How much water in the waterpan?

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by paulstat, May 8, 2014.

  1. paulstat

    paulstat Newbie

    As title really, I smoked a leg of lamb a few weeks ago using cheap charcoal from Asda, I used the whole 5kg bag and lit it using the minion method. I had about 2.5 litres of boiled water in the water pan.

    Even with the vents open fully the entire time I could not get the temp to go above 200F and the coals only lasted 4-5hrs (temp dropped even further after the 4hr mark). I'm trying to think why this might have happened, is it possible I put too much water in the water pan?
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Water will definitely eat energy like a Fat Guy at a Pizza eating contest! One of the best methods I have seen is laid out very well by one of our Gurus, a Wet to Dry method where 1/2 to 1 L of water in the pan will keep the meat moist for the first few hours giving good tenderness and flavor then evaporating allowing the surface to basically seal and keep the meat juicy and tender. Check this out...JJ
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  3. Hello Paul.  I just read through all your posts.  I don't use water pans but then I don't have a "bullet" smoker like yours.  I don't think the water pan is necessary.  Many folks put sand in it ( or ( gravel ) just to use it a a heat sink.  It helps hold the temperature steady.

    As for grilling, remove the centre parts of you smoker and drop the cooking grate closer to the coals to crisp up chicken or "grill" a steak.  Pull the meat off, remove the lid and wide open ALL the vents.  When the coals get REALLY hot put the meat back on and you are on your way.  If I can help further you know where to find me.

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sand as a heat sink...Very true and provides some protection from the high heat source. Paul can do both for those smokes that benefit from moisture. Half a pan of sand then another short vessel on top with some water gives the best of both worlds...JJ
  5. Hello.  Well there you go Paul.  Chef Jimmy has got a great tip there.  BOGOF!  Keep Smokin!

  6. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Paul

    Your temperature problem may also being compounded by the amount of heat being generated by your charcoal. You say that you were using the minion method - how much charcoal was actually alight at any one time? Sometimes a larger starter load is needed to generate a critical amount of heat. You may want to try increasing it to begin with.

    I have used water pans in bullet smokers and have not seen the temperature issues that you appear to be having. I usually start with my water cold as well rather than boiling it.
  7. musashi79uk

    musashi79uk Newbie

    I've been having similar problems with my bullet smoker. Done some trial and error getting a decent temp but can only get it to 120C.
    I fill the fire bowl as full as I can (took 3-3.5kg), then take some out and put it in the chimney starter and light it. Once ready, I put that on my unlit charcoal and put the smoker together, leaving the vent next to the charcoal and the one in the dome open and leaving the middle door (next to the first rack) closed. It achieves a temperature of about 120C for a few hours but doesn't go any higher.
    If I do the same thing but put the water bowl in 3/4 full, the temp won't go beyond 70C.
    They are the highest temps I can get. Luckily today, I got some charcoal briquettes from Wilko's for £2 for a 5kg bag so I got a few bags to carry on experimenting.
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As you are still having a problem there are two things I would recommend trying...

    Firstly try a bag of known quality briquettes that are designed for use in the kettle/bullet type smokers. Weber or Heat Beads are both good makes. They usually burn hotter and for longer than the cheaper grilling briquettes that are often sold as own brands.

    Secondly try completely lighting a full bed of briquettes rather than using the minion method. When fully lit you should still have good control over temperature by controlling the air flow.

    If by using a full bed of good quality briquettes you still cannot get it up to temperature then there is something drastically wrong...

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