OK so any scientific reason why one should not use water or any other liquid why smoking in an elect

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by tempnexus, Sep 16, 2017.

  1. tempnexus

    tempnexus Fire Starter

    So I have a MB gen 1 30" electric smoker and everyone says not to use water pan but each smoker recipe I came across advises to use a water pan so what the hell?!!!!  

    Is there any scientific reason stating why one should not use it?  I keep getting a sour/tart/bitter feeling on my smoke without using water...will using water help?
  2. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Being insulated, electric and vertical is about as efficient as a smoker can be. No fuel to burn so no copious amounts of air that has a drying effect. Those of us that never put liquid in the water pan and have windows, being the least insulated of the smoker have droplets condensing on the window in the Fall, Winter and Spring. Some have pools of condendation leaking out of the smoker. I leave the water pan in because the design helps with heat distribution but never have had liquid in it. I like to spritz hourly so that is added humidity. Some put clean play sand in the water pan as a heat sink and for even heating. Insulated cooking is the way to go. My Kamado has never had water in the pan as well.
  3. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Water in the water pan, regardless of the type of smoker, is there to be a heat sink to stabilize temps.  It has no impact on the "moistness" of meat.  The moist environment of evaporating water can cause more smoke to adhere to the meat.  My wife is a supertaster and can absolutely tell if I've used water in the pan or not.  Trust me, I've tested her.  Meat tastes too smoky to her if I use water in the water pan.  I don't spritz for the same reason. 

    Electric smokers maintain temp nicely.  Just make sure to know what the ACTUAL temp is in your smoker.  The set temp and the actual temp can be off by tens of degrees. 
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Too much smoke and sounds like your exhaust is closed down....  cut back on the chips...  open the exhaust wide open...   give that a try....

    Skip the water....
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
  5. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I agree with Dave.  I have an MES40 that I no longer use water in the water pan and get great results.
  6. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One exception for using water, for me at least is when you're doing long sausage smokes. the low humidity will make the casings like shoe leather if there's not enough humidity. For me it's usually a winter problem.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]....  I use a tuna can with water to smoke sausage...  
  8. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I never put water nor play sand in the water pan of my MES 30 Gen 1 and meat dryness is never a problem unless I've overcooked the crap out of it, which I did to a boneless chuck roast two weeks ago. I should've pulled it at 195-200°F IT but let it cook to about 203° IT. The chucky didn't have the fat to withstand cooking that long like a beef brisket or a pork shoulder does. But the aforesaid brisket, pork ribs, pork loin, and poultry all turn out moist and tender with the water pan foiled over and used as a drip pan and not to produce steam (which a water-filled pan will do) or as a heat sink. 
  9. parrot-head

    parrot-head Meat Mopper

    I have sand in mine always
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You're over smoking your food, probably by using too many wood chips. Filling the water pan with water wouldn't help that, it would just serve to steam what you're smoking since the pan is too big for the small interior of the smoker--that's your scientific reason right there. I've been using the AMNPS with wood pellets for years precisely because it doesn't oversmoke food. I also foil over my water pan to use it as another drip pan. I found that filling it with dry sand wasn't an effective heat sink in my MES 30 Gen 1. 
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes---The scientific reason is simply that it works much better without water in a Wattburner than it does with water!!

    If anything having water in the pan could give you some bitter flavor when the smoke hits the wet meat.

    Water isn't needed because there is already too much humidity in a well insulated Wattburner.

  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I agree. I would think that those who use Traegers or the relatively inexpensive offset smokers where poor insulation is an issue would need to use a water pan of some kind or mop the crap out of what they're smoking to keep it from drying out. But then when you see videos of BBQ places with meats on a rotating carousel or pros in BBQ compettions (who don't use cabinet smokers) how do they keep their meats from drying out? I know that's why some pros do a lot of mopping during competition smokes. 
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yup---My thoughts exactly!

  14. I've learned to use about every inexpensive smoker or smoking technique out there including but not limited to: a gas grill, a kettle grill, an ECB, a WSM, a mmultitude of generic bullet type smokers, an MES, an MB 40XL propane and an older okie Joe.
    In the early days, some 27 years, ago I ALWAYS used water...
    As I got more and more into smoking over the years i read more and more about it...however, like you, every recipe or mfg instruction booklet I'd seen said "add water" so i was skeptical at first wben the folks actually doing it contradicted with that.
    But, I started trying no water on various smokes. Now, I do have a heat sink in all of my personal smokers but, I've come to the conclusion there is no real advantage to using water with the exception of sausage in casings or smoking salt...the moisture keeps casings soft and it helps salt retain a more smokey flavor.
    As far as scientific "proof" nope, cant give it to ya...but a dozen+ years of not using water with excellent results, I personally don't need any.

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That is Scientific Proof (Underlined & Bold).

  16. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Right! The scientific proof is the fact that cooking meat contracts and shrinks, expressing liquids to the surface. So how can humid air from a water pan, mopping or spritzing go into meat to moisten it when liquids are being pushed out?......they can't. Selecting well marbled meats is the key for juiciness. Fat is where It's at. It's hard to dry out a pork shoulder or brisket point but a lean brisket flat with only the outside fat cap can get dry. Wet surfaces pick up smoke but more importantly with the perpetual evaporative cooling from moisture from the surface of the meat from the water pan (thermophoresis or thermal migration of hot smoky air to the lower energy surface of the meat) is constant for over smoked meat.
  17. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

  18. Thanks Kurt, VERY GOOD READ...but the article actually advocates the use of water, not for moisture of the meat internally but to moisten and cool (through humidity and evaporation) the surface of the meat to add a more smokey flavor so there does seem to be some support for insuring higher humidity in your CC...
    I'll definitely add this experiment to my list of things to try...ill weigh my wood and smoke two identical (as close as possible) pieces at the same temps, one dry and one with water and some spritzing to see it the smoke flavor is different.

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The picture below says ALOT iffin you ponder the meaning...    Condensate....   Creosote collection...   Bitter tasting meats...   

    The primary and possibly the only thing that keeps meat moist is intramuscular fat....

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017
  20. Yes I'm not suggesting humidity keep the meat moisture internally but on the outside surgace to allow more smoke flavor to adhere to the meat...and if there's no creosote being generated you shouldnt get any collected on the meat...yes, no, maybe?


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