The skinny on bark? Soaking chunks?

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
Jul 9, 2007
Orlando, FL
Ok, so I'm a little confused on the whole bark debate, seems to me that there are some woods where bark is ok to leave on and some not. Is there a good rule of thumb as to when to leave on and when to avoid?

Also, do you reccomend soaking wood chunks? Does it help them to smoke longer?
Some do, some don't. Try it both ways to see if you can detect a difference in flavor. Some say it ruins the smoke...

Another some do, some don't. When I first started smoking, I soaked them, but found it to be of little to no help. I noticed no difference in burning time. Seasoned wood doesn't soak up much water anyway, so if I were you, I'd forget the soak.

Hope this helps!
Thx for the tips Hawg, ordered some wood without bark on it, sounds like good quality stuff. I'll skip the soaking, with me lord knows the less variables the better!
If you are dealing with chips, I soak them. If you have chunks, then soaking is just a waste of water. My two pennys.
Doc -

With bark it seems to depend on the type of wood. I use alot of oak, hickory and mequite with bark and without I don't see a difference. I also use alot of cherry, apple, and apricot and DON'T see a difference. I have heard people say the light wood barks give off bad flavors but I haven't found it yet. Maybe I haven't used the bad wood barks yet?

As for wetting wood. I've done both. As AJ stated I'd dampen my chips and saw dust just to slow it down a bit but not my chunks. It only delays the time it takes to burn a bit - like a fuse. Put the wet ones near the bottom and it'll save you a bit a of time between refueling.

Good Luck!
I think that all soaking chips or chunks only adds steam to the mix. as far as the smoke is affected with bark, your guess is good as mine.
So Debi, you are saying that the bark imparts bad flavors in the light woods?fruit woods? Apple, cherry and the like?

I am excited to get a hold of something other than hickory! Cherry and maple on the way...
Sorry I'm am a bad typist. No I don't detect anything bad with the bark on anything I've smoked with but some people don't even like hickory and mesquite I do just use it lightly and don't try to test the fire department!

I will edit my last post - again sorry for the confusion!
In the past I used soaked chips in my indoor stovetop smoker. The stteam actually helped in the cooking process, while the meat absorbed the smoke flavor. Although I don't think you need a lot of steam whenever your smoking, it does help control the burn rate.
I try to knock the bark off but dont worry if I cant. Never could tell the difference.

As for soaking wood I want my wood dry to give me a clean burning fire that doesnt smolder. Get cleaner smoke that gives cleaner flavor. I used to keep a bowel of wet chips around for when my fire got too hot but that causes smoldering so I dont do it any more. Master the fire. Keep it clean.
I have not found bark to cause any problem.
I do not soak any wood, chips or chunks.
Works fine for me. (And THAT is the deal.)
Good post. I was just going to ask this question but here it is! My friend at work has a mesquite tree and just had it trimmed so I told him to drop off a bunch of the branches. It's 110 here... so I expect it to be ready, say, next week. I just didn't know if I should take the bark off. Excellent, bark on I say.

I like my stuff smokey, I did notice that using this rancher charcoal vs. the bbq galore lump I don't get as much smokey taste so I'm going to use some more chunks to make it even better.

Man, my old house had a mesquite tree too. They grow like damn weeds here in AZ. I would have had an infinite supply!!!
I don't think that even 110 is enough to dry wood out in a week. Any other wood burners here that can offer advice? I would hate to see you get a thick layer of creosote on the inside of your machine.
i found no taste(not suprised) in lump coal. if yer in az w/ 110 plus & 0 humidity- unless yer where it flooded- cut split mesquite should be ready in 4-5 months. i got a drying room i'm building & it'll still take a while for wood ( in kentucky- no skeet here)but home back in texas- not this wet year- ya can burn it right of the bush.just go by 1/2 for the creosote. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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