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Author Topic: Add water or no water in WSM?  (Read 14322 times)

wyd

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Add water or no water in WSM?
« on: April 13, 2016, 06:29:32 AM »
I looked through the threads and I didn't see anything on this or I missed it.  I'm getting a WSM and was wondering what every ones preference is on using water or to not use water.  In my kettles I done both ways and had great results both ways so not sure what to do.  Guess I'm looking at the pros and cons.  Once thing on the WSM is it is going to change my grill times as I'm nrmally more around the 300 degree range when I grill on my kettles so I know I will have to take some notes and adjust my times.
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G19

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2016, 09:42:05 AM »
For the last year or so I have not used water.  I use a clay saucer foil lined resting on the same bracket as the water pan sits.  This weekend I am doing some ribs and funny thing is I thought I would put the water pan back in to try.  I saw no difference in flavor, temp control is where you could see a difference but whether good or bad is more about how your coals start out.  If you light up too many coals in the beginning the water will help from a spike in temperature.  If you are wanting to cook 250-275 with the water pan it will take longer and more coals to do so.   

iCARRY

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 10:54:32 AM »
I run mine dry. I have never added water. The closest I have been to putting water in the pan is a foil pan with water on the bottom grate.


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Big Dawg

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 02:17:03 PM »
I will line my pan with foil and use water on longer cooks (butts/briskets) but just do the foil for shorter cooks (ribs).

But experienced WSM users are all over the place on this.  And, hopefully, a few more will chime in with their procedures.

I really don't think that there is a provable "right" or "wrong" way to do it.  Take in what everyone says and figure out what works best for you and your family.





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pbe gummi bear

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 02:25:25 PM »
I run my 22.5" dry as the water is messy and needs to be refilled more frequently than the charcoal. It holds temps fine dry. I also foil the water pan so that its easier to clean.
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addicted-to-smoke

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 03:49:31 PM »
I'd suggest starting early with few lit coals and only use water on later cooks if the temp variation seems too great. If it were easy to clean out the sludge I'd say don't sweat it, toss the water in. But lifting out and cleaning out a sludgy water pan is super annoying to me. I use regular size foil and double it up crossways to cover it---dry.
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AZRaptor

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 07:34:09 PM »
I ised water the first couple cooks with m WSM and then stopped. I replaced my water pan with a deeper one (think it's a Brinkmann) and then filled it with ceramic briquettes and then foil it. Makes for a nice big heat sync to hold temps with.
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TheDude

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2016, 07:39:18 PM »
@AZRaptor Can you link me to the ceramic briquettes? I just bought a deep bowl yesterday, with the intent for water. Not after this thread though. Lifting that sludge, past all the other tabs, without spilling... After a few beers. No thanks.
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SmokenJoe

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2016, 09:57:24 PM »
I use the Brinkman water pan when I want the ribs to show extra smoke ring (it's been said that the water aids in temperature control -and- smoke ring development).  I usually line the pan with foil and then fill with water.  I always either put another empty drip pan on the lower grate OR just make some drip-pan beans.  I let the water cook off but don't usually refill.

If I'm not after a deeper smoke ring, then I just foil the pan, but I still use an additional drip pan  ...  much easier to clean up later.

On my WSM the temp holds pretty close to 225 degrees either way.                             SJ
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Travis

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2016, 10:25:33 PM »
I dont have a wsm, but have built a uds. This is an ongoing fight between do's and don'ts. I've done both and have had great success. I have used play sand on a 13 hour brisket and it was wonderful. I've used water on 4 hour babyback ribs and they were ok.

I think the most important variables are consistent temperature, spristing the meat to prevent it from drying out and most important of all is the quality of meat you're cooking.

One thing I really want to try is not using a water pan or diffuser plate of any kind and just let the drippings hit the coals. My drum is taller than a wsm so the top grate is farther from the heat source, but i would like to see how that turns out.

brawndo

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2016, 02:57:45 AM »
In my mini WSM I salvaged a 12" cast iron skillet that I had no need to use, so I used a grinder to take the handle and tab off. I now use this instead of the terra cotta that I started with, and I have never used water. Never had dry meat or a lack of a smoke ring.  When I have to pull the tamale pot to add fuel, I barely lose any heat with the cast iron in there as a heat sink.


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swamprb

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2016, 03:27:11 AM »
No pan no water

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OoPEZoO

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2016, 07:26:14 AM »
I used water in the pan the first few times....then I stopped.  I think it helped keep things stable when the cooker was new due to all the air leaks.  Now, between the gunk buildup and the gasket kit I installed, it is VERY well sealed up and I no longer see the point.  I can dial it in and it will burn overnight with only fluctuating a few degrees (+/- 5 degrees)......that was not the case when it was new.  It used to swing pretty good until I got it all sealed up, and the water pan certainly helped with that.  The downside of the water pan was the disgusting cleanup and the increased amount of fuel usage.  I leave it in dry and wrapped in a double layer of foil to make cleanup easy.  I don't think my finished product is suffering by not using it.
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wyd

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2016, 08:36:38 AM »
Thanks.  Appreciate everyone posting up many options for me to consider.  Really helpful.
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MeatAndPotatos

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Re: Add water or no water in WSM?
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2016, 09:39:37 PM »
Very popular to not use water... But I am going to say use it.

It depends on what your going for... But there are a few things at play here.

1.) Wood releases the sweetest and least polluted smoke JUST around the range it bursts into flames. This is ~ 650-700 deg F... You can get pretty close to this with water to suck up some extra energy, but with out it your lit coals will spread until enough fuel is lit to raise temps unless you choke it down.  This means dropping your fire below what is optimal. This is one of the reasons offset smokers are nice, you can give as much oxygen as needed and keep heat low with a smaller fire that you feed more often. Your not going to be constantly feeding a WSM, all your fuel is there so the fire will grow hotter then you want.

I have DEFINITELY noticed sweeter/better smelling smoke by adding water to the pan and allowing more air in to help the fire burn better (along with allowing temps more in the 250-260 range vs 220s). More fuel consumption has been the only downside.

2.) Moisture helps smoke adhere to meat... Similar to using mustard/oil/water to get more rub to adhere to something vs  bouncing rub of a bone dry cut. You can spray down your meat too, and this will help... But keeping a humid smoking environment will help maintain surface moisture for longer and will give the smoke particles something to catch onto.

3.) The dryer the air is around your meat, the more the moisture on it evaporates. This can help form a heavy crust faster, then you can wrap sooner and be done... But forming a heavy crust also inhibits smoke absorption... So depending on your goals, having more humid air around your cut will help prevent evaporation, keeping the surface of the meat more moist for more smoke to adhere to, helping prevent the evaporative cooling that causes the stall, and allowing the crust to form more slowly giving more time for smoke to penetrate deeper into the cut.

Aaron Franklin insists that a water pan must be used on any smoker, and meathead discusses most of what I covered above in his article about wood/fire (the one that talks about not soaking chunks IIRC? The sweetest smelling chemicals he names are given at JUST under or above the temp that causes a standing flame... From this your wood should be within 50 degrees of having a standing flame. IMO its good to have enough air that if you are introducing much more, they will burst into flame.)
« Last Edit: April 14, 2016, 09:44:27 PM by MeatAndPotatos »