I'm about to do my first smoke! I'm really excited but ive been looking at different blogs and websites and stuff. It's kinda confusing me on how to approach the whole adding wood chips stage. Ive heard people who just straight up add the wood chips. Some people say to soak it for 30mins or so before adding it and some people say that i need a smoke box. Does the different technique change the smoke flavor? Or is it just a preference thing and it doesent really matter?
Best technique for smoking wood chips
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That's the Brinkmann split-door square vertical charcoal smoker. Charcoal fired smokers are a bit easier to get the smoke you want than many electric or propane rigs, but chips are touchier than chunks. I prefer chunks for a charcoal fire, as the larger pieces have less surface area by weight, so they ignite more slowly. You'll need to position chips slightly away from the fire to get them to smolder without bursting into flame, and using a metal container can help to reduce the amount of air getting to the smoke wood when using chips. Less air = less smoldering/burning = longer smoke time. Finding a sweet spot close to (or in) the fire where you get enough, but not too much heat for the smoke you like is the only real trick with charcoal and chunks.
Don't sweat the color of the smoke, either. Even if you're shooting for a thinner smoke, the wood will always smoke white at first (this is water vapor and some volatiles flashing-off), and usually is fairly heavy, depending on how much wood you use. If you find that white smoke is to your liking (gives the flavor and intensity you want) for a particular size and type of meat (or other food), roll with it. There's a lot of science behind smoking, but when the smoke clears, it really comes down to one thing, and that is whether or not you liked the flavor of the smoke. Learning how to change your smoke to achieve what you like best with various foods is the fun part. Different species of smoke wood and various types and amounts of smoke can have widely varying results in the smoke flavor on your food. Heavy smoke for extended periods may not be desirable as it can cause a very strong flavor, but for some, that's their ticket to smoke paradise...finding yours will be your personal challenge, and only you will know when you get it how you like it.
Ditto...I used to soak years ago, then I learned that it really doesn't do a lot for you except delay the onset of actual smoke while you wait for the steam from the smoke wood to end...LOL!!! But, that's not to say that soaking smoke wood doesn't work, it just didn't give the results I wanted...your mileage may vary, and some find it is a viable option for their smoker and to achieve the results they want to see and taste. Try it if you want, then try without soaking...then you can make better informed decisions based on personal experience and not just another guy's opinion. Again, I don't soak my smoke wood, but that's just me.
Enjoy your (soon to be) addiction to smoking!!!
Got busy for a couple days and missed this...
Yes, if you get them into a box, can, aluminum foil...anything to reduce the amount of oxygen getting to the wood, will slow down the burn for longer smoke time. Chunks will burn slower without much trick-playing, but if excessive heat gets to the smoke wood, even chinks can run away on you.