Water pan replacement in 2022


 

Steve Tiilikainen

TVWBB Member
Those of you who are familiar with my travails will remember that I bought a used WSM with a FireDial but no water pan. Well after the first cook went high and dry it was advised that I consider getting a water pan so I checked out the relevant VWB article.

Unfortunately many of the alternatives mentioned in that article are no longer available for purchase. It looks like I could get a replacement water pan from Weber or the Winco mixing bowl.

Thoughts? Keep in mind I am a newbie who wants to get one successful smoke under his belt. Thinking of doing a pork butt next due to it being harder to screw up.
 

Mark Foreman

TVWBB All-Star
It’s a bit more expensive, but get the Weber pan and wide HD foil. Play around with the water levels. I tend to only fill the pan 1/3 to 1/2 full. As the cook progresses, the water evaporates and I finish the cook with a mostly dry pan.
 

Brett-EDH

TVWBB Platinum Member
I’d recco just cover your fire dial first with multiple wraps of HD foil and the place an aluminum pan with hot water in the pan, all atop the fire dial. And cook some chicken since it’s cheap and forgiving. Build up your repertoire from there.

And then read about how best to light and arrange your coals. The WSM is incredibly forgiving and easy to use. Less is more. And setting your lower dials is key to managing temps/coal burn rate.
 

Steve Tiilikainen

TVWBB Member
Unfortunately we are not a chicken-consuming household due to food sensitivities.

By “setting your lower dials” I assume you mean setting the lower dampers?

I’m assuming that the top damper stays fully open and that temperature is regulated through the bottom three.
 

Brett-EDH

TVWBB Platinum Member
Unfortunately we are not a chicken-consuming household due to food sensitivities.

By “setting your lower dials” I assume you mean setting the lower dampers?

I’m assuming that the top damper stays fully open and that temperature is regulated through the bottom three.
Copy. Change that to a butt then. And yes, the lower dampers/vents. The top vent can be adjusted as well to allow heat to escape. The bottom vents control airflow in which manages temps.

I do recco reading the Bullet users guide on this site. It holds valuable info, if you haven’t read it already.
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB All-Star
What was your fire dial issue?

Mine works awesome. on the wsm 18. Threw my water pan away since I would never use it again.

If you want to use some water in your cook, tray on the fire dial. Easy.
 

Steve Tiilikainen

TVWBB Member
What was your fire dial issue?

Mine works awesome. on the wsm 18. Threw my water pan away since I would never use it again.

If you want to use some water in your cook, tray on the fire dial. Easy.

So I wasn’t confident that my lid thermometer was measuring correctly. I had a second thermometer that was measuring 30 degrees hotter than the lid at the grate.

The lid thermometer is a River Country 3” adjustable, and I’ve since tested it for accuracy using the boiling water method. It measures 5 degrees under boiling point while my thermapen measures 212 more or less exactly (I’m at sea level).

I panicked halfway through the cook and added more fuel. I think that was the big mistake. I still can’t figure out why my lid temp was so low comparatively speaking. Windless evening, 70 degree ambient temperature, no direct sunlight. Next time I’m going to be a lot more conservative about adding more fuel.
 

Brett-EDH

TVWBB Platinum Member
So I wasn’t confident that my lid thermometer was measuring correctly. I had a second thermometer that was measuring 30 degrees hotter than the lid at the grate.

The lid thermometer is a River Country 3” adjustable, and I’ve since tested it for accuracy using the boiling water method. It measures 5 degrees under boiling point while my thermapen measures 212 more or less exactly (I’m at sea level).

I panicked halfway through the cook and added more fuel. I think that was the big mistake. I still can’t figure out why my lid temp was so low comparatively speaking. Windless evening, 70 degree ambient temperature, no direct sunlight. Next time I’m going to be a lot more conservative about adding more fuel.
Target temp of 250°-275° for ribs and you’re golden. Just avoid going above 300°.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
So I wasn’t confident that my lid thermometer was measuring correctly. I had a second thermometer that was measuring 30 degrees hotter than the lid at the grate.
You'll never get identical readings at the grate vs at the lid. Temp inside the WSM is confusing...sometimes lid temp is higher than grate temp, but later in the same cook it can flip and lid temp can be lower than grate temp. Location of the probe on the grate can affect readings. Location of the probe next to a big hunk of cold meat can affect readings.

I would not try to reconcile the two. Just pick one and go with it.
 

Steve Tiilikainen

TVWBB Member
My main takeaway from this conversation is to not panic with heat spikes.
Is it still worthwhile to order some sort of water basin, or would foil wrapping the firedial be enough? We don't currently have any sort of metal basin apart of my wife's stand mixer bowl (which, even if I were permitted to use it, would not be the correct dimensions).
 

Brett-EDH

TVWBB Platinum Member
My main takeaway from this conversation is to not panic with heat spikes.
Is it still worthwhile to order some sort of water basin, or would foil wrapping the firedial be enough? We don't currently have any sort of metal basin apart of my wife's stand mixer bowl (which, even if I were permitted to use it, would not be the correct dimensions).
Small steps. You needn’t spend money to get this right.

Place an aluminum pan with water atop the fire dial. No need to even wrap fire dial in first stages of learning.

Coal load and lighting strategy. Learn the methods. Minion or snake.

Learn the lower vent settings. Less is more. Get your temp to 225° and then close some vents to regulate airflow in to manage temps.

Don’t freak if you see temps move to 275-300° on dome thermometer.

Choose one thermometer to use as your cooking reference as Chris says.

Slow down and breathe. This is all quite easy. Watch a few YT videos. Try T-Roy cooks. He has a bunch of WSM cooks worth watching. He’s a pro at WSM. Same for Harry Soo, although he can be very technical which might be too much at first.
 

Garry Milner

TVWBB Member
You'll never get identical readings at the grate vs at the lid. Temp inside the WSM is confusing...sometimes lid temp is higher than grate temp, but later in the same cook it can flip and lid temp can be lower than grate temp. Location of the probe on the grate can affect readings. Location of the probe next to a big hunk of cold meat can affect readings.

I would not try to reconcile the two. Just pick one and go with it.
I appreciate that bit of info Chris. My last couple of cooks had me wondering if I had wasted money on my ThermoPro, which one of the two probes is used to monitor the grate temp. I'll be more careful how I use that probe from now on.
 

David-B

TVWBB Super Fan
I have the fire dial and with it alone in the cooker with no water pan it is cooking direct so things will cook faster and your temp will show higher. I personally only use it for chicken, cooking any meat with alot of fat including ribs will eventually end up having a burnt grease taste to it...some people like it, I dont..I think it cancels out any smoke wood flavor you put in the cooker...I do not put water in my water pan, just cover with HD foil , it more or less is used to block direct heat.

If you cant find a water pan I would look for a pizza pan or the cover for the wsm water pan on amazon and nix the idea of using water inside the cooker...I find it to be a pain to deal with
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB All-Star
Steve -- unless you want to use water when also cooking on the lower grate, you do not need a water pan.

The FireDial is a perfectly good heat diffuser. I don't foil mine. But some people (like David above) like to foil it, which is easy to do.

If you want to add water (for temp control and/or moisture), just put a pan of water on the FD or on the lower grate.

If you have the 18, using a flat diffuser like the FD (or a pizza pan, clay saucer, etc) opens up the lower section a lot. Much easier to tend to the fire. The stock water bowl of the 18 is way too deep for the space.

If you want to cook on the lower grate, you can also buy some cheap SS mixing bowls that will fit the brackets and which are flatter. Search on here and you will find them.
 

Paul Pearson

TVWBB Super Fan
If you could find them, my suggestion would be to make a Piedmont Pan out of Brinkmann charcoal pans. I put one in my 18 years ago and really like the flexibility to run water with reduced water consumption, or empty for hot smokes and not have the grease smolder in the pan and turn my food black.
 

MichaelLC

TVWBB Super Fan
I used a FireDial with my turkey this year and worked great in a 18 WSM.

I did drop a disposable pan right on top of it to catch some of the drippings. It was still a mess.

Happy with the results overall.
 

 

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