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Why the water pan?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by glenn stanton, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. When I introduced myself I warned that there would be some stupid questions coming.

    Here goes...

    Why a water pan?

    Is humidity that big of a concern?

    Is it just a buffer or does it contribute real moisture?
  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Not a Stupid Question, but it will be cause for some good debate....

    Using the water pan can be for moisture and also for a heat sink. 

    Personally, I DO NOT use the water pan for adding moisture.  If I need additional moisture, I will use a small pan with water in it, on the lowest rack.  Also, some guys will fill their water pan with sand and use it as a heat sink, for quicker recovery, when the door is opened.

    There may a situation where you're smoking something like "Dried Beef", and don't want or need any extra moisture.  If I need extra moisture, I will inject my meat.

    helljack6 likes this.
  4. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I understand it to be like Todd said, It may add moisture & it helps keep the heat stable. I always use the water pan, not sure why, just do. 
  5. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    It all depends on what i am smoking. On the MES it definantly acts as a heat sink.

     If there is something i want to smoke w/o the added steam i just place a 9 x 9 unglazed ceramic tile over my chip tray .

     (Thanks RonP)  It distributes the heat  well enough to remove the major right hand side Hot Spot.
  6. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When I smoke certain cuts of meat, I'll use water in the pan. It seems to give a better smoke ring. Sometimes I use sand in the pan, great as a heat sink and great recovery time when I open the door. I like the fact that I can go with water or sand. It's all good my friend.
  7. les3176

    les3176 Master of the Pit

    It does help with keeping temps more stable. Also helps with moisture in the meat but it really depends on what your smoking.If you are smoking fish or jerky something along those lines i don't use water. I fill my waterpan with sand,this also helps with stable temps without the moisture just remember to wrap the sand waterpan with foil for easy clean up. Do a search on the subject and you'll find tons of info!
  8. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I use a water pan as a grease trap in my UDS. I also use it because I don't like sour smoke from fat burning. That's just me. [​IMG]
  9. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    I went to Clay saucer in my WSM with water pan under it (empty) don't think i will be going back to water.[​IMG]
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree pretty much with all of the above replies, but I will add, "If you have an MES, you are supposed to ALWAYS have your water pan in position, whether you have anything in it or not".

  11. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great info above

    My 2 cents

    If the smoker manufacturer designed the smoker with a water pan,  use it, It may have more than one function.

    If not then its optional

    Water helps maintain an optimal smoking temperature.

    Water Helps with smoke penetration.

    Water does not add moisture into to the meat.

    Water acts a s a heat sink.

    Other considerations

    Wood and propane add moisture in the smoke chamber, electric does not.

    There will be certain situations that you do not want to use water, such as smoking jerky.
  12. helljack6

    helljack6 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I have to agree with almost everything said here. I have a fleet of UDS smokers and i've NEVER used a water pan in any of them due to the fact of how they cook, they create a moist enough atmosphere that the meat doesn't dry out. I think there's great uses for a waterpan, but your milage will vary and it's really a whole lot more than trial and error. It's part of learning about YOUR individual smoker because no two smokers cook the same way. Each one will always have it's own defining characteristics. As a point of reference, 3 of my UDS smokers set on the same settings, all things the same, same build, every bit of identical as the next one, tend to cook 20 degrees hotter than the others for no reason. It happens.
  13. pineywoods

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

    As I understand it the biggest purpose of the water pan is as a heat sync some people will say it adds moisture and others will say it doesn't. I have never heard anybody say it doesn't work as a heat sync. Some people as mentioned will add sand to the water pan to act as the heat sync. As far as it helping with the smoke ring I have my doubts as I get the best smoke ring when using my Lang burning straight wood splits and there is no water pan in it. There is also much debate as to whether adding beer, spices, etc to the water pan actually affects the product being smoked and as far as I know that debate has never been settled. It stands to reason that if the water/liquid in the water pan is boiling at temps over 212 degrees it would be adding steam/moisture to the smoker environment but I don't know if that is the purpose or only a side effect and if it adds enough to change anything. 

    Personally I use water in the pan if I'm using my GOSM and I save the beer for the cooks to keep themselves hydrated [​IMG]
  14. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I like the way you think Piney!
  15. Heat sink makes sense.

    Maybe I should just keep the door shut longer.[​IMG]

    I've been at this for two months and fish is my game. So to speak.

    I can make jerky, but, I want moist smoked fish.

    I have discovered that low temps is your friend when it comes to fish.

    but smoke is slow to come at low temps.

    Should I do meat until I have it somewhat figured out, then adapt knowledge to fish?

    This smoking game is truly something I want to master.
  16. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    Do a search for the smoked fish you want to make.

    There are a lot of good smoked fish threads on this forum.

    I have a good Smoked Salmon step by step, in my signature below, but it's not for "Moist" smoked fish.

    It is for Smoked Salmon for snacking.

    If you can't find one to your liking, start a new thread asking for a recipe for the kind of fish you want to smoke.

    Hang in there---you'll get it,

  17. This site obviously has a much better search engine than I am used to.

    I have bookmarked the link and will do my homework.
  18. No doubt, I will hang in there.

    I have done jerky, and plenty of it.

    Smoking seems to be an ethereal art form.

    Basically moisture retention, opposed to dehydration.

    I have just discovered the search engine on this site actually works.

    Unlike the fishing and astronomy sites I belong to,

    wherein the search functions are useless,

    I am slowly discovering there is an actual reachable database here.

    Soon I may begin to share a success story or two.

    As I type, I have Swordfish and Thresher Shark marinating in a

    Bay Leaf, Maple Syrup brine.

    I'll let you know how it goes.