Dizzy Tips: Should I Soak My Wood Chips?

Dizzy Tips: Should I Soak My Wood ChipsMyth: You need to soak your wood chips or chunks to get good smoke flavor.

This is a concept we have never been able to understand.

Have you ever tried to get a campfire going with wet wood?

If you do happen to get the fire going, you’ll find the smoke to be strong and bitter. Once the wood is dried out, it burns cleanly…

So why make it wet?

Using soaked wood is the easiest way to over smoke your food.

There is almost nothing good about the smell of wood that is trying to burn, but can’t. The smoke is brown and thick, it burns your eyes, and your meat only needs to be in that smoke for seconds before it lays down a nasty flavor on your meat that won’t go away.

So now you know what not to do, but what DO you do?

Getting a nice clean smoke

Use dry wood and don’t put your meat on until the smoke is burning cleanly.

Generally the smoke will start off as a brown or tan color, and as it dries the smoke will tend toward a blue color. Clean burning wood doesn’t always produce visible smoke, so you don’t need to see the smoke to taste it.

When in doubt, put your face in the smoke and smell. If it burns your eyes, smells strong, or has a tan or brown color then wait. Sometimes this will take a while, especially if you are bringing your fire up slowly for a low/slow cook. There are many factors that affect how your fire is burning, so be patient.

Once you get a nice clean smoke, your meat is ready to put on the cooker. Hopefully these tips will help to improve your results. Also, use milder woods like fruit wood on milder meats, and you can use stronger woods like oak and hickory on beef and pork. Poultry and seafood are especially easy to over smoke, and we’ve found that using only the smoke from your charcoal often provides the best flavor. Happy clean smoking’!


See our updated Dizzy Tips to nudge your grilling game up a notch.

Using Smoke as a Spice

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