How long should wood chips last?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by perryb, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. Okay, I'm new at this. I've smoked twice, Love the results so far. Had beef brisket and country ribs. I have a smoker from Gander Mountain called Smoke Hallow (electric). I put the wood chips in the container at the bottom and the smoker "smokes "for the entire time 5 to 6 hours. I haven't had to replace chips so far in each recipe I tried. Am I doing something wrong? Should I refresh the wood chips or is it normal to have the initial chips last the whole time? I have refilled the water container several times but the chips still look good. Help if you can,
  2. spiketus54

    spiketus54 Newbie

    Unfortunately I'm not sure how much help we can be here... And especially me since I actually use a UDS rather than electric. But I'll give it a go anyway...

    The answer is pretty subjective. First of all, are you soaking the chips at all? Soaking the chips in water prior to putting them in will help them last longer. If your electric smoker can use wood chunks, I recommend them. They last longer than the smaller chips. In terms of when to replace wood chips, replace them when they stop smoking or are burnt up (this may not happen in an electric smoker... Hopefully an electric guy will step in here). Finally, it isn't really necessary to keep adding smoke after a certain point IMO. People will have differing views on this as is with most aspects of BBQ, but for example I don't get any noticeably more smoke flavor after my butts hit 165 internal temp.

    Above all else, if the Q you're turning out tastes good and smokey (to YOUR PERSONAL preference), then don't change your process! If you want more smoke flavor, I would replace chips more often or use more chips to begin with. If not, keep doin what you're doin! Experiment to find your favorite method, own it, and love it! Good luck.
  3. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First and foremost do you like the amount of smoke you are getting on your smokes?

    Normally the amount of smoke depends on some different criteria. Each pit is different. Some things to look at. How big is the smoke tray? How many chips do you put on it? How close is it to the heating element? How much air flow do you see. These are all variables in the amount of smoke produced and the speed at which it works.

    If its electric and you Had to refill the water pan, but not the chip tray that would seem to me to be light coming on as to there might possibly a problem.

    I'll see if I can find something on your smoker. What did your instruction manual say about chip usage?

    OK that looks like a nice sized chip tray. How many are you putting in it? 1 Cup? 2 Cups? If you are getting smoke, and not really running out, and getting a good smoke flavor that you like, I say enjoy and don't fix it.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  4. I don't have a Smoke Hollow but I usually don't use smoke wood five to six hours in my cooks.  Even on long cooks I only want smoke for about the first two hours -- if that.  I am a less is more kinda smoke wood guy. 
  5. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Is it possible that you are mistaking steam / drippings for wood smoke? If you are running through that much water you are making a lot of steam.
  6. I am cooking with aluminum pans. I don't think it is steam because I can smell the wood flavor outside and it is a thick smoke coming from the back and front of the smoker.. I appreciate your comment though and will pay attention to my water usage. I am going to try wood chunks instead next time.
  7. I'm putting in 2 cups of chips in. I think I will try chunks next time. My results are excellent though and its got a flavor of the chips I just have a great deal to learn from you pros!
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Your manual said chips, and most electrics are chip only due to the high temps required even for a smoldering combustion. If you are not running out of chips and enjoying the smoky taste now. Sounds like you've found the perfect electric smoker. We all complain about haveing to replace chips!

    There is a large part of your answer. 2 cups of chips is plenty for an electric smoke. My old electric I used maybe a cup, my new electric less than that. And it recommend refills of 1/2 cup at a time.

    Your meat can only absorb smoke for so long then you are just burning fuel. I think your pit may well be working properly.

    What you may need to learn now is how to adjust the vent to get the most efficent use of the smoke.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  9. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I was thinking the same thing. If you're getting 5-6 hours out of one tray of chips, that's pretty good. I'm a propane burner, and I have to predominantly use chunks b/c the chips burn up too fast. Still I will occasionally use chips as an accent flavor/smoke. For my pork butt cooks I will burn big chunks of hickory, with some apple chips sprinkled around the chunk.
  10. My smoker does not have a vent except a port to insert a thermometer Some folks are telling me to drill some additional holes in the smoker to get more airflow.
  11. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There ya go, sounds like I should have bought one of those. Don't try and fix it if it ain't broke.

    Have fun, remember patience, and enjoy the smoke.

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