Some of my old buddies argue that if you want some moisture in the wood, buy or collect it, a little greener. Much easier if you are looking for cherry, apple,. or peach wood.
I am more likely to soak my chips when I grill than when I smoke. It has to do with the higher temperatures. You want to soak wood chips when you’re grilling so they don’t burst into flames. When you BBQ, you’re trying to control the fire usually by controlling airflow. Wet wood really doesn’t help with that:
Now, old of my smoking cronies (the one who pours beer on the fire to keep it from getting too hot) thinks the water is a tool that can be helpful when people are just learning their smoker. It widens the margin of error for air flow.
The other reason for soaking your wood is to add flavor.
Dr. Smoke, a BBQ expert who is heard on radio station WOLV 97.7 FM in Upper Michigan and Gateway Country 99.5/106.7/98.3 in Ketchikan, Alaska, offers these tips on his website smokinlicious.
Whether you choose to use wood chips or chunks, the main idea is to sustain the burn time of the wood. These woods are used not as a fuel source but to impart natural flavouring into the foods your cook. We recommend soaking the wood chips in either hot water, wine, beer, whiskey, or any flavouring you wish to impart into the food. No, you do not have to use only water for soaking! Remember, what you soak the wood in will also reveal itself in the flavour of the foods being cooked. The soak time wil depend on the desired result. Dr. Smoke’s easy rule regarding the soaking time is … the stronger the flavour of the liquid, the shorter the soak time! So if your using a Merlot wine which has a strong flavour, you may only soak for 15 minutes. Using lemon juice, you may want to soak for up to 12 hours. Smokinlicious® wood chips have never been kiln dried! Therefore, rehydration and imparting of flavour will be very fast! Just drip dry the chips and you are ready to go!