Wood Chips: To soak or not to soak.....

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by pne123, Sep 29, 2007.

  1. smokinal

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

    Like DeejayDebi says have you tried chunks?
     
  2. el ropo

    el ropo Newbie

    You could simply smell the smoke coming off your exhaust, and know immediately whether it smells heavenly, or raunchy.  Easy test.
     
     
  3. vernski

    vernski Fire Starter

    I think it's just a question of what works for you and has the best results in flavor & smoke taste. Some friends like just a little smoke flavor and some want it strong. I used to soak my chips when I had a little chief and it seemed to work ok. Now I have a MES and I quit soaking the chips and it has a great flavor and nice smoke ring. IMO I think soaking only extends the burn, not adding flavor to any perceptible degree. So I found that, that works best for me in the MES. There are allot of ways to smoke things as there are smokers and how they work best...Vernski
     
  4. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm a stick burner myself, So I can't really say "to soak or not to soak"

    But I can say that when I run my stick burner I like nice dry seasoned wood,opposed to wet.

    I get a better even heat and nice even smoke through the chamber with the dry wood.

    Hope this helps, in some small way

    just my 2¢
     
  5. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    NO don't soak.
     
  6. It says on the box to soak.

    They assumed you were going to throw it on an open charcoal fire, so "wet" would slow the burning rate down so you'd actually get some smoke for a while. A smoker (should) limit the O2 so the chips should smoke if dry. But as the other guys have said a bag 'o chunks is the way to go. I agree with Vernski - it's all whatcha like.
     
  7. smokinal

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

    Hi Bill, Welcome to SMF. You should go over to the roll call section & introduce yourself so we can all give you a proper welcome. Glad to have you here, your gonna like this place!
     
  8. galenabob

    galenabob Newbie

    I like to rip small pieces on a table saw 3/4"x3/4"x6" of cherry and I always soak them for my MES.  It works great for me.  A few sticks of wet wood last longer than a handful of wet chips.  Thats what I do...
     
  9. ficeroy

    ficeroy Newbie

    I've soaked chips before, and I have used dry chunks. I tend to go more for the dry chunks these days. I didn't ever notice a difference. This "thin blue smoke" is what I am always aiming for, but I have seen nothing but smiles around my table when the family and friends take that first bite, or when the neighbors poke their heads over the fence to see what's making that amazing smell.
     
  10. nano

    nano Newbie

    What I do is a 90/10 split 90% of my wood chips are dry and 10% are wet. This always works!
     
  11. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    In my old ECB I always soaked the chunks. In the first run with my new Master Forge I went with dry chunks in the chip box and was impressed with the length of the smoke. Think I'll be sticking with the dry method for awhile. Here's a good blog from a SMF member with lots of pics of the wood chunks both before and after. I found this pretty informative being fairly new here myself......http://gosm-bigblock.blogspot.com/  
     
  12. I have been using a small 5 inch cast iron skillet and a small aluminum pie pan with some holes punched in the top as a container and unsoaked wood. The pan I picked up at a thrift shop for $1 because it was all rusted. Best investment I have ever done.

    I usually use charcoal, but a couple times I did a cheaters conversion into electric by putting in a single burner Electric Hot Plate and set it to high. Having the pan made things easy because I didn't have to worry about ruining the coil with an aluminum pie tin or wrapped aluminum envelope of chips.
     
  13. justjoe

    justjoe Newbie

    Is there anyone here that can tell me where i can purchase pecan shells? I hear they are great to use in a smoker and would very much like to try them.
     
  14. upsman

    upsman Meat Mopper

    I always used to soak my wood chips until I read this article he sent me  who knows smoking woods.

    Wood is hydroscopic meaning it will only
     absorb
     water until it is in balance with the humidity and temperature of the
     environment it is in.  That is why swamp trees survive so long in water
     -
     they don't drink the entire time, merely when they need to balance their
     cell structures.

     You cannot hurt the wood chips by leaving them in water.  However,
     because
     wood contains cellulose and hemicellulose which are sugar molecules, if
     the wood is left for an indefinite period of time in water, the sugar
     molecules will loosen and that is where some of the flavor is lost.

     Our research shows that if the wood chips are left in water, completely
     covered mind you, they will begin to develop an unpleasant ordor and
     lose
     some of the cell structure after about 45 days.  So, as long as you can
     use up the soaked chips within a few weeks, you should be fine.

     You may also remove the wood chips from the water and allow them to dry
     again.  Generally, you will only change the moisture level by 1-2% when
     doing this.  Remember, the wood has been cut away from the main supply
     system of the natural tree.  Although the molecular composition of the
     tree allows it to retain and gain moisture again for a short time, the
     cells are in the process of dying.  This is the reason will generally
     recommend that you purchase wood that can be used in an 8-12 week
     period.

     Also, remember when santizing the wood, you can also use white vinegar
     and
     water.  This is a more "green" method of sanitizing that I personally
     prefer.
     
  15. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I rarely use chips but when I do, I will wrap in foil packets and fork a few bitty holes.

    Wood chips do not ignite when they are wet because they are wet, however when they dry out they can ignite.

    The best way to keep wood from igniting is to Limit the oxygen.

    It don't hurt to soak your wood chips, but I choose not to, because I don't believe there's any benefit to it.

    My suggestion to individuals that are unsure, is to test it out yourself and come to your own conclusion.
     
  16. tcon

    tcon Newbie

    One reason to not soak your wood is you have to cook off all the steam before the wood can start smoking.  So it will last longer but you don't get the smoke we are all looking for.
     
  17. tcon

    tcon Newbie

    One reason to not soak your wood is you have to cook off all the steam before the wood can start smoking.  So it will last longer but you don't get the smoke we are all looking for.
     
  18. when I used chips I alway soaked them for a minimum 30 minutes before putting them on. I used a Browning smoke vault with a chip tray and this procedure worked very well. Now with my larger smoker I am using wood but I still smoke my smoke wood before putting on the heat wood fire.
     
  19. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    And a lot of folks think this is actual smoke when in reality it is steam.
     
  20. I recently made the switch from chips to chunks - there's no going back now!
     

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