used in the tents’ flame resistance (ceiling, walls, and floor).

Even so, you will still need to be careful and there is no 100% assurance that it will be fire-resistant, especially if it’s left unchecked.

Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation

The second thing you need to do is make sure there is plenty of ventilation. If not, the smoke will suffocate you inside the tent. The key here is to have good airflow so that the smoke can escape. You can use a fan to create a draft and help ventilate the area. Just be sure to point the fan towards the tent’s opening so the smoke can escape. Excess heat and oil spits are not a good combo while smoking under a canopy.

You can also open all the doors and windows of the tent or canopy. This will help create a cross breeze and ventilate the area better.

Strategize on placing your smoker around the canopy space

Another pro thing you can also do is strategize on placing your smoker around the canopy space. It’s not avoidable that you’ll have a couple of things around, like a few stools, a cooler filled with beer, some plates and forks, sauces, and some pieces of clothing you use to cool off the smoker. Have adequate space for everything under a covered porch.

Make sure to place it somewhere in an accident-prone zone, especially if you have children around.

Don’t forget about the wind

Last but not least, don’t forget about the wind. If it’s windy, the smoke will billow out and you’ll be suffocated. So, if it’s windy, make sure to keep the smoker close to the tent or canopy so that the smoke won’t escape. These are just some of the things you need to know about smoking under a tent or canopy. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your smoked meats without any problems.

Then enjoy your smoke coupled with some cold beers!

But wait… we’re not through yet!

Just as you doubt whether to smoke under your canopy, these benefits might change your mind the next time you smoke!

Continue reading to find out those amazing benefits that are keeping us from freely smoking our briskets and ribs for eternity.

The benefits of using a smoker under a tent or canopy

There are actually a few benefits to smoking under a tent or canopy.

  • It protects you from the elements

If it’s raining or snowing, you can still enjoy your smoked meats without having to worry about getting wet or cold.

  • It helps keep the smoke contained

This is important because you don’t want the smoke to billow out and bother your neighbors.

  • It can help keep the heat in, which is important for smoking meats.

So, these are just some of the benefits of using a smoker under a tent or canopy. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your smoked meats without any problems.

Also Read: Best BBQ Smokers for Beginners

The downside of smoking under a canopy

I know we’ve already talked about the fire, but another downside of smoking under a canopy is the smoke stains. Normally, smoking leaves dark stains that might be harder to clean. It’s not just the stains, but the smoky smell that goes with them.

At other times, it could also be oil stains that could be dangerous as they could easily catch fire.

Just be careful around them and be sure to follow the safety measures when smoking under a canopy.

How can you wash your tent or canopy from the smelly smoking stains?

You need to use a mild detergent and scrub it gently. After that, rinse it with clean water and let it dry completely before using it again. Other smokers may also recommend using a couple of lemons to mix with the detergent. Be sure to rub it gently so that there will be no scratches on the canopy material.

However, if you want to prevent the stains in the first place, you can use a tarp or something similar to cover the area where you’ll be smoking.

The best canopy for smoking

If you haven’t bought a canopy yet for your future smoking plans, the EWAY Grill Gazebo, EliteShade Titan, and MasterCanopy Grill Gazebo are proven to be the best ones to use.

As for myself, since I’m blessed to have a few trees around my home, I’m happy to not be using any canopies right now, but if the need arises, I’ll definitely try one.

Final Thoughts

Yes, you can use a smoker under a tent or canopy. Doing so can help to keep the smoker hot and prevent heat from escaping, as well as help protect against wind and weather conditions. Additionally, using a smoker under a tent or canopy can keep smoke contained so it does not disperse into the air.

Overall, using a smoker under a tent or canopy can be beneficial in many ways. It helps keep the heat contained, protects against wind and weather conditions, and can even help with temperature control. If you plan on smoking meats or other food items, consider applying the tips and tricks you’ve learned here for the best results.

Also read: here are things to consider when smoking on a balcony

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.