Congratulation to all new Char-Griller owners!
This is how I seasoned mine:
You will need a good pair of BBQ gloves. I bought a pair of Eastman outdoor gloves from Amazon.com for $14.95. You will also need a medium bottle of vegetable oil (the cheapest you can get).
Whether you have the side firebox or not, you will have to cure the main chamber separately. As you already know, the main chamber doubles as a grill and it will allow you to cure it separately.
This process took me about half a day. I started with 2 chimneys full of Kingsford charcoal. Brushed the charcoal tray with oil (inside and out). Poured the coals on the charcoal tray in the main chamber and kept the temp under 300 degrees for about 2 hours. At this stage, I was only trying to melt the gunk that the factory coated the inside of the grill with. Once the stuff started to melt, I put on the BBQ gloves and removed the charcoal tray. I love this feature on this grill. You can take out the charcoal tray (the heat source) and work on the main body without having to wait until the charcoal is out and the grill totally cooled down. Place the charcoal tray in safe place away from traffic and anything that could catch on fire. Next, whip down the inside of the main chamber with old towels. Make sure you get the entire gunk off. Once the inside is clean, brush the entire cavity with oil. Replace the charcoal tray and bring the grill back up to temp. At this point, you may have to add more charcoal. This is also a good time to add the wood for seasoning. I didn’t soak the wood, because I wanted it to give out as much smoke as possible in the least amount of time. I used Mesquite wood. You’d want to use the strongest smoke flavor you can get. Remember your only seasoning the chamber and not food at this time. So don’t hesitate to use the strongest stuff and plenty of it.
I repeated the above process 3 to 4 times, removing the charcoal tray, brushing the grill interior with oil, and whipping off any access. By mid-day, the interior of the grill turned to nice mahogany color, and had a nice and thick coat of oil. As you know the interior of the grill is not painted and once you remove the gunk, you will end up with raw metal, which could rust easily. By following this process you’re not only seasoning the grill, but you’re also preserving it. The inside of my grill is now as dark as the outside, and it looks as if it’s been painted with the same paint. The food dripping just rolls off of it and the cleaning is a snap.
For the cast Iron grates, I used my gas grill. I heated the gas grill as high as it went, placed the grates on it and let the factory gunk melt off. Once they were almost clean, I scrubbed them with a BBQ wire brush, and then brushed them with oil several times. I repeated the process until they turned almost black in color. You could do this on the grill itself, but I wanted to have the freedom of working on the main body without having to worry about the grates.
As for the side firebox, all you have to do is cover the interior with oil during the first 3-4 uses, and it’ll take care of itself. I also poured some oil on a towel and whipped the exterior with it (both the grill and the side firebox). This keeps the paint from drying out, and makes it easer to clean after each use. You will have oil the out side of the side firebox after each use (once it’s cooled), because high temp will affect the pain in the future.
For easy clean up, I usually line up the inside of the main chamber and the charcoal tray with extra heavy-duty foil (see the pictures).
One thing I found that keeps the temp constant during smoking; is leaving the charcoal tray in the main chamber and placing two medium size foil pans half way full of warm water on top of it. I’m sure you’ll experiment with it and figure out what works best for you. But this method decreases the opening between the two chambers and distributes the heat more evenly. Also the water helps to keep the food moist and stabilizes the temp. When I do this, I don’t have to adjust the opening of the vents as much and the smoker requires much less attending to. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Good Luck and Happy grilling.