Soak the wood?

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Original poster
Jan 7, 2007
My wife got me a CharGriller smoker with side firebox for christmas/hannukah. Great lady, huh? I have never used a smoker before. The manual says not to soak the wood or it will soot all over my food, but various web pages and friends tell me to soak it. I have some hickory chunks and some applewood chips. I think that I am going to buy a picnic today and put some mustard and rub on it tonight, then smoke it tomorrow. Who's right? Should I soak the wood or not?
SCG congrats on the new char-griller. Soaking seems to be a preference, many people soak the wood, some don't. I rarely soak mine. You may stop by the chat area and drop a line to get a quick answer.

Keep Smokin
I only soak small chips when I'll be cooking at higher temps like for beer can chicken. For low and slow I don't soak. But then again, I only use chips for beer can chicken. They soak up the beer quicker.
Welcome to the forums shortchubbyguy. I wouldn't soak your chunks. You want them to ignite as quick as possible and that just delays it, makes them smolder, and makes steam more than anything.

Why don't you drop in at the Roll Call section of the forum and give the guys a chance to give you a proper SMF welcome.
There is never a need to soak wood, if your using chips when grilling make foil bag fill with chips, seal and poke a couple holes in the bag. The chips won't burn and last longer than soaked chips.
If you have to ask, then don't soak them. Its easy to mess up when soaking your wood and turn your food black and foul tasting.

Seems there are two kinds of smoke. Smoke from smoldering wood is thick and white while smoke from cleanly combusting wood is thin and blue. Thin and blue is what you want coming from your smoke stack, but that can be achieved also by smoldering a few wood chips as opposed to burning one chunk or log.

Soaking your wood will make it smolder instead of burst into flames. I think that it is a good method if you have very little wood to use, like for instance if you have to purchase your smoking woods by the bag from the hardware store. You can make a bag of wood chips smoke for a long time if you soak them and only burn a few at a time, just enough to keep a thin blue ribbon of smoke coming from your exhaust.

But I can't help but think that there is something different between smoldering smoke and cleanly combusting smoke, besides the density and volume of smoke generated.

In my opinion, its better to keep a cleanly combusting fire rather than a smoldering one. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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