How Long To Soak Wood Chips

How Long To Soak Wood Chips


Do you use wood chips when you barbecue? If you do then you must be the type who wants that delicious smoky smell in meat. Smoked and roasted meat, fish and poultry rely on wood chips to get that crispy smoky flavor.

And most people who cook meat this away say that it is important to soak wood chips before these are used.

But how long do you soak them? Is this really necessary?

This short guide will help you find the answers.

How long must you wait to soak wood chips before these are used?

You got all your food and roasting equipment ready but there is just one thing. You forgot to soak your wood chips! Most that do soak their chips say that it will only take 10 minutes to soak for that dazzling smoky flavor.

There are studies that point out that solid chunks of wood absorb very little water despite soaking these for many hours. On the other hand, wood chips do take on more water because of their large surface area.

But some people quite disagree with soaking wood chips. When you place wet wood inside a smoker or grill, it would take time for this to smolder this is because water must first evaporate out of the wood.

This process happens at 212ºF or the boiling point of water until the water turns into steam. It is only when moisture has been completely removed from the wood chunk that it will begin to heat up and produce smoke to give your food that smoky flavor.

If you are using a charcoal cooker, soaked wood will only kill the fire and reduce heat. Interfering with heat and temperature inside the cooker can overall ruin the way you cook your food. Finally, many people who cook using a grill or roaster prefer to soak their woodchips before these tend to burn up fast. But there is a better way.

You can place dry chips inside an aluminum foil packet and poke holes on it to release the smoke. This prevents the chips from catching fire and burning up quickly. This will also improve the quality of the smoke.

Soaking wood chips in plank cooking

For plank cooking, you may want to soak the wood for a few hours instead of a few minutes. The plank won’t be able to absorb water but the moisture that the wood develops will prevent it from catching fire and burning up your food.

Smoking meats and using soaked wood chips

Smoking meat requires cooking food over a lower temperature of 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit for a longer period of time. This slow cooking technique gives food time to absorb all the delicious smoky flavors that you love in meat. If you are using a gas grill then it could be impossible to get the heat down to the ideal temperature range. This is why you must smoke on the lowest heat level the grill can maintain and reduce the cooking time.

For the best smoke, soak chips for at least 30 minutes. Drain the chips completely. Place these on the hot coals. Heat the wood chips for 10 minutes or until these start to emit smoke before placing food on top of the grill.

If you are using a gas grill, place the soaked chips in a smoker box or inside a piece of heavy-duty foil, and loosely fold it up. Poke six holes on the top to allow smoke to escape. Power on the burner at one end of the grill and place the pouch nearest to the burner. Now, place an aluminum foil pan with water and place it on the unheated side of the grill. Place the food directly on the top of t aluminum foil pan. Y

You can also experiment on different flavored wood like mesquite and oak. You must not use pine, spruce or other evergreen trees because these can give you an unpleasant smoke.


Basically, in roasting, smoking, and grilling, you want a clean burning fire with a sweet smelling smoke that is thin and blue. The reality is soaking is usually unnecessary and shows very little benefit to the flavor of food. Wood should be dry to smoke rather than steam, so you’re simply wasting time and H2O with soaking.

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