Dirty water pan = bad tasting meat?


Tim O

The title says it all - since I’ve own my WSM (2011), I haven’t cleaned the water pan thoroughly. I do dump out the water and occasionally scrub it with a sponge or hit it with some detergent but nothing more.

Well, today I made some smoked beef chuck and it just seemed off - I guess a bit - dirty? I noticed during cleanup the water pan just not smelling nice but rather burnt. Can a dirty water pan (always with water) impart a bad taste on your meat? Or maybe I just over cooked it? My past couple of cooks have seemed less than my best and I wonder if it’s the pan...thanks guys!
It's possible, I guess depending on how dirty the pan was. I don't think it necessarily needs to be spotless, but when I did use water I pretty much did what you did. I think maybe you just over-smoked your meat. The only thing I've ever really oversmoked on the WSM was a chuck roast.
The water pan is used here for every smoke. With that said, there is a clean up. The outside of the water pan is foiled. After the smoke, the water & grease gets dumped, then soap and water. Meat grate gets a scrubbing. All the vents are closed for one day to smother the charcoal. Then a small wood wedge is used to hold the lid open for a few days. This keeps mold from growing.

After smoking a brisket last month the inside of the WSM was greasy to the max! Ran a full load of charcoal with all the vents open to burn the grim.

Craig,H in La Pine
I recently purchased a used 14" WSM via Craigslist and the water pan was a mess. Lots of baked on crud, both inside and out. A little Totally Awesome, a little Soft Scrub, a green scouring pad and a lot of elbow grease later, that sucker was back to down the porcelain. I recommend that you take the time and do that same to yours.

After you have it clean, wrap it in foil, both inside and out. It won't keep if from eventually getting a little cruddy but it will keep 95% of the gunk off and make it much easier to clean in the future.

I'm not a fan of the new, deeper water pan that now comes with the 18" model and I still use the old, shallow water pans from days gone by. I also foil the inside and out of those pans as well as the pans on my 22" models. It is worth the hassle of foiling in order to avoid the hassle of all that scrubbing!
I would say you over smoked it or had a case of bad combustion which produces dirty smoke.
My pan is never foiled on the bottom, just on the top because I go waterless.
My thinking on not foiling the bottom is why.. Because of cleanup?.. Ok, I get that but I don't foil the inside of my WSM and that gets the same amount of heat and smoke.:wsm: