Soaking woods

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by beginnersluck, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. I wish I could absorb all the knowledge I wish to know about this topic.

    Can I soak too long?

    Does soaking with different woods transfer flavors?

    Can I season the water the woods are soaking in with noticeable difference?

    If I use a bucket or pot for one type of wood, can I somehow keep using the same water? (Stronger taste, less wood?)

    Besides sappy treees, are there woods that are absolutely no-nos?

    What does adding bundled herbs do, such as sage or rosemary?
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
  2. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome from SC. It's good to have you on this great site.

    Don't soak wood. All that stuff about water, pots, etc. don't really matter. Just don't soak wood.

  3. Please tell me more why you believe I should not soak. I feel the smoldering from soaking would work and possibly save on overhead due to material demand per use.

    Im using a chargriller from home depot and i feel like I have to feed an endless belly to maintain heat.
  4. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It consumes heat to dry the wood so it can burn to produce smoke. Soaking doesn't really penetrate the wood more than about 1/8". Smoldering wood creates creosote that will settle on your meat, leaving a very bitter taste and also screwing up the inside of your smoker.

    Your thread hasn't been up very long. I think that others will come along that can shed more light on this subject. But, I really don't think you will find anybody who will encourage you to soak wood.

    Good luck and good clean smoke, Joe.
    grillard likes this.
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Wet wood does not smoke, it steams. Once it dries then it starts to smoke. The ONLY time soaked wood is of value is when adding soaked Chips to hot coals. All the water coming off the chips cools the coals long enough for the chips to heat, dry and make a little smoke before they burn up. As far as wood soaking up liquid, 1" thick Oak Barrels hold Bourbon and Scotch for years and NEVER soak through...What to you expect to be absorbed in a 4" Chunk soaking Overnight?...JJ

    BTW...You want Herb flavored smoke? Throw bundles of Fresh Herbs on the coals...
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2016
    grillard likes this.
  6. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    X2. What JJ said.
  7. Ah, but jimmyj, I'm willing to soak as long as needed but I see there is no need! I was under the impression it would smolder and smoke longer (maybe more consistent, if not more smoke).

    Like i said, I wish I could absorb what I'd like to know. But if soaking wood isn't key, vital, important, or a game changing aspect then I'm at more ease.

    Only soak wood chips, correct? And do you,personally, soak chips everytime? Is there a proper time for adding chips as opposed to chunks or logs? I don't want the chips to be able to flame up, right?

    After your information and my wuestions, I feel wood chips are just wasteful...

    I think what I've taken away from this the most is if my heat source is adequate and consistent, I can use fewer logs-as long as I don't allow them to flame up?
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Chips are best for short cooks. A hanful in the Kettle to add smoke to a steak you are cooking. They can by used for longer periods but you will be adding frequently because they burn quickly. Back in the day I did soak chips but quickly noticed just steam until they dried. Stopped soaking years ago and just added chips more frequently. To get the best and longest smoke out of chunks and splits, put them " next to " hot coals just touching the heat. The wood will heat and start smoking but not quickly burst into flame. They will however burn up eventually. You don't need or want to generate a ton of smoke. If you can smell the sweet smoke or even see some thin blue smoke rising from the stack, you are getting good smoke flavor on the meat...JJ
  9. lisad

    lisad Newbie

    Im new here. I have an electric smoker. I am going to do a smoked pork shoulder. I will be using wood chips. Here's my questions, do i need to soak the wood chips? Also what flavors pair well with pork meaning what flavor wood chips? TIA
  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    No need to soak the chips, I like hickory with pork.

    Good luck with the shoulder and let us know how it turns out!

    lisad likes this.
  11. phatbac

    phatbac Smoking Fanatic

    I agree with Al. I also like to add fruit wood with hickory for a pork butt. try some apple or cherry with the hickory and you can add a sweet flavor to the cook.

    take some pictures so we can see how it came out!

    Happy smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  12. lisad

    lisad Newbie

    Thanks so much. Some say soak the chips some say don't. This can all be confusing for a newbie :)
  13. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Never soak any wood. It takes heat to dry it and the steamy smoke isn't good either. I like cherry on pork, apple on poultry and hickory on beef. Just my preference. All of that is always left up to individual taste.

    Good luck, Joe :grilling_smilie:
    lisad likes this.
  14. Have to agree with Cherry on pork Joe, but you are the first person who has ever told me not to soak the wood chips! Is that common?

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