Sand in the do you like it?

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by deer meat, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. deer meat

    deer meat Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Hi everyone,

    I have read several post on here about using sand in place of water in the water pan. I would like to get some opinions on this subject before trying it. I have a GOSM big block (propane)

    I have a few questions also.

    1. Do you completely fill the pan with sand?

    2. Can you just cover the sand with aluminum foil to keep it clean, or do you get only one use out of it?

    3. Does the sand work well at all temperature ranges between say..... 150° to 300°

    4. should I just stick with water?

  2. desert smokin

    desert smokin Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I've been using sand since I first read about it back in June in a thread from bbq Bubba. I line my pan with foil and fill it with sand. I haven't been covering the sand, I just let it absorb any drippings and change it out for ythe next smoke. I might give the foil over sand a try next smoke. I like it because you eliminate another variable due to changing water levels and most of my smokes are in the 215 to 250 range and I find my temp swings a pretty manageable. Nothing real wild unless my chunks flare.
    Personally, my preference and think you should give it a try.
  3. tailgatingpirate

    tailgatingpirate Fire Starter

    does it not dry out the meat??
  4. deer meat

    deer meat Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks Jim, I was kind of hoping I would not have to use fresh sand everytime though.[​IMG]

    So you think covering the pan with foil will work then?
  5. desert smokin

    desert smokin Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    There was a recent post where the poster indicated they use foil over sand and it works well for them. I will definitely be trying it.
  6. deer meat

    deer meat Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    That is a good question.

    I don't think it would be to much of an issue with say.... a pork butt or a brisket. But smoking a pork loin may be a problem.

    I am actually really not sure how much the water pan plays a role in keeping the meat moist though? I believe it's major part in the smoke is to help with the temperature regulation.
  7. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use playbox sand alot and love it. It will allow for more constant and higher temps than water, which of course, can evaporate. Yes, cover the sand with foil, you can then use it again. If it dries out, just add some water to get back to the original consitancy. Playbox sand is moist and usually used in higher humidities, above 70%, although when I need higher temps I will use it anytime. People have a misconception that water keeps the food moist (it does alittle) or helps cook the food (it does alittle) but the main reason it to help regulate the temps of the smoker.
    If you do feel the meat you are smoking is drying out, then spray with apple juice, coke or your favorite marinade.
  8. wavector

    wavector Smoking Fanatic

    I would consider adding water to the sand if you are concerned about drying out the meat. How much depends on your smoker. It should not boil as the sand should absorb most of the heat from the fire. And, if you want to cover the sand with foil for reuse, you may want to allow for evaporation by leaving the edges open a bit. Maybe try a pie pan on top of the sand instead of completely covering the sand with foil. These are only suggestions, and I haven't tried them, but I think they may work for you.

    When I want to raise the temps, I use a terracotta pot bottom. I then use a pie shell or old thick aluminum pan w/o the handle to add moisture to the smoke. The water evaporates slowly and temps stay at around 250-275. The only spikes I have are from flame-ups but don't last long enough to risk burn or drying. I'm considering purchasing a vertical with side firebox.
  9. deer meat

    deer meat Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Just a bump, lookin for more opinions.
  10. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  11. deer meat

    deer meat Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks for the link Joe.[​IMG]
  12. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No problem. Hope it helped.
  13. fat sal

    fat sal Fire Starter


    I've used sand in a GOSM's water pan, as well as in a WSM's.

    Line the pan with HD aluminum foil. Add the sand. Cover the sand with another layer of foil.

    I've had great results with sand. It's so hands-off, and clean-up is a breeze (just toss the top layer of foil).

    I typically use sand for longish smokes, like butts. Just keep your eye on the temps after several hours. Whereas water won't go above 212ºF, a dish of sand will--so you may find your machine running a bit hotter later on.

    But even so, I've found that problem to be easily controllable--provided that you're not passed out on a bed of empty Old Style cans by that point.

    Take care,
  14. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    somewhere, round here, someone mentioned they didn't cover their sand.......and let the drippings fall into the sand, and over a period of time, it hardened the sand SO much........that they couldn't get the sand outta the pan.......had to throw it i would suggest covering the pan with foil............

    i plan on trying the sand method myself this sunday, and do a side by side with my 2 ecb's, one with water,the other with sand

  15. peculiarmike

    peculiarmike Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Once again - meat comes with all the "moisture" it will ever have. You can't "add moisture" and all that water pan is is a buffer between the hot fire and the item(s) you are smoking. Without the pan, full of water or sand, you would be GRILLING over direct heat.
    If your meat comes out dry you overcooked it. Hard to swallow, but fact. [​IMG]
  16. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    next question tho........does it HAVE to be playbox sand?

    seems to me sand is sand...........any thoughts?

  17. deer meat

    deer meat Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Dude I would think that playsand would be a little more refined since kids play with it and all.... (no big chunks). But I can't see why you couldn't use regular old highway sand.
  18. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If ya don't have any in the back yard (yes, my daughter has a sand box that keep's losing sand???) You can get pool sand or play sand for a couple buck's a bag.
    If your not going to foil on top, you DO have to change it out often, all them dripping's can make for some real nasties!![​IMG]
  19. ajthepoolman

    ajthepoolman Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Swimming pool sand is much finer than playbox sand. Finer particles means less air flow between them. Might be a good thing, but probably turns out to be a bad thing since there is less air to buffer the heat.

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