Question regarding wood chips/chunks....

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by lucc, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. lucc

    lucc Smoke Blower

    My smoke on the 4th was a successful one, but the smoke was getting troubled all day long. I have the Jack Danies Hickory chips and wrap them in foil with a couple very smal holes on both side of foil. That worked great the first two times but this time it seemed the wood was billowing out of the foil and turning white so I removed the wood. I threw some chips on now and again throughout the smoke. However, I am wondering why this time the chips were really smoking heavily producing thick white smoke. [​IMG]
    Maybe the coals were too hot? Too many holes in the foil? Do you just poke some holes in the top of the foil or both sides?
    With chunks, do you have to soak before mixing with the charcoal or just put them in dry?
  2.'s real hard to determine what may have caused heavy smoke from your last chip experience. Before I bought my first real smoker (GOSM) I used chips, soaked in water for an hour, and put into mini bread pans, cover with foil, I punched a couple of holes in the top. If your fire is to hot, your going to go thru those chips real quick, hence the water soak. As regards to wood chunks, I've tried soaking in water, as I did the chips, but it's a waste of time, as the water does not soak into chunks as well as it does with chips. Yes, there is a way to soak wook chunks, boil them in a pan for a few mins and the water will soak in. However, the drawback is it's take a long time and a higher temp to get them to smoking....hope this helps a little.
  3. virgo53

    virgo53 Smoke Blower

    I place my wood chunks in one of my vacuum sealer containers and let er rip.
    This does force the air out and the water or whatever you add to your "Juice" will soak right in. mine will soak in very well in about 20 minutes. Chips soak in very fast. when they sink, their done soaking.
    Just a thought! the sealer reduces the soak time extremely well
  4. dirtman775

    dirtman775 Smoking Fanatic

    I have never soaked, wraped in any foil, none of that. Make sure you have a good air flow and a hot enough fire and you should be burning thin and blue all the time.....JMO
  5. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Which smoker? But that probably doesn't matter.

    Without seeing it being done, my guess would be you had too many chips in combination with them being right on top of a high heat source. When I do it (on a Weber Kettle or even on the WSM) I place a few chunks AROUND the heat source and not right in the middle of it. That way they don't start burning in one big heap, they start burning slowly from their edges and work their way across the wood. Does that make any sense?

    Also, I've done chips and chunks. Chunks are the way to go. Chips just seem to flare up and burn out quickly. Whereas a chunk will burn more slowly. I also used to soak my chips to slow down the burn. That kind of works, but only for a minute til the wood dries out then burns up quickly. Now I just try to mainly use chunks and soaking them seems to make no difference. I guess unless you were going to weigh them down to submerge them for weeks at a time they don't really "soak" up any water. They just get wet.

    Next time take a pict or two of your process and maybe we'll have another idea for ya. Here's one of how I lay out my lump in the WSM. The chunks are mixed in with the lump around the outside. The open ring in the middle is where I'm going to put the burning lump. Otherwise known as the minion method.

  6. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    I soak chips and use them when grilling. For smokes, I use dry chunks. I don't like chips for smoking. Even wrapped in foil, they are nothing but smoke bombs that smoke insanely for a few minutes and then they're gone. Too much trouble.

    Switch to chunks.
  7. lucc

    lucc Smoke Blower

    Chunks it is, now I need to find a place to buy them. [​IMG]
  8. enfuego

    enfuego Newbie

    Newbie question: How many fist-sized wood chunks do you guys use during a smoke?

    I have a modified Char-griller Smokin' Pro. Does tossing in one or two chunks per hour sound about right? I have a ton of apple wood from a tree I had to cut down a year ago, so I'll be using apple wood chunks. Thanks for the advice.
  9. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    On my UDS I only use 2 or 3 fist size pieces of what ever the whole smoke which can be as short as a 3 hour cook for chicken or 14 hours for pulled pork. Meat is only going to absorb smoke for a little while, then after that you're just wasting flavor woods. Yesterday I did some chicken that took just under 4 hours and I used what ever was left over from the last smoke plus on small piece of mesquite.

    **edit** I looked up some information that I've collected over the years. In more than once source it is the opinion that meat will only absorb the smoke flavor for about the first 1.5 hours or till it hits 140 degrees.
  10. eaglewing

    eaglewing Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Here's a Quote from Amazing Ribs web site and 'his' opinion on using water at all.

    "No need to soak. Here's a myth busted: It is conventional wisdom that you should soak wood before using it to slow their burning. I strongly disagree. In separate batches, I took wood chips and wood chunks labeled "apple", and soaked them 12 hours in room temp water. I weighed them on a fairly precise digital postage scale before soaking. After soaking I patted the exterior lightly with paper towels and weighed them to see just how much was actually absorbed. Chunks gained about 3% by weight and chips about 6%. I cut the chunks in half and penetration was only about 1/16". DOH! That must be why they make boats out of wood! Wood doesn't absorb much water! I suspect that if you toss wet wood on hot coals, the small amount of water just below the surface will evaporate rapidly, negating any effect of soaking, and the wet wood could have the deleterious effect of cooling off the coals when the goal is to hold the coals at a steady temp. For charcoal grills, put the wood right on the coals. No need for foil packets or metal containers. For gas grills, scroll down."

    I don't really soak or use foil, and I bought my own Hickory and 'chunked' it up myself...they work GREAT just tossed on the coals every now and then... that's the way I do it.... YES, I do buy some Beechwood chips also, sometimes I soak for about 5-10 mins, sometimes I just toss them on.
  11. eaglewing

    eaglewing Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Craigslist, there is always guys selling smoking woods on there...(depending on where you live I guess tho)
  12. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Craig over there really knows his stuff. Since this hobby is an art, and not science. it's easy to find someone else with the meatheads knowledge and experience that will say "always soak" your wood. So, who knows for sure?

    I see no reason to soak chunks. But I also won't use chips without soaking.

    Soaking wood isn't going to hurt anything, so like everything else in this hobby, try it both ways and see which is preferred.
  13. billbo

    billbo Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I only use chunks and never soak weather I'm using the UDS or ECB. Home Depot & Lowes both carry Hickory & Mesquite chunks, I prefer Hickory but that is MHO.
  14. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    Count me as one to never soak my flavor woods as well.
  15. jethro

    jethro Smoke Blower

    I tried the soaked chip thing many times, It's a waste of time. Now just nice size chunks dry. Mesquite is plentiful and free here this time of year (monsoon season) I only use this for the first hour and sparingly or it over powers the meat. Pecan is my favorite but haven't found a good source for it yet except bbq's galore.
  16. albeesmokin

    albeesmokin Newbie SMF Premier Member

    I did some messin' around with chips, chunks and soaking them vs. not soaking them.
    Now granted I am using a ECB I had some interesting results.
    This was a long smoke I started with 2 chunks soaked and 2 dry. I added the wood to a nicely ashed briquette coal bed. The soaked chunks started burning about 3 minutes after the non soaked. When I added chunks I would try the same experiment. Barely any difference in the time the chunks started to smolder.
    Now later in the smoke, I was doing salmon, most of the wood had burned down. I wanted to add some smoke quickly. I tried the smoke bomb method. Got 2 small empty soup cans. I took a handful of non soaked apple wood CHIPS and placed them in the can. I then took a handful of SOAKED apple wood chips and put those in a different can.
    I took both cans and placed them on top of my red hot coal bed. The non soaked chips smoked 1st but the soaked chips smoked longer and lighter.
    It was a fun experiment and I completely agree with most on the site. Wood chunks do not benefit from soaking. Chips both soaked and not placed directly on the fire ignite and burn at about the same time and last the same length.
    However my opinion of the smoke bomb method (chips inside an empty,clean soup can DO benefit from soaking. PS. I soaked the chips in water for 12 hrs, and left them outside (Texas summer 100o).
    Disclaimer about smoke bomb:
    I have used this around campfire forever, in the gas grill a few times too. Figured i'd use it in the smoker as well. From my reading this is perfectly safe. BUT I am paranoid about chemicals and such...I take a blowtorch and burn the snot out of the can before I use it.
  17. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Albee, thanks for sharing your findings. I never gave a thought about problems with soup cans. I just assume if it it's deemed okay for food it must be okay.

    Hmm, anyone know for sure?

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