How do I clean my Weber Smokey Mountain water pan?
One of the most important parts of the Smokey Mountain is the water pan. It helps regulate temperatures to ensure you have the right temperature for whatever you are smoking. It also helps prevent meat drippings from falling on the hot coals which could cause flare-ups. It even prevents the meat from burning by keeping the air around the meat moist.
The water pan is one of the most important components of the Smokey Mountain, and owners should treat it as such. That means maintaining it between cooks so you can have the best cook every time.
If your water pan has gotten greasy, simply wiping it down might not be enough. Hot water and good dish soap can help break down that buildup. Make sure to rinse thoroughly.
Baking soda and vinegar is an old standby for cleaning just about anything. Using the two together can cause baked-on drippings to break loose without too much elbow grease.
High heat and Oil After Cleaning
There is no need to season the water pan with oil and high heat after cleaning. The pan is there to hold water, not for cooking in. Ensuring it’s cleanliness should be your focus.
How frequently should you be cleaning the water pan?
If you want to avoid having to deep-clean your water pan, you should be cleaning it after every cook. This helps prevent serious buildup that requires more elbow grease than the amount of grease you are cleaning up.
You want consistent performance from your Smokey Mountain, you need to take care of it, and the water pan needs care. You should wait until your grill has cooled completely down from cooking before attempting to clean the water pan.
Where to dispose of the oil and ash inside the water pan
One of the most important parts of cleaning the water pan is dealing with what’s left inside it. Fats and oils from dripping meats can build up in the pan after a long cook, especially if you just finished with a brisket or pork shoulder. You do not want to simply dump the water pan out in the yard.
That can attract all sorts of unwanted attention from creatures great and small, and you do not want any of them near you, your house, or your grill.Once the water pan has cooled down, any solidified fats can be scraped off and put in the garbage.
The remaining liquid can be mixed with the ashes from the charcoal and wood to safely dispose of the ash in the garbage at the same time once the mixture is cool enough.
Benefits of a cleaned out water pan
Cleaning the water pan after every cook does have a purpose, and it is not simply to make your Smokey Mountain social media-worthy, either. Build-up in a water pan over time can lead to unpleasant barbecue, and no one wants that.
Every time you put meat on your Smokey Mountain, you want the best possible food to come off it at the end. A good water pan goes a long way towards that.
Cleaner Tasting meat
You might ask yourself what a clean water pan has to do with affecting the flavor of the meat. As the water pan heats up, the water inside it boils and turns into vapor.
This helps keep the meat moist, but if that water vapor has picked up any unpleasant flavors from any leftover gunk, the meat is going to pick up that flavor. A clean water pan means clean water vapor for the meat.
Better Smoke Flavor
The water vapor that the water pan generates keeps that meat moist not only to prevent burning, but it also allows more wood smoke to bond with the meat as that delicious bark forms. A dirty water pan could lead to less smoke flavor on the meat.
Do you have to clean out a water pan
You’ve just finished a 14-hour brisket cook. You’re tired, hungry, and looking forward to slicing and serving. Once your Smokey Mountain has cooled, you need to come back and take care of the water pan.
You do not want the next time you slice into a 14-hour brisket to serve bad-tasting meat due to buildup in the water pan. Preventative maintenance can save you a lot of pain and unpleasantness in the future.
Preventing the water pan from getting dirty
We live in a world that has long preached “work smarter, not harder.” No one wants to stand over a dirty water pan, scrubbing away at cooked-on bits of who-knows-what.
Not only can you prevent that from happening by cleaning the pan after every cook, but there are steps to take before you light the charcoal to start. Some people recommend foiling the water pan, which can prevent any sort of scrubbing.
Filling with Sand
One method that some people subscribe to is filling the water pan partially with sand and covering the sand with aluminum foil. The sand still acts as a heat sink to help stabilize temperatures much like water, but being able to foil over the sand helps with cleanup.
Once everything is cool, unwrap the foil and throw it away. You do lose some of the moisture benefits with water, but if properly covered, sand can help prevent the water pan from needing as serious a cleaning after use.