Water pan or no water pan?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by scvinegarpepper, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. Ok, so I am embarrassed to say this, but I've got this little el-cheapo Char-Broil H2O charcoal smoker that I have never used! I've just always used my big rig. Suffice to say, I am clueless with this thing and Char-Broil doesn't help much either with their website. I'm sure you're familiar with the design. It's the tall skinny green one. My question is this...
    It's got two pans in the bottom, one for charcoal and wood, and I assume the other is a water pan. I'm sure it's all personal preference, but should I use the water pan? Or should I remove it and just use it to prepare more charcoal to replenish the fire with? Or, should I use it to catch the drippings? I hate asking these elementary questions, but I know you fine people can point me in the right direction. Thanks so much.
  2. acemakr

    acemakr Smoking Fanatic

    I don't have a Char-Broil but do have an ECB. I use the water pan (3/4 full of hot tap water) to help control temperature. I tried it only once without it and could not get the temp in the ECB below 325. After 2 hours, I added the water pan and the temp dropped right into the 230 to 250 slot.

    But, like every thing else, trial and error make for interesting tests and eventually you'll ease into your personal comfort zone.

    Happy Smoking.
  3. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    I would use it with water and it will also catch the drippings. It should help keep temps more stable especially when opening the smoker. It will also keep the drippings from hitting the charcoal and catching on fire
  4. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  5. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I always use a water pan in my smokers (except for my UDS) As the others have mentioned it helps keep the temps up and keeps a bit of moisture in the smoker. It also works to catch your drippings. I always line mine with foil so it is easier to clean.
  6. Thanks so much for that manual, Delta. Is the water pan supposed to sit on some brackets or something up above the charcoal pan? Or is it supposed to set directly on top of the charcoal and wood?! Because the only area I can see where I should put it up above the charcoal is if I remove the lower cooking grate. Which doesn't bother me, because I can't see myself using the lower grate often, if ever at all. Thanks.
  7. I hate bumping this, just want to find out about the placement of the water pan. Thanks, y'all.
  8. wingrider1

    wingrider1 Smoke Blower

    I have the WSM. I have done a lot of reading on to water bowl or not. This is the question. I have come to understand the water bowl has the effect of a heat sink to help keep temps a little more consistent. When the temp goes up, the water boils releasing energy which helps keep a stable temp not always a cooler temp,,,,that would be controlled by the vents.

    I have noticed a lot of chicken smokes call for not using the water pan to let the temp run a little higher to help crisp the skin of the chicken. I have and still in the process of learning. I am going to use the smoker this weekend for a smoke on a chicken...I am going to use the water pan. Then crisp the skin on the grate over the coals for about 30-60 sec.

    So the answer is some do some don't. I am still experimenting with my smoker to see what works best for me...
  9. smokin leo

    smokin leo Meat Mopper

    first off why the embarassment these little ecb are great cookers for
    small cook outs or for people who do a little here and there

    as far as the water deal i use a quart mason jar to determine how much
    water usally i get the smoker to 300 w a pint of water
    then add the product depnding on what your smoking add more for temp
    or keep the same i never add more water until its damn near gone[​IMG]
  10. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Use the water pan. It helps regulate temps. Also, you can use the pan to put other liquids in for flavour. i.e. beer, wine, pop...
  11. treegje

    treegje Master of the Pit

    I have a Pro Q Excel 20 "

    all air above the water pan can not exceed the boiling point of water, that is 212 F.because water in an open pan can not be hotter.
    of course you can get higher temp, because there is a gap around the water pan.
    the bigger the gap the higher the temp you can achieve.
    I already have experiment with smaller water pans,the smaller the water pan the higher the temp I could reach
  12. jjjonz

    jjjonz Newbie

    I never use a water pan,just wrap the water pan with aluminum.Over the years I have turned out some pretty good Que and clean up is a breeze.

    Good luck.....JJ
  13. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Mixed opinions but try both and see what works. Personally I use a water pan, I don't like sour smoke. That's just me . [​IMG]
  14. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    yeah seems to be different thoughts on this, I am with the water pan side but give both a try and let us know what you decided
  15. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't use water on the WSM, I took a liking to using sand. Nice steady temps with no need to worry about refilling the water.
  16. timmy7649

    timmy7649 Fire Starter

    do you have to throw the sand out every cook cause of all the drippings or can you reuse?
  17. chisoxjim

    chisoxjim Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I use a water pan all the time, I like the moisture it gives to the smoking environment.

    Typically its just water, sometimes apple juice,

    and sometimes I share a beer with my WSM since it shares great bbq with me. [​IMG]
  18. polishmeat

    polishmeat Meat Mopper

    LOLOLOL Jim!
  19. The water pan most definitely does not sit directly on the fire. There should be some brackets in there to hold it up. If not, just get some long bolts and thread them in from the outside. Thats what I did when the bracket on my ecb broke. Also, you can fill the water pan up with sand and it will help reg the temperature without having to wory about refilling the pan.

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