Soaking wood is a NO NO

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by cwalk, Jul 10, 2010.

  1. Bluto tells it best so far.  Dry wood smokes almost immediately.  Wet wood smokes later.  What you get from wet wood initially is a steam burn off and a later smoke.  Seems reasonable.  .
  2. meyer

    meyer Newbie

    Use an electronic kitchen scale to weigh the wood before and after soaking, you will see that is is absorbing a very very little amount of water, - no soaking for me.
  3. teesquare

    teesquare Fire Starter

    Thanks redclaymud!

    Just one more thought-

    All "wet wood" is not created equal. By that - I mean that green wood ( again, I believe that it can be an ally or an aggravation if you do not understand HOW to use it[​IMG]) has moisture distributed throughout, and wood that was dry ( aged, seasoned or cured...whatever term you prefer to use) cannot physically re-adsorb moisture at the cellular level that green wood has in it. We can soak all we want - but on average - with chunks, you MAY get up to 1/4'' of penetration.

    This may be why so many here have different opinions of what is better.... The tendency by some may be to lump wet wood all together with green wood.

  4. weaponx88

    weaponx88 Newbie

    Yeah....I found myself that soaking my wood gave me no benefits as well. I just didn't see any difference in soaked v/s non smoked other that the soaked taking longer to produce a smoke..
  5. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    I agree completely,  This keeps coming up like which thermopen color is the fastest, by the way the orange one is the fastest
  6. ed in jax

    ed in jax Newbie

    Still a rookie with smoking, but I have done it using soaked and non soaked during the cooking process and did not see any difference.  The soaked chunks that were soaked did start smoking right away, as for their burn time, I have to say they may have lasted a bit longer.
  7. hurriken

    hurriken Smoke Blower

    I soak chips but not chunks.
  8. csparker

    csparker Newbie

    When I first bought my MES I followed the directions in the manual, and soaked the chips.  I never got great flavor from was just flat.  In fact, that's what led me to the forum.  I was trying to find out why.  Someone suggested not smoking the wood chips, and I tried it.  Wow!  That made the difference.  Finally, great flavor!   I also found a suggestion about crushing a single charcoal lump into the chip pan with wood chips, and that worked out really well.  Eventually I bought an AMZPS so now I have many viable options, none of which involve soaking.  I guess I can't imagine that a side by side test between soaked chips and dry ones could yield the same results.  For me the difference was dramatic. 

    I agree btw, the orange Thermapen is indeed the fastest!
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  9. Iv been using a side box smoker for a loooong time and the best cooking n smoke methodI found  is to use a bed of lump charcoal fire hot, and then feed it dry wood logs as needed i used to smoke wood using chips but thats a waste of time i only use chunks or split logs now it works for me .I say soak the meat not the wood[​IMG]
  10. Well, I am a Newbie as far as this forum is concerned, but I have been grillin' and smokin' for a while now.  I have always soaked the chips because I didn't want them to burn up too quickly.  I have learned some things from reading this line of discussion on soaking or no soaking.  I am going to try some dry chunks and a peice of crushed charcoal in my wood box.  I have an upright BBQ Gear smoker I bought at Lowe's a few years ago.  It is propane and the biggest problem I have is controlling the heat.  It has a tendency to get too hot.  I can't leave it alone too long or it will creep on up to around 300 F.  I generally smoke my ribs and butts about 5-6 hrs, so it isn't much of a problem to check on the temp every hour or so.  I try to keep the smoke going for at least half of my cooking time and it works out pretty good most of the time.  I really appreciate all the input from you more seasoned smokers and I hope to become as good at it as y'all are.
  11. csparker

    csparker Newbie

    Great, can't wait to hear how the experiment goes! 
  12. steve k

    steve k Fire Starter

    I think you're going to find your smoking times going up, but your results getting better.  Personally, I can't do ribs or butts in less than 9 -12 hours, which means I do them overnight. I use an electric smoker from Cabelas. Dry chips or chunks in an O2 free, perforated container will produce smoke anywhere over 130 degrees, so you don't need to have that chip box too near the flame.  With a propane smoker, I imagine a chip box on a rack a couple of inches above the flame would do the trick.  I think 300 F is way to high to smoke.
  13. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     300º is too high, unless doing chicken. Might want to find out what PSI that regulator is. I had the reverse problem, heat too low. Found me an adjustable one to 10 psi. I can now reach up to almost 350º.
  15. My comment was: 

    Bluto tells it best so far.  Dry wood smokes almost immediately.  Wet wood smokes later.  What you get from wet wood initially is a steam burn off and a later smoke.  Seems reasonable.  .
    My experience with wet wood is in aged firewood that has sat outside a couple years under the weather or salvaged logs from the river that are deeply wet but will burn once dried enough.  Try tossing a wet log of either of these into a fireplace and it will smolder and produce smoke but it will not burn. 

    One of the benefits of living alongside a mountain river, besides increased flood insurance, is the abundance of trees that flow down during the rainy season.  Once the flood waters go down to rock level again, my son and I snag a few of the smaller trees and pull them ashore to dry.   Toward dry season/mid summer I'm usually out there ankle deep and cutting off parts of the larger trees that remain.  I've never had to purchase firewood in the 10 years I've lived in this house.  Mother nature delivers it almost to my door.

    Anyway, as far as soaked wood chips goes,  to totally get the wood wet enough requires more than a few hours.  I'm thinking, more like a few weeks, and who wants that stagnant pot sitting on their patio that long without changing the water daily?

    I believe we can all agree soaking wood chips is optional and if it does show a benefit in the smoke, the improvement is slight. 

    I'm still of the belief that dry wood smokes almost immediately.  Wet wood smokes later.  What you get from wet wood initially is a steam burn off and a later smoke.  Seems reasonable.  .
  16. Oh, I know that 300 is way too high to smoke.  I was just saying that my smoker would creep up that high if I didn't watch it.  I like to try to keep it around 225.  How does one go about checking the psi on the regulator.  My wood tray is not more than 2 inches above the burner.  Do I need to try to raise it up?
  17. Try installling an in-line needle valve or replace your entire propane line with one of these:
    It will give you much more control of your temps.
  18. i say soaking chips only slows the smoke,i have tried both ways myself and see no noticable results.use a good heavyduty smokepan wether its chunks or chips and you should be good.
  19. I wonder is it because of the lower temperatures in the smoker?  I know that there seems to be alot of places that say to soak the wood before placing in the BBQ.  I know that the unsoaked wood in the smoker box on the BBQ smokes and then ignites burning off.
  20. backsmokin

    backsmokin Fire Starter

    With my old homemade smoke I never soaked the wood. Generally used wood chunks, built up a small coal bed and added to the edges. When things started to flame, I'd just damp it down. I've tried using a smoker box with the gas grill and the only difference between soaking and not soaking was the amount of time it took before the wood ignited. Steam (not smoke) until the wood dried then flame. After that I used foil packets and fine pin holes. Soaked I got steam then smoke, dry I got smoke. Best results ended up being with a dry chunk wrapped in foil with six or so stabs with the point of a knife. Decent smoke, if it flared a spray water bottle took care of it.

    With the new electric smoker, directions said soak so I have. Still get steam until the chips dry, then I get the smoke so I'm going to quit soaking and be able to place the dry chips around the element better. If I need moisture, there are better ways to add it.

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