Smoke Vault tips?

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by billk, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. billk

    billk Newbie


    New to the forum but I have been reading for a while now.     Any Smoke Vault owners have any tips or advice.

    Does completely closing the bottom 2 vents help with temp control at all?   Seems that I have to babysit my 18" smoker to make sure the temps stay in range.     In know wind has some to do with it so I usually put wind breaks like drywall near it to block wind.

    Love the smoker as it has been producing some great food but want to make it an easier and better process.

    Thanks for any tips or advice.
  2. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have a 24" one.  I make sure to watch my water level....if you are using the water pan.  Once a lot of the water has evaporated....the temp tends to rise on mine.  Some folks use either sand or pea gravel in their water pans.  

    You will get the hang of it soon.  Love mine!

  3. billk

    billk Newbie

    Thanks for the reply. I completely closed the lower dampers and created a good wind barrier around the base of the smoker. Temps held a lot more constant for longer periods of time. Might have to try the sand/rocks. Wondering if that would add any bad flavors. Best to soak in bleach first then rinse well I suppose.
  4. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I haven't done that yet....supposedly it takes the place of the water as a heat sink.  Most folks will take the water pan...fill it with either the sand or gravel....and put foil over you don't have to clean that from the meat drippings each smoke.

    I do play with my dampers (vents) at the bottom during a smoke...but leave the top wide open.  Works with wood chunks or the tube smoke generator I got some Todd. I have the 12" one...and it works great....put it on one of the side rack bars...just above one of the vents...and it works.

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  5. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Dump the water, get some sand, don't ever look back!
    Water can't get above 212* so if you want a chamber temp above that the water will be fighting against you. Sand will take whatever heat you throw at it and maintain that heat. Water will evaporate causing your thermal mass to change. Sand will never lose it's mass in a smoker. If you still want some humidity in your chamber or just some water to catch drippings place another pan on top of the sand pan and add a little water to it.
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep what Dave said. Fill the pan with sand, cover it with foil and don't look back. This is especially important if you will be smoking in inclement weather, rain, wind, cold. If you find that you can't get lower temps you may need to install a needle valve (search the site here, there's lots of info on needle valves). Protecting your lower vents from wind will help with this also. You may need to make a screen, doesn't need to be much, you can even just lean a piece of non-combustible material against the side. Like Kat mentioned leave the top vent wide open, and the AMNTS tube smokers work great in the propane smokers for smoke generation.

    Note if you bu ya bag of play sand from the hardware store you don't need to do anything to the sand. I would avoid introducing chemicals like bleach into your smoker.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  7. The tip to omit water and use sand or rocks essentially adds thermal mass.  It helps to maintain a consistent temperature level.

    Using water essentially does the same thing, except that it steams at 212, effectively reducing the temperature of the chamber. 

    If you're struggling to maintain a blue flame AND keep the temp down, stick with water.

    If you struggle to keep the temp up, switch over as these guys have stated.

    I have the 24" and would offer the following advice, but keep in mind your 18 might operate differently:

    Close both sides and the top vent as far as they'll go.  (no modding to close off completely, just their normal most-closed position)

    Layer your water pan a couple times with foil, then fill with water.

    Either foil your chips/chunks or place a cast iron skillet in there.

    Set your temp somewhere near the D in MED.

    This is my starting point to get to 225-250.  Move the dial down just a tick at a time to get to 200-225 on the gauge (my gauge shows a temp 15 degrees lower than actual).

    The layers of foil in the water pan will provide a slight bit of insulation from the heat source below, preventing a boil.

    The cast iron skillet adds a bit of thermal mass itself, but also is a heat-sink so you're not transferring so much heat directly onto the chunks.  My experience has been that the chip tray is a bit too close to the flame and will result in too much billowing smoke.  I might actually read the manual one of these days to see if foil is actually recommended by the manufacturer.
  8. manzan

    manzan Newbie

    I have had an 18" for about 5 years.  I always use water in the pan but since I clean it every time I use, I put the foil on the bottom of the pan instead of inside.  A lot easier to toss the foil and wash the inside rather than scrub the tar off the bottom each use.  Have not problem getting the temperature over 350° or maintaining 200°.  Because of where I use it, I built a wind screen for three sides and another piece on top to hold temperature gauge, spritzer, whatever.  I use it year around and it acts as a shade when the sun gets to that side of the house.  Much easier to maintain an even temperature.  If I am just using chips for a short smoke, I foil the tray with holes to let smoke out.  For a long smoke, no foil and use chunks.  Very easy to toss in a couple more as they burn up.  I don't bother with changing the vents--usually closed as far as they will go.  I bought a Maverick ET 732 six months ago and find that the gauge in the door is 10 to 15° low also.  Did not take long to figure out I had to adjust temps on the Maverick to reflect this!   Like being able to monitor smoker temp and meat temp from inside the house.

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