BBQ FAQ Section 7.8


7.8 Using chips and chunks for smoke


[Can you tell me the best way to use chips and chunks of smoking wood in my charcoal smoker?]


If you are using charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal to fuel your smoker, you must use chips or chunks of a suitable hardwood to give your meat the smoky flavor necessary for barbecue. Some List members like to soak the chips and chunks in water before adding to the smoker, some use them dry. Some members like to use an aluminum bag/log to hold the chips, some just toss them on the coals. You will need to experiment and find the best way to add the smoking wood for your situation. You can use chips and chunks from all the smoking woods: hickory, oak, pecan, mesquite, fruit woods, grapevines, etc. Chips and chunks of these woods are available in barbecue stores, supermarkets, and places like WalMart, HQ, and Home Depot, as well as through mail-order houses. Don't buy too many chips or chunks at one time, as they tend to dry out and lose their flavor components. Buy what you need for one barbecue season.

Chips can be used by tossing onto a charcoal fire or onto the heated plate in a gas-fueled smoker. Most List members recommend soaking the chips in water for 30 minutes before using. Chunks of hardwood burn slower and last longer and are best in off-set firebox smokers using lump charcoal for fuel. Chunks are also good in electric pits where lava rocks are not used.


Hung Pham-

I have had pretty good experience with chips this way: Build a very well-sealed aluminum foil bag/log about 1" x 2" x 3" and fill it with chips. Punch a very tiny hole with a needle on top and one on bottom. Place the aluminum 'log' right on the coals or in an electric smoker, next to but not touching the element. In a gas-fueled smoker, place the aluminum log on the lava rocks or the heated plate. Plenty of smoke will start in about 10 minutes and then will keep going for close to an hour. After that, I stick the aluminum bag with a knife to make a bigger opening. Plenty more smoke will come out for at least another hour. I used to just throw the bag away after the first hour and wasted a lot of wood chips.

Soaking the chips in water will extend the smoking life. If you throw dry chips onto the hot coals, they will usually flame up and last only 20-30 minutes. Soaked chips will last an hour or so.

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BBQ FAQ Ver 1.0, 2.0 1997, 1998 William W. Wight. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 25, 1999
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