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Unread 08-07-2013, 12:17 PM   #1
packerfannate
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Default Water pan?

My smoker is an inexpensive Brinkmann charcoal smoker. It is a pretty basic setup, charcoal pan, water pan, and grill racks. I have been looking for a new smoker and am strongly considering building an Ugly Drum Smoker. In my research I have found that none of these use a water pan. Is water necessary when smoking? What exactly does it do? My smoker has a water pan and I make sure it always has plenty of water but I don't really know why.
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Unread 08-07-2013, 12:23 PM   #2
HeSmellsLikeSmoke
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Water acts as a heat sink to help regulate temperature. This isn't needed in a UDS.
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Unread 08-07-2013, 12:48 PM   #3
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A UDS is a BBQ pit It is not smoker. Your ECB needs water to control the heat because there is no control for the intake air and it blocks the direct heat making it a smoker.
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Unread 08-07-2013, 12:57 PM   #4
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I know I'm going to take heat for this (pun intended) but I almost always use a water pan in my UDS. I have gotten great results doing so, but I know it isn't the norm
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Unread 08-07-2013, 01:19 PM   #5
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I've never used one but wouldn't fault someone if they did. I find that cooking with water pans makes a heck of a mess out of my cooker. It causes the seasoning on my cooker to drip onto my food which leaves black dots and streaks everywhere and oh yeah leaves a bitter flavor behind. Especially my drum since it has a flat lid. I guess it's a personal preference, my preference is to hit the meat with a spray every once in a while.

---Edit- I should clarify, I've never used one in my UDS.
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Unread 08-07-2013, 01:21 PM   #6
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I don't think there's anything WRONG with using a water pan in a UDS, but it's just not necessary.

The ECB and WSM all have the bottom cooking grate very close to the heat source. The water pan acts as both a diffuser, redirecting the heat around the outside of the barrel and then up, so that the meat on the racks doesn't get BLASTED with direct heat. It also introduces steam, which (as you know, is created at 212 degrees - the boiling point of water) helps keep the temps more constant in the cooker. It's thought that the steam keeps from bigger fluctuations in temps.

This is the same reason some folks use a drip pan (usually with water) in a kettle grill, for moisture as well as protection of the meat from direct heat.


Since the UDS typically is designed so that the cooking grate is at least 24" above the heat source, it's not necessary to protect the meat as much since that distance allows the meat to have direct heat, but it's not close enough to damage the meat.

If you use a water pan in the UDS and you like the results you're getting, don't change a thing.
I've had a UDS for years and have never used a water pan. I've used a diffuser when really loading it up with a lot of meat and cooking at higher temps, but this is more to avoid that nasty grease aroma than anything.
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Unread 08-07-2013, 01:34 PM   #7
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After modifying my Brinkman Gourmet smoker water is no longer needed to keep temps stable. I still use the empty water pan (foiled) as heat barrier and to catch drippings.

You should think about doing the same if your's happen to be the Gourmet model.
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Unread 08-07-2013, 01:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbon View Post
After modifying my Brinkman Gourmet smoker water is no longer needed to keep temps stable. I still use the empty water pan (foiled) as heat barrier and to catch drippings.

You should think about doing the same if your's happen to be the Gourmet model.
Completely agree with this. I have the same smoker.


Mods can be found HERE.
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Unread 08-07-2013, 03:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by packerfannate View Post
My smoker is an inexpensive Brinkmann charcoal smoker. It is a pretty basic setup, charcoal pan, water pan, and grill racks. I have been looking for a new smoker and am strongly considering building an Ugly Drum Smoker. In my research I have found that none of these use a water pan. Is water necessary when smoking? What exactly does it do? My smoker has a water pan and I make sure it always has plenty of water but I don't really know why.
Apart from regulating temps and the pan serving as a diffuser, the humidity that is created in the cooking chamber also helps smoke to adhere to the surface of the meat. Wet surfaces attract more smoke. Here's an article on the subject from amazingribs.com. Scroll down to the heading "Smoke And Food". http://www.amazingribs.com/tips_and_...n_of_wood.html
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Unread 08-07-2013, 03:55 PM   #10
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If this brinkmann we are talking about is in fact a gourmet, you can turn it into a mini uds pretty easy. Once the mods are made, it will cook just as well as a UDS or a WSM.

UDS style fire basket, seal the gap at the lid and add exhaust hole(s) on top of lid. Add a thermo at grate level and cover up the hole left by the old thermo with a sheet of aluminum and a couple screws (these thermos leak air). And finally, add a movable baffle to the intake hole so you can control oxygen to the fire.

Replace the water pan with a diffuser tray and don't use water and you end up with a very efficient cooker that will run for 10 hours @ 250-275 easy, and it can still hit 350 for chicken in a heartbeat. I love my Gourmet!
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Unread 08-08-2013, 07:49 AM   #11
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sadly mine is a Brinkmann Smoke N Grill.

I have obtained a barrel that contained fruit juice for the cost of scrap ($2.50) so I am going to build one of these. My kids are pretty excited to help too. Should be a fun family project.

One more question though, on some designs I see access panels for adding wood but others do not have access panels. In the designs that do not have access panels, how is additional wood added?
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Unread 08-08-2013, 08:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by packerfannate View Post
sadly mine is a Brinkmann Smoke N Grill.

I have obtained a barrel
My neighbor gave me the same smoke N Grill for free this winter. Never used. You can salvage a few parts off this for your UDS, specifically the rack holders and the handle to name a few.
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Unread 08-08-2013, 08:47 AM   #13
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The handle is in pretty bad shape as this smoker has got a lot of use. using the rack holders is a great idea. I am going to use one of the racks for the fire basket.
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Unread 08-08-2013, 08:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by packerfannate View Post
The handle is in pretty bad shape as this smoker has got a lot of use. using the rack holders is a great idea. I am going to use one of the racks for the fire basket.
Once you get your uds built you will kick yourself for not building one sooner
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Unread 08-08-2013, 09:47 AM   #15
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I'm looking forward to it. My little Charcoal smoker was a gift from my wife and has turned out some spectacular food. However, it is a lot of work. I look forward to incorporating parts of it into my new UDS.
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