Soak or no soak wood chips?

Discussion in 'Grilling Tips' started by milliarium, May 9, 2014.

  1. Went through Jeff's eCourse and looked around the forum topics, but don't see this covered. Relatively new to smoking and I have always soaked my chips (propane smoker). Sooooo.....soak or no soak? +s...-s....looking for tip/opinions. Thanks in advance. :grilling_smilie:
  2. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    I have found little value soaking wood chips. Its done to slow the rate of smoke down by keeping the chips from catching fire all at once. I find it easier to use larger pieces to slow the rate of burn. With all that said you did not state what your using as a smoker.
  3. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    I have never used that smoker but would think you could wrap your chips in aluminum with holes poked in the top. That deprives the chips of air and keeps them from catching fire.
  4. Soaking them will produce steam before smoke. I see no purpose in soaking.
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would have to say that the general consensus on the boards is as Maplesticks said.

    I figure the reason for the soak is to delay the smoking processes start up. The meats is most susceptible to smoke from about 100 to 140 IT (internal temperature). By soaking the chips it allows the meat a chance to get started warming up first then its starts smoking. There are other perceived notions but to each his own. The above is mine.

    To counter this and improve the smoking, I normally allow an hours cooking time before I do two things, start the wood chips also puncture the meat with the probe. The probing time lapse is to ensure that good old 4 hr./140 IT rule. It just all goes together. Never much used a probe till here lately so had to learn all these thumb rules.

    You'll learn I ramble a lot.

    Now I answered your question.......... When ya get a min would you do me a favor. My memory is no longer than...... well anything else on my body. So I would ask if you would please Click on the "My Profile" icon on the above taskbar, at the very top. Fill in as little or as much as you'd care to share but please list where you hang your hat at night. See I could just ask, but my mind is starting to wander and I tend to follow in the wrong direction more and more these days. So instead of me asking a gazillion times, if you'll give me a general location then when we get into discussions are questions they will make a lot more sense. For instance; since Easter are you seeing the price of crawfish dropping where you are located? 

    Thanks I would really appreciate it.
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Soaking is only of value with Charcoal fires that the smoke is only needed for short bursts with frequent replacement or just to put a little flavor on the meat. There is a slight gain as the edges dry, the smoke begins and continues as the thicker interior dries out. There difference is small and requires 2-3 days of soaking to get any moisture penetration. In your gasser you will get a better result with Chunks or for the ultimate set and forget, get yourself an AMNTS Tube Pellet Smoke Generator from A-MAZE-N Product. Depending on size you can get several hours of continuous perfect Thin Blue Smoke (TBS) without fuss. Check them out at Have fun...JJ
  7. Thanks a lot for the tips, info & suggestions. I did a 4.5lb sirloin tip roast this weekend in my "gasser" (1st time I've heard that Chef JimmyJ). I did use pecan chunks and had a nice steady smoke for the 5 or so hr cooking time. I did soak them for about 30 min before, but that makes sense Chef that you'd need to soak a lot longer to penetrate. I used Jeff's rub and it turned out fantastic! Have a Maverick ET-732 (used the potato to keep the smoker temp probe up off the rack; great idea!) and the Thermapen instant digital thermometer. Got it up to about 150deg, I like mine medium well. It was juicy and nice and tender. We had a very nice Mother's Day dinner. And enough for tasty beef sandwiches for a few days! Thanks again! :grilling_smilie:

    Don't really understand what the acronyms mean in your signatures (OTBS? MES? AMNTS? Etc....)
  8. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Do wood boats soak up water?  Well wood chunks and chips don't either....well very little. 

    Next question is will wet wood combust to produce smoke?    Ummm NO
  9. Do wood chunks have waterproof paint on them?
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Don't really understand what the acronyms mean in your signatures (OTBS? MES? AMNTS? Etc....)

    Here you go...JJ



    Method of Smoking Baby Backs - 2 hours smoked - 2 hours wrapped - 1 final hour unwrapped


    Method of Smoking Spare Ribs - 3 hours smoked - 2 hours wrapped - 1 final hour unwrapped

    5 Day eCourse

    A 5 day email course on how to smoke meat


     Atomic Buffalo Turd - A stuffed smoked jalepeno pepper


    A-Maze-N Smoker


    A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker


    Beer Can Chicken


    Big Drum Smoker


    Big Green Egg


    Brinkmann Smoke King Deluxe


    Backwoods Smoker


    Cracked Black Pepper


    Camp Chef Smoke Vault


    El Cheapo Brinkman


    Extra Virgin Olive Oil


    A 1 pound chub of breakfast sausage turned into a smoked delicasy


    Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain Smoker


    Kansas City BBQ Society


    Memphis BBQ Network


    Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse


    Order of the Thin Blue Smoke, Members chosen for demonstrating advanced Smoking skills and a willingness to teach others.


    Post Hole Digger


    Images of Smoked Food.. usually makes you drool;-)

    Side Fire Box


    What Most of Us Endearingly Call The Smoking Meat Forums


    Smoke n Pit


    Thin Blue Smoke


    Ugly Drum Smoker


    Weber Smoky Mountain - Smoker


    Last edited: May 12, 2014
    phonedrn8 likes this.
  11. Got it! Thanks ChefJJ. Gotta print this out and keep handy. I notice y'all put your cooking toys in your signatures. Nice. I'll get to work on mine and have it done in the next couple of days. This is fun. Thanks! :grilling_smilie:
  12. shaggy91954

    shaggy91954 Meat Mopper

    I never knew meat was mostly susceptible to smoke between 100 to 140 degrees internal temp.  I'm a newbie learning new tricks just by scouring threads.  So does this mean that I shouldn't worry about a slow starting smoke or smoke that fizzles between these temps?  It's always drove me crazy it not to have smoke when i put the meat in. 
  13. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is no reason you should not smoke the entire time if you like. I simply said that I believe that 100 to 140 IT was the optimum temperature to abosrb smoke. I am not saying that it will not take smoke otherwise, only that the affects are supossedly diminisihed. If your max absorption is 100 to 140 IT, do you really need to burn wood or pellets otherwise? Sure if that is how you enjoy your smoking.

    I started waiting to smoke and probe the meat here. It allows for a good de-watering cycle when smoking cured or brined foods, as well as allowing the 4/140 rule and extra hour if a whole non-bone in muscle. Win/win. You save wood or electricity.... sounds l;ike a winner to me.
  14. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Foam, I"m pretty sure that the colder the meat is, the better the smoke absorption.  So, I'd question the 100, though I'm with you on the 140.  You'll still get smoke absorption after that, just not the same rate.
  15. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I am guessing I must be reading this wrong, but....... the colder the meat the less the absorption is how it appears to me. Hence the need for extremely long cold smokes to get good smoke and color say on bacon. Its why warm smoked is faster and easier as long as you can maintain less than 140 degrees so as to minimiumize the chance of either rendering the fat or changing the meat density.

    I don't live in a place where it gets cold, it was almost 80 here yesterday. So I can't claim too mufch experience with cold smoking. I know its not the reason but here's how I justify it. Its just like my skin, I have to warm up for my pores to open up, like me sweating. I dewater then the smoke can take the place of the lost moisture. But only so much until the pores are full. Its like grouting tiles, you can only put so much in. The first pass fills the most because there is the most empty area, each sucessive pass still adds some grout but as it proceeds you get diminished returns.

    The reason I use the 100 to 140 IT I believe I read those numbers originally on possibly one of Jeff's quotes. I knew from previous smoking that 24 hours of smoke was sort of wasting wood. Pop only used 100% wood back before charcoal. It just sort fit the operating conditions of the way I use my smokers, it works well enough for me, I assumed it was something I had already known but had not realized until reenforced by the boards here.

    Like I said it just seems to work right enough for me. And we all know how many different ways there are to do each and ever thing here. So I try never to claim that its my way or the highway, but I do pass on what I have realized with my smokes.
  16. beefy bill

    beefy bill Meat Mopper

    I found leaving them dry is better. I wrap the chip holder if foil and poke about a dozen holes in it. No flare ups and better smoke in my opinion. I use a gasser as well..
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2014
  17. No soak unless you are adding small fine chips for a quick short smoke (keeps them from burning). Wood chunks hardly take any water up and I believe the smoke is poor, bitter tasting.
  18. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    1- Yes they do if the wood is not protected by a high quality marine paint. I remember reading on Meathead's site that the reason wood is used to make boats is because it floats so well. Hogwash, wood floats like an iceberg, 90% of the wood will be underwater. Wood is a very poor material for boats.

    2- Ummm yes it will and it will smoke for a longer period of time than wood that has not been soaked, about twice as long as dry.
    1- Wood chunks will take up a lot of water if you soak them long enough and by long enough I mean days not minutes. My experiments led to a four day lower time limit in order to get proper moisture content. The smoke is neither poor nor bitter, the quality of the smoke is not compromised.

    I make these comments because I have done the research, find it here-
  19. Interesting, thanks. Though, several people said the flavor might be less.

    I've still noticed a lower quality smoke coming out of the grill; thick and white.

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