Is a water pan necessary when smoking in a gas grill?

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by mummel, May 7, 2015.

  1. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I read at amazingribs that Meathead recommends using a water pan to retain/control heat.  I know a lot of the MES guys dont use pans because it creates too much moisture and causes creosote etc.  There was another guy that mentioned his Weber gas grill got destroyed by smoking etc. 

    So my question - is a water pan necessary on a gas grill?
  2. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    When I first tried smoking on my gas grill I used water had no issues never tried without.
    Now I have a WSM and really only use water with brisket,only because I haven't tried without it as it's expensive to waste a whole one.
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I never use water in any of my smokers. Initially when the water is cold it acts as a heat sink. As the water heats up and then boils the water turns to steam and evaporates. This removing the mass. As this happens you may see your pit temps start to climb and become unstable. A heat sink can be useful during I climate weather. A better choice than water would be something that doesn't evaporate such as sand or solid mass like granite, etc. Water is not required to achieve a moist product. Proper temp management and not over cooking is all you need.
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
    the1pearson likes this.
  4. bregent

    bregent Smoking Fanatic

    >So my question - is a water pan necessary on a gas grill?

    Practically nothing is 'necessary' when it comes to bbq. Most things are based on personal preference.

    How have you been doing it and how has it turned out for you so far?
  5. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I'm waiting for my stuff in the mail and just getting organized, hopefully it will arrive tomorrow.
  6. donr

    donr Smoking Fanatic


    Most vertical propane smokers have a problem obtaining low chamber temperatures (225°f).  The best way to fix this is to add the "Needle Valve Mod".  The cheap way for the factory to do it is to have the water pan.  The energy required to convert 212 degree water to 212 degree water vapor is absorbed from the burner and air around the water.  This reduces the chambers temperature.  If you do use the water pan to help control temperatures, may I make the following suggestion:

    Never put cold water in the water pan.  This will cause large, fairly long, temperature swings in chamber temp.  This requires heating the water up to 212 deg. before the majority of the evaporation starts.  If you use hot (almost boiling) water, the process runs as close to steady state as possible with opening the door and adding stuff.  I put an old tea kettle/pan full of cold water on the "sauce warming rack" to warm the water up.  This is a rack that sits above the exhaust hole of the smoking chamber.  This heats the water up while the last pan full is evaporating.  One less thing to mess with at 3 am.  
  7. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Nope. Now get smoking. Hahahaha..... I'm going to keep on ya until we get to see some Q-view man.
  8. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    HAHA thanks guys.  Great info on the water pan Donr, thank you. 
  9. valleypoboy

    valleypoboy Smoke Blower

    I've used mine with and without. Never noticed a difference. I read a very long discussion on what to put in the water pan once, my take away from it was 2 points. #1 there's very little difference from juice to beer to water so there's really no reason to use anything other than water and #2 the added moisture from the water pan can aid in getting a thicker smoke ring on long cooks because it keeps the outside of the meat from forming a crust for longer. I think basting the meat at regular intervals can achieve the same results, but I'm no expert. I run mine with a foil pan inside my empty water pan to catch most of the drippings, simply to make cleanup easier. I've never thought of filling mine with sand, probably because I've never had an issue with temperature. A hair below 1/2 way is pretty reliable 250* for my propane smoker.
    Those are my opinions of course. I'm sure there's someone out there that smokes using nothing but blue label in his/her water pan and it makes all the world of difference to him/her... the more we know the more we find out how little we really know. :D
  10. lamar

    lamar Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    The best use I have found the water pan in my GOSM is lining it with foil and using it for a catch pan. Makes clean up a snap.


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