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.