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The Stall

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    Welcome from Georgia!

    I'm leaning toward something other than the water pan. If I understand correctly, the stall happens when evaporation form the surface matches the heat transfer into the air via convective cooling and the phase change of moisture to vapor. Dry air at the same temp as moist air will accept more/faster evaporation from the surface - meaning the smoker without the humidity-adding water pan should reach equilibrium sooner and power through the stall faster.

    With that said, I'm with tbob4 - try it again with the pans reversed and let us know! The worst that happens is you have to eat more brisket... 😁😁


    • IowaGirl
      IowaGirl commented
      Editing a comment
      Higher humidity at the surface of the meat => less evaporation loss => less heat loss from the meat => less likely to stall.

      Wrapping meat with paper or foil reduces or eliminates the stall by raising humidity and reducing overall heat loss at the meat surface. Water in a pan might have some effect too, but probably isn't as efficient as wrapping.

      All that said, a person can't draw valid conclusions from just one test. The experiment needs to be repeated to prove the point.

    • Caffeine88
      Caffeine88 commented
      Editing a comment
      IowaGirl - I'm following your reasoning.
      If minimal evaporation, then minimal energy lost to phase change, and thus minimal stall. Wrapping tightly clearly does this.

      The water pan would raise humidity in the cooker, which would raise the equilibrium point where water from the surface quits evaporating. This means less moisture loss from the meat in the cooking process. I guess I was thinking of the stall in terms of total moisture loss, which dry air would do faster

    • Caffeine88
      Caffeine88 commented
      Editing a comment
      ....if we're going to the same point. But we don't want to go to the same point - we want to stop dry meat. Thus moist air would stop taking heat out faster than dry air - ergo, quicker end to the stall with either a wrap or a pan(but prob much less impact).

      I stand corrected. Thanks!
      And - more testing!

    Yup, I vote for the theory that the particular beefusses went to different schools. Welcome, eat good & have fun!


      Welcome to the Pit from north Texas. Do that thing where you reverse who gets the water pan and report the results. I agree with those who said it’s probably something else. Have fun with it.


        Welcome from Wisconsin. Glad you could join us!
        I'm no scientist, but I would think the cooker with the water pan would have a higher humidity level that would slow evaporation from the meat. To my mind this is like comparing heat in Miami to heat in Phoenix.


          I mean, I think you have to know/verify a few piece of information:

          1) Were both smokers actually at 230F? Is this verified by a reliable thermometer in each?
          2) Were both rigs close to the same (same size, same setup, same mods (or no mods), etc? Any apparent differences .e.g one had a leak, the other didnt?
          3) Were the comparable meats the same quality (i.e. choice) and look pretty much the same?

          All of these have to be controlled for, otherwise we can't dismiss the possibility of one or more being a factor.

          Then there's the question of the stall - how was the stall measure and timed? On the brisket, the pork butt? Both?

          If everything really is the same or very close to same, then there's really only two explanations:

          a) by happenstance the pieces of meat in one pit both had something that let them get through the stall in an hour vs 3 hours
          b) the use of a water pan.

          (a) seems unlikely if the stall was measured for each of the 4 hunks of meat. It's not impossible but feels relatively improbable.

          The easiest way of testing this is to reverse the use of the water pan and make no other changes. If that doesn't;t make a difference (the one hour pit still powers its meat through the stall much faster than the other pit) then you have to look at the factors above and verify them. For example, if you're just trusting the rec teq setting to be accurate you can't actually know if the pit temp was 230F, you just know that each controller was set to 230F.


            Welcome to the Pit!


              Originally posted by Ken Haskin View Post
              After thinking about this I propose an explanation might be that the humidity in my pit was higher therefore there was less surface evaporation and hence less cooling of the meat. Analogous to the comfort level of perspiring on a hot day in a dry climate versus a humid climate.

              I think this is a key point... in hot dry climate, you sweat, it evaporates and you lose heat through the evaporative cooling. Which is the exact intent of the sweating - to decrease your body temp.

              In smoking, increasing humidity in the cooking environment (via addition of a water pan) could decrease how much sweat evaporates, thus retaining more heat in the large hunk of meat - which is the idea, to cook the meat. But... is your water pan really affecting the measurable humidity inside the cooker all that much? I am not so sure...

              Now, the question is, how do we measure the humidity in a large volume cooker, and how much of the water evaporates from the water pan to raise the humidity. I mean, at this point you have to get into psychrometric data and the circulation of air, how often the air passing through the cooker is changed out and how much humidity it carries with it, weighing your water pan to determine lost weight (and volume) of water into the air, etc.

              Of course, you could physically measure the humidity inside the relative cookers, but this isn't as easy as it sounds. The high temp alone rules out most simple home devices and using an industrial device would be a lot more difficult to come by 2 of them.

              The easiest thing to do by far is to repeat the experiment with as identical cooks side by side as you can - and swap the water pan. I'm really interested to know, myself.


              • IowaGirl
                IowaGirl commented
                Editing a comment
                A psychrometer (humidity measuring device) for a smoker is pretty straightforward. You need 2 temp sensors. One is the "dry bulb" => your usual air temp probe. The other, the "wet bulb", has a wetted fabric sock on the tip. The sock has to be wet at all times so this probe will be cooled by evaporation. The temp difference between the two can be converted into the relative humidity. More: https://www.canr.msu.edu/smprv/uploa..._Humidity1.pdf


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