WSM. Water pan or heat deflector?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by chevytech77, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. chevytech77

    chevytech77 Fire Starter

    Learned a valuable lesson with my WSM yesterday. Don't put water in the water pan. I couldn't get temperature out of that thing to save my life. Made a heck of a mess with leaks all over the place too. Two weekends ago, same fuel load, 225-250 for 8 hours straight, didn't hardly touch the thing. Yesterday, it wouldn't get to 200 hardly until I removed the water out of the pan. Then, 225-250 no problem. The water also made the bark on my chuck roast and chicken breasts wipe right off. Like I said, lesson learned.
  2. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    Very simple fix to this...Fill the water pan with play sand and simply cover with foil when you smoke with it....It's a great heat sink.
  3. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Detail your set up and start method, also what was the weather like?

    I use water all the time and can run 250-300 with no problems, and still get nice bark as needed on my 22.5" WSM.

  4. trueteam

    trueteam Smoke Blower

    I just foil now for ease of cleanup but never had an issue when using water. What was leaking?
  5. chevytech77

    chevytech77 Fire Starter

    Thought about doing the sand trick but it smokes great with nothing in the pan but foil.

    22.5 can fit more fuel. After I took the water out yesterday I added 0 fuel and the temps spiked right up to where they belonged. No change in damper setting or weather.

    Water/creosol was leaking from around the door handle, leg bolts and from under the temp gauge.
  6. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Same as above.

    Only thing I can think of at the moment is that somehow, water got into the lower bowl?

    My water pan went dry on me one time during a smoke. Have not let that happen again do to the rough time I had maintaining a steady temp. 
  7. chevytech77

    chevytech77 Fire Starter

    The only water that got into the lower bowl was in the form of steam condensation that ran down the walls and into the bottom of the bowl, that I can see.
  8. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You keep the upper vent wide open?
  9. chevytech77

    chevytech77 Fire Starter

    Yup. The only time I close it is to snuff it out after I'm done smoking for the day. There was a solid plume of steam coming out of the top vent the entire time there was water in the pan.
  10. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Well, I took a couple shots at it but, like JRod said, it would be best if you posted your setup and start method. Without that info it's a guessing game....
  11. chevytech77

    chevytech77 Fire Starter

    Setup? It's a stock WSM 18.5 with the top and fuel door sealed. Not sure what else you would need?

    I have used the same minion method on every cook. Approximately 3/4 of a weber chimney of lit blue bag Kingsford added to the ring of the same coal and mixed in wood chunks.

    I guess that as an automotive technican and advanced diagnostic assistant for the field, I look at things very systematically. What my thread here is supposed to point out is that I used the exact same methods on many cooks without water in the pan with great success. The only thing I changed yesterday was adding water to the pan, that's it. Yes, it was cooler and more windy that usual for this time of the year yesterday. However, after the temps never got over 200 degrees with water yesterday all I changed was removing the water from the pan, reassembled the smoker and the temps went back to what I've always seen without water, 225-250.

    I was always under the impression that using the water pan not only stabilized temperatures but also added some moisture to the meat? All it did for me was keep the temps down, not allow my rubs to bite in well and added no moisture to the meat at all, that I could tell. Just giving you as honest and complete of a review as I can. Not trying to "ruffle feathers" or "prove others methods wrong" again, just sharing notes.
  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm a dry smoker. I've found that there is no reason to have water in the smoker. It doesn't add any more moisture to you product, unless you are in the habit of over cooking. It may help initially with keeping temps lower ( or lower than you want). And as it evaporates if you are not paying attention your temps can run away. As for what to do with the empty water pan it depends on what you're smoking and the conditions you are smoking in. On a super cold, wet, windy day having the thermal mass that sand add sis helpful. During a warm spring, summer day that thermal mass isn't really needed. As for lighting there is only one way I will do it anymore and that's what is known as a side light method. It will give you the most efficient and longest burn times.
  13. I had the same problem with using a water pan in my Dyna glo offset verticle smoker a couple weeks ago . couldnt get more tha 210 with the water pan in ...... after the meat and water pan was removed when I had finished smoking the temps went as high as 360 within 30 minutes . No question in my mind the water pan holds temps down
  14. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That is the main reason for the water pan, to hold temps down (low & slow). Though some people like to smoke at 800°F[​IMG]  
  15. no I dont smoke at 800 ................ but 210 is lower and slower than I was interested in ............ 225-250 is what I was looking for on that smoke 

     please tell me ... are you an expert or a smartass ?
  16. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I didn't say you did........ they know who they are and more power to them. Obviously that temp is over exaggerated.

    Neither..... sorry you got your feathers ruffled.
  17. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I smoke pizza at 800 degrees. I still don't use a water pan...
  18. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]  neither do I....

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