WSM 18.5 or 22.5? Advice please.

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by mkl, May 4, 2010.

  1. mkl

    mkl Newbie

    I am going to get a WSM, but can't decide on the size. I know I can't really go wrong, but there is a $100+ price difference. I will spend the money happily if people think it is worth it.

    FYI - I normally do smokes for 2-8 people, ribs, shoulders, and brisket being favorites. I know the 18.5 can accomodate this, but am pretty tempted to go bigger.

    Also, what is the deal with using a flower pot base and sand instead of water in the water pan? I have heard of this quite a bit but don't know why it might be better. Can someone explain?

    Also, can one grill directly on the WSM, using only the lower part?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I went with the 22.5 myself. I find if I am cooking sides (beans, veg., ect.) the extra room comes in real handy.

    The sand or clay pot bottom is basically just another way to create a heat-sink. Same concept as water, but without the added moisture, or the clean up of left over water. If you use sand make sure you put foil over the top before each smoke to keep drippings from getting into the sand and growing bacteria.

    I have not tried to grill on mine, but I don't see why you couldn't. I have a weber kettle that I grill on... also where I light my chimneys for the smoker.
  3. placebo

    placebo Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Doesn't sound like you need to go bigger, but that is a judgement call for you. I went with the 22.5 and I cook for less peeps than you lol.

    The reason for that is mostly for ease of cleanup. Water gets rather messy but a clay saucer wrapped in foil is very easy to clean.


    Either way you go you will be happy with the end result.
  4. caveman

    caveman Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I think the WSM 22.5 purchase I made was a good investment. I smoke for 3 plus, anywhere in upwards of 8 when I am in a good mood. First of all, the flower pot base is used as a heat shield, rather like the BGE design. It is to keep cleanup to a minimum & temps regulated without having to fill the water pan over & over during your smokes. This link might explain that better.

    As far as grilling directly on the lower grill, yes it is possible like Placebo said. You can grill on both top & bottom grates, although the bottom grate would be better for searing and such. Mind you, your face would be right there in the heat as you have to reach into the unit to work your product but then that may not be any different from either what you're used to do or are doing now. It is not a "Deep" reach so it is your decision. If you can, go see one already set up & that may help you with your decision. My alternative, is to only smoke in the WSM & get a Kettle like "Chisoxjim" to sear & grill. The best of both worlds as the Kettle is not as expensive, IMHO & will also allow me to use a chimney starter without having to bend down as I do now. Either way, you won't regret the purchase. You will just have to learn the smoker & it will treat you very well. Do you have to season it? I don't know. Once I set mine up, I did a test burn to learn the vents & temps & two hours later I threw meat on to smoke. I use foil in my water pan but the clean up is not as huge as it could be without it. I was thinking of getting the bottom flower pot base to do low & slow cooks & use very little water when I want high temp cooks. Again, "Chisoxjim" would be a better source of answers for these questions. My answers are based on my usage of my WSM to this date & I have no issues to speak of. Good luck.
  5. indyadmin1974

    indyadmin1974 Smoking Fanatic

  6. herkysprings

    herkysprings Smoking Fanatic

    I have an 18.5" and I'm convinced its so fuel efficient it actually regenerates charcoal.

    However I wish I got a 22.5" for the extra room for larger briskets and ribs. I can fit them in my 18.5", but the ends of the meat touch the sides sometimes and cooks a little too fast.

    I still love my 18.5" tho!
  7. chisoxjim

    chisoxjim Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    you cant go wrong with either, great choice.

    I have heard of those variations to using the water pan, but have yet to try them, and am really not interested at this time in trying them. I like the moist smoking environment the water pan provides in addition to the effect it has on holding temps. But that is just me.

    I also go back and forth with foiling the water pan, and not, I use the WSM so much cleaning the water pan is pretty much the same either way.

    I have heard you can grill with the WSM or smoke roast by running it without any water pan, or removing the middle section, and putting a grate right above the coals. Smoke roasting I would try, but I dont think being hunched over the WSM lower bowl would be very comfortable for grilling, so I use a 22.5" Weber kettle for grilling(and smoking sometimes), it is an invaluable part of my bbq arsenal. If money is a concern, you could buy the 18.5" WSM, and get a 22.5" Weber kettle for the less than the price of a 22.5".

    like I said above, good choice going with charcoal and the WSM, you cant go wrong with either, its just a matter of what fits your needs.
  8. mkl

    mkl Newbie

    Thanks for all the notes and advice!

    I do have a few other options to grill with, including kettles of various sizes and I can grill nicely on my Chargriller. I was thinking that instead of lighting another grill, when I finish with whatever is smoking I could use the hot coals to sizzle off the ribs and/or cook burgers or whathaveyou. Seems like a decent strategy for tailgating, which I do regularly.

    I'll do more research about the heatshield/water pan/ceramic base issue. I'd prefer to not use water (again, a convenience issue when tailgating or picnicing)

    Thanks again everyone!
  9. jjjonz

    jjjonz Newbie

    I can cook for 8 people on my 18".
    It uses less charcoal.
    You can shut down all vents and save charcoal for next cook or like you say grill somthing.
    I would say use it first with water pan full.Next use it with clay saucer,I promise you will never go back to water and it WILL still be moist.
    Your choice..........but you will be happy with the wsm.

    Good luck......JJ

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