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Question about the water pan for a vertical smoker...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've done a few smokes, but still a newbie.....One quick question:

I have a Perfect Flame Vertical smoker. Every time I use it, the water pan seems like it's main function wants to be a drip tray for everything I'm smoking. Is this right? Am I missing something here?

Any feedback is much appreciated! Thanks!
post #2 of 15


I have a vertical propane smoker also, and from my understanding, it helps maintain the heat temp, I'm not 100% on this, but that is my understanding, and whatever you do, line that pan w/ foil, alot easier to clean.
post #3 of 15
The pan will catch drippings but it also acts as a heat sync if you open the door it helps to keep some heat in. Some people will say that it adds moisture to the smoker as well but I honestly don't know about that one
post #4 of 15
First off, what greenhorn had to say about the foil is great advice, and one of the functions of the water pan to maintain temperature. If you wanted you could try using play sand in the pan to hold the heat, but it will take longer to come to temperature and IMHO not give you the moisture that comes from the evaporation in a vertical. You might want to experiment with different liquids in the pan like juices, wines, etc. Good luck!
post #5 of 15
It is used as a drip pan, but the main function is to regulate the temp and to provide a more even temp in the food section... without it your bottom rack would be hotter than your top... I also line mine w/ foil and sometimes use juice &/or beer instead or mixed w/ the water...
post #6 of 15
I know a lot of people do this, but it's hard for me to believe that flavor from anything in the pan is going to make its way into the meat.
post #7 of 15
x2 if i want a beer or apple juice flavor I inject babby !PDT_Armataz_01_36.gif
the main purpose for a water pan is for heat sync. you can use sand as well.
post #8 of 15
I'm with Jerry (pineywoods) on this one and I'm not real sure about the moisture either. Maybe just a moist heat but then I'm just putting water in it because they said to.
post #9 of 15
for me it does but i also live where the RH is in the teens, also since i use a charcoal pan as well the air inside is pretty dry. i use a foil pan instead of the original which holds more water and i just toss it. another aspect is in mine, it acts as a baffle or heat shield from the charcoal pan, here is how i set mine up:
post #10 of 15
The main function is to spread the heat out evenly. You will always have hot spots in your fire, so when you have a water pan (or sand pan), those hot spots hit the water pan, and the water evens the temp out, so the heat coming up from the water pan is all the same temp. I have done my own testing with flavoring the water with beer, wood, spices, fruits, etc... and have never been able to tell the difference. I have never tested without a water pan to me, but i would think it more so helps meat retain moisture then add moisture, but thats just my hypothesis.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for everyone's replies.....very helpful! This forum rules!

Happy smokin'!!!!
post #12 of 15
I've got 2 PF's and wondered the same thing myself.

3 things I think are probably true.
(1) water in the pan means higher humidity in the cooker and more moisture in the air means more even distribution of heat and more even delivery of cooking heat to the meat, especially when you've got multiple racks loaded.
(2) if the surfaces of your meat get dry, the meat won't absorb as much smoke. With water in the pan, the surfaces stay moister and take up more smoke.
(3) all the water in the world can't make a big chunk of meat more moist in the middle where it counts. if it could, more people would be boiling their meats instead

What I typically do is start with a dry water pan and add boiling water an hour or so into the cook when the meat would otherwise start to dry on the surface.

The "heat sink" aspect can help if you're one who keeps opening the door and meddling. But with propane, the recovery time upon shutting the door very fast, so I'd be surprised if this does much.
post #13 of 15
all air above the water pan can not exceed the boiling point of water, that is 212 F.because water in an open pan can not be hotter.
of course you can get higher temp, because there is a gap around the water pan.
the bigger the gap the higher the temp you can achieve.
I already have experiment with smaller water pans,the smaller the water pan the higher the temp I could reachable

I also agree that the meat absorbs more smoke
post #14 of 15
If you don't think water helps, try a smoke without. I would bet that if you cook for 12 hours without water, you won't be able to chew that hard little rock that is left.
post #15 of 15
if your still at the propper temp, that is not true. however, on an upright its going to be tough to maintain low/slow temp with out something blocking the direct path to the grates. I smoke on an offset with no water pan and it turns out quite good food.
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