Soaking Wood Chips for Smoking and Grilling

There is a lot of debate about soaking wood chips for smoking and wood chunks for grilling. Soaking the wood in water can help keep the wood from catching on fire and helps to make the wood last longer. Wood can also be soaked in wine, whiskey, beer and other fluids to add flavor.

Should You Soak Wood Chips or Chunks in Water?

Many people swear by soaking wood with water before putting it on the grill or in the smoker. Others say it is a waste of time and not necessary. Critics claim that unless you soak the wood for weeks, in most cases only a thin outside layer of the wood will absorb the water and it will be completely dry inside. Once in your smoker or on the grill, the water quickly evaporates and the wood will be just as dry as if you hadn’t soaked it.

In some cases green wood might be a better alternative than soaked wood if you want it to last without flaming up. Using green wood can vary between species. Some will not have the same flavor between green vs. seasoned.

Cooking is an art and a lot of the time it’s a matter of trying things and finding out what works for you. It is no different when you are cooking with wood.

Keeping your smoking wood dry and ventilated is important when storing it, especially with chips. Moist wood can rot, mildew, grow mushrooms, or all of the above. As wood degrades, it can change the flavor. Some go as far as to store their smoking food in a dark place to preserve it. That sounds a little extreme to me, but maybe there is something to it.

Post your experience and opinions of soaking wood chips and chunks below. What are your favorite things to soak the wood in?

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