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Water smokers are a less expensive option for someone who wants to get a smoky flavor into meats. It is shaped like an upright bullet and has a heat source on the bottom, such as coals or wood, and a grate for the meat on the top. In the middle is a pan of water. The water serves two purposes. First, it protects the meat from the heat source, for indirect cooking. Second, the heat causes the water to vaporize, which creates a moist, even cooking. Water smokers are fairly basic and easy to use, so they are recommended for beginner BBQ chefs. Water smokers come in charcoal, electric and gas models.
The dry smoker is a little bit more complex than the water smoker. For professionals and people who compete in barbecue competitions, this is the way to go, according to the online BBQ Report. The heat source, typically with wood chips, is located on one side of the smoker. On the other side is the grill chamber, where the food will be placed. These smokers have chimneys or vents that draw the smoke through the cooking chamber. Dry smokers give more of a smoky flavor than water smokers, but don't always have the moisture. Many cooks baste the meat throughout the cooking process to replace the lost moisture.
Tongs are essential tools for every barbecue smoker. Purchase a pair of tongs made of metal so that they don't burn in the smoker's high temperatures. Choose a pair that are very long so that you can reach into the smoker and retrieve meats without burning yourself.
Many BBQ professionals use a long metal fork with two or three tines on the end to poke the meat. Poking it can help turn it, or can help you feel for whether it is done yet. The forks are typically very sharp and can make small incisions in the meat so that you can see the color on the inside.