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Water or Sand

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joe2chillo

  • Karma: 1
I have a Pro-Q Excel 20 water smoker. Now some of you have told me to simply not use water and just leave my pan empty and my fuel will not have to work so hard to keep my temps. I have done this with some good results. I have also heard people use sand instead of water in there pans and cover it with foil. This helps hold some good steady temps. However being that we are in the desert and have almost no humidity does using water have the benefit of keeping some humidity in the smoker. So what are your thoughts? Water, Sand, or empty pan? Why and what are the pros and cons of each?
#1 - July 24, 2011, 11:32:38 am

Mike (AZBarbeque)

  • Karma: 95
I moved this to the Pro Q section as it directly relates to that cooker..
#2 - July 24, 2011, 11:46:30 am
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joe2chillo

  • Karma: 1
I was thinking it was more general to all water smokers but any input is appreciated.
#3 - July 24, 2011, 02:37:01 pm

Bam Bam

  • Karma: 7
I cook on two WSM's and I just foil the water pan and that's it. I wouldn't waste time with sand or water. I don't think the water has any sort of moisture benefit.
#4 - July 24, 2011, 02:49:52 pm
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rgomez99 (Glazed and Confused in Gilbert)

  • Karma: 1
I have a WSM and ProQ and I just foil the pan. I have not seen any difference in moisture and it is alot easier to clean up.
#5 - July 24, 2011, 03:15:33 pm
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Mark

  • Karma: 23
If your cooker is over 212 degrees the water is creating a steamy environment. Whether you get any benefit is in the tastebuds of the beholder. One thing I know. It does make it a heckuva lot harder to clean the next day. Invariably, I bump into something and spill. What a mess. :-[
#6 - July 24, 2011, 04:41:41 pm
Mark Motta
Meatier Creator

Mike P in Tucson

  • Karma: 5
I have used water and sand in my Excel 20, but I switched to using a 14 inch clay saucer (like you would put under a flower pot).  I  foil the water pan and the saucer and put the saucer in the water pan.  My view is that water, sand and saucer all act as a heat sink and make it easier to control the temperature.  I switched to the saucer because it is lighter than the sand.  Plus, drippings always seemed to get into the sand, even with foil over it, so you either have to keep replacing the sand or it becomes very yucky.

I haven't noticed any difference in the moisture of the meat using sand or saucer instead of water.
#7 - July 24, 2011, 04:55:24 pm
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Mark

  • Karma: 23
The saucer sounds like a smart solution, Mike. In Kamados, people use a pizza stone as a baffle. I had one, but it cracked early on and I'm was hesitant buy another one. Now, I just use disposable turkey roasting pans with water or soda pop in them. By the end of the cook it has pretty much dried out into sludge so it's easy to toss the next day after it cools.
#8 - July 24, 2011, 05:50:01 pm
Mark Motta
Meatier Creator

joe2chillo

  • Karma: 1
Thanks for the input all. I will go with the foil pan for now. I ma try the saucer but I seem to get better heat control and use less fuel without water. Love this site!
#9 - July 24, 2011, 06:42:41 pm

glenntm

Lava rock with foil over the top. 
#10 - July 24, 2011, 07:48:49 pm

grizmt

I would use a heat treated rock, like the rocks they put in the bottom of pits for hog cooking. The benefits are it maintains the same temp as the cooker for long periods so if something goes bad and you lose heat temporarily it should maintain temps at least for a while. Just my two cents...
#11 - July 25, 2011, 05:06:11 am

bucaguy

  • Karma: 4
Lava rock with foil over the top. 
I was wondering if that would work
#12 - July 25, 2011, 06:17:27 am
Owner of Sin Bin BBQ and Member of Fat Man Que bbq team
Just some big heavy offset right now.

glenntm

The lava rocks are used to help stabilize the temps.  These are the rocks you will find in a gasser.  Not users for maintaining temps but just to help control.  7lbs per water pan. 
#13 - July 25, 2011, 10:03:38 am

bucaguy

  • Karma: 4
The lava rocks are used to help stabilize the temps.  These are the rocks you will find in a gasser.  Not users for maintaining temps but just to help control.  7lbs per water pan. 

Thanks for the info I am going to give this a try
#14 - July 25, 2011, 07:18:00 pm
Owner of Sin Bin BBQ and Member of Fat Man Que bbq team
Just some big heavy offset right now.

joe2chillo

  • Karma: 1
So I am trying the lava rocks. I put a bag of them in the water pan and covered them with foil. I am trying to maintain a temp of 275 for a few hours. So far I am having trouble maintaining the temp. I get it up to where I want it and try to turn down the air flow and it drops too much. I have been playing with it for a couple of hours and I am either too hot or too cool. Due to my constant watch over it, it has not got out of control to where it is going to mess up my food but I do need to figure out how to stabilize it soon so I can go to bed. That digital guru sure is sounding nice about now.
#15 - July 30, 2011, 10:58:07 pm

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