Now the debate of using soaked wood vs. dry wood has been going on for a long time, and you’ll find people on both sides of the fence. For me, I’ve always used dry wood for smoking.

In my style of cooking wood is used to produce smoke for flavoring the product. It’s not the main heat source; I use a hot bed of charcoal for that. But the type of smoke created is crucial for turning out quality bbq.

I want a wood that has been dried properly, so it creates Thin Blue Smoke (TBS) when placed over hot coals. (you can read my article about the “thin blue smoke” here >> )

Too much smoke is worse than none at all when it comes to BBQ and that’s what you get when you use wood with high moisture content.

Now people ask me all of the time “How much wood should I use?” For me it’s just a few chunks at a time. I start with a couple chunks each of cherry and apple. That yields about 45min of good, clean TBS.

Once those chunks are burned, I’ll add a few more. Thus allowing me to control how much smoke I’m producing at one time, so I don’t have to worry about giving the meat an over smoked taste.

People argue with me that “Soaked wood burns longer”, this statement may be true, but the smoke produced is not clean. The high moisture content keeps the combustion level of the wood down and the steam carries impurities of the wood with it.

So even though you might be increasing your burn times, your actually killing the taste of your ‘que because those impurities your steaming your meat with build-up on the outside and can give it a creosote taste (think lighter fluid).

If you want to increase your burn time, there is a better option. You just need to strategically place your wood in your fire box. Spread them out so as your coals burn, the wood catches and burns naturally with a good, clean “TBS” smoke.

When your wanting to produce Competition-Quality BBQ, using a quality wood is as important as the quality of meat you’re cooking.

Malcom Reed
Killer Hogs BBQ Cooking Team
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About the Author

I am Malcom Reed and my brother, Waylon, and I are the Killer Hogs competition bbq team. Here at, I want to give you my secrets, methods and techniques you need to produce competition-quality BBQ. I want to give enough detail for BBQ novices, but still offer information that is useful for the professional BBQ cooks. I only focus on REAL bbq. And I take it seriously.

6 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Josh Ludlam September 3, 2013 at 5:29 am -

    I have been watching your videos and studying your techniques for weeks now. This past Labor Day we had about thirty people over for live music. My first cook on the new offset smoker I built. Mimicking you videos I cooked two whole chickens six racks of ribs and a Boston butt. There wasn’t one complaint and the ribs were gone in 30 min after putting them out. I used store bought rub but look forward to trying THE BBQ RUB in the future. Thank you for your videos

  2. Administrator November 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm -

    Thanks for checking out the site!

  3. Jason November 21, 2014 at 8:58 am -

    Thanks for clearing this up big dawg.

  4. Peyton February 15, 2016 at 12:21 pm -

    Cool tip about not soaking the chips. I had always heard to soak chips but not chunks.

  5. Skillbilly BBQ March 9, 2016 at 10:45 am -

    It matters on what type of cooker I have a stick burner wet or dry works good .and if you are buying the wood where I live we have storms that make wood for us like 110 mile an hour you wood

  6. LeAnn Lewis March 2, 2017 at 10:03 am -

    We have a propane smoker, so I can’t set the wood chunks into the fire. Can I just put them in the wood box dry? My husband’s been following your directions, so far he’s tried a full slab of ribs and the beer can chicken. Tomorrow we’re going for the whole pork shoulder. Mmmm

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