There is a lot of confusion regarding how necessary water pans are in offset smoking.
The truth is that if you are smoking your meat low and slow, the presence of water creates the best atmosphere for your meat to turn out tender and juicy.
Most offset smoker brands will recommend that you do use a water pan when smoking.
We’re here to explain to you why it is so!
What is a Water Pan?
Like the name speaks for itself, a water pan is designed to hold water in an offset smoker.
Most brands of smokers will include a water pan themselves.
However, even if it’s absent, it’s best to figure out how to place a separate water pan in the smoker for best smoking results for your meat.
What are the Benefits of Using a Water Pan When Offset Smoking?
A water pan allows to create the ideal cooking conditions for low and slow smoking of meat.
The water present between the heat and meat allows the atmosphere to become humid. This humidity then allows the meat to be completely cooked on a low temperature.
The humidity also ensures that the smoke adheres to the meat, giving a smoky rich flavor to it.
Other than providing a suitable cooking environment to the meat, the water also ensures a few other things.
1. Allows You to Control the Cooking Temperature
Water allows you to keep the temperature of your smoker low, aiding the process of low and slow smoking.
This is because when water reaches its boiling point, it begins to evaporate rather than heat up any further.
This phenomenon is called evaporative cooling and keeps the offset smoker to the right temperature.
2. Helps Even out the Cooking Chamber’s Temperature
Water can remove the risk of hot spots in your offset smoker but regulating the cooking chamber to a single temperature everywhere.
This is possible because water itself heats up evenly and cannot have any temperature difference anywhere in the pan.
3. Allows Smoke to Adhere to the Meat
As we mentioned previously, the presence of water in the atmosphere creates humidity.
Humidity then allows smoke to stick to the meat to create its smoky texture and taste.
How to Use a Water Pan in an Offset Smoker
The water placed inside the water pan should normally be hot.
This prevents the heat from the firebox from being wasted on heating the cold water.
To get the best use out of your water pan, you should ideally place it over the burning coals and under the meat being smoked.
However, this isn’t possible in an offset smoker since the heat source isn’t present directly under the smoking grates.
So, in your offset smoker, you should place the water pan between the firebox and the meat being smoked.
This then creates the proper atmosphere between the heat and food.
Wrapping it Up
Water pans are highly important in offset smoking as they allow the process to be done the right way – low and slow, without a chance of heat mismanagement mishap.