Reverse Flow Brick Smoker

The Reverse Flow Brick Smoker: What Exactly Is It?

When it comes to the art of smoking meat, enthusiasts and pitmasters are always seeking new and innovative ways to achieve mouthwatering flavors and tender, juicy results.

One such method that has gained popularity is the use of a reverse flow brick smoker.

These unique smokers combine the traditional charm and durability of brick construction with the efficient and effective cooking technique of reverse flow smoking. 

As I’ve mentioned, a reverse flow brick smoker is a type of smoker that combines the durability and charm of brick construction with the efficient cooking technique of reverse flow smoking. It features thick brick walls that provide excellent heat retention, creating a consistent and steady cooking environment. 

In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about reverse flow brick smokers, including their design, functionality, pros, and cons so you can make an informed buying decision.

Let’s begin!

Reverse Flow Brick Smoker (Overview)


  • Superior heat retention
  • Excellent smoke circulation
  • Durability and longevity
  • Customizability
  • Enhanced flavor infusion


  • Challenging and time-consuming construction process
  • Fixed location
  • Higher initial cost
  • Learning curve


What Exactly Is A Reverse Flow Brick Smoker

So, what on earth is a reverse flow brick smoker, you ask? Imagine it like a super-charged barbecue.

But instead of slapping your burgers on a grill, we’re talking about slow-cooking your food in a box built out of bricks.

The reverse flow bit?

That’s the ingenious part. It’s all about how the smoke flows inside this smoker.

Instead of going straight from the firebox into the cooking chamber and out the chimney (which is what happens in a regular smoker), the smoke in a reverse flow smoker does a bit of a detour.

It heads off in the opposite direction first, runs under a metal plate, heats your food evenly, then makes its U-turn and finally escapes through the chimney.

Pretty neat, huh?

The Concept of Reverse Flow

Next, let’s unravel the secret behind the reverse flow.

Imagine you’re in a race where instead of running straight to the finish line, you had to loop back to the start before heading to the finish.

That’s what the smoke does in a reverse flow smoker – it takes the scenic route!

After the smoke leaves the firebox, it heads away from the chimney, under a steel plate, and then back over the food before finally escaping through the chimney.

This detour lets the smoke spend more time with the food, and it also evens out the temperature across the smoker.

That means no more hot spots, just consistent heat and flavor. In short, reverse flow is the secret ingredient to a perfectly smoked meal!

Understanding Reverse Flow Brick Smokers

We’ve already talked about what a reverse flow brick smoker is, so let’s take a closer look at its anatomy.

Anatomy of a Reverse Flow Brick Smoker

Alright, imagine a reverse flow brick smoker like a big, smoky beast.

But don’t worry, it’s a friendly beast, I promise! Its body is a large chamber built out of bricks where you’ll place the food.

Then, there’s a smaller box attached to the body – that’s the firebox, the heart of our beast, pumping heat and smoke into the main chamber.

But wait, there’s more!

There’s a heavy metal plate separating the cooking chamber and the firebox. This plate is the beast’s hidden power.

It forces the smoke to take the scenic route through the smoker, ensuring that the heat and flavor are evenly spread.

Oh, and don’t forget the chimney! It’s like the beast’s mouth, allowing the smoke to escape after it’s done its flavorful job.

Benefits of Reverse Flow Design

So, why go for a reverse flow design? Well, here’s the deal.

The reverse flow design is a flavor superstar!

Thanks to the longer smoke path and the heated metal plate, the food is cooked evenly and gets more time to soak up those scrumptious, smoky flavors.

It’s like being gently bathed in a cloud of deliciousness.

Plus, remember those hot and cold spots that happen in regular smokers? Yeah, they’re not invited to the reverse flow party.

So, you don’t have to keep moving your food around to dodge them. That’s less work for you and more consistent results.

Who doesn’t like the sound of that?

The Foundations: Setting Up Your Reverse Flow Brick Smoker

Getting excited? I sure am! It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get down to the business of setting up our reverse flow brick smoker.

But before we start building, let’s make sure we’re all set. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Space Considerations and Location

Now, remember, our smoker is not a tiny little gadget that we can squeeze into any corner. It’s like a king and needs its own castle!

So, we need to find a spacious spot that’s safe and convenient. Make sure it’s not too close to flammable stuff like trees or wooden structures.

And if you can find a spot that’s protected from wind and rain, well, that’s the cherry on top!

Also, think about the neighbors. You wouldn’t want to smoke them out with all the delicious aromas, would you?

Try to place your smoker in a location where the smoke won’t bother them or drift into their yard. Remember, being a good neighbor is key!

Material Preparation

Alright, it’s shopping time!

We’re going to need some sturdy bricks to build our smoker. Fire bricks are a great option since they’re designed to withstand high heat.

You’ll also need a metal plate for the reverse flow action and a few other odds and ends like a grill grate and a thermometer.

Now, just like a seasoned chef prepares all ingredients before starting to cook, we’re going to gather all our materials before we start building.

We wouldn’t want to run out of bricks mid-way, right? So, make sure you have everything you need. You can even draw up a checklist if you like.

It’s always better to be over-prepared!

Laying the Foundation

Got everything? Awesome! Now, let’s get to work.

The first thing we need to do is lay a solid foundation. Why, you ask? Well, just like a house, our smoker needs a firm base to stand strong.

It’s like building a sandcastle; if the base isn’t firm, the whole thing can come tumbling down!

So, clear and level the area where you want to build your smoker. Lay down the first layer of bricks, making sure they’re straight and even.

You’ll want to use mortar to stick the bricks together and create a solid base. Just think of it as the glue that holds your smoker together. 

Building the Smoker’s Body

Alright, so how do we build this bad boy? Here’s the plan. You start with the bricks you’ve already laid down. Add more layers on top, using the same pattern.

It’s like building a brick Lego castle, but instead of a plastic click, you’re using mortar to keep everything together.

Keep stacking until you’ve got a nice, high wall.

Next, you’ll need to create a space for your firebox.

This is where you’ll build your fire, so make sure it’s big enough but not too massive. It should be on one side of your smoker.

Add a few bricks, leaving space for the firebox opening.

Now, remember the metal plate we talked about earlier? Time to slide it in. This should be at the height of your firebox, creating a separate space for the smoke to travel.

Lastly, add the remaining bricks to finish off your smoker. Don’t forget to leave space for the cooking grate and the chimney!

Tips and Tricks for Efficiency

Building a smoker can feel like a big job, but don’t sweat it.

Here are a few handy tips to make things easier. First, don’t rush. Building is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time to make sure each brick is laid perfectly.

Second, use a spirit level often to make sure your walls are straight. A crooked smoker isn’t just hard on the eyes; it can also affect how well it works.

And last but not least, remember to enjoy the process. This isn’t just about the end product – it’s about the fun and satisfaction of building something with your own two hands!

Ensuring Optimum Airflow

Now, let’s talk about airflow.

In a reverse flow smoker, controlling airflow is crucial. We need enough air to keep the fire going, but not so much that it burns too hot or fast.

So, we have to create vents.

These are just small openings that allow air in and out. Place one near the bottom of your firebox for intake and another one near the top for exhaust.

This way, you’ll have a constant stream of fresh air to keep your fire happy, and the smoke will have an easy way out!

Watch this awesome video:

Designing the Reverse Flow Mechanism

Now, our reverse flow system might sound fancy, but it’s really just a few simple parts working together.

We’ve got our metal plate that we already installed, right?

That’s the main star of the show, directing our smoke on its scenic journey through the smoker.

Then we’ve got the firebox, which we’ve already built into our smoker’s body. That’s where the heat and smoke start their adventure.

Finally, we have our chimney or flue. That’s the grand exit for our smoke after it’s seasoned our food with its smoky goodness.

Placement and Installation of Plates and Flues

Now, remember how we slid our metal plate into our smoker’s body?

It’s time to secure that baby in place. Using a few extra bricks or some heat-resistant metal brackets, ensure that it’s not going anywhere.

This plate is like a traffic cop for the smoke, guiding it on the right path.

As for the chimney, it goes on the opposite side of the firebox. It’s important to place it at the right height.

Too low, and it might let smoke out before it’s had a chance to work its magic. Too high, and it might not pull the smoke through effectively.

So, aim for a spot near the top of the cooking chamber but not right at the very top. Remember, we’re after that ‘reverse’ flow!

Ensuring Correct Flow Path

We’ve got all the pieces in place, but how do we know our smoke will flow the way we want? Well, there’s no secret smoke language to learn, I promise!

The key here is to remember the basic principle: hot air (and smoke) rises. So, we’ve set up our smoker to take advantage of that.

The smoke starts in the firebox, gets directed under the plate, and because it wants to rise, it goes up and over the food before heading out the chimney.

So, the best way to ensure a correct flow path is to do a test run. Light a small fire in the firebox and watch how the smoke travels.

If it’s following the route we’ve planned – bingo! You’ve nailed it!

And there you have it – the secret sauce of our reverse flow brick smoker. It’s not so scary, right? Now, let’s keep going and put the finishing touches on our smoker.

We’re almost at the finish line!

Understanding Heat Dynamics in a Reverse Flow Smoker

So, how does heat work in our reverse flow smoker? Well, it’s a bit like a game of tag.

The heat starts in the firebox, then it’s ‘tagged’ by the metal plate, which sends it under and then up over the food.

This way, our food gets an even blast of heat from all sides – not just from the bottom.

But here’s the coolest part: the metal plate also absorbs some of that heat and radiates it back into the cooking chamber.

So, even after the smoke has moved on, the heat sticks around. It’s like having an extra, invisible heater in there!

How to Maintain Consistent Temperature

Now, maintaining a consistent temperature in your smoker is a bit like riding a bike. It might seem tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be cruising along with ease.

Here’s the secret: it’s all about airflow. Remember those vents we built? Well, they’re not just for show.

By adjusting them, you control how much air gets in and out, which affects how fast or slow your fire burns and therefore the heat in your smoker.

So, start with small adjustments and see how your smoker reacts. Open the vents a little for more heat, or close them a bit to cool things down.

Keep an eye on your thermometer and you’ll soon get a feel for it.

Solutions to Common Temperature Problems

But what if you run into temperature problems? No worries, we’ve got solutions!

If your smoker’s getting too hot, try reducing your fire size or adding some water pans to absorb some of that heat. If it’s not hot enough, check your airflow.

Are your vents open enough? Is your fire getting enough oxygen to burn hot?

And remember, practice makes perfect! The more you use your smoker, the better you’ll get at controlling the temperature.

So, don’t get disheartened if it’s not perfect at first. Keep trying, and soon you’ll be smoking like a pro!

Prepping Your Smoker for the First Use

1. Seasoning Your Smoker

First things first, we need to season our smoker.

No, we’re not talking about salt and pepper here! Seasoning a smoker means coating the inside with a layer of oil and then heating it up.

This process helps protect the smoker from rust, improves its heat retention, and also adds extra flavor to your food.

Grab some cooking oil and give the inside of your smoker a good rubdown. Don’t forget the cooking grate too! Then, light a small fire and let it burn for a few hours.

The smoker will heat up and the oil will bake onto the surface. Once it’s cooled down, give it another coat of oil, and it’s ready to go!

2. First Light: Starting a Fire in Your Smoker

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – lighting the first fire! This is where all your hard work really starts to pay off.

Begin by crumpling up some newspaper and stuffing it into your firebox. On top of that, pile some kindling – small sticks or chopped up pieces of wood work great.

Light the newspaper with a long match or lighter, and watch as the flames start to catch the kindling.

Once your kindling is burning well, add some larger pieces of hardwood. And remember, patience is key here.

It might take some time for your fire to get going, but just keep feeding it and it’ll heat up soon enough.

3. Safety Precautions

Last but not least, we need to talk about safety. Working with fire is no joke, so it’s important to take some precautions.

Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby when you’re using your smoker, just in case things get out of hand.

Never leave your smoker unattended when it’s lit. Also, make sure to wear heat-resistant gloves when handling hot parts of the smoker, and use long-handled tongs or spatulas for the food.

And remember, your smoker can stay hot for a while after you’re done cooking, so give it plenty of time to cool down before you try to clean it or move it.

Watch this:


Mastering Smoke Cooking with Your Brick Smoker

Guess what? You’re not just a builder anymore. You’re also a master of the culinary arts. It’s time to put our smoky beauty to work and delve into the mouthwatering world of smoke cooking. 

1. Best Practices for Smoked Dishes

Okay, so you’re ready to cook up a storm. But here’s the catch – smoking isn’t just about throwing meat on the grill and waiting for it to get done.

No siree! It’s an art that requires patience, practice, and a little bit of insider knowledge.

First, low and slow is the name of the game. The joy of smoking lies in its ability to transform the toughest of meats into melt-in-your-mouth wonders over several hours.

So, remember to keep your temperature low, usually between 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit, and give your food the time it needs to smoke to perfection.

Second, don’t go overboard with the smoke. You’re looking for a thin, blue smoke, not a thick, white one.

Too much smoke can make your food taste bitter, so remember – a little goes a long way!

2. How to Choose the Right Wood for Flavor

Now, let’s talk about wood. Not all wood is created equal when it comes to smoking, my friend.

Different woods give off different flavors, and some are better suited for certain types of meat than others.

Fruit woods like apple and cherry give a sweet, mild flavor that’s great for chicken and pork. Hickory and oak are stronger and work well with beef and lamb.

And then there’s mesquite – the big kahuna of smoking woods. It’s very strong, so use it sparingly or mix it with milder woods.

3. Examples of Delicious Smoke-Cooked Recipes

And finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for – time to cook! But what to make? The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

How about some classic smoked ribs? Rub them with a mix of brown sugar, paprika, and a few other spices, and let them smoke for about 5 hours.

Or maybe a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving? Just brine it overnight, then smoke it for about 30 minutes per pound.

And don’t forget about smoked salmon. Just a simple dry brine and about 4 hours in the smoker, and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal.

Maintenance and Care for Your Brick Smoker

Alright, now that you’re a smoke cooking champ, let’s make sure that your beautiful brick smoker stays in tip-top shape for all those tasty meals to come.

A little bit of regular care can go a long way in keeping your smoker working its best. So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of cleaning, repairing, and winterizing your smoker.

1. Regular Cleaning Routine

First up, let’s talk cleaning. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But isn’t all that smoke and grease part of the flavor?” Well, yes and no.

While a well-seasoned smoker can add flavor to your food, too much buildup can cause problems like uneven heating and even fire risks.

So, after each smoke session, give your smoker a good once-over. Dump out the ash, give the grates a scrub with a wire brush, and wipe down the inside with a damp cloth.

Oh, and don’t forget to empty and clean the drip tray!

2. Checking for and Repairing Damage

Even with the best care, your smoker might get a little banged up over time. So, keep an eye out for any signs of damage.

Cracks in the bricks? Loose or rusty parts? Make sure to fix these issues as soon as you spot them to keep your smoker safe and efficient.

And remember, it’s always better to fix small problems before they become big ones. So if you notice anything amiss, don’t just shrug and say, “I’ll deal with it later.”

Get it sorted out right away to keep your smoker in top shape.

3. Winterizing Your Smoker

Lastly, let’s talk about winter. If you live in an area where it gets cold or snowy, you’ll need to winterize your smoker to protect it from the elements.

First, give your smoker a thorough cleaning and make any necessary repairs. Then, cover it with a waterproof, insulated cover to protect it from snow and ice.

If possible, store it in a shed or garage for extra protection.

And one more thing – resist the temptation to fire up your smoker on a super chilly day. Extreme cold can cause your bricks to crack, and trust me, you don’t want that!

Reverse Flow Brick Smoker (Final Thoughts)

Well, we’ve been on quite the journey, haven’t we?

From the nitty-gritty of how smoke cooking works, to the hands-on building of your very own reverse flow brick smoker, all the way to becoming a smoke cooking superstar.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what we’ve learned and get fired up for the smoking adventures ahead!

Key Takeaways

So, what should you keep tucked in your chef’s hat from this epic exploration?

  1. Understanding the Science: Smoke cooking is more than meets the eye. It’s all about how heat and smoke from your chosen wood travels through the smoker, cooking and flavoring the food on the way.
  2. The Art of Building: Building your own reverse flow brick smoker isn’t just about stacking bricks. It’s a careful process of designing, measuring, and placing each component for optimum airflow and temperature control.
  3. Mastering the Cook: Smoke cooking is a game of patience, control, and flavor experimentation. And with your new smoker, you’re all set to start crafting mouthwatering smoked dishes that are the talk of the town!
  4. Caring for Your Smoker: Like any prized possession, your smoker needs regular cleaning, prompt repairs, and proper winterizing to keep it running smoothly.

Now, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed with all this info, but remember, every master was once a beginner. You’ve got the knowledge, and you’ve got the tools.

All you need now is to roll up your sleeves and get started.

So, whether you’re smoking up a storm for a summer barbecue or just experimenting with new flavors on a lazy Sunday, remember to enjoy the process.

And hey, don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes along the way. That’s how we learn, right?

With your new reverse flow brick smoker, you’re not just cooking food; you’re crafting experiences, making memories, and most importantly, having a whole lot of fun.

So, get out there, fire up your smoker, and let the smoke-filled adventures begin!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Any Type of Brick for My Smoker?

Not all bricks are created equal, especially when it comes to building your reverse flow brick smoker. For your smoker, you’d want to use ‘fire bricks’ or ‘refractory bricks’. These are specially made to withstand high temperatures and prolonged heat exposure, which is just what you need for a smoker. Regular bricks may crack or even explode under high heat, so stick with fire bricks for safety and durability.

How Do I Solve Problems with My Smoker’s Temperature?

Maintaining a steady temperature in your smoker is an art in itself. If you’re having trouble, here are a few things you could try:

  • Check for Air Leaks: Make sure your smoker is sealed properly. Air leaks can cause temperature fluctuations.
  • Control Your Fire: Too much wood can lead to high temperatures. Add wood gradually, and let it burn down to coals before adding more.
  • Use a Water Pan: Placing a pan filled with water in the smoker can help regulate temperature. The water absorbs and retains heat, releasing it slowly over time.
  • Get a Good Thermometer: Make sure you’re getting accurate readings. Invest in a good-quality thermometer if you haven’t already.

What’s the Best Wood to Use for Smoke Flavor?

You should clean your smoker after each use. After your smoke session, dump out the ash, scrub the grates with a wire brush, and wipe down the inside with a damp cloth. Also, remember to clean the drip tray. This regular cleaning prevents excess buildup which could impact your smoker’s performance or even pose a fire risk. A deeper clean might be needed every few months, depending on how frequently you use your smoker.

How Often Should I Clean My Smoker?

You should clean your smoker after each use. After your smoke session, dump out the ash, scrub the grates with a wire brush, and wipe down the inside with a damp cloth. Also, remember to clean the drip tray. This regular cleaning prevents excess buildup which could impact your smoker’s performance or even pose a fire risk. A deeper clean might be needed every few months, depending on how frequently you use your smoker.

How Can I Winterize My Brick Smoker?

Winterizing your brick smoker is important if you live in a place with cold or snowy winters. Here are the steps:

  • Clean Thoroughly: Begin by giving your smoker a deep clean. Remove all ash and grease.
  • Make Necessary Repairs: Fix any damages or cracks that could worsen with freezing temperatures.
  • Cover Your Smoker: Once your smoker is clean and repaired, cover it with a waterproof, insulated cover. This will protect it from snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.
  • Store Indoors If Possible: If you have room in a shed or garage, storing your smoker indoors can provide extra protection.
As a passionate enthusiast of smoking, grilling, and BBQ, Mark has dedicated his life to perfecting the art of outdoor cooking. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has honed his expertise and authority on all things related to meat smoking, grilling, and BBQ. From mastering the perfect cut of meat to choosing the right wood for the smoker, Mark has the knowledge and experience to help you become a pro at outdoor cooking.

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