Water, Sand, etc in the Cold

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 23buzz, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. I'm 3 hours into smoking a turkey a bit over 11 lbs.  This is my first time smoking anything, ever.  First off, thanks to Jeff and everyone else here for such a wealth of knowledge and experience to learn from.

    I was determined to smoke a turkey today, even when the forecast changed adding wind to the equation.  (Plus, I already had the turkey thawing.)  It's 25 degrees outside with 25 mph winds.  I have the smoker in an area where the house blocks some of the wind.  I also made a reflectix and tomato cage windbreak - will add a picture later. 

    I'm going through a ton of propane.  I just had it filled with 20 lbs yesterday.  The gauge on the tank is steadily moving toward the red.  I've only ever used propane on a grill so I don't know how long this will last.  My wild guess is that I can get 2-3 more hours out of the propane.  I do have a backup tank with about 10 lbs in it.  I'm worried about running out.  I knew the cold and especially wind would make this difficult, but it's nail biting seeing how quickly I'm going through $20 worth of propane (more if I have to switch tanks)!

    Could the water be part of the problem?  Can I remove most of the water from the pan and just use the pan to catch drippings, mid smoke?

    I read here that some people use sand instead of water in the cold.  I should have checked into that before now.  If I use sand, is there a certain type, and do I need to rinse/wash it first?

    Thanks, and wish me luck!
  2. Forgot to mention, it's a Masterbuilt 7 in 1 smoker.
  3. It take fuel to make heat. I have never heard of it going that fast. A better wind break will help. What kind of smoker do you have. Yes sand or gravel in the pan or a couple of bricks wrapped in foil helps. Most use play sand.

    Happy smoken.

  4. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I would see if you can improve your windbreak somehow. Maybe some plywood or something. I regularly smoke in that exact weather and have very little problem with my smokers.
  5. I have a MBPS. Mine doesn't use much fuel even on long smokes. I would check for leaks, especially at the tank connection. I agree with the rest. That sounds like your using alot. Just a thought.
  6. Thanks, all, for the advice.  I've certainly learned some things from this first attempt at smoking.  Right after my last post I went out to add wood chips and opened the top vent a bit.  Soon after that I checked the temp and it was up.  I thought opening the top vent would let too much heat out but it seemed to do the opposite - or it could have been that the water was mostly evaporated at that point and just drippings were in the pan.  But at least I got to turn down the propane a bit.

    Anyway, at the 4 hour mark I decided to check the internal temp of the turkey.  I hadn't done this yet because I didn't want to waste precious heat too soon.  I stuck in my $10 weber instant therm and it read 190!  Gah!  Out it came.  What was supposed to be a "lupper" became lunch instead.  We covered it with foil in a pan and whipped up some potatoes and veggies and had at it.

    The top of the breast was pretty dry and had a firm almost crust on it.  But down below the meat was still tender and juicy.  The legs and thighs had a good smoke flavor.  We used cherry for smoke.

    Biggest thing I learned was not to trust the temp gauge in the lid.  Yes, I used the one that came with it.  I went to a store yesterday that had a dual probe wireless thermometer that, according to the website, was in stock.  When I got there nobody could find it.  Computer said 6 in stock, but they think they got lost when rearranging for Christmas.

    I also think I have almost half a tank of propane left.  My gauge is old and seems a bit iffy.  I'll have to weigh it now and again empty to see how much was actually used.

    So in the end my problems were mostly related to having too high a cooking temp in the smoker.  I wouldn't be surprised if the whole time it was around 300 when the gauge read 250.

    Can't wait until the next smoke.  I figure each one should get better as I learn.

  7. Here's my windbreak - made in a bit of a rush last night.  It's wire fence that we had used as a big tomato cage, with reflectix around it.  Big hole where the propane line goes through.  Open at the top.  It seemed to do okay.

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