Soaking wood for smoking

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doogster
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Soaking wood for smoking

Post by doogster » Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:00 am

I've heard conflicting things about this. Some people say the soak the wood about 1/2 an hour, slows the burning down and reduces bitter smoke, some say use it dry, the wetness makes the wood smolder and produces a bitter taste. When I seasoned the Masterbuilt I soaked the chips (as recommended in the instructions) for a 1/2 hour. Did enough to reload once during the seasoning. The first lot was still wet and produced quite a bit of dark smoke (used hickory BTW) I let the second lot sit in the sun for 90 minutes, when it went on it was barely damp, the smoke was a lot lighter, seemed to be more what you're looking for. What's the take on soaking the wood?
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by Peter » Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:55 am

I don't really know where the idea of soaking wood chips came from. I did it for a while a long time ago based on a recommendation I saw somewhere but didn't like the result.
I am now a proponent (based on experience) of always using dry wood. Chips in a smoker tray in the gasser, chunks in the little offset or the bullet; they are all dry now and I like the results better.
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by Adrienne » Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:13 am

Good point, Peter. I have no idea where the idea comes from either. I do not soak, and have good results!
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by Jasper » Tue Jul 07, 2009 1:55 pm

Some BBQ shows on the Food Network have said mix wet chips with dry chips in a pouch (or tray) for use in a gas grill. The reasoning for this they've said is so the pouch doesn't catch fire in your grill, and it prolongs the smoke.

Since I've been using charcoal, I haven't been sure either. I've been sprinkling both, but mostly dry, on the coals and I've thrown in both wet and dry chips into my Smokenator. Haven't used chunks yet but if I do, it'll be used dry.

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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by Peter » Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:25 pm

Jasper wrote:Some BBQ shows on the Food Network have said mix wet chips with dry chips in a pouch (or tray) for use in a gas grill. The reasoning for this they've said is so the pouch doesn't catch fire in your grill, and it prolongs the smoke.

As I said before, I use dry only now. I don't know if they catch fire and burn but if they did, that would give me the flavour I am looking for. As far as prolonging the smoke is concerned; I don't know where that is coming from. The only smoke I am interested in is the clean thin blue smoke which comes from burning dry hardwood.
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by doogster » Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:41 am

I have a new Coockshack as well as the Masterbuilt, both seem like nice cookers. People have commented on little smoke using chunks in the woodbox of the Cookshack. I know I got tons of smoke from the chips in the Masterbuilt. Whataya think about a combination of chips and SMALL chunks? I've read gold ball sized is good to aim at.
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by Trev » Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:17 pm

By all means, use a mixture of sizes from chips to small chunks if you have them. I don't use chips anymore, only larger sized chunks as they last longer. Chips have a more narrow field of application, I believe, as they are combusted rather quickly.
Like the others here, I don't soak wood either. I think it causes more trouble than not. I saw a photo essay about this and after soaking wood for upwards of 24 hours it had only soaked ~1mm into the wood-- not enough to have any real effect. After all that soaking the wood would be dry within minutes. The absence of air will make the wood smoulder but if it's wet, or the fire's not hot enough, I think you'll run into a situation with white smoke and perhaps bitter flavour.
A lot of what I'm saying is personal opinion, but there's a little experience mixed in there too.
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by Peter » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:00 pm

Trev, I think what your gut is telling you is pretty good advice. The bitter taste we sometimes hear about can usually be traced back to moisture of some sort in the fuel IMHO.

You have a good point, too with suggesting larger sizes of flavour wood pieces. It makes good sense to me, too.

and don't forget to take pictures b3 :lol: :lol:
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by kevinv » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:26 pm

I usae a mix of 50% soaked wood and 50% dry wood chips for most applications.

Others I go dry 100%.

Both ways worked for me, and I get good taste both ways. just my 2 cents worth.

If you find it is not working for you, try just the dry wood. I have also found the type of wood affect the wet and dry way.

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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by doogster » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:07 pm

Think I'll go with dry, not having to soak has got to be one of the easiest ways to improve you Q.
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by HONCHO GREGORY » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:06 pm

Just wanted to add my 2 cents

I was told,, Why would you put water on a fire.
I was told that if you want more smoke flavor use green wood,
I know some that do in the business, with a gas smoker
Not for me, I use seasoned wood chucks, with no bark
We're happy with the flavor we get
But I was also told that there is many ways,
Try what you want, good luck
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by ROXY » Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:27 am

What are you using to make your BBQ.. A gas grill or a smoker..?? If its a grill I would use a mixture of 2/3 wet to 1/3 dry in the smoke pouch.. If its a smoker I would use the chips dry, straight up and add a good hand full every half hour or so.
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Re: Soaking wood for smoking

Post by doogster » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:18 am

It's a Masterbuilt electric smoker, I was adding a load every hour, guess it sounds like that's pretty average. Good to know mate. I did prefer it dry, the smoke had a less acrid smell. That was at 250, for chicken.
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