To Water or Not?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by smokerelli, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. smokerelli

    smokerelli Fire Starter

    Preparing to do my 1st ever smoke this weekend, even though I have had my 18.5WSM for a couple months now, darn winter, but was looking to get some thoughts on the water pan.  I know some say use, some say don't, I was just curious as how to jump into my smoking adventure.  Any help/thoughts are kindly welcome since I really have no idea what I am doing, but can't wait to learn.  Thanks!
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hey Smokerelli

    There are several reasons to use a water pan

    It acts like a heat sink helping to stabilize temperatures

    It will add moisture to your smoker

    If you are not using splits are large chunks of wood it may be a good idea to make use of the water pan for the moisture

    I save any expired beer from past parties,  the last swallows of wine etc to go into the water pan.   You can conceivably add a bit of flavor.

    It doesn't hurt and it will help you with the temperature regulation,  good luck and great success with your first smoke!!
  3. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The water pan is there for temperature control, the water being a heat sink.  Sand, bricks, any large mass in the water pan will serve the same heat sink purpose but it will behave differently than water.

    The debate rages whether it contributes to juicy meat or not.  Personally, I'm on the fence about the juicy meat issue so I'm no help there.  That said, I dry smoke about 95% of the time using nothing  in the empty water pan as a heat sink, but that decision came about from experience using my smoker and developing a personal preference.  Temp control is a little different when dry smoking and experience plays a big part in the process.

    Since this is your first smoke ever go ahead and fill the water pan.  Follow the WSM directions and get your results.  It only takes about 3-4 smokes before you begin to understand your equipment, how different meats respond,  and can start making little changes to your preference.

    Have fun, take pics, and share with us how it turned out!       
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  4. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ahhh! the water pan

    These guys bring up some valid points.

    I use water in my GOSM, it does not add moisture but will add to cooking time especially on meats that go through an evaporative process (stall). Although it does not add moisture it may help in keeping the meat moist.

    Some folks say don't use water in the water pan, but a lot of times they neglect to tell the poster how they are using the smoker and the poster neglects to offer the same info. Also some other benefits of using the water pan are left out.
    1. Water in the pan benefits the absorption of smoke and the smoke ring. Other medias don't
    2. Water acts as a heat sink, but so do other materials
    3. Water helps stabilize optimal smoking temperature other medias do not
    4. Water keeps temp spikes at a minimum, some claim that sand does too but I am not one of them, but it helps in heat recovery time.
    5. Water in the pan gives you a bit more wiggle room in temperature control whereas using other dry materials for a heat sink will not, (back to point #3)
    Cleanup, this is where some folks say that using water is messier than other media, I don't have a problem taking my water to the sink and dumping it... it's really not a big deal or messy... for me anyhow.

    simply adding foil makes life easier as well.

    I don't do larger cuts in my GOSM anymore, but I can tell you this, unless you foil, the stall is significantly longer in a smoker like the GOSM if using water.

    I would start off as the manufacturer suggests, with water in the pan, document your own results and go from there.

    There are some times you don't want to use water in the water pan and this would be if you were making jerky.
  5. smokerelli

    smokerelli Fire Starter

    Thanks for the help guys, I really appreciate it!  I have been on this forum daily for a couple months now just reading posts and reading up on everyone's methods and opinions on all things smoke related and figured this would bring out both sides of the question.  Just hoped to get a little personalized answer with my smoker and it being the 1st attempt for me.  I like all of the info given and makes sense I should just go with what the normal setup using the WSM and start with water method.  Nothing wrong with learning and eating and learning and eating :)

    Thanks again!!
  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I always use water in my 22.5" WSM for low and slow smokes.... but like Sqwib said there are times its not needed. Jerky, high heat chicken or steaks, or any other high heat cooking situation where you want to get over 325°.

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