What's the importance of a water pan? - BBQ Central

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Old 06-08-2014, 09:25 AM   #1
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What's the importance of a water pan?

I've discovered that I can get my gas grill down to 230* indirect if I use a pan on the grate and keep the lava rocks in place. I've also figured out how to make smoke without flames (wrapping the wood in foil). However there's no room for a water pan, and I'm not knowledgeable enough to know how important that is.

So... what happens if you BBQ without the water?
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Old 06-08-2014, 10:05 AM   #2
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Mostly, the water pan helps by working as a heat sink. It helps by being a mass that will help prevent high spikes and low drops in the temperature, mostly with the thinner and un insulated charcoal/wood fired cookers. People that use a Weber Smoky Mountain have started filling the water pan with sand or fire bricks to get the same results. If you want to spend big bucks ($ up around the $10,000 and up) you can get smokers with water injection that have claims of producing more tender and jucier meats while cooking at much higher temperature.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:26 AM   #3
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I am of the opinion water also serves to add moisture to the pit environment which is a good thing..especially when cooking small amounts of meat on big pits. Makes a bunch of difference in coming up with tender cases when slow smoke cooking sausage and is critical for those trying to cook briskets without the use of the Noo Yawk Crutch..aka Tinfoil. Cant imagine it being super critical on a gasser. Its nice to have a pan to catch the grease and drippings so it dont wind up in the bottom of the pit or plugging up the burners. A little water in the pan will keep it from stinking and burning so bad.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:11 PM   #4
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Awwww poppy cock, I have used water pans, and not used water pans, and get the same moist meat. I think it is just something someone made up to keep you busy during your cook, so you are constantly checking things.

Now I use all my water pans for defusers, and put heat retaining briquets in them.
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:46 PM   #5
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In a vertical smoker, a pan full of water is for diluting the dripping grease, to prevent fires! Lol jk.
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:53 PM   #6
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The purpose of the water pan is to make you use more charcoal when you add water to it.
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:10 PM   #7
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Well an old chum had a pretty good sized offset which was constructed with an internal 15 gallon SS custom made water pan. All the cooking grates deposited their gunk into the water pan. Made clean up a breeze..he could also cook nekked briskets on it..which is a pretty good trick when cooking a brisket or two on a big pit. Made a believer out of me the added moisture was helping in some way. I also often used a water pan for upright direct to semi direct cooking on my big pit. Found that briskets seem to profit from the water pan whereas ribs and butts note so much. Will also testify a water pan helps a bunch on large batches of sausage. Makes a much more tender bite to the cases.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:17 PM   #8
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That's right John you tell em'
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:59 AM   #9
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OK, so water is optional. This is good. I was under the assumption that water vapor helped keep the meat moist and helped the smoke to penetrate the meat.

I cooked a couple racks of babybacks on Saturday and out of fear of drying them out I opted for the Noo Yawk Crutch - wrapped them in foil - and omitted the smoke. My guests thought they were excellent, but I was a bit disappointed. When unwrapped they were dripping in grease, and with the foil it's impossible to judge when they're done. Next time I'll smoke 'em and not worry about not having water.
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Old 06-09-2014, 10:10 AM   #10
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Yep..if they got wrapped too early in the game..they were poached in grease. Keep them meat side down with no flipping until they are done..and dont spill the liquid with collects on the bone side. Wrap and into the insulated hot box for at least an hour. Back on the fire one more time to give it a sweet/spicy glaze. Pit temp around 260 for them who have precise control and/or enjoy watching gauges. Should give a nice tender rib without being mushy. Dry ribs come from cooking too low and slow on pits which aren't designed for the procedure.
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