Switching from Water to Sand

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by crusty ol salt, Aug 26, 2008.

  1. crusty ol salt

    crusty ol salt Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Okay folks i have been pondering the switch from water to sand. My question is do you season sand like you do a new smoker to eliminate any impurities? Do you wash it? The play sand at Lowes has set out in the garden center for who knows how long... this may all be just a mid afternoon random though and ramble about nothing. I do appreciate your input greatly.
  2. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmmm if the cat's been in it..or you notice alge/mold on the bag interior...wash it and dry it. If it's dry and fine... pour it in as winter is coming baybay!
  3. jminion

    jminion Meat Mopper OTBS Member

    If you buy the sand from Lowes you need do nothing except only fill the pan about 3/4's full and cover with HD foil. Watch your pit temps on the way up and close air supply some as you get close to your target pit temp.
  4. ga84gw

    ga84gw Fire Starter

    Not to hijack this thread but I have a smoker like the Brinkmann South Fork with the offset firebox, horizontal chamber and vertical chamber. I have been putting the meat in the vertical chamber so where would I put a water/sand pan? Is the water/sand typically used to keep temps down or to just hold the temp steady?
  5. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    An why are yall removin yer water? Ifin yer lookin fer some thermal mass, add a couple 3 bricks in the unit. I would keep the water ta hep maintain the humidity in the cooker myself. Keep that humidity up an yer meat is gonna loose less moisture. Just my two coppers worth.
  6. sumosmoke

    sumosmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree with Tip.
  7. We are now using River Rocks in our water pans
  8. jminion

    jminion Meat Mopper OTBS Member

    using sand in a water would be in a WSM style cooker not useful in an offset and other style cookers.

    I don't hold with moisture in a cooker helps keep bbq moist, it is the connective tissue breaking down releasing it's moisture that produces is the moisture we are looking for.
  9. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    When ya live in the northern climes... mopping replaces water pan moisture, and sand replaces water pan heat moderation. Realize that moisture only prevents excessive drying of the meat surface. More important with the thinner/smaller cuts. But mopping IMO...helps them all
  10. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    i agree with tip.........i have done sand, river rocks, etc..............and i am now back to water............so my mind is made up.........
  11. davenh

    davenh Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I also tried the switch and went back to water in my MES.
  12. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Do not disagree. But you miss the point of water moderating temps. And SOMETIMES that makes a difference in a cold north wind.
  13. smokin' dick

    smokin' dick Smoking Fanatic

    Flower pot base in the water pan. Foil it. Effective,neater, easier clean up, and lighter weight. Like Rich says, mop for moisture.
  14. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    This is true, if you need the humidity. In Florida, you do not. As long as you have 80% humidity you do not need any water in your smoker. I actually only use Sand during the cold months, due to it keeping a higher and more constant temp in the smoker. Remember water does supply some moisture, though very little, but is really there for temperture control.
    Use the playbox sand from Home Depot or Wal-mart. I don't season my water, so no need to season your sand.
  15. crusty ol salt

    crusty ol salt Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Just like flash, here in coastal virginia the humidity is normally high. The reason I was wondering about seasoning the sand is most sand from lowes and the home depot are stored in the garden center. I know it should be ok but somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder what chemical cocktail could it be exposed to. Maybe am to extreme but I washed the sand and raked as I put it into the grand kid's sandbox. As far as the sand and water comparison I know the safe guards at the water treatment plant, I have no clue to the quality control at the sand bagging facility [​IMG]

    It is a great discussion and it is very interesting to read everyones point of view.
  16. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Crusty if you do need some moisture while using sand, especially during the cooler months, just use a spritzer. I like apple juice/apple cider vinegar.
    Don't forget to cover the sand with a sheet of aluminum foil. I've actually reused the sand by adding alittle water to it to return it to the original consistency.
  17. justsmoke2

    justsmoke2 Smoking Fanatic

    Crusty experiment and see what you like. Your still going to produce good food no matter what. Just remember there are all sorts of smokers out there and not all of them require water. Personnally I use crumbled up foil in my pan and cover with foil to catch the drippings. No specific reason for doing that way, it just works for me. If you do use sand becareful you can over use it and it will turn hard on you.
  18. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    True dat [​IMG] I have one pan that I had to use a hammer and chisel to free it of a ring of sand. Still it doesn't really cause that much of a problem. Remember water will eventually rust the pan thru. I do like the consistency from using sand. As water evaporates temps will fluctuate and are terrible to control during winter months, still during the summer months, I have water in the pan more than sand.
  19. crusty ol salt

    crusty ol salt Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I think that is part of the fun of this new adventure, is finding out what works for me. what is the personality of my smokers. How do they react in the wind and rain. How do i react and over come.

    Part of me reasoning for changing over to sand is i was not developing the dark rich bark i wanted.

    i have up the sugar content in my rubs but i think the humidity is also having some affect on the outcome.

    Here is my current plan. Smoke it, eat it, evaluate it. If need be back to the drawing board (includes input from SMF). Tweak it adjust it and back to the smoker.

    This could be a never ending cycle of "looking for smoking perfection".[​IMG]

    Now i know that smoke has never actually happened because there is no pics. I promise they are coming soon.
  20. crusty ol salt

    crusty ol salt Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Smoked 2 butts today and I loved the results using sand. I will be posted q-view under pork with the title "labor day - 2 butts". Again thank you all for your input.[​IMG]

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