Author Topic: Soaking wood chips and chunks  (Read 283 times)

Smokey

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Soaking wood chips and chunks
« on: September 19, 2016, 09:39:52 AM »
"Should I soak my wood in water?"
I see this question all the time and the responses usually field back to a US blog that states it is of no use to soak smoking wood. However this is not entirely correct.
The real question should be "When should I soak smoking wood?"

One myth is that wood does not take in water and that is why boats float.
Wood is made of radial and tangential cells of cellulose,  When it is cut water will penetrate the broken cell but slow down at unbroken cells further in.
Note the term "Slow down.  Wood does, in fact eventually water log.  The river beds of many logging states are covered with "Sinkers".  Logs that were transported downstream would eventually sink, Hence the term "Water logged".

Back to the boat argument.
Timber boat hulls are, And should be water logged.  It keeps the timber swollen and the planks sealed.  Take a timber boat out of the water and drain the bilge and the hull will dry up and open up its seems. Boats float because there is more volume inside the boat and not because of water impervious timber.

Taking this to the Barbecue and the real question of "When" should I soak?
Think of it as a technique.  Cut wood will only quickly soak a few millimetres over a 24 hour period.  That would be next to useless on a fist size chunk of hickory that you want smouldering straight away but dammed handy on 6mm thick chips that are to be used over a heat tray such as a Hark cabinet smoker.
One can start out with dry chips on the bottom and lace the top over with soaked, Giving an extended smoking time before they start to smoulder.

When using a Komado or WSM for low and slow, I will use BOTH soaked and un soaked wood chunks. The dry one on the hot coals and the wet one (soaked a week) to the side so that it resists catching light for as long as possible.
The approaching heat towards the wet/ soaked wood chunk will take more time to dry it to the flash point. 
If I placed the soaked wood Directly onto the lit fuel, It would white smoke so that is not a good idea.  However soaking is still a handy tool to use in spreading out the smoke session times, Particularly when looking is not cooking.  Every time you don't have to open a lid or door to add more smoking wood spice is a good thing.  :)
 
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 11:47:41 AM by Smokey »

Cobblerdave

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Re: Soaking wood chips and chunks
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2016, 01:03:17 PM »
G'day smokie
Not a big charcoal user so I'm still learning.
Question When using lite and un lite charcoal /beads like in a snake method, could the soaked chips cause the charcoal not to catch due to it soaking up moisture?
Sorry still can't understand how you use the soaked chips properly.
Regards dave

Gus65

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Re: Soaking wood chips and chunks
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2016, 02:23:42 PM »
I only ever soak chips if I'm doing fish hot smoked. Makes sure there's plenty of smoke for the short cook needed for fish.

Snake method uses a much lower heat and doesn't have the thermal mass of a standard or indirect BBQ set up and would struggle to dry out the chips and the fuel to be maintain the temp in the BBQ necessary to continue the chain reaction to support combustion. (I could go all day on the science and chemistry of fire)
« Last Edit: September 22, 2016, 02:25:48 PM by Gus65 »

Smokey

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Re: Soaking wood chips and chunks
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2016, 02:40:08 PM »
That would be a classic case of when soaking is not required Cobbler.  The snake is already slow.  The fire is marching in only one direction.  There fore you can dial on the exact sprinkle of chips.  With your mini WSM however,  and using the minion method, Things can change.  You would be using Chunks rather than chips.  (or one should be)
Having one wet one in the wing while one dry one is taking it for the team in my experience,  Gives a seamless long smoke.  Particularly if doing an overnighter.   

Smokey

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Re: Soaking wood chips and chunks
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2016, 02:46:22 PM »
I only ever soak chips if I'm doing fish hot smoked. Makes sure there's plenty of smoke for the short cook needed for fish.

Snake method uses a much lower heat and doesn't have the thermal mass of a standard or indirect BBQ set up and would struggle to dry out the chips and the fuel to be maintain the temp in the BBQ necessary to continue the chain reaction to support combustion. (I could go all day on the science and chemistry of fire)

Yep, This put in anther way..  posted same time

Cobblerdave

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Re: Soaking wood chips and chunks
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2016, 09:42:23 PM »
G'day
Thanks for the replies.
Seems I was overthinking this one a little.
Can't wait to get a day off to myself and give a smoked chook a run in the mini WSM. I'll use the last of the coastal banksia nuts from NSW I have.
Havnt found a replacement in the local area as yet.
Regards dave