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Using sand.....


Icefever
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I've used sand instead of water in my Frontier for a few years now.
The other day when I started setting her up I filled the bowl with half a bag of sand left from last year.


Now the sand was in the plastic bag with the top rolled over and taped to keep it clean....this as been sat on the shelf in the garage.
When the chimney of heat beads was ready I poured them into the fire basket, popped in the bowl of sand, on with the top and left her to heat up.

I came to check the temp after 25/30 mins and it was very slow to heat up, wondering why I lifted the lid to find a cloud of fine steam floating around inside...then it hit me...the sand was wet and all the heat was going into drying the sand out.
Even though the sand had been in a covered plastic bag it must have taken moisture from the air ???....I can't see or think of any other reason.
I had to then leave it until the sand dried out (almost an hour) and the temp started to climb before I could start grilling....so watch that sand. 👍

 

Ice.

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36 minutes ago, rawce said:

I recently ordered play sand for the next cook and it’s sat in the shed probably going damp, so thanks for the heads up. I might chuck it in the oven a day before I plan on using it then.

Not sure the wife will love that idea 🤣 fire up the bbq the day before and do a test burn just to help dry it...👍

 

Ice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The first time I used my WSM with sand in it, it took over an hour to get up to temperature. It was the first week of January (2020) and a 57cm WSM, so a big beast, but I was surprised. I guess that sand has to get up to temperature too and the more you put in, the more energy that takes. And leaving stuff in the shed, unless it's sealed air tight, it's going to get some moisture from the air I'd expect.

 

I read in another thread about someone talking about "foiled water pan" rather than water or sand. I don't know what this means, but if the water pan in there to just stop hot spots, why does it need anything it at all, doesn't the empty pan itself act to dissipate heat and stop hot spots? 

 

 

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Foil is just there to make it easier to clean up after as all the fat drips into the pan. I guess your issue could be a combination of things, but thanks for the heads up, I’ve got the sand but I’m yet to use it in anger so I’ll add an extra 1/2 hour wiggle room onto my next cook. Or I might use the kettle (Weber) to get the sand dry/up to temperature at the same time as firing up the ProQ. At least with water it’s just flash up the kettle (Morphy Richards).

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Oh right, so is that saying use water in the pan and cover that pan with foil? Is the idea that the water heats up quicker, but the foil prevents the evaporation? I'm considering firing up my smoker over the next few weeks, so might give some different techniques a try. I'm looking forward to some nice ribs as my first cook.

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It’s mostly for clean up, so lining the pan. I’ve done a few without and rarely learn so have to scrape the fat and carbon off the next day. The trick is to get it not to float on the water. I think the moisture would find it’s way out of the foil so it won’t stop evaporation, possibly slow it at best. @Wade says that the water doesn't really help keep food moist (brining might be more important?), it’s there for temperature control. I wouldn’t start with two kettles full, go with one and aim to top up every 1.5 hours in my experience - I find 2 kettles takes longer to get the ProQ up to temp.

 

I’ll try and do a compare and contrast when I give sand a go.

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Also, the pan is there mostly to act as a thermal buffer, not avoid hot spots whether water or sand. It’ll take on excess heat if your coals are too hot and keep the temps from sharply dipping if the coals start to die down. It flattens the peaks and troughs.

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