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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.

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Old 11-13-2012, 02:39 PM   #1
Full Fledged Farker
Join Date: 08-05-12
Location: Wahoo,Ne
Default WSM Pan...No Pan...Water...Sand

Has anyone done side by side test on this or is it all personal preference. Researching for my first WSM cook and not sure which way to go. Also should I be concerned on pretty heavy rust on my charcoal grate? I wired brushed off as much as I could but its still there.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:46 PM   #2
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Join Date: 12-09-04
Location: Utica, MI

When I got my first of three WSM's I decided I was going to learn it the way it was designed to be used, with water. That lasted about 4 or 5 cooks. The I moved on to sand in the pan, that lasted probably about two years. From there I went to the terra cotta pan inside the water pan (and still use that in my 18 1/2's) but in my 22 I have settled on no water, no sand, no terra cotta pan, I use just an empty foiled water pan and control my temps on the way up and really haven't looked back. I found no distinct advantage to any method over the empty foiled pan so why bother...

As far as the rust on the charcoal grate, I wouldn't worry about it, just brush it off and if it's too bad just go buy another one, they're fairly cheap.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:54 PM   #3
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Join Date: 07-20-12
Location: Springfield, MO

I use water with ribs and brisket. I think both benefit from the moisture. Look at the various top line cookers that have water pans, Backwoods, etc. There is a reason for using water, not that the wsm can't be used without it. If you use water in the pan, spray with Pam before filling with water. Makes clean up much easier.

I've been thinking about using a 14" charcoal grate in the pan, then cover with foil. This should create a void area that should help moderate the temperature. You can also use foil, wadded up into balls and then cover with foil.

I'm not big on the sand or flowerpot base. I think they both eventually heat up to the cooker temperature and you haven't gained anything.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:41 PM   #4
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Join Date: 09-04-12
Location: Plain City, OH

My preference is to foil the pan and leave it dry. I used to use water, but it took a lot longer for the cooker to heat up and was always a pain to clean up. After going dry, I really didn't notice a difference in the moisture of the meat. Although if I ever decide to go back to using the water, I will definitely take Cayman1's advice and spray with Pam before filling.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:48 PM   #5
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Only way to truly know which works for you is to try them all out. I run it with just the pan foiled. I also get the rust on my charcoal grate.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:04 PM   #6
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Nothing but a foiled pan, I didn't see the benefit of water.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:33 PM   #7
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Join Date: 03-17-12
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana

I use foil lined pan with water for butts and ribs (just seems to taste better to us) and foil lined dry pan for brisket.

A lot of it depends on your BBQ climate. Smokin' in cold weather, it's easier to regulate the temp on the way up. Smokin in 100*F hot weather, the water really helps. Of course this is something you can adjust at different times of the year. I have a lot of fun with it.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:46 PM   #8
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I use water and seriously I don't see what the big deal is about having to clean the pan.
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:20 PM   #9
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I don't put anything in the pan, beyond lining it with foil.

Sand, clay, water, just seems to be there for heat sinks, and that's not my cup of tea.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:43 AM   #10
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Join Date: 03-15-12
Location: Flushing, Queens NYC

I'm stilling to figure out the WSM. Takes some getting used to after only cooking offset for so long.

I put the water just because the instructions say so. What's the deal with just foiling the bowl and not adding water?

Adding water was getting to be a pain my arse.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:09 AM   #11
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I like water. Seems to make a difference to me. Sometimes I add beer and/or apple juice to the water. Don't know if it does anything, but it sure smells good anyway.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:34 AM   #12
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Join Date: 08-25-10
Location: Ringwood ,NJ

I started with water in my WSM's for a year or so. We use water at comps but run them with Rock's stoker. At home I strictly use 18" wsms with Pro Q stackers giving me 3 levels of cooking surface. I have found this does not affect temps with water or without. I have changed to no water in the pans of the 18's with foil lined clay saucers.... this seems to work solid for me. With water in the pan I am able to keep solid at 230-250 degrees for the length of the cook with very little tweaking but cannot get any higher temp than 250. With the foil lined saucer I can vary my cooking temps from 230-300 degrees with very minor tweaking of the vents all the way up to full open. Again once I am set at whatever temp I want I am pretty solid with the wsm's for pretty much the length of any cook. these things are almost foolproof. I finds cleanup to be 100 times easier with no water in the pan
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:40 AM   #13
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Join Date: 04-09-12
Location: Madrid, NY

I have been cooking on my wsm's for about 3 years now I have done both with and without water. I find my BBQ to be better without water and just a foiled water pan I think a lot of it is how you like your bark I like a firm but not hard bark. Best thing to do is experiment and have some fun with it.

Have fun and happy smoking
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:46 AM   #14
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Join Date: 12-21-09
Location: US

I've never used anything in my pan. I have it wrapped in foil for easier cleaning, but never fill it with anything.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:47 AM   #15
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I use a clay saucer wrapped in foil in my 22.5. Foil makes it easy to clean, but I usually cook everything except ribs in pans, so not much to clean anyway.
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