Wet Vs. Dry Wood Burn Comparison

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by meateater, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Some say wet some say dry, I figured I would do a little myth bustin. I bought a new bag of apple chunks and looked for two about the same weight and shape. The heavier one will be the dry burn .242 pound. I soaked the lighter one .216 pound dry weight for 24 hours. Final weight after soaking was .330 pound for a gain of .114 pound. Next I got a good bed of charcoal going and placed the chunks side by side, wet on the left, dry on the right. First pic is right on the coals and then 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 60 minutes, and 150 minutes. After 20 minutes the dry chunk was pretty much burn’t up and created Thick White Smoke. I discarded it and let the wet chunk go ahead, it was creating a nice wisp of TBS and was sweet smelling. This is not a post to start a flame war, it’s just a Comparison. You are more than welcome to start your own. I actually encourage it. 










    cliffcarter likes this.
  2. I have always done the wet and got a longer burn. Mostly i do elect smoker and sawdust or chips though. Very interesting comparison though.

    Thank you

  3. rowdyrawhide

    rowdyrawhide Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Vert interesting!!  Thanks for taking the time and photos for comparison.  You definitely have me thinking now.
  4. smokinal

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

    You got me thinking too Meat!

    I have always used dry chunks, but now will try both ways and see how it works.

    I think the key here may be soaking them for 24 hours, instead of a couple of hours.

    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011
  5. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member



  6. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    3.872oz is the weight of the dry chunk

    3.456oz is the weight of the wet chunk before soaking in water

    5.28oz is the weight of the water soaked chunk

    1.824oz is the weight of the water added to the water soaked chunk

    The water soaked chunk increased in weight by 53%


    Will all apple wood chunks of this size add this much weight, by percentage, when soaked in water for 24 hrs?

    Do all types of smoking wood, in chunks of comparable size, add this much weight when soaked in water for 24 hrs?

    Is increasing a wood chunks dry weight by 50% by soaking in water the optimum for producing TBS using your method of placing the chunks directly on the coals?

    Will adding 25% weight by soaking in water produce the same results?

    How much water is added by weight with soaks of 12, 36, 48 hrs? How do these perform?

    Do soaked chunks perform the way they do in your method when used in the Minion Method? 


    For a more accurate comparison you should have put them on the coals seperately IMHO, in order to see how each one did without any possibility of influence from the other.

    I bury the wood chunks in the charcoal when I use the kettle for smoking rather than just laying them on hot coals, if you had done this it would,IMHO allow the dry chunk to preheat and perhaps eliminate the white smoke. For the record the chunks I use are smaller than your chunks by about 1/3. I generally use 4 of them when smoking on the kettle and don't have a problem with thick, white smoke.

    IMHO your results indicate that by soaking the wood for 24hrs you eliminate the need for using more than 1 chunk of wood.

    Good job, you've really got me thinking [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011
  7. Now for the next test. soaking in wine, beer apple juice etc etc.

    I have use all the above including the water and i do think it is best with soaking and i do think each adds its own flavor. I have also been told it is all in my head.


    What the heck i feel better doing it.

    Tnx again Meat

  8. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for looking.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2011
  9. I've read up on this somewhat from a website that sells "gourmet wood" smokinlicious.com .  The basic theory is that the longer your wood sits around, the more it dries out, especially if you are in a dry climate.  There is a sweet spot in moisture content according to them.  Here's the link to the table about whether your wood needs to be soaked, the amount of time needed to re-hydrate to the proper moisture content and the likelihood of the re-hydration efforts. Generally, if the moisture content of the wood is in excess of 20% you generally don't need to re-hydrate.  Of course, unless you regularly install wood flooring, most of us don't have $395 wood moisture meters  
  10. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Very difficult.  Impassioned positions on both sides. 

    Time to burn?

    Amount of smoke?

    Most importantly, quality of smoke?

    Good luck and good smoking.
  11. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I say post your own results folks. If chips work for you tell us how. I just found a recipe that works for me, that's all. [​IMG]  I'm curious to the results with different smokers and chunks or chips, that's all. 
  12. I sometimes forget to soak and if you don'[t do it for long enough it doesn't help any way. What I do when I don't soak is to wrap the chunks in foil with breathing holes to allow the smoke to escape. They smolder well that way for me. I like the test, thanks for the side by side pics.
  13. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

  14. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

       Thanks for the comparison;however I will continue to do what I do,and think a while on that one[​IMG]I have soaked a few times and always got clouds of white smoke.Maybe I use too much wood this way,but it works for me[​IMG][​IMG]
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Very interesting Meat !

    I always recommended not soaking chips used in the MES, because I never noticed any difference, but I never soaked them that long.

    Maybe if people soak them longer, like you did, it would be worth it.

    I think you have some good points for those who use chips & chunks------But now I just keep my Dust & Pellets dry.

    Thanks for a great thread!!

  16. How long do you think it would take chips to soak through as well as that? Obviously chips are going to soak through much faster... 12 hours enough? 6? Less? I have been soaking mine (been using chips) for an hour or so, feel like theres a difference in longevity of burn but it could be in my head.
  17. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I have noticed that chips behave differently in my watt and charcoal UDS's. Chips tend to absorb water instantly and take a while to smoke in my watt burner as compared to my charcoal UDS where they smoke almost instant. Just the nature of the beast. I have to say that all smokers work well, you just have to learn them. I soak chips for about five minutes or less. 
  18. menk45

    menk45 Fire Starter

  19. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Meateater, I am glad you posted this, its always a question of whether to soak or not to soak, and your post points out in some cases there may be a benefit to soaking in certain applications.

    I never soak and most likely never will, but my applications are different, I just put a huge chunk or 2 or 3 in my cast iron smoker box on my GOSM BB and will get TBS for several hours, here’s a link to my test.,
    The much sought after TBS aka Thin Blue Smoke (LESS IS MORE)

    When I use my Stick Burner Reverse Flow, Frank, I try not to get any visible smoke at all.

    When I do jerky in my GOSM I use an electric heating element with a Dutch oven pot and foil the chunks with a few fork holes.

    A method used for cold smoking (and I may be doing this winter) is a soldering iron and can, (and as fpnmf would say…use the handy dandy search tool).

    The fact that you conducted a test burn  with photos, shows other smokers the results they can achieve  for that specific application and there are quite a few different ways to achieve good quality smoke.

    It also shows other members that there is not a cure all answer for any one question like, To Soak or Not to Soak, because their specific application may be different.

    In the end we all want TBS, so to all my fellow smokers, find what best suits your smoker and your style of smoking and get that TBS!.


    Well done Meateater!

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  20. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    .... of course Meateater, if this was truely in the fashion of Mythbusters you would have blown something up at the end of it! Where's our explosion! [​IMG]  [​IMG]

    Thanks for the thead though.... will have to do some teststing with my WSM.
    oaklandathletic likes this.

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