The Ultimate Water Pan

Pushing thermal capacitance to the limit

Picture: WSM cement water pan
Picture 1: WSM cement water pan 1
Picture 2: WSM cement water pan 2
Picture 3: WSM cement water pan 3
Picture 4: WSM cement water pan 4
Picture 5: WSM cement water pan 5

Many people who have used the WSM for some time switch away from using water in the water pan as suggested by the manufacturer. Some claim that the water in the pan causes steam which helps displace moisture that would otherwise be extracted from the meat being cooked.

Many of us believe this to be untrue, and produce very good product without using water in the water pan. Instead, the primary purpose of the pan and its contents is to level out peeks and valleys in temperature fluctuation - a thermal mass.

Instead of water, some will use loosely balled-up foil balls, sand, or gravel. These were all fine, and in fact, I used gravel exclusively (except for when the BBQ Guru blower is installed) last year (2007) and produced my best, most consistent product to date.

Place one layer of semi-permanent foil over the pan (this layer would be used for as long as no holes became present, leaking grease into the gravel. Then for each cook, another layer of foil would go on top of that to catch the grease.

The problem with using gravel though was that it was lose, and when taking WSM mobile using the mobile WSM mod, the gravel would spill, and I'd have to scoop it all back up from the bottom of the fire bowel.

I got to thinking about using concrete instead. It would stay put and probably make an awesome thermal mass.

I used three stainless steel screws - 10-24x2 to act as an anchor for the concrete so it wouldn't just fall out of the pan. These three screws play double duty as handy legs for sitting the pan on a surface without leaving behind too much soot.

Taking things one step further, I fashioned a handle to make it easy to remove and install the pan - resembling a bucket handle, it's now a breeze to do one-handed.