Soaking wood is a NO NO

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by cwalk, Jul 10, 2010.

  1. teesquare

    teesquare Fire Starter

    Soaking is a waste of time. And as some good posts have pointed out SOME of the reasons:

    1. The water does not penetrate into the wood more than about 1/4'', and then when placed in the heat - the moisture evaporates before it can do any good.

    2. When you introduce any moisture this way - you risk adding black smudge to your meat, as you are moisturizing the smoke for the time that the moisture is being evaporated - not my idea of quality cooking.

    3.If you reasoning is that it keep the wood from flaring up - you need to reduce the amount of air passing thru the fire chamber, and you should re-think where you are positioning your wood.
  2. I never use seasoned or soaked wood.  Seasoned woods is dry, burns to hot and is hard to control and soaked just doesn't work for me on my stick smoker (Lang).  I always use what we call green wood, meaning the wood has not been cut down, split and allowed to dry out in a covered area for long period of time (seasoned).  I have some large Live Oak limbs that were cut in 4' lengths (4 months ago) that I cut into smaller lengths and split the day I start smoking.  I will start my wood box with seasoned wood to get the temps up and to build a coal bed, then feed the green wood to it as needed throughout the day.  I may be doing this all wrong, but I've been doing it this way for years and it has worked ok for me.   Thoughts?
  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Ice Daddy

    I guess most of us will disagree with you about using green wood.  You will need to run a hot enough fire that you don't have incomplete combustion and end up with a bunch of thick white smoke.

    You can control the amount of heat generated by seasoned wood by just using less of it.  As far as I am concerned I'd rather have to watch the problems with heat control and maintain a nice clean thin blue smoke.  We can close the damper to reduce the amount of available O2 and control the fire

    But I am a firm believer in doing what works for you so stay at it!
  4. I never soak my wood, but I'm cooking with firewood size pieces, do however soak hickory nut husks when using them because of their strong flavor.

  5. alblancher

    Green may be the wrong way to discribe what I'm using.  Seasoned to me is older wood, a year or more stacked an dried.  To me it has lost its character and is mostly used for fireplaces to produce heat or atmosphere.  What I use is dry, still has a nice woody color to it that produces a great consistant smoke.  I usually cook around 210 an try to maintain that.  Smoke is not white, and at times can hardly be seen.  I'm guess I should do better in my discriptions.  Sorry

  6. They (the chips) do seem to last a few minutes longer in the MasterCraft if I presoak them . . . but only a few minutes.  Maybe it's because they stick together better and I can get more of them in.  Some of it may be in the form of steam, but it's steam with a bit of smoke to it.  Overall, I don't get concerned if I forget to soak my wood chips.  The step is not important enough to put on my check list.

    I've tried wood chunks of equal size in my Weber, one soaked and one not.  I couldn't tell them apart a couple hours into the smoking.  Both were down about the same.  If anything, more white steam initially.

    I'm looking for ideas to kitbash my MasterCraft so that I have a better intake of air toward the bottom.  I tried just using a big old thick 4 pronged fork and it worked for a bit before the pellets went out on last night's turkey.   I'm thinking something along the lines of the following photo, only using how many pipes are necessary and wedging them into the bottom of the door seal to suck in air.


    Anyone have any solutions along these lines?  I've tried Todds method of cracking open the heat chamber door and pulling out the wood chip tray a half inch.    At best, the results are inconsistant.  Maybe two successful pellet burns out of the last 10.  I'm watching my pellets harder than I'm watching my smoker.
  7. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    No appology necesary Ice Daddy

    What you are saying makes sense.  I look for the wood to have a ring to it and to have lost a considerable amount of weight.  I can honestly say that most of the wood I use has been drying for about 6 - 8 months.  I agree, anything to0 dry will just burn up
  8. Have any of y'all tried persimmon or sassafrass? Our farm , like most places in the south is over run with persimmon trees, i've found them to have a fine flavor with pork , chicken, and beef when mixed with the right combinations of woods. Sassafrass has a sweet flavor to it and it don't take much but , just the right amount is a great compliment to the regular combination. And , like Ice Daddy said, aged wood is my favorite, i find greener woods to carry too much creosote and tar with em.

  9. I only ever get wood from these folks here They say to not soak their wood at all because they cut it for you when you place your order. All the natural moisture and sugars are still present in the wood. It doesn't flare up, and the tiny bit of steam that evaporates into the smoker acts like a steam bath for the meat. If your using a water pan in your smoker I don't see how a little more steam would hurt. Now, if your using wood that's been on the shelf of the local Depot for who knows how long I would think that the majority of the moisture within that wood has evaporated by the time you buy it.

    IMHO, everyone does things a little different than their neighbor and if we all smoked with the exact same smoker, using the exact same rubs and the exact same methods then how would we be able to call it our own?  Whatever works for you and your set-up is the right way to do it. I just find that we've only ever used wood that was not aged, or allowed to dry out, and our results have always been fantastic. Again, whatever works best for you is the best method for you.
  10. teesquare

    teesquare Fire Starter


    You are a lucky man to have some nice and more unusual wood resources readily available.

    But - before the assumption that green wood = tar and creosote, please examine how much of it you are using on the fire. As an example - one of Mike Mills "secrects" is to throw a split or two of GREEN apple wood on the coals for a nice, sweet smoke without it being too much of the volatiles that are often thought of as "creosote" or "tar". That really should not be a problem if done in moderation.

    As humans - we all tend to default to the "if a little is a good thing - a lot will be better" mentality. But, just as I am sure you know from tasting a lot of BBQ - it is the BALANCE of the input flavors and the balance of contributing factores that create the difference in "good" BBQ - vs "great".

    Most of us can cook good BBQ. A few can cook great BBQ.  The difference might sound small - but the actual experience when you taste it is almost transcending. And - it is usually attributed to a number of small things - like the specific wood and age of that was chosen, temps, rate of air flow, etc.....


  11. kows

    kows Newbie

    I kinda agree,I mostly use large pieces of apple and hickory in my comp.rig.If I feel my wood is or appears to be real dry I will soak 50% of the wood.If the wood is to dry it seems to want to just catch on fire and that's not going to give you much smoke ether.But if you get your wood to wet your meat will cook out of that smoke range before your wood gets going.It a balance.
  12. domapoi

    domapoi Smoke Blower

    WASTE OF RUM!!!!! I would filter the rum back into a clean glass container and reuse it with some Dr. Pepper! Nothing like a good Rum and Pepper, mmmm! I wish bars would stock Dr. Pepper. Great to spray on ribs during smoking too! Anyway, I digress, NEVER waste the rum!
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  13. The only time I've ever soaked them was when using large chunks and placing them directly on coals while Q-ing.  Otherwise have always enjoyed success with dry so never changed up in the smoker.
  14. I think it depends on the wood sizes, blocks or chips. I do find that I get longer lasting smoke from soaking my wood chips.

    Would everyone agree that a fruit tree wood may be softer than let's say an oak .  Softer burns faster, so soaking may be an advantage. I always soak my fruit tree chips. I am working on modifying my propane vertical smoker by adding a side fire box so I can do the charcoal thing smoke. Then I will use chunks. I' will test at the time.

  15. I have an insulated big box propane smoker with 2 chip trays, I soak one trays worth of chunks.  The first tray starts smoking within 20 minutes and lasts about an hour, then by the time the water evaporates/burns off/dries, etc... on the wood in the second tray, they start smoking.  Doing it this way gives me fairly consistent smoke for up to 2.5 hours. 
  16. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I'm liking the sounds of this site for wood... Anybody else ever try them ?
  17. Never soaked but not opposed to.....usually have to grill in a hurry so it's wood dry hardwood all the way.

  18. yackey

    yackey Newbie

    I soak mine in beer {ginus) and coffee. one can to 12 cups works real good.  I do let the wood drain so it is just damp
  19. stlbassman

    stlbassman Fire Starter

    32 hours or 3.2 hours?  

    Here's my wood setup...   24/7 soak bucket thingy... underneath the bigs chunks of apple wood are small pecan chunks... [​IMG]

    I soak my "gourmet" chips 30-60mins and mix with pecan chunks... I add more chunks as needed during the smoke. 

    bigfatdaddys likes this.
  20. Well spoken.  Thank you.
    bigfatdaddys likes this.

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