WSM questions before purchase

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by graphicsman, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. I had a few questions for some that own a Weber Smokey Mountain 22".  I have been looking at the reviews and realized that this is very popular smoker and am leaning on buying one over the POS one i have now.  I did have a few questions that i did not find answers to on the forum.  The following questions are:

    1.  Do you guys regularly use the crate above the water pan??  Does it affect temps or over smoke using this crate or do you just use the top crate?  I have seen some articles and videos were people said they dont use it.

    2.  Can you use something other than water in the water pan?

    3.  While in a smoking run do you just leave it for 6 hours when doing something like a Boston Butt or can you still spray your meat in intervals (such as spraying spare ribs with apple juice every hour)??  If you spray your meat in intervals does it take a long time to build up temps between 200-250 again??

    thanks!!
     
  2. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    See answers in RED: Grats on the toy! You will love the WSM!
     
  3. thanks for the input but i didnt get a definitive answer if i could use another liquid other than water.  I did see some people posting about using sand and lining the water pan with alum.  BUT i thought about adding my marinade into it.
     
  4. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You certainly can use any other liquid you want, but in my experience it's really not necessary. The water is there primarily as a heat sink, and unless the ambient humidity is extremely low, won't make a huge difference in the moisture or flavor of the meat. On my water smoker (not a wsm) the top rack runs a little hotter than the bottom. The outer perimeter on both racks also runs hotter than the middle.
     
  5. interesting, i always thought the water was acting as a steam approach to cook the meat and not just a heat sink.  I guess i need to do some testing.
     
  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sorry, Boatbum is correct... water is mainly just there to help keep a steady thermal state in the smoker, it does provide some steam, but it's main goal is even temps. I have tried all the various stuff in the pan, and in all honesty to me it either adds no additional flavor and/or just makes clean up that much harder. If you are going to be foiling something you can add some broth, beer, or juice to the foil and then it will actually flavor the meat.
     
  7. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have not used a water smoker for years.  When I did, I tried everything in there you could think of.

    In the end I came to the same conclusion as Johnny.  I could tell no difference in the meat, defatting the liquid in the pan to make a sauce was a pain, and cleanup was a bi....!

    Others think differently.  Try it both ways and let us know how it goes.

    Good luck and good smoking.
     
  8. hardslicer

    hardslicer Smoking Fanatic

    I add some apple juice to the water.....doubt it does much, but it sure makes me feel like I am going that extra step  [​IMG]
     
  9. smokinal

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

    Used sand in the water pan for the first time yesterday, don't think I'll ever use water again.
     
  10. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Al, please elaborate!! Was it easier to hold the temp steady? Did your food taste better? Did the sand genie come out of your smoker and grant you 3 wishes?
     
  11. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    Grapics, I have 2 WSM's and a Cajun Bandit WSM clone. They are all excellent cookers. There is some temp variation at every level. Mine run about 30° lower at the bottom grate than the temp gauge. The top grate is usually about 25° lower than the lid temp gauge. All 3 are just a bit different in how they run. With experience you'll learn the characteristics of yours.

    First, I don't use water in the water pan for water. Water is messy, tending it is a PITA and totally unnecessary. There is plenty of moisture in the WSM environment on it's own and the water pan even with juices, flavor additives, etc. provide ZERO enhancement to the flavor of your meat. I don't care what anyone tells you, it's a myth. What I use are Terra Cota pot water trays just slightly smaller than the water pan. I foil line them, turn them upside down, insert them into the water pan and foil line the top of the water pan. It serves as the best direct heat deflector and heat sink of anything I have tried before. When the top gets gunky, simply remove the foil and reline it. No muss, no fuss.

    I don't often cook on the lower grate, it's a pain having to remove the top grate to get to the lower grate. You really lose a lot of heat, and it takes a good while to recover. Burn your forearm good one time and you'll know what I mean!  If I need more space, I simply fire up another smoker. But, if you are using the lower grate, just be darned careful. OUCH!! (or some other linguistic phrases, not suitable for a family friendly web site)

    When smoking, I do tend to the meat, mopping, spritzing, turning etc. But, I do so in a minimal amount of time and only when necessary. Have everything you need handy, so the lid is only removed for as short a time as possible. Everytime you remove the lid, you lose temp, so don't be liftin' it to "check to see how everythings goin'", trust me, it's goin'! If your lookin', you ain't cookin'!

    I know you will be spending a good chunk of change on the smoker. Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent smoker. But consider some changes to it. First off, the aluminum side door is junk, and the charcoal basket sits too low and will impede the adjustment of the 3 lower air vents. You can't get them completely closed with the stock basket in place. Since Weber won't address these problems, out of necessity, there is a company that has. C&C Grillin' Co. Home of the Cajun Bandit, makes all sorts of products related to smoking and to the Weber's in particular. I would get the WSM kit right off the bat. It consists of a stainless steel side door and a charcoal basket that sits above the lower vents, so you can adjust them without any interference. Believe me, it's well worth the money.

    Hope I've been helpful and don't get me wrong, I love my Weber's. They just need a little TLC. The WSM is one of the best smokers out there, for the money. Competition cooks have won one heck of a lot GC's cooking on them, and they may be the best backyard cooker ever made. Now, get ready for the best dadgum BBQ you've ever had!!!

    ShortEnd
     
  12. smokinal

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

     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
  13. smokinal

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

    I would have to respectfully disagree with ShortEnd on having to modify the WSM. If you want to spend the extra money, the Cajun Bandit products look to be very high quality and if you feel you need a tighter fitting door this looks like a good option. IMHO the charcoal ring is just fine. I have no problem adjusting the lower vents & can easily close them all with the factory ring in place. Weber will tell you that the door does not have to be sealed tight and with a little adjustment it will fit the cylinder just fine. I have never had a problem with getting my WSM up to temp & keeping it there. I do use a BBQ Guru for temp control & if you want to spend some extra money on your WSM this is the way I would go. This is just my opinion & I mean no disrespect to ShortEnd for expressing his opinion.

    His quote:

    I know you will be spending a good chunk of change on the smoker. Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent smoker. But consider some changes to it. First off, the aluminum side door is junk, and the charcoal basket sits too low and will impede the adjustment of the 3 lower air vents. You can't get them completely closed with the stock basket in place. Since Weber won't address these problems, out of necessity, there is a company that has. C&C Grillin' Co. Home of the Cajun Bandit, makes all sorts of products related to smoking and to the Weber's in particular. I would get the WSM kit right off the bat. It consists of a stainless steel side door and a charcoal basket that sits above the lower vents, so you can adjust them without any interference. Believe me, it's well worth the money.
     
  14. i was also debating the iQue 110 but am still looking at reviews and other options for my WSM.
     
  15. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hold off untill you get a few smokes under your belt. The WSM works really, really well right out of the box without any mods or anything. I suggest spending some time getting to know how it runs and works then decide if you want to spend money making changes. No sense in spending $$ on pieces and parts that may or may not make a big impact to you, when you could spend that money to fill the WSM with MEAT! [​IMG]
     
  16. shortend

    shortend Meat Mopper

    Certainly no offense taken here, Al. Like you say, it's an opinion. I do agree that a good quality temp and air flow regulating device such as a Guru would be an excellent addition to the WSM. I definately want to add it to at least one of my WSM's. Maybe you could ask your Genie to grant me a Guru as one of your 3 wishes. I promise to repay you one of my wishes, whenever the heck I can locate my Genie. 

     
     
  17. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Very interesting.  I like the terra cota saucer in the water pan idea.  Al, I would suppose that the sand is playground sand?  I could go down to the harbor and get some of that sand but......well, let's just say I don't think there's a genie in that patch of sand.

    I realize I'm a relative newbie in the WSM arena but I've been kicking around on the smoking routine for more time than I care to consider and I gotta say, I'm really impressed with the WSM right out of the box, as a smoker.  Yes, I've done some mods, but they're for the most part, external "pimping" as one reader put it.  My "door" works just fine.  Sure there's a little smoke escape, but the temps are right on, good for several hours and I couldn't be happier.  Maybe the difference is that I don't sweat the small things. 

    My WSM was shipped 2 months ago and there is absolutely no conflict with the fire ring and the bottom vents.  In fact there's a good inch of air space between.  As to the external blower/temp control goodies, well, if you're into competition, that's probably all well and good, but, if you've got to keep track of the money, as in being retired now, with limited funds for the nice things, well.....gotta prioritize.

    If you got the bucks, go for it.  Otherwise, get the WSM, do 6-10 smokes to break it in, then see what you want to do.  There is a learning curve, but it was a very short curve, thanks to all the great advice from the "WSM guru's" lurking on these electronic pages.  Fortunately for me, the toughest decision I have is what do I want to smoke next.......... yeah, I know, life can be so tough sometimes...

    ~dave
     
  18. smokinal

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

    Yes it's playground sand.

    I don't compete, but find that especially on long or overnight smokes, it's much easier to duplicate previous results if you keep the temp the same throughout the entire cook, and the Guru will keep the temp plus or minus 2 degrees from the setting. I also sleep better. If the outside temp changes 20 or 30 degrees, or it starts raining, or the wind really picks up. The Guru will take all that into account & adjust the air flow accordingly, keeping the temp constant. All the while your sleeping. It's really the best addition I have made to the WSM.
     
  19. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like everyones got ya covered and I'm half afraid to chime in here but this is my 2 cents. I do not have a weber but do have a GOSM BB

    If the smoker calls for water in the pan I use water, the only time I haven't used water is when making jerky.

    Water will help even out temps and help maintain an optimal smoking temp.

    Water acts as a heat sink, so will sand.

    Water will help in keeping the food moist by reducing evaporation from the surface of the meat but will not add moisture.

    Moisture in the smoker will help in forming a smoke ring.

    Flavoring the water is not needed but does make the smoker smell good.

    Do not add cold water to the pan add HOT!

    Cleanup of a water pan is easy, as long as foil as used, however you can get a pretty decent amount of gunk on the bottom of the pan.

    At the least you need the pan because as others have pointed out it acts as a heat deflector as well.

    But as you can see we all have our opinions, so my advise to you would be to start smoking and try various methods.

    Al pointed out, he had great success with sand as have others.

    Experience is the key here, just don't stress about it and enjoy the smoke my brother.

    Some use sand, some use water

    We have foilers and non foilers.

    Moppers, spritzers, and non basters

    Folks who like to peek others that say no peeking.

    smokers who use Propane, Electric, wood, charcoal, lump.

    you get my point
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  20. smokinal

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

    What Sqwib said.

    "Some use sand, some use water

    We have foilers and non foilers.

    Moppers, spritzers, and non basters

    Folks who like to peek others that say no peeking.

    smokers who use Propane, Electric, wood, charcoal, lump."

    It's all a matter of personal preference. Try a bunch of different things & find what you are comfortable with & suits you & your family's taste.

    There is no perfect way to smoke meat. We all experiment with different techniques, rubs, injections, spritz's, mops, marinades, etc.

    It's experimenting with different things that make this such a fun hobby!
     

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