How important is soaking wood (chips)?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by webpoppy8, May 18, 2017.

  1. webpoppy8

    webpoppy8 Fire Starter

    I have an MES 30", so I'm not really "burning" my wood (chips) per se.  Is soaking wood important, and how long, how much?  I'm aware of some who say soaking wood is pointless, but it seems the majority soak wood before using it for smoking.

  2. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. lancep

    lancep Master of the Pit

    Soaking is not important or needed. Whatever water your chips absorb will have to be evaporated (steam) before they actually start to smoke. So basically soaking does nothing but postpone actual smoking. So don't bother.

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Soaking chips is a hold over from days past. Dad wanted to get smoke from burning charcoal. He added wet chips because it cooled the fire and gave time to get them smolderring rather than just burst into flame. Fast forward 40 years and these new fangled Electric Smokers come out. Junior wants to make smoke so he soaks his chips. Why? That's the way Dad did it. But now, instead of a 1600°F bed of burning charcoal, there is a little metal tray over an 800W coil. Juniors chips don't don't begin to smoke or burst into flames, they don't do anything. They are soaking wet. Once the chips dry, the low temp in the tray gets them smoldering and they start making that Thin Blue Smoke. So, yes, soaking chips to use in a MES is pointless... Unless you want extra time at the smoker to enjoy a cold beverage and wait for the smoke to start rolling.😎...JJ
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  5. I have a offset smoker and used to soak chips then realized there wasn't much of a difference. Now ok use chunks but like stated I use a offset
  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No don't soak your chips, and as Adam said, do yourself a favor & get an Amazen tray.

    You get nice smoke for hours without refilling it.

  7. garyhibbert

    garyhibbert Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yep. What they said!!!!

    I have a MES 30 and switched from chips to the Amazen tray--AMNPS. WORKS PERFECTLY. It's the best money you can spend. You won't have to refill it for most smokes, unlike adding chips every 20 minutes.

    Then I added the Mailbox mod and its even better--great for cold smoking as well. You'll never regret buying one.

    Just do a search for Mailbox mod.

  8. A Bunch of Good advice

  9. sky monkey

    sky monkey Smoke Blower

    Wow, I had no idea. I was still soaking my chips...
  10. siege

    siege Smoke Blower

    When I asked an old pro, years ago, he said what you are trying so do is smoke, not steam the meat. Made sense to me. I haven't soaked chips since then.
  11. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've used wood chips for both grilling and smoking. I learned years ago that soaking wood chips does nothing to extend their smoke production time/ Dry wood chips smoked for a few minutes and soaked wood chips produced smoke for about the same amount of time. In fact, early on with with my MES 30 Gen 1 I tried soaking the wood chips for a couple of different smokes.The wet chips were harder to drop from the wood chip loader than dry chips. I had to carefully and manually loosen the more recalcitrant wet chips with my fingers and then mix them with dry chips before putting them back in the chip loader to dump them onto the wood chip burner. 

    Many grilling/smoking cookbook writers and bloggers no longer recommend soaking wood chips. I just looked at a guy who is considered one of the top, or perhaps the best self-promoted grillers/smokers in the country and he sells not only a single but also a double wood chip soaker set. In my opinion, you don't need it. 

    Even though I still have bags of wood chips I bought years ago, for smoking I only use wood pellets and burn them in a tray called the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker. I also have a tube smoker that I won in a drawing. This year for cold smoking I'm going to experiment with Dust, which I've read works better at low temperatures. I still throw wood chips on top of charcoal when grilling certain meats if I want to add an extra bit of smoke flavor, but for my tastes I need to keep throwing new chips on ever 10-15 minutes because by that time the chips have been burned to ash. I plan to do more experimenting with wood pellets in that tube smoker to get longer-lasting smoke for both direct and indirect heat grilling. Last year, I had a problem with the wood pellets going out so I need to find a spot under the cooking grate where there's a constant abundance of airflow. 
    Last edited: May 22, 2017
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi Poppy!!

    I've used 3 different MES units, and they all work great.

    I can't tell you for sure if it helps to soak chips for other smokers, but I doubt it does anything good.

    As for the MES, it does no good to Soak Chips, or to add water to the Water Pan. IMHO

    I also agree with the others (above) that the best thing to do with an MES is to get an AMNPS.

    I haven't used a Chip in my MES in 7 years, since the AMNS & the AMNPS have been invented.

    An MES and an AMNPS is truly a Match made in Smoker's Heaven!!!


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