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Water in the smoker

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pipinchaz, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. I'm looking for opinions here. Being fairly new to smoking, I've only done a few turkeys and chickens and a roast or two. My question how many put water in their smokers when they are smoking? Do you just use plain water or do you and herbs and vegetables to give it flavor? I realize that if you don't have any moisture in the smoker that meat would probably dry out. I was just curious if you used water all the time with everything.
    Thanks for your input.
  2. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Charlie that question has been debated around here many times. Some say the water only acts as a heat sync others say it adds moisture to the smoke chamber. Some say fill it with play sand and foil over the top and it will act as the heat sync without having to keep adding water. Some say add herbs and stuff and others say adding it makes no difference. Personally I add water if the smoker has a water pan like the directions say if they wanted me to add sand they would have called it a sand pan [​IMG]
  3. Where I live, if the humidity is at 70% that is considered a "dry" day.  I don't need to add any moisture to the smoke box, there is already plenty in the air!
  4. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    You'll be fighting the water if you want higher temps though...many foil the bowl.    There isn't any correlation between water in a bowl and moist meat...there is plenty of moisture in the meat so don't worry about drying anything out. 
  5. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    If I cook poultry in my WSM I don't use the water pan at all , cuz I want to cook it hot and fast. If I cook pork butt or CSR's , or ribs I will put a foil wrapped brick in the foiled pan because I want to cook at 225-250 ....I haven't used water since the first time I used the WSM and couldn't get above 200 degrees. I just feel like the water is more hindrance than help....just my 2 cents.
  6. millerk0486

    millerk0486 Meat Mopper

    I always use water, but at times have used less water in my WSM for the higher temps. I have been wanting to try the sand and Hambone's brick suggestion for the higher temps. 

    I have also always felt that with the water steam, it would help to balance the temp throughout the temp, since humidity holds heat well. I have no way of proving it, just my impressions on it.
  7. stanton

    stanton Fire Starter

    Foil up the water pan and use it to catch the grease. I have never used water in my cooker and our relative humidity lives around 20% or less except when it rains. You will take longer to get the pit up to temp and use more charcoal to cook your meat. I do not believe it helps meat moisture levels. Cooking it properly is what does that.

  8. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Do you not use any kind of heat sink? No sand , no metal...just the foiled pan? If so , How do you keep the temp down , just using the vents?
  9. I figure the WSM is an outdoor charcoal fired oven. I don't use water in my indoor oven so I don't use it in my outdoor oven. If I want lower temps I close vents. If I want higher temps I open vents. Real low temps may dictate closing one or two completely. I'll even close the top vent but ensure it's open more than the three bottom vents openings combined.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  10. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Really ! I'm going to have to try that method. Just curious how much lit charcoal you normally start with? Thanks ,
  11. In the 22.5" WSM, I usually start with a full ring of lump and add a full large Weber chimney of lit. When the fire burns clean I put it all together and wait for clean exhaust fumes (no smoke). Then I add food and smoke wood. When I get to 200*F ish I close vents down to about 10% open. I usually cook at 250*F +/- 25*F. The whole process takes ~ 45 minutes.

    I used to use water in the 22.5" but it burns too much fuel, creates a mess to have to clean up, and puts a brown residue on the inside of the cooker. No water eliminates all that.

    I've never used water in the 14.5". I use a full ring of lump and a full small Weber chimney of lit with it. It locks in every time.

    It seems like I'm cheatin. It really is too easy to run the cooker.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  12. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Well , I'm going to try that next time....thanks , man.
  13. I hope you find as much success with it as I have!
  14. wade

    wade Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I usually use water unless I need to hot roast - then I just use the water pan as a drip tray. On most Webers the vents in combination can be a very effective way of controlling the temperature to quite a fine degree
  15. I have no way to control temp in my brinkmann smoker with the electric insert. I wrap it with insulating blanket when its cold and hope for the best and keep checking to when it's done. I'm going to put a regular thermometer to see what the temp is and I'd like to integrate a PID into it all. With a full pan of water, it takes 5-6 hours to smoke a full size turkey. Thanks for all of the input, i'm going to make some changes in the way I am smoking.
  16. stanton

    stanton Fire Starter

    Yep, just the vents. I got rid of the WSMs and built a trailer model, but that is how I ran it.
  17. linehand

    linehand Fire Starter

    I use water and alittle apple juice in my ECB to help control temp. if I use water I always pre heat the water before starting to cook

    I have never had the need to use water in my SFB smoker...
  18. I do boil my water with all the herbs and veggies before I put in the smoker so the heat does not take to long to get up where I want it.

    Thanks for your input.