I have a 18.5" WSM and was wondering...if I put sand in my water dish will I run the risk of drying out my pork butts? Especially big ones running around 14 to 16 hours. I got the impression that the water helped keep the cooking environment moist to prevent drying out the meat especially since I don't foil wrap through the stall.
- productWeber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18.5-Inch Smokertagged by Bama BBQ, 9/17/15
Related Forum Threads
- New to smoke, Weber 18.5 Smokey Mountain or MES Last post on 5/18/16 at 7:05am in Roll Call
- Overnight 1st brisket smoke with pics! Last post on 2/5/15 at 1:22pm in Beef
- The function or funtions of the water pan in the "WSM". Last post on 10/21/15 at 8:16am in WSM Owners (Weber Smokey Mountain)
- Question about a whole shoulder on WSM 18.5 Last post on 1/25/15 at 4:06pm in WSM Owners (Weber Smokey Mountain)
- WSM 18.5 has a new probe modification now? Anybody else know about this? Last post on 1/9/15 at 3:34pm in Charcoal Smokers
I had been looking to get a smoker and was researching a few different models. My hand was forced when my grill quit working, so I ended up getting this rather quickly as a result. My rationale...
I took this back after 2 weeks. A part needed to be replaced and they sent it to me for ME to install and change out. That job is not mine for something I paid over a grande for. They finally got a...
Purchased one of these instead of buying a Yoder Smoker Wichita. Was reluctant because of the negative reviews but the price was right for $380, verses the Yoder for $1600. Once purchased I used...
Have owned this smoker for 2 weeks now. Smoked on it 5 times and every time everything on it turned out great. I have had experience smoking on some like it. So no learning curve at all for it....
This is a good smoker for the beginner who does not want to get to involved with staying up all night monitoring temp/coals. Just fill the hopper and set the temp, when it is warmed up toss in your...
Water versus Sand in the WSM?
Gear mentioned in this thread:
I have an offset 'Dragon' , and have baffles in it for my heat protection !
Just my 2 cents opinion
Have fun and . . .
Water absorbs energy and converts the water to 212F water vapor ...and both this energy absorption and the injection of 212F water vapor, counters temperatures that are higher than 212F... the reason for the water. It is to help maintain a stable low temperature for low and slow cooking. THAT said, the general experience in this particular user audience is that this isn't really necessary in the WSM. Using sand (or bricks or whatever) instead does not counter higher temperatures, but as a thermal mass that either absorbs or releases energy, does act as a stabilizing thermal mass. In other words, non-water thermal masses will help prevent dips and spikes in the temperature in your cooker, but will not regulate the temperature (down) for you if you've got your vents too open for the lower temperature that you are trying to cook at. With a non-water thermal mass and properly set vents that keep the temperature low, the cooking works just fine. The last, and only, advantage to water is that it helps keep the atmosphere in the cooker more moist ...theoretically helping to prevent water loss from what you are cooking. The jury is still out on whether it really helps or not, and the circumstantial evidence among the users here suggests that meat will stay moist without having to have water vapor injected into the cooker. The bottom line is that you can use water, or sand (etc), as your thermal mass and that it's up to you to set up those vents to maintain your target temperature. And obviously, if you want to cook hotter, say at 350F+ for chicken, you should avoid water since it 'tries' to pull the temperature back down, resulting in having to burn more charcoal to try to get the temperature as high as desired.
I do have to contradict the water vapor and moisture theory though. I will cite Alton Brown here. The "moisture" in BBQ is actually rendered fat and collagen which coat the meat fibers and give the mouth feel of moisture. We pull pork butts and briskets at internal temps close enough to the boiling point of water (higher depending on altitude and atmospheric conditions) that most all water in the meat will have "boiled out".
Now, the benefit of moist air is that water carries heat better than air. So moist air will transfer more BTUs per minute than dry air of the same temp. So, cooking at 200° in moist air will transfer as much heat as, say 220° in dry air. Lots of variables here, just look up a thermodynamics book! But this is the general gist.
I used the water when I first started, but hated having to deal with the mess when cleaning it out. I now just use the pan covered in foil with no sand or saucer. It doesn't need it, it still provides indirect heat as a barrier between the charcoal and whatever you are cooking. It also allows me to go easily from low heat to high heat depending on what I'm cooking. I am able to control temp with vent use and maintain easily for anything from hamburgers to pork butt. You just learn where to dial in charcoal amount and vents depending on what you are cooking.
So no I don't think you have to worry about them drying up.
I should have added that I put the foil covered saucer base in my water pan which is also foiled. The water pan keeps the direct flames & heat off the saucer. I think it might crack otherwise, and it's harder to find a saucer to fit the water pan tabs directly (without the pan in). This way the foiled saucer sits in the top of the water pan so size is less critical.
I want to add a couple more water versus sand (or other dry thermal mass) to the discussion:
Since water vapor counteracts temperatures above 212 F, you can get away with running your cooker with the vents wider open ...more forgiving and/or helpful if your charcoal doesn't burn well with very low venting. That's the good thing. But if your charcoal does burn well with low vent settings, then you will use less of it if you use a dry thermal mass ...saving you some money on charcoal and still getting the job done.
I run the big WSM, and if you are going to use sand, don't fill the water dish full. That is way to much sand and really sucks to try and lift out. You don't need that much thermal mass.
I can see a plus to running water in that steam looks like smoke and could help keep you from over smoking your meat! Yeah, I've done it.... Billowing clouds looks cool, but tastes like yuck!
Thank you all!!!
I don't think I could have learned more in a shorter period of time by any other method than this forum and those of you who contribute to it. I will be trying the sand method from a thermodynamics and also from a clean up point of view. Yes cleaning and re-foiling the water pan is messy and time consuming and I am also anxious to see the fuel consumption drop with accurate vent management.
Much appreciated advise.
Water I understand. Sand and clay I dont. Brian, you did a great job of explaining it but why not use something with good thermal conductivity that will absorb the heat then retain it like a big chunk of iron or steel? Sand and clay are terrible thermal conductors. Aluminum is great but will heat up and cool down too fast (imo), copper is excellent, but even faster and expensive. Cold rolled steel is pretty cheap and would work great imho.
I think you make a good point. Higher heat conductivity is better. If, for example, your (very conductive) thermal mass is not working very well at dampening the peaks and valleys in temperature, then it just needs to be bigger. Hmmm... someone ought to do a side-by-side comparison of brick (or sand or clay) versus a big chunk of iron. Of course, the iron is likely a lot heavier ...hopefully not enough to tweak the legs on the cooker .
Is this talk of sand and thermal conductors new? I'm actually sitting at my desk thinking you've all split the atom again or something. Learned more in the last five minutes about my WSM and a new way to use it, so thank you.
I get the explanation that Brian gives and understand the theory, and if you take the experiences here that NOT using water DOESN'T result in dry meat, then awesome - I hated the water clean up myself.
My question now is - What kind of sand are we talking about? White Beach, Sandbox that you can buy at Home Depot, etc., etc.
Thanks for a great thread, friends in smoke.....
- Water versus Sand in the WSM?
- › What happens when the brine turns the outside of the pork butt... 12 minutes ago
- › Quick Butts 25 minutes ago
- › Lavatools Javelin- 25% off at Amazon 35 minutes ago
- › Ground beef jerkey 37 minutes ago
- › Brats and Kraut! 45 minutes ago
- › What size skillet do you use in your masterbuilt XL mod? 49 minutes ago
- › Sauerkraut 1 hour, 7 minutes ago
- › Vegetarian Pulled Pork 1 hour, 13 minutes ago
- › Brisket time! 1 hour, 13 minutes ago
- › Chucky Burnt Ends (with Mopar Powered “Hemi” Sauce) 1 hour, 17 minutes ago
- › OKLAHOMA JOE'S LONGHORN TRIPLE (3) BURNER by wbf610
- › Traeger Texas Pellet Grill by ammaturesmoker
- › OKLAHOMA JOE'S LONGHORN SMOKER by Joseph Varaksa
- › Smokin-it model 3 by smokin-pete
- › Camp Chef Camp Chef Pellet Grill & Smoker Deluxe by CHRISTOPH
- › Outdoor Leisure Products (OLP) Smoke Hollow 47180T 4-in-1 by PhillipLeondria
- › Masterbuilt Dual-fuel Pro by StillAqua
- › Smoke Hollow 44241G2 44-Inch Vertical LP Gas Smoker by kentluman
- › Weber 731001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 22.5-Inch Smoker by jjcreole
- › A-MAZE-N-SMOKER by tjdcorona