Should I soak my wood before smoking? If so, how long do I soak them?

by Mike White
(The Colony, Texas)

I've been grilling for years but I've never had a smoker. I now have a Brinkman smoker/barbeque. I'm getting ready for the Father's Day cooking and I want to try smoking.


Mike, it's arguable either way.

When I first started smoking using a charcoal fired smoker I'd soak the chips and place them directly on the coals. It worked great but I always found that the wood burned quite quickly.

If you do want to soak then I generally soak them for about an hour or so.

Since then I've built my own smoker and the system I use here is to place the wood chips (not soaked) in an old frying pan over a gas burner and this works fine.

Going back to my charcoal smoker I then tried unsoaked wood chips on an old flan dish placed directly on the coals and this worked a treat too.

So which do I prefer now? Well really it depends on whether I've cut the chips myself or bought them.

If bought, they can be quite small and so won't last very long without soaking. If I've cut them myself then I make them into larger chunks and in this case I generally don't bother soaking.

In summary, size matters!

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