NewB question

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by kmmuellr, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. kmmuellr

    kmmuellr Newbie

    I've done a few smokes now on my Smoke Hollow propane smoker. Two chickens and a rack of spare ribs. Each time I've filled my water pan.

    Will I always want water in the pan, or are there times that I shouldn't use it? What does the water do, and what would the result be if I didn't have the water?

    I've got a friend who has an oil drum smoker, no water pan that I'm aware of, and his food is great. Side-burning smokers that I've seen pics of don't have the water either.

    So, what's the water do, and whats the best way to use a vertical smoker with and without water?

  2. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The water acts as thermal mass and helps your smoker recover faster, though it can be a PITA to refill it every couple of hours or so. I have a GOSM that I use and the only time I don't use water is when I'm doing jerky and want a dry environment. Some folks have done away with water altogether and placed sand in the water pan and then covered the pan with foil to keep the grease out.

    If you decide not to use water, remember to keep the pan in place as it defuses the heat. Years ago on of my boys wanted to do a pizza in the smoker and he took the water pan out. The Maverick thermo showed the temp at 325° but when he pulled the pizza out the bottom was charred black and extra crispy.
  3. pepeskitty

    pepeskitty Smoking Fanatic

    Well, I was going to respond but Dutch, as usual, answered the question very complete. You will find that some here even use 50/50 apple juice and water to impart some flavor into their meat. I am sure someone will be along later to give more info on that.
  4. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What they said.
  5. denver dave

    denver dave Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    What Dutch said. I always use water in my smoker. It runs dry sometimes because I get distracted [​IMG] but I have better results if I keep water in the pan. The apple juice idea works great. Just gives a little fruity touch to the meat. I have also used Beef stock and Veg stock mixed with water in the pan. All is good.[​IMG]
  6. slareau

    slareau Fire Starter

    I think it is worth noting that the water pan also keeps temperatures down. As the heat source (in this case propane) adds energy to the water and converts it to steam, the steam that exists as a result of the water pan carries even more energy (heat) out of the smoker due to the high heat of vaporization of water. Basically, you are adding an intermediary that helps regulate temperature and has the ability to bleed off excess energy (above 212 + heat of vaporization).

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