There are 2 types of wood for smoking: wood chips and chunks. It is very easy to distinguish them by size.
Small and thin pieces of wood are what we call wood chips. They ignite quickly, but also burn quite fast and give light smoke. They work best for smoking chicken or fish. If you want to smoke for a short period of time, smoking chips is the right choice.
Wood chunks are fist-size pieces of wood (usually about 1 to 4 inches long). Chunks are ideal for meats that require a longer smoking time, such as pork shoulder, brisket and ribs. They burn for about an hour in a grill and much longer in a smoker.
So the main difference between wood chips and chunks is their burn time.
For wood chips you need to use a smoker box. Unlike the wood chips, chunks can be exposed directly to the fire as their burning time is longer than wood chips. If you use a smoker, check whether you can add wood chunks to it. In some electric and gas smokers you can only use wood chips.
What about soaking?
It is still a controversial issue in the grilling community if you need to soak the wood before smoking. It is believed that soaking lengthens smoking time by slowing down the burning process. When you soak wood chips 15 minutes are enough, wood chunks require more time — at least 30 minutes.
Those ones who are against soaking say that it just prevents wood from smoking rіght аwаy. We suggest trying both ways and decide if it makes a significant difference to spend additional time on soaking.
So which ones are better: wood chips or wood chunks?
Either type is good, it depends on your needs. If you prefer a mild smoky flavor - pick wood chips. If you like your meat to have more distinct smoky taste and longer smoking - select wood chunks.
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