Water Pan Question

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by tbeacham, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. Chase, you did not hijack his thread. He wanted input and yours is as good as it gets.

  2. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm trying to understand better how the MES works. Since it's well-insulated, the moisture produced as a by-product of the smoking/cooking process is enough to keep moist since it combines with the smoke as it blankets the meat while it cooks?

    And I'm guessing that by opening the door around 10 times or more during cooking, since the heated, smoky air is being let out, the controller has to continually heat the heating element which extends the cooking time? I'm not totally understanding that. But what about professional smokers who, although they rarely open the door to their smokers, they can smoke for 12 hours or overnight and not dry out the meat? I thought that it was smoking over too long a period of time that dried meat out.

    From personal experience, I do know that steam inside a MES is the enemy of the AMNPS.
  3. smokepone

    smokepone Newbie

    Great thread and info.  I'm a newbie with the my MES 40.  I thought I could go without water in my pan but was getting mixed up by different things I found on the web.  Is there ever a NEED to use water in the pan?  summer sausage or salami in casings?  I will be interested to see if I can get a better bark when I leave the water pan empty.

    On a similar note, do you guys smoke with the MES 40 with the vent open, closed, or some percentage open at different times during the smoke.  Not meaning to hijack the thread, if this has been discussed maybe somebody can point me to the correct thread?  THX, GBO
  4. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I own the MES 30. I always keep the water pan empty and foiled over. I think the less moisture or steam produced inside a MES the more bark will be produced. Bearcarver in this thread covers why the MES doesn't need water or added moisture, even though Masterbuilt advises it. It's just a matter of experience and the results you personally get which influence your decision to add water or not. .

    I also keep the top vent wide open. Since I use the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS) it needs adequate air flow to keep the pellets lit and smoldering.

    The people who smoke cured meats like sausage and salami in casings can weigh in on tips for smoking them in the MES.
    smokepone likes this.
  5. smokepone

    smokepone Newbie

    I smoked some venison salami with water in the pan that turned out very nice.  I was worried the casings would dry out but I might be over thinking it.  I ordered the AMNPS the other day and look forward to using it.
  6. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Most smoker manuals still say to soak your wood too. I think the guys who wrote those things don't know their you know what from a hole in the ground when it comes to actually using their products.
    smokepone likes this.
  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Every time you open the door you let out the moisture in the smoker & cause the heat to run more & dry the air some.

    If you have a glass door in your MES you can see the condensation on the glass during the smoke. That moisture is coming from the meat, since I don't put water in the pan. The only time I ever dried anything out was one time, when I had trouble with adjusting my heat deflector & I opened the door a lot of times. I never did that again & never had the problem again. I smoke various things for 10 to 12 hours without it getting dry at all.

    I have never found a reason to put water in an MES water pan.

    I close my top vent when pre-heating. Then it's always all the way open, with the exception of when it's windy out. Even when windy I have it open 100% if I have a wind block in place.

  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yup---It seems guys who have been using their smokers know more about using them than the people who wrote the book.

    Masterbuilt has Great Customer service now too, but 5 years ago they didn't. They were all telling me the same thing (Talking Points).

    Why am I not getting my chips to smoke until it gets to 220°?

    Answer, "Are you using an extension cord?" "Are you soaking your chips?"

    Finally I asked, "Have you ever used one of these?"

    Answer "No".

    I asked, "Have you ever seen one?"

    Answer, "Yes, I think there's one in the showroom."

    About a month later they started sending out the Retro-fixes for the ones that weren't smoking, because owners convinced them their Talking Points had nothing to do with the problem.

    I haven't had problems for 4 years, but those who have say their Phone Customer Service is great nowadays.

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  9. You know what they say about opinions. When the vast majority are close you should give them some credence. I like many have my own , So let me jump in. 

    About the water pan , it holds a lot of smoking paraphernalia as storage  and only goes in the smoker after the cook. I don't use it at all.. I don't need it and want the lower rack as a place to put my drip pan.

    I use a smoke stack so I removed the factory baffle.  If I ever wanted to close the exhaust the stack has a baffle. I should move it once in a while so it doe's not stick like the factory one. 

    Just my thoughts on a popular set of questions. Your mileage may vary. Opinions we all got them    Jted
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  10. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    Another MES user here, going on 4 years, who doesn't use water in the pan. Have never had dry meat cooked in the MES. Now my uninsulated gasser was a different story. Like most people on here I cook by internal  temp not time with ribs being the exception. A remote thermo like the Maverick is a must. And keep the door closed, no peeking! That's why I got the one with a window. That reminds me, I need to clean my window before the next smoke.
  11. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I know with most standard, non electric verticals, you pretty much need a pan, be it water, sand or bricks. Otherwise you are pretty much grilling unless you can keep those temps down to a decent level.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've cooked in my MES 30 Gen 1 with and without water in the pan and saw no difference in temp fluctuation. One time the temp did shoot up to 295° because of a clogged hi temp limit switch but after cleaning it and keeping it clean I've had zero problem with keeping cooking temps in the range where I want them.

    I stopped using water because it created too much steam for the AMNPS I use for generating smoke.
  13. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Bear, this is the new nugget of info you've given me: starting with my next smoke, I keep the top vent closed when preheating my MES. I also keep it wide open while cooking.

    I don't have the glass door model but I don't need it. What do you use for a heat deflector? I don't have one of those either. I once bought a ceramic tile to use for that purpose but read it could really ruin my smoker if I put it inside while it was in use. Something about the tile getting too hot or something, I don't remember.
  14. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Notice I said Non electric models.  Probably more due to you using a thermostat to set controlled temps, unlike a charcoal model whose temps can fluctuate much more and are harder to control.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You're correct: I saw you did write "non electric" but I think I filtered out the "non" somehow.

    The controller on the MES digital certainly does fluctuate but I've been advised it's designed that way but it all averages at to maintaining the set point. I use the Maverick ET-733 to get correct and accurate displays of both ambient and internal temps and avoid overcooking and drying out meat that way.
  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The aluminum plate above my water pan is supported on the left by a metal leg.

    I can move that leg left & right to raise or lower the left end of that plate.

    Raising it higher on the left causes more heat to go to the center of the smoker, instead of too much going up the right side.

    If I need more heat to go up the right side, I can also slide the whole plate a small amount away from the right wall, allowing heat to got straight up.

    This picture was before I started covering the plate with foil.

  17. bdskelly

    bdskelly Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Spot on Dave O. I stopped putting water in the pan many years ago and my barbecue improved the day i did. Better bark and better flavor. Water in the pan does little to keep the meat moist.  ......Want moist meat? Then don't over cook it.  A good meat thermometer can help. b
  18. smokinnn

    smokinnn Fire Starter

    Is the recommendation here to not use water only meant for electric smokers?  I have always used propane smokers (on my third one now) and have found that the bigger the water pan, the more water, the easier it is to keep the temperature low and steady.  Without the water it gets way too hot.  In fact I have kept the bigger water pan from my first Masterbuilt 7-1 and used it in my Masterbuilt 40 and now in my Smoke Hollow 44.  Would sand or a brick work just as well as water in a propane smoker?  

    Edit:  Sorry, I just noticed this thread was actually in the electric smoker forum.  I had come in through a search and did not realize that.  Reading more of the posts, I did come to the conclusion that this recommendation is mainly for electric smokers, which makes sense.  [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    A water pan with water in it might be good for some types of smokers, but definitely not a good thing in an MES. They're so well insulated that there is plenty of humidity inside. You would have to open your door a whole lot of times to get anything to dry out.

    Yes Sand or a Brick will help the heat recovery, but it will also take awhile to heat the sand or brick up in the beginning, especially in the North during the Winter.

  20. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My understanding is that the water pan in the MES smokers provides way too much water surface for the interior size of both the MES 30 and MES 40 models. The meat therefore is being steamed more than slow cooked over wood smoke. I cook without water in the pan and I have no problem keeping temps low and fairly steady in my smoker. Unless I overcook the meat, it comes out moist without using any water inside the pan.

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