Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by hillbilly jim, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. hillbilly jim

    hillbilly jim Meat Mopper

    With respect to hot smoking and barbecuing, what are the pros and cons of a water pan?

    I've been reading a lot about how hot smoking and barbecuing was done decades ago and I saw virtually nothing about using water pans or methods of incorporating humidity into the smoke.
  2. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I had a WSM for a number of years and it had a water pan. I used it a couple of times with water and a few times with sand. Then I switched to a clay saucer wrapped in foil and that was what I used until I sold it. Some folks really like water, but for me it was just a terrible mess. I have no problem with meat moisture and I don't think a water pan adds that much.

    Good luck, Jim. I'm sure you'll get a lot of different opinions on this, Joe.
  3. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    My thoughts are that a water pan is used more as a heat sink and helps stabilize temps if you have problems with that for your particular type of smoker.  You can do the same with sand in the tray.  Water in the pan adds a marginal amount of humidity, but isn't helping much in that regard (because you want that humidity to escape the smoker anyway - you don't want to steam it).  Amazingribs site has a great article on pros / cons of water pans that you can Google.
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I started out using water in my smokers that had water pans in them, then switched to sand, then switched back to water.

    I like the water better, I think it adds moisture to the smoker atmosphere.

    The only time I don't use water in the pan is for lower temp smoking such as sausage.

    That being said I don't use water in my Lang, but it didn't come with a water pan.

  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jim....   The water pan was invented by manufacturers that built smokers with inadequate heat control...  The knew water cold not get above 212 deg. F, so they put a water pan inside their smokers to control the heat, instead of making a smoker you could control the temperature...  and then they stated it kept the meat moist....   Well, do you think folks ate dried out meat before the water pan was introduced to the smoking world...
  6. krex1010

    krex1010 Smoke Blower

    Water pans are a fail-safe for small cookers...they are a heat sink that helps control temps in a relatively small cooker like a wsm....i don't use water unless I'm smoking bacon or cured sausage, and then I'll use ice and water to keep temps way low.....otherwise I'll wrap the pan in foil or not use anything between the meat and the coals
  7. hillbilly jim

    hillbilly jim Meat Mopper

    Thanks, fellas. I'm getting a much better picture now.

    I kept thinking "If they didn't need it a hundred years ago, why now?"

    As for temp control, I don't have issues with that. I've got a hole in the bottom of my cabinet you could throw a cat through and a 6 inch stove pipe flue & damper assembly for an exhaust. I put a needle valve on the fuel delivery and can turn the fire down to maintain a little over a hundred with the flue wide open.

    This ol' boy didn't sleep through 30 years of industrial HVAC.
  8. gearjammer

    gearjammer Master of the Pit

    No water for me, I have never used it.

    Never saw where it was going to do anything for me.

  9. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I used a water pan in the MB gasser, because it it evaporated out and I figured that was keeping the meat from drying out too much. When I got the stick burner I used a water pan the first couple of cooks and noticed it didn't evaporate. I don't do it now. To heck with "heat sinks".
    Just my opinion....
  10. gregor

    gregor Smoke Blower

    Have tried a small water pan in my SmokinIt 2d but honestly don't see much of a difference. Pretty well sealed so the atmosphere inside seems pretty moist. Electric unit is small so I think it makes getting up to temp longer...

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