There are so many tips and tricks that are recommended for smoking to achieve tasty flavors on your meat.
One of these is of course soaking your wood chips in an attempt to delay the smoking process so that you can get the right level of smokiness on your food. However, is there any merit to this trick?
Do wood chips need to be soaked in water before you use them?
Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about whether you should soak your wood chips.
We’re going to give you the pros and cons of soaking your wood chips so that you can decide for yourself which is the best method to take in your smoker.
Do You Need To Soak Wood Chips?
Soaking your wood isn’t a necessary step that you need to take to achieve tasty smoked meat.
This is because contrary to popular opinion, the water will need more than 24 hours to soak into the wood properly.
So if you soak your wood chips for an hour, this won’t be enough to create the steam that people are trying to replicate with this method.
It’s also worth noting that if you decide to smoke your wood chips, this will actually lower the overall temperature inside the smoker.
This means it will take even longer for the smoker to get up to temperature.
Your wood will need to burn for longer to get rid of that additional moisture before they can produce the smoke you need to flavor your food.
The only exception to this rule of course is if you are using the plank grilling method.
In this case, you will need to have soaked your wooden plank beforehand to make sure that there will be plenty of surface moisture to prevent it from catching fire while you smoke your chosen food.
Another factor to bear in mind is that the types of wood most people use to smoke their food aren’t all that porous.
So no matter how long you soak your hickory, cherry, or pecan wood chips for, they won’t be able to absorb this moisture because of how tight the wood grain is.
Does Soaking Your Wood Chips Have Any Benefits?
Sadly, the answer is not really. You may even find that by soaking your preferred style of wood chips before you start smoking, you actually lose some of that luscious flavor that you are trying to impart to your chosen foods.
This is of course because they will take longer to burn, and won’t be able to soak up all that moisture you’ve just spent the past 24 hours trying to get it to soak up.
If you’re trying to prevent your meat from burning because it will need to be in the smoker for longer periods of time, then you will be better off using a water pan.
This can help to increase the humidity of your smoker, and better control the overall temperature in the chamber.
Another great method for preventing your food from burning is to cover it in aluminum foil around 30 minutes before you finish smoking it.
Another factor to consider is that soaking your wood chips before you start smoking can make it incredibly difficult to get consistent results.
When Should You Smoke Your Wood Chips?
Some smoker connoisseurs swear by the soaking wood chips method for imparting additional flavor to their food.
But instead of using water, they will use other liquids that they want to flavor the meat they are trying to smoke.
The more popular liquids to use for this include beer, apple juice, wine, whiskey, and brandy.
You will need to soak your wood chips in your liquid of choice for at least 1 hour to ensure that it absorbs the delicious flavor that you are trying to impart to your preferred food.
However, you should be aware that this is often down to personal preference. Not everyone notices much difference when it comes to soaking their wood chips in different liquids.
To get the best results from this method of soaking wood chips, you will need to use two trays of wood chips: one that has been soaked in the liquid of your choice, and one that hasn’t.
By the time that your soaked wood chips start to smoke, your food will have been smoked for longer.
So this will give you much better chances of getting your meat flavored the way you would like it to be.
How Long Should You Soak Wood Chips For?
If you do choose to soak your wood chips, it will be important to get the right length of time for this process. If the wood chips haven’t been soaked for long enough, they will dry out much quicker.
Remember, it will also be best to use your soaked wood chips alongside a tray of dry wood chips, so that the meat starts to smoke before the soaked wood chips can steam it.
Wood chips will need to be soaked for several hours in your chosen liquid before you use them.
Most smoker enthusiasts tend to leave their wood chips to soak for at least 24 hours so that they can properly absorb the moisture.
The time your chosen wood chips need to be soaked will depend on their size.
Smaller chips that are roughly under the size of a quarter will only need to be soaked for between 8 and 12 hours in order for them to absorb all of that delicious moisture.
Larger wood chips will need to be soaked for 24 hours. In order to get the best results from your wood chips, you shouldn’t allow them to soak for longer than 24 hours.
So there you have it! You now know all there is to know about soaking your wood chips for smoking your favorite cuts of meat. Ultimately, there is no reason as to why you should soak your wood chips.
This can make results inconsistent, especially if you use different types of wood chips and soak them for differing lengths of time.
The only exception to this rule is of course with plank grilling. Soaking the wood is a necessary step that will need to be taken to prevent the wood from burning during the process.
You can soak your wood chips in different liquids, such as wine, beer, or apple juice, if you want to try to flavor your meat with different flavors. However, this isn’t a necessary step that you need to take.
Alternatively, you can place your chosen liquid in your water pan, and allow it to permeate your meat through evaporation.