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Old 09-02-2010, 01:55 PM   #1
Knows what a fatty is.
Join Date: 06-30-09
Location: Western WA, USA
Question Water pan steam + smoke = More smoke on meat?

Does the steam from a water pan help add smoke to the meat?

I've read the water pan is used to help keep the temperature constant. But what about the steam mixing with the smoke, and then the possibility of condensing on the meat? Wouldn't this add more smoke flavor?

Why would someone use sand?

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Old 09-02-2010, 02:12 PM   #2
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Join Date: 02-16-10
Location: San Jose, CA

I have read that keeping the surface of the meat moist (steam from a water pan) allows the smoke to penetrate better. The moist environment also helps keep the temperature more stable throughout the cooker.

I use a 9(ish)" loaf pan on top of my smokenator so I can go 5-6 hours without refilling.
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:20 PM   #3
Dave Russell
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Join Date: 01-06-10
Location: Lebanon, Tennessee

Actually no, I think you get a bit less smoke flavor when using a water pan. Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, has speculated that the steam washes the smoke from the cooker circulation somehow. Whatever the reason, it does seem bit harder to oversmoke stuff with a wsm than it does with a kettle or uds.
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:37 PM   #4
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Location: Wichita, KS

I concur with Dave Russell. Steam keeps the smoke flavor from penetrating. I suspect it has to do with water molecules being smaller than CO2 molecules.
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:12 PM   #5
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Join Date: 05-21-10
Location: Boise, Idaho

I realize that this is just going to muddy the waters, but since I use a Weber kettle, maybe the rules are somehow different than with a UDS or other method- I've had better smoke flavor when I've used a water pan, using the indirect/bricks-down-the-middle method of smoking and BBQ'ing. Without it, the heat's been less stable, and the meats have been drier. I still get a nice, crisp finish on chicken, and a decent finish on red meats and shioyaki salmon (salt-broiled and smoked, Japanese-style) with the steam, so I'm sticking to it. As to the sand, I'd guess it probably works the same way as it does on a beach on a hot day- sand's great for absorbing and holding heat- traps and reflects it. I can see where it would be a great stabilizer for temperature.
~Weber OTS~Charbroil 2-Burner~antique Luhr-Jensen Lil' Chief~
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:39 PM   #6
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Join Date: 06-13-07
Location: Parkville, Mo

From my experiences cooking with a water smoker such as the backwoods I get less smoke flavor than I do whn I cook on my Bandera. I use the same fuel source for each and roughly the same amount of wood. While the Bandera does have a water pan the amount of moisture in the cooking chamber is significantly different than in the backwoods. So for what its worth I would say that cooking in a moist environment can deminish the absorbtion of smoke into the meat.
Chad B

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sand, smoke, steam, water

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