Water Pan Question

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by tbeacham, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. Using a MES 30".  When using the water pan to add moisture, the drippings will put a fat layer on top of the water. 

    Will this keep the water from evaporating, and if so, what do others do to deal with this?  I know how to separate the drippings from the fat afterwards (refrigerator method), but not while smoking.
  2. jsdspif

    jsdspif Meat Mopper

    I think others will chime in , but I Think the popular concensus is it doesn't really add moisture , it's more of a heat sink for a more stabilized temperature . So many people use sand in theirs . I very seldom add liquid to my pan , I just put some foil in it so I don't have to wash it . For a while I had some square tiles with holes that they sell for gas grills (instead of lava rock or whatever) but occasionally grease liquid would get under the foil and then they got all messy so after a while I got rid of them . I can't say I've ever noted any difference with water in the pan or no water .
  3. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    If you want to collect the juices from your meat, place them on a rack with a drip pan under it. Adding water will create more condensation, fill the water pan with sand and cover with foil.
  4. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here's another vote for keeping the water pan empty but foiling it over to prevent grease from dripping into it. I filled it with clean playground sand a couple of times. I stopped doing that the time I wheeled my MES 30 (bungee corded to a small hand truck) from my backyard to my garage. The next time I wheeled it out and opened it, there was a large pile of sand all along the back wall, despite the water pan having been foiled over. Took about 40 minutes or so to sweep it all out since much of the sand had absorbed grease from the floor of the smoker. No more sand-filled water pan for me. I also saw filling it with sand made absolutely no difference as far as temperature regulation was concerned. It was a bust as a heat sink.
  5. I want to continue using the water pan to add moisture (and also collect the non-fat drippings for use later), but I am concerned that the fat in the drippings will cause an oil slick on top of the water and keep it from evaporating.  Should I use two separate pans, one for the water and one above it for the drippings?
  6. chase1300

    chase1300 Fire Starter

    I may be missing something here...I am new to the MES30 (in my case). But I have learned that the water pan serves no "practical" purpose. I hear people talk about filling with sand and covering with foil. Or just putting it in covered in foil. Or putting rocks in it. My seemingly stupid question is why have it in there at all. Why not just leave it out of the smoker all together and just use a disposable foil pan to catch the drippings and and throw it out after use.

    Sorry to hijack your thread.
  7. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I don't remember where my drip pan is LOL
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Your thinking is off a bit... You can't force water into the meat from humidity... Remove the water, form a bark on the meat that will hold in the moisture.... Once the bark has formed, there will be very little dripping from it....
  9. parrot-head

    parrot-head Meat Mopper

    The idea is for the sand to act as a heat sink to help retain and regulate the temperature
  10. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You can do as Dave suggest, but you will still have water evaporating from your water pan. Think of when you make stock,  there is a layer of fat on top of your pot, but you still have steam vaporizing do to the water breaking the surface.

      The extra moisture in water pan smokers will cause the smoke to attach itself to the product more readily than a dry smoker would, so be careful not to oversmoke your product.

    Have fun smoking and keep good notes.

  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just line the water pan with aluminum foil. I recommend putting water in the water pan because, from my experience, meat doesn't try out in the MES unless it's overcooked by a couple of hours. Having a good therm which accurately reports the internal temp will prevent that. I leave the water pan empty and foil over the top to catch the drippings.

    Anyway, if you prefer to use water in the water pan, the dripping will fall into it which is OK. When the water emits steam it will be infused with vaporized liquids from the drippings and can help further flavor the meat.

    I've heard that a moist meat surface absorbs smoke better than a dry surface but I've had no problems getting the smoky flavors I want while keeping the water pan empty. On the contrary, I have to watch out for oversmoking.
  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've been advised to keep the empty water pan inside the MES because it was designed to be operated that way. I guess it might act as a heat baffle or something. I found filling it with playground sand didn't work as a heat sink and it also created a huge mess when I moved my smoker. This is why I just foil it over and leave it empty.

    When I first got the MES 30 I read about using a ceramic floor tile as a heat baffle or something bu then I read warnings to not use it because it could cause the smoker to overheat or something and possibly ruin the unit. So, I never used it. My smoker works fine without any mods, other than using the AMNPS.
  13. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    No water pan needed. Wrap Brick in foil. Same effect. 
  14. Thanks, Tom for answering my question about whether the water will vaporize and break through the fat layer.

    The MES30" is well insulated and as an electric smoker should easily maintain a set temperature, so I am not sure why a heat sink of sand or brick or stone or ceramic would be of any benefit.
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you open the door a lot you should have some sort of heat sink, but I can tell you I stopped putting water in my water pan 4 years ago after realizing it had no benefits. I don't open my door unless necessary.

    I like to smoke meat that isn't wet, just like we form a pellicle on cured meat before smoking. I don't like wet smoke on my meat. 

    Just cover it with foil & put it back in place, where it belongs. Cover your bottom drip pan with foil too, for easy clean-up.

    smokepone likes this.
  16. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    There are those who like a dry smoke and those who prefer to add moisture.  Try both methods,  you will see that the more moisture in the smoker, the less time that is needed to apply smoke.  The water in the pan acts as a heat sink the same as sand or bricks.  Again, keep good notes and you will discover the advantages of both methods and their uses for different products.  Don't be afraid to try new techniques when smoking, your smoking possibilities will broaden significantly. 

  17. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for using the word "pellicle", Bear because I couldn't remember it. I took a BBQ where the teacher wrongly said meat couldn't absorb any more smoke after the pellicle had formed since it blocked the smoke from the meat. That fallacy was put to rest in these forums.
  18. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yup---And people who use other types of smokers could be better off using water in their pans, but most MES owners learn quickly that it's not a good idea, especially if they graduate to an AMNPS.

  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    From what I've been told, if MES owners wanted to generate some extra moisture inside the box, they could either very partially add water to the water pan or just use a much smaller container with water in it. Not sure where they could safely place that. Myron Mixon uses water pans on his line of big honkin' flat rack H2O smokers. I don't understand why only this model requires water but I've not the patience for reading up on it today.
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    MM doesn't use an MES and an AMNPS.

    The only way you're going to dry anything out in an MES would be to open the door too often, and I'm not talking about 4 or 5 times---I'm talking A lot!!!

    And if you add water, you might as well throw your AMNPS away!!

    The MES is very well insulated & doesn't need water added. Just about All MES veteran owners know this. It's not something new!!

    dogwalker likes this.

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