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Soaking wood is a NO NO - Page 6

post #101 of 124

Thankfully, we're only blowing smoke and not burning heretics.  It would be just my luck to get one full of piss and vinegar and he would stall at 160 for eternity.

Originally Posted by choctaw View Post

This is a lot like talking religion: everyone has their own interpretation of what it all means. The same cook can move from one grill to another and his whole strategy changes. I have my old reliable "big trailer smoker" and am building a new trailer unit. They are like day and night as far as wood goes. Basically the same design but one likes damp wood , the other doesn't care. The big unit will burn a wet mule if that's what you have to fuel it with. The new unit does best with drier woods. Then again, it depends on whether you are cooking long and slow or toasting buns. Just keep the fire burning and you will find your happy spot.


post #102 of 124

I also soaked some sawdust in rum. It smelled nice while cooking, but didn't really make much difference to the taste of the meat, the overriding taste was the wood smoke. They sell Jack Daniels Soaked Pellets here, It has a bourbony smell, but didn't seem to translate into the meat. Still tasted good tho. I think i am gunna stick to drinking the rum while i watch it smoke. 

post #103 of 124
Originally Posted by alelover View Post

Thought this to be interesting.


The Combustion Process of Burning Wood

  1. Wood heats up to approximately 212 oF (100 oC) evaporating the moisture in it. There is no heating from the wood at this point
  2. Wood solids starts to break down converting the fuel gases (near 575 oF, 300 oC)
  3. From 575 oF to 1100 oF (300 - 600 oC ) the main energy in the wood is released when fuel vapors containing 40% to 60% of the energy burn
  4. After burning fuel vapors and evaporated the moisture, only charcoal remains burning at temperatures higher than 1100o F


From http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wood-combustion-heat-d_372.html


This interesting too.


Cool.  I love people who possess this kind of knowledge.  From this process, I can see that my process involves not getting the wood temperature to the point where the remaining charcoal (carbon) burns, and keeping O2 out of the chips retards the complete combustion of the wood.  I am always left with black charcoal, rather than white, powdery ash.  That's when I know my keilbasa or what ever I'm smoking will taste and look the best. In my mind, soaking the chips just retards the process and makes the color of the meat less pleasing or professional looking.  I do not know of any professional sausage makers who soak their chips, and, after trying both over the years, it does matter. Done properly, dry chips in a closed container with only holes  to let the smoke out and no O2 in,  gives me better flavor and color. 

post #104 of 124

  Well I am new and wanting to learn more about this. It makes sence to me that soaked chips or wood would in deed create a better smoke flavor. The dry wood can make fast smoke but burn up alot quicker.I want smoke to last longer so I think I will start out and try to soaked wood first.  But that does not mean it will be the right move. But ready to learn.

post #105 of 124

On our BGE we use chunks. As long as the rest of the wood is just smoldering and I have the absolute minimum air flow the chunks don't flare if dry. If I put the chunks in wet, soaked over night or longer, it takes quite a while for them to smoke. I have always thought that if you want a smokey fire you limit the air flow, not use wet wood...

post #106 of 124

When I started grilling Weber instructed to soak wood chips or chunks min 30 min if using for indirect cooking. I found this works if you are using them over charcoal and placing them over the hot coals.


I have recently found when using the snake method of charcoal in my weber that if I place a few dry chunks over the unlit coals as the snake progresses the chunks smoke quite nicely. I've done more than a few pork butts with good results.


However I've found that with the chips all of which were purchased at the local home center to need a soak or they burn up over a few minutes with hot coals. The chunks didn't seem to matter unless they were on the small size. I usually have some of the chunk left over as hardwood charcoal for the next time as well.




post #107 of 124

I got my smoker going for the fist time on Sunday.  I had just built my smoker the last few months.

I got the FB going with some Maple I have, then added some oak.  When it got up to temperature, I added some Cherry logs.

The smell of the Cherry burning smelled just like my Dad smoking a pipe with Cherry tobacco years ago.  Brought back memories.

I did not soak any of my wood, but used the damper to cut the airflow, which smoldered the fire, producing lots of smoke.

I originally thought I would have a problem with not having enough smoke, because when I built my smoker, I cut the chimney hole to seen, and didn't have room to insert the chimney pipe down to the lower grate in the smoker.

It doesn't matter if your chimney is welded at the top, or inserted all the way to the bottom of your smoker.

I had tons of smoke pouring out my chimney.  Looked like a locomotive all day, and I smoked 2 Boston Butts.

Had 20 pounds of meat going for 10-11 hours, then 1.5 hours to cool down to pull.


This picture is 6 am, just getting going.


post #108 of 124

I never liked soaking wood either. To me, it is like using green wood, it produces a "Green" smoky taste to the meats. I have learned that wrapping the wood chunks or small limb pieces in about four wraps of heavy duty foil, seal it tight, then poke 2-4 10 to 12 penny nail size holes in the top of the foil packet works very well, and when the wood is finished producing smoke, the rest usually turns to charcoal for the next BBQ. May not work for everyone, but to me this produces the next best smoke after an actual fire made with good wood.

post #109 of 124

I no longer soak my wood chips, or chunks whichever I have on hand. I use a pie tin covered in tin foil with a hole opposite the burner side, that way I can slide the "chip pan" on or off the burner as needed to generate the exact amount of smoke I want. I have a MB 40 propane smoker, and when the smoking stops, all I have left is good charcoal to be used for something else. I have only done two mods to my smoker, one is the pie tin chip pan, and the other is using a 13x9x2" baking pan as a water pan. I did not not modify the factory water pan rack. By using the pie tin and the larger water pan, I have gone as long as 2 hours before needing a refill of either one.

post #110 of 124

Soak em if you got em !!!!!th_wsmsmile0ly.gif

post #111 of 124


Nice looking offset smoker! I'd love to see more photos of the details of the build if you care to share?


Oops sorry! I just found the other thread with all the build details! Very nice work!

post #112 of 124

Back on topic, here's a little experiment I did a couple of years ago-



post #113 of 124
I always soak my chips for 20 minutes, quick pat dry then into the smoker. I do not soak bigger stuff.
So far I've had the deepest smoke rings I've seen, accompanied with smokey smokey flavor. I add wood/water ever hour on the nose. I also use the "woody water" in my smoker.
post #114 of 124

HI Marc,


What type of fish do you smoke and how do you determine it is done.


I'm always go back and forth with smoking fish. Never smoked them for 3 hours, mostly 8-12 hours.

post #115 of 124

I don't think you need to soak any wood if you are using an Off-Set smoker.

Originally I was going to build a Reverse flow, thinking I needed that for the extra smoke.

Then I made the mistake in the placement of my chimney stack, which prevented me from inserting it near the bottom grate. (Only inserted 4 inches)

I'm a Newbie here, but what I've found from only using my smoker twice now, is it's all in the Damper.

Once I got the fire up to temperature, I threw in some Cherry logs, closed the damper to within a 1/2 - 1 Inch opening, and it smoked all day.

HEAVY Smoke!  I would check the internal temperature inside the smoker every half hour to make sure I had it near 250.

A couple of times I had to open the damper for maybe 1-2 minut2, to get the temp back up, and the logs inside would roar to life, then close the damper again for a few hours until I needed another log.  Once my fire was going, I only used 8 small cherry logs, 4" in circ.  Those lasted all day, on a bed of maple/oak coals.

post #116 of 124

I always build my fire with dry wood. Get a great bed of coals & put the wet/soaked wood on top of that to generate smoke. More dry wood later to keep the fire going, more soaked wood later to keep the smoke going. I thought that's the way everybody did it.

post #117 of 124

Soaking Chips has some limited value when using them on Charcoal like in a Weber Kettle or BGE, to add some flavor for a short smoke but wet wood does nothing but delay the smoke, until they dry out, in an Electric or Gas Smoker. In any smoker that will be used for a long cook, over 1-2 hours, the goal is small amounts of light Thin Blue Smoke for a long time. Tons of white smoke over a long time will give a bitter flavor. To get long TBS with Charcoal, dry chips or chunks in a foil pouch with a few pencil size holes does the job nicely. Or for even more control and long TBS the A-MAZE-N  AMNTS pellet fired tube smoke generator is a great choice...http://www.amazenproducts.com/ ...JJ

post #118 of 124

Thank you, Chef JimmyJ! I never knew that. This is why I joined the forum though. I am not a seasoned smoker by no means so I appreciate the thoughts of those who are. Thanks again CJJ!

post #119 of 124

It's an old wives tale that you should soak wood before using it for smoking. I have a 25-year old Big Green Egg and a newer Smokin-It #2 electric smoker. I never soak the wood and get great smoke flavor on all of my food.


I've found the trick with both types of cooking is not to over-do it with smoke. Remember that meat, chicken and fish absorb the most smoke when they're raw. Once they start to cook and the fiber starts to tighten up, less and less smoke flavor makes it through. You do end up with a nice layer of creosote if you use too much wood, and that ruin the flavor of whatever you're cooking.


Even for a long smoke (brisket or pork butt), be careful of using too much wood. Remember that the bulk of the flavor is created at the beginning of the cook, not the end. That's why so many chefs start cooking low-and-slow on the BBQ of choice, and finish cooking in an oven.


Happy smoking!

post #120 of 124

Thanks for the post and the thread. As a newbie to smoking I have read pro's and con's to soaking the wood. I do believe I will not try this. Or at least not until I have a lot of experience under my belt.

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