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.
You don't want a good thermal conductor, you actually want a poor conductor. The idea behind the sand or clay pot or pizza stone or big rock is that it will absorb the higher temps ( by taking time to heat up ) and release that stored heat back to the smoker as the fire starts to die, or there is a wind gust or something. Think of it as more of a temperature shock absorber. Metal would give the heat off too quickly, unless you are going to go for a huge amount of cast iron, but then the sand is cheaper.
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.....
yeah, any clean sand. I got a bag a play sand form homer depot for a couple of bucks.