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Hot, cold, or room temp...

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Post Sat Jul 17, 2004 8:16 pm
SRH_21 medium

Posts: 104
Location: Attleboro, MA
Ok, I could be thinking into this far deeper than it needs to be but, does it matter what temp the water is when soaking wood chips?

Post Sat Jul 17, 2004 10:09 pm
ThrRoff well done
well done

Posts: 999
Location: Washington, DC


I don't think it matters one bit. I fill a bucket from the garden hose.

Post Sun Jul 18, 2004 2:49 am
goldenbear medium-rare

Posts: 52
Location: Southern California
What is the difference between wood chips and wood chunks for smoking? I smoke my food with either Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes or Lump Charcoal and use wood chunks to smoke. But what would be different if I used chips instead of the chunks? Seems like the chunks don't soak water as well. Not sure if that makes a difference.

Post Sun Jul 18, 2004 5:38 am
DarkRubiTJ medium-well

Posts: 221
Location: Livingston, TX.
Now I could just say that chunks are bigger than chips, but I wouldn't do that. :)

The chunks take longer to soak because they have more surface area and water has to penetrate farther. I've never used chips and I'm in the no-soaker camp. My reasoning for a no-soak 'tude is when you are trying to maintain low tempratures why add something damp and cool to your fire. I'd rather just throw 'em in and add something damp and cool to my body. :D
Weber "Q", Weber Performer, Weber 22.5" Bar-B-Kettle

Post Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:39 am
snapshot0729 well done
well done

Posts: 366
Location: New Lenox, IL
SRH_21 wrote:
Ok, I could be thinking into this far deeper than it needs to be but, does it matter what temp the water is when soaking wood chips?

Here's the recommendation that I've read. You should use HOT water to soak the wood. The reasoning is that the higher temp of the water causes the wood fibers to open farther than with colder water. This in turn causes the wood to fill with water faster, and supposedly deeper into the fibers. Chunks or chips... Obviously the chips are smaller than the chunks. You're going to have many more chips on a fire than chunks. My reasoning of how this works would be then that wet chips will offer more smoke flavor (more surface area smoldering) than wet chunks, or either type dry (less smoldering and more burning). Now since I plan my grilling adventures more as an expected event than a last minute scramble, I've been known to put the wood on a soak for 24 hours before I'm going to need it. With that amount of time in the water I'm sure that the temperature is irrelevant. When it doesn't float anymore it's waterlogged.


Post Mon Jul 19, 2004 1:05 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 13157
Location: Texas
If using chips, I'll soak them, never worried about the temperature of the water though. Just make sure to soak them 15 minutes to an hour, longer is better.

Never soaked chunks since I only use chunks in a smoker. Smokers keep a low enough oxygen level to allow the chunks to burn without igniting into flames (with proper vent control). I've never had temperature spikes from chunks flaring up and always get good smoke so I don't see the need to soak them.

Post Mon Jul 19, 2004 1:50 pm
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
Having used chips and chunks soaked and non soaled my opinion is this.

Chips- Great for quick cooks and gas grills, must be soaked to prevent combustion. Remeber we want smoke no flames. Regardless these guys disappear fast.

Chunks - I use chunks in my offset or for long smokes on gas. I've yet to soak them because on low and slow cooking they have yet to flame up on me. But I have been considering trying to soak them just to get more smoke and time out of them.

Water temp. Beats me, but the whole hot vs cold explanation of SnapShot sounds good. I don't know if it works or is really necessary but it sounds good and I plan on trying for myself to find out.

Post Mon Jul 19, 2004 2:05 pm
MrEd rare

Posts: 19
Location: Utah, Central
I don't recall who posted it nor which thread it was posted in (maybe someone could help me give the proper credit to the correct person) but soaking a whole bag of wood chips and putting them in a zip lock and in the freezer has been one of the best tips I have read. That way if your like me and grill at the last second you can always have wood chips ready.

Post Mon Jul 19, 2004 2:27 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 13157
Location: Texas
MrEd I liked that tip too and I believe it was Yardburner (which I haven't seen around all month) that came up with that one.

Have a look at: Can wood soak too long? for more info.

Post Mon Jul 19, 2004 6:01 pm
BBQBean rare

Posts: 29
Location: Bear, DE
I always soak my chunks and chips. The one difference I've seen between the two is that you can control the smoke flavor more with chips by altering the amount or how often you put them on. I suppose you could do this with chunks too but it just seems easier with chips.

Post Tue Jul 20, 2004 4:10 pm
Airfoils well done
well done

Posts: 1063
I have nothing but charcoal grills and I use nothing but chunks. The only time I use chips is when I cant find that flavor in chunks. Since I use chunks, I eliminate the whole soaking question. Unfortunately, store bought chips come in a greater variety than chunks do. I use chunks for everything if I can and in some instances, fill my chimney with nothing but. More often then not though I'll fill half or more with lump and the rest with chunk. That all said, I suppose chips are cheaper in the long run since you are soaking them and using less. Still, as I said, if I can, it's chunks for me.

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