To water pan or not to water pan?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by smokiedoug, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. Just wondering peoples thoughts on water pans, do you use them or not? Give me your thoughts.My big smoker is 400 gallons and a rotisserie so I just fill the bottom with water, the placement of my burners assist in steaming it up. I've cooked with and without water and can see the difference. It only gets used when over 100lbs of meat is needed, she has been lonely lately:(
  2. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Well I just use a small GOSM propane smoker and have pretty much ditched the water. I have my water pan filled with sand and get much better temp control. After reading Eric's threads on "Dry Smoke Chambers" and trying his methods I am a believer:

    I might use water for the first couple of hours then it's gone. I also might just use a little to catch drippings so they don't burn.

    So what differences have you seen? I am very interested in the wet or dry chamber and how it works and what results others get from the different ways.
  3. I do both wet and dry because for me each has its advantages. When I do use the wet smoker I see better temperature control for one thing. I know we all have different smokers and everybody's are going to cook different. Mine are homemade and so are my burners. I think you get a better smoke flavor with the wet smoker and of course moisture. Moisture = not enough bark, everybody has an opinion on " bark " and here's where my dry smoker comes into play. That's about the only reason ill use it.
  4. roadkill cafe

    roadkill cafe Smoking Fanatic

    I have a gasser & MES 40 and like Dave, use sand in both. I also will add a little H2O in a disposable drip pan.
  5. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    That's what Eric thinks and posted in his thread. Humidity helps smoke penetration. That's why I put water in for the first few hours and then pull it out for the dry air to form a good bark.
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have actually been running my MES without the water pan in place and have been seeing dialed in temps matching the MAV732 readings more closely. I have been using a Drip pan with 1-2 cups of water for a Rib or Butt smoke then when it goes dry I don't add any more. I have been getting a good mix of Smokey flavor, Juicy meat and good Bark...JJ
  7. Sounds like you got it going on:)
  8. Does it work out to be a half with water and half without water cook time?
  9. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    No because I've been doing it with butts so it's about 3 hours of water in a 15-20 hour smoke.
  10. kryinggame

    kryinggame Smoking Fanatic

    Depends on what I'm smoking and which smoker.  If I'm doing low & slow using my WSM, I'll use water because that helps keep the temp down.  If I'm doing poultery in my WSM, I don't use water because I want the temp to be in the 300's. 

    It's all personal preference.
  11. I use a water pan in my masterbuilt electric but in my masterbuilt stick burner i do not use a water pan.............the electric i use water because it helps keep the meat moist and also i noticed that the temps are more stable plus the meat is real moist but i also place a can of beer and a can of soda in the bottom by the burner.

    my wood burning smoker i dont use one but i also did a bunch of MOD'S to this smoker , thanks to Rivet and the Forum , so my temp stays on point and i get a real good product from the smoker

    But there again as it was said .......................It's all personal preference ...........
  12. Do you think the 3 hours help with that long of a smoke? This leads to another question but I think ill start another thread on that.
  13. I agree on the chicken and yes its all personal preference.
  14. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's a good idea Dave. I've been a staunch water user from the beginning, but mostly b/c I am too afraid to go without and have the meat dry out. However I have been curious for some time about changing it up and trying it without water, but progress has been slow (think of a little kid nervously inching his way out to the edge of a high-diving board!!!) [​IMG]

    Your method (or Eric's for that matter) seems to have a little science and sense behind it; use steam to help the smoke penetrate, then use dry air to help in crust creation! I'm doing that this Sunday for sure. Thanks!
  15. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Yes I think the humidity for the first 3-4 hours really helps with smoke penetration. After that time the meat has already begun to skin over and the smoke penetration is going to slow down. 

    I believe that meat is juicy because of the moisture in the meat and that it doesn't get juicier from humidity or adding more liquid to the outside. It just seems to me that humidity, spritzing or mopping just puts moisture on the outside of the meat and then evaporates off. I don't see how it can penetrate deep into a large piece of meat that has formed a skin on the outside.

    I have used water and spritzed and I have found I have gotten much juicer meat when I used a dry smoke chamber. I really believe when a dry skin forms on the outside it helps lock in the natural juices of the meat. I smoked a standing rib roast on T-Day in a dry smoke chamber with no water at all and I had placed a pan under it to catch drippings and after 5 hours there were only 4 or 5 drops in the pan but when I sliced it juice ran all over my cutting board.

    This is all my opinion from things I have read and the little experimenting I have done with the dry smoke chamber so please don't flame me I'm just throwing out my observations, I'm not saying this is the best way or that everyone will get the same results, just saying I like doing it this way. I'm sure as time goes on I will read of other methods and I will try those too, I am always wanting to try something new!
  16. Well explained sir and I will say I agree with what you said. I'm up for learning something new anytime too. You said you smoked a rib roast, have you ever dry aged one before cooking it?
  17. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    I have not got into dry aging "yet" but it's something I'm very interested in trying. One of these days, one of these days!
  18. WARNING: Women don't like the fact of a hunk of meat hanging out in the fridge for a week.
  19. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Too much moisture, and you get "Black Rain" dripping inside your smoker

    If you can't exhaust the moisture fast enough, it builds up on the inside walls

    I used water in the water pan of my MES (1) time, and that was enough for me.  Black water dripped out the door and onto my concrete.  It's really bad in cooler weather.  The surface area of the water in the water pan is too large for the size of the smoker

    I tell guys who insist on using water, to pick up a small disposable water pan from the dollar store and fill it about 1/2 full of water.

    No water for me!

  20. For my Thanksgiving turkey smoke I removed my water pan completely and replaced with 6 new foil covered bricks. Skin came out crispy and the brined bird came out juicy. Temps were MUCH more stable and after opening the door numerous times because everyone wanted to see the temps rose back to original temp much faster than when I use the water pan. I put the bird in at 10am and it hit 175 in the drumsticks at 2 pm exactly. I did have a small dry foil pan to collect the drippings(awesome by the way) that was the only source if moisture aside from the bird itself. Smoker temp was a solid 225 the entire time. This was in a gasser double door Master Forge. Turkey weighed 11 lbs.

    Sent from my iPhone using smoke signals.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012

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