Water Bowl

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by smcnitts, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. smcnitts

    smcnitts Newbie

    I am new to smoking. I have a new smoker (Brinkman gas cabinet). It has a water bowl above where the wood chips go. How do you all use the water bowl? I have heard two things: help keep the temp cool OR help keep meat moist. Any info would be appreciated.
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    The general consensus is that using water pans does not help keep the meat moist. The main use is to act as a heat sink to help stabilize temps. If you don't want the added steam from the water (which in some smokers can cause the bark to be too soft) then you can fill it with sand and cover it in foil. 
  3. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    When I first started Smoking with my MES smokers, I tried Water in the Pan, Beer, Apple Juice, and a few other mixtures. I received no added taste or anything else positive through the use of liquids in my Water Pan. 

    I get condensation on the inside of my Smoker Door Glass due to the good insulation factor of the MES Units.

    I have not put any water in my Water Pan in nearly 6 years now.

    Here are some easy to follow Step by Steps:

    Just click on "Bear's Step by Steps".

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  4. donr

    donr Smoking Fanatic

    Caution: geeky Science talk below.

    Most vertical propane smokers have a problem obtaining low chamber temperatures (225°f).  The best way to fix this is to add the "Needle Valve Mod".  You may also be able to adjust the flame lower by using the space between HIGH and OFF. This requires a good wind break to prevent the flame from being blown out.  The cheap way for the factory to do it is to have the water pan.  The energy required to convert 212 degree water to 212 degree water vapor is absorbed from the burner and air around the water.  This reduces the chambers temperature.  If you do use the water pan to help control temperatures, may I make the following suggestion:

    Never put cold water in the water pan.  This will cause large, fairly long, temperature swings in chamber temp.  This requires heating the water up to 212 deg. before the majority of the evaporation starts.  If you use hot (almost boiling) water, the process runs as close to steady state as possible with opening the door and adding stuff.  I put an old tea kettle/pan full of cold water on the "sauce warming rack" to warm the water up.  This is a rack that sits above the exhaust hole of the smoking chamber.  This heats the water up while the last pan full is evaporating.  One less thing to mess with at 3 am.  

    Filling the water pan with sand, gravel or whatever will make the chamber heat up slower.  It will also help even out temperature spikes.
  5. smcnitts

    smcnitts Newbie

    Thanks for the geeky science, it explains a lot and I will try both suggestions!
  6. scott struik

    scott struik Newbie

    Putting a water bowl in the pit will introduce humidity into your cooking chamber - that part is certain.  The effect of this will depend on what your end goal is and the particulars of your pit.  For something like brisket or beef ribs, where you want a nice bark that isn't too crunchy but firm and actually a bit tacky/sticky on the surface, the added humidity can help.  That humidity can also assist in slowing the rendering of the top cap fat, which in turn will help in meat moistness as the fat breaks down slower and sinks between the strands and fibers of the meat.  If you cook too hot and the bark forms too soon because moisture is lost too fast, that rendering process won't happen as efficiently.  This principal applies to any kind of smoker.
  7. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

  8. krex1010

    krex1010 Smoke Blower

    The water pan functions as a heat sink and as a shield from direct radiant heat from the heat source. If your smoker can hold the temps you want without using it, then by all means don't use it.
  9. scott struik

    scott struik Newbie

    Dr. Jeff Savell and Dr. Davey Griffin from Texas A&M’s Meat Science Section (and founders of Camp Brisket and Barbecue Camp) have both disputed the absolute claims made that the fat cap doesn't render into the meat.  The intramuscular fat provides most of the moist goodness, but as the fat cap renders there's a portion that certainly makes it's way through the strands - not into the meat fibers, but between the stands themselves as they begin to separate during the cook.  Regardless, the beautiful black sugar cookie bark (if you're going for Central Texas style) is deliciousness!!
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
  10. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    I can agree about the bark Scott.  ; )  Have a good weekend.

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