What is Evaporative Cooling and How Does it Affect Your Smoke?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 27, 2022

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Evaporative cooling is a natural process that occurs when water changes state from liquid to gas, resulting in a cooling effect. When smoking meat, this process helps keep the temperature consistent.

In this article, I’ll explain how to use evaporative cooling to your advantage while smoking meat.

What is evaporative cooling

Understanding Evaporative Cooling in Smokers

Evaporative cooling is a natural process that occurs when water changes its state from a liquid to a gas. This process requires energy, which is taken from the surrounding environment, resulting in a cooling effect. In the case of smoking, evaporative cooling occurs when moisture evaporates from the surface of the meat, cooling it down.

What are the Different Types of Evaporative Cooling Systems?

There are two main types of evaporative cooling systems commonly used in smokers:

  • Direct evaporative cooling: This involves passing hot, dry air through a wet pad, which cools the air as it passes through.
  • Indirect evaporative cooling: This involves passing hot, dry air through a pad that is cooled by passing water over it. The cooled air is then passed through a heat exchanger, which removes the excess heat.

Why Smoking Causes Evaporative Cooling: The Science Behind It

When you’re smoking a brisket or any other meat, the rising temperature of your smoker causes the moisture in the meat to evaporate. This process is called evaporative cooling. As the moisture evaporates, it cools the surface of the meat, which balances out the heat being produced by your smoker’s fuel. This causes the temperature of the meat to plateau, usually at around 150°F.

Wrapping: A Solution to Control Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling can be a problem when smoking meat, especially if you want to cook it for a long time. The longer you cook the meat, the more moisture it loses, and the more it cools down. This can result in a longer cooking time and a dry, tough piece of meat. However, there is a solution: wrapping the meat in paper or foil.

When you wrap the meat, you create a barrier that prevents the moisture from evaporating. This helps to maintain a consistent temperature and prevents the meat from cooling down too much. Wrapping also helps to keep the meat moist and tender, as it traps the liquid that is released during the cooking process.

The Importance of Liquid in Smoking

Another way to control evaporative cooling is to add liquid to the smoker. This can be done by using a water pan or by spritzing the meat with a liquid such as apple juice or vinegar. The liquid helps to keep the surface of the meat moist, which reduces evaporative cooling and helps to maintain a consistent temperature.

In addition to controlling evaporative cooling, adding liquid to the smoker can also add flavor to the meat. The liquid can be infused with herbs, spices, or other ingredients to create a unique and delicious flavor profile.

Smoking and Evaporative Cooling: A Recipe for Disaster?

When smoking meat (here’s how to at home), evaporative cooling is an important factor to consider. However, it can also be a double-edged sword. Here’s what happens when evaporative cooling meets smoke:

  • Smoke is made up of tiny particles that can easily be drawn into the home through open windows or doors.
  • Evaporative coolers work by pulling hot, dry air from outside, passing it through a cooler that removes the heat and adds moisture, and then blows the cooled air back inside the home.
  • When smoke is present, the evaporative cooler pulls it inside the house along with the hot air, leading to poor indoor air quality.
  • The cycling of the cooler eventually cools the smoke, making it harder to dissipate and a sign of a bigger issue.

What Can You Do to Prevent This?

If you have an evaporative cooler and enjoy smoking meat, there are a few things you can do to prevent smoke from entering your home:

  • Keep windows and doors shut while smoking to prevent smoke from entering the home.
  • Arrange for professionals to fit your home with a ventilation system that can remove smoke from the air.
  • If you notice smoke entering your home, shut off the evaporative cooler immediately and contact technicians who can identify and solve the problem.

Is Evaporative Cooling Bad When Smoking?

Evaporative cooling is not necessarily bad when smoking, but it can be if you’re not careful. Here’s why:

  • Evaporative cooling is great for keeping your home cool and comfortable, but it can also draw smoke inside.
  • If you’re smoking meat and using an evaporative cooler, the cooler can pull smoke inside, leading to poor indoor air quality.
  • This can be a serious issue if you have respiratory problems or allergies.
  • However, if you take the necessary precautions, such as keeping windows and doors shut and arranging for proper ventilation, you can still enjoy smoking meat without any issues.

Mastering Evaporative Cooling in Your Smoker


So, evaporative cooling is a natural process that occurs when water changes state from a liquid to a gas. It requires energy taken from the surrounding environment, resulting in a cooling effect. 

You can control evaporative cooling by adding liquid to the smoker, wrapping the meat, and keeping the windows shut. So, don’t be afraid to try smoking with evaporative cooling – it’s a great way to keep the house cool and comfortable while enjoying your favorite meats.

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.