There is a lot of debate among the pellet grill owners about using water pan. Some are preferred to use a water pan but some are really don’t care about it.
If you are a Trager grill owner and new to grilling, the question might grapple into your mind,
Does the Traeger grill need a water pan? Or should I use my Traeger without a water pan?
Then I would recommend using a water pan in Traeger pellet grill/smoker.
It derives lots of cooking benefits like no burning of meat, optimum moist in meat after grilling, etc.
Especially if you are cooking at a high-temperature setting or if you are doing long smoke, you should use a water pan.
Using a water pan in the Trager grill is not a must but it helps achieve the best BBQ weather inside the cooking chamber. So that you’ll get the best result with your smoker/ grill.
Even though you can skip using a water pan at low and slow cooking on a grill, but I prefer to use a water pan all the time while grilling or smoking with my Traeger.
Here you’ll get to know more about using water pan in Traeger grill.
Does the Water Pan Infuse a Significant Amount of Moisture to Grill Cooking Chamber?
For getting to know the answer to this question, we will dig deeper into the science behind the barbeque.
When you are grilling on a pellet grill/smoker, you fill the grill hopper with wood pellets. These wood pellets are also trapped with the moisture of up to 20 %.
If we specifically talking about Traeger pellets, it contains 10 % moisture content.
For getting to know how much actual moisture content we are going to add in the cooking chamber with wood pellets, let’s get to know the basic chemical composition of wood pellets.
Apart from moisture content, the wood pellets made up of mainly three components:
Cellulose, Hemicellulose, Lignin.
They are primarily known as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
Here is a basic formula of cellulose:
(C6 H10 O5)n + 6O2 = 6CO2 + 5H2O
(C6 H10 O5)n -Cellulose
CO2 – Carbon dioxide
H2O – Water
When you burn wood pellet it will produce mainly two components: carbon Dioxide and water vapor.
Even though if there are dry wood pellets without any moisture content or zero water content in them, when you burn them, they will form water.
When you burn wood pellets with oxygen, it makes CO2 and H2O.
The same basic process is with happened with Hemicellulose, Lignin when it burns.
When there is a burning process occurs with Hemicellulose and Lignin, they produce majorly the same compound as cellulose.
There are also small extractives contains in the wood pellets, but when they burn majorly produce the same components.
It means in addition to the water trapped in the wood pellets when you just burn wood pellets, it will form water content just by burning.
When you add an additional water pan in a grill cook chamber, it will add a significant amount of water to the cooking chamber.
So, I would say yes, the water pan contributes a significant amount of moisture to the cooking chamber.
Does Using Water Pan Consume Too Much Energy and Make Your Grill/ Smoker Inefficient?
No, using a water pan won’t absorb a big portion of the energy of the grill. There is a lot of energy produced in a cooking chamber while cooking on a pellet grill.
The water pan absorbs a very little amount of energy that is actually absorbed by the grill and meat in the cooker.
Yes, you’ll burn less wood when you don’t fill the water pan in a grill.
But I don’t think so, it is worth it to cook without using a water pan.
Because by using a water pan, you’ll get extra moisture in the cooking chamber.
You’ll not burn your food while cooking at a high temperature on a grill.
A water pan helps to absorb the energy at high-temperature molecules and prevents your food in the smoker from burning.
So, I would say, though using a water pan consume a little more energy and makes the grill fire comparatively less efficient.
But I would prefer a less efficient fire to cook the meat with perfect moisture rather than a more efficient fire which causes the risk to burn the meat.
In addition to this, when we compare the volume of the water pan in relation to smoker size, the water pan doesn’t take up too much space in the cooking chamber.
Why Use Water Pan in Traeger Pellet Grill?
When you are cooking at high heat or high temperature on your pellet grill, the temperature of the heat plate also rises.
So, the drippings on the drip pan start smoking and get burnt. It really smells bad and the taste of food also getting affected.
It alters the taste and flavor of meat or food you are grilling. If you are using a rub with high sugar, the sugar and juices get burn, even you are lined dripping tray with foil.
So, it gives some off taste and smell to your food. I always hate that burnt taste that is produced by dripping on that deflector pan. Using water will help to eliminate that.
Putting a water pan also helps to maintain the temperature in the cooking chamber.
When you running your smoker /grill at a high temperature say 325, all the juices and dripping will not burn on the drip pan.
So, you should run a water pan in the pellet grill/smoker.
Where to Put Water Pan in Traeger?
Take a water pan and fill it with water. Blast some small holes at the upper sides of the water pan. This helps to allow some heat to come up and underneath.
Place the water pan under the grill grates and above the dripping tray. The dripping tray should be lined with foil.
Put the meat on the grill grate. After grilling starts, the extra juices start to drip into the water pan.
Keep in mind, there should be an adequate surface area to the water pan. It should not be too much deep.
So that it will allow lots of moisture to cooking chamber. The exposed water surface area should not be small.
The water pan should be nice shallow and flat. So that you’ll get the best results by using a water pan.
Are water pans re-usable or they have to be changed after each use?
Yes, you can reuse the water pan. You need to clean them after each use. But be careful while washing the water pan made with foil.
Make sure not to put any cracks while washing it. If there is any crack in the water pan, it will leak.
How to discard water collected in a water pan after cooking on grill/smoker?
If you don’t want grease going down your drain, dumping it outside would also attract animals. You can’t throw too much water in the trash.
So here is one trick that allows you to discard water safely.
Allow the water in the water pan to cool overnight. After cooling the water, grease will float to the top and solidify.
Scrape off with a spoon and throw it away. Leftover water you can discard in the sink or outside without any issue.
So, now it’s your call whether to use a water pan in your Traeger or not. It really depends on you.
But I highly recommend using a water pan in your Traeger grill, depending upon the grill size. It helps to get ideal BBQ weather in your grill cooking chamber.
It adds extra moisture to the meat while grilling which makes your meat extra delicious and juicy.
Using a water pan helps to prevent the burn of meat while grilling/smoking. It also prevents the burn of drippings in a drip tray.