Wood has been the primary source of fuel back in the day. Now, we have different kinds of fuel that can give us the same taste and the same power in terms of heat.
Pellets are also efficient and are regarded as wood. Basically, they are compressed wood that releases the same smoky flavor as wood chips or charcoal.
It is quite hard to compare the two as they are essentially the same. However, there are differences that need to be addressed to give the users a better understanding of how these two work.
The components of a grill or a smoker using pellets or wood chips are also different. There are ways where you can reduce the fuel consumption of the smoker to prolong the cooking time.
A smoker is an outdoor cooking appliance that can cook meat at low temperatures for a long period of time. This way, you get a soft finish and a smoky taste on any type of food.
When you buy a grill and you want to smoke in it, make sure that you choose the ones using wood, charcoal, or pellets as the primary fuel since these are the ones that give off more smoke.
See, you can smoke on a regular grill but the propane gas grills do not work that way. Yes, they can give you the benefit of cooking slow and low but they do not have that smoky flavor induced in your food.
Here, we will see all the important components of a pellet smoker and a wood smoker to see how they differ and which one is better.
The most important factor, however, is your preference. We are just going to make it clearer to you so you can easily choose the best smoker that you can get.
Pellet and wood smokers are very great. They deliver all the flavors that you need and enhance your cooking capabilities by giving you versatility.
When you use wood chips or pellets, there are two important things that you will notice right away. Meaning you have two major uses for these two types of fuel.
1. The main source of Fuel
Pellet and wood are often used as the main fuel for most grills. The conventional grills use wood and other fuels such as the pellet and charcoal were developed further on.
Some grills support wood or pellets as fuel but they also use other forms such as electricity and propane gas as their fuels. The pellets and woods are sometimes used for other purposes.
So if you are trying to purchase a smoker that will really “smoke” your food, you should consider going for the ones that use wood or pellets as the main source of fuel.
2. The Smoky Flavor
If you choose to go with the grills or smoker with gas as the main fuel, consider getting the ones that include wood or pellet as secondary fuel.
This way, you will get a consistent heat source from the gas while having that smoky flavor in your food coming from the secondary fuel which is either wood or pellet.
You can also combine wood or pellets in your charcoal grill or smoker to enhance the smoky taste as dry, burning charcoal does not release smoke as much as wood or pellet does.
Although these fuels are relatively the same, there are differences in cooking and what they can cook. See, wood is sometimes more powerful than pellets so they give off more heat.
These two fuels are perfect for smoking, there is no doubt about that. But if you choose a grill or a smoker for its versatility, you might want to consider the fuel not to be pellet.
See, pellets are compressed wood so they take time to burn. There are micro spaces between the compressed wood and they will not burn or produce flames as much.
Instead, pellet smokers release a great amount of smoke but they have a hard time coming up with flames that are enough for other recipes such as searing meat.
Wood, on the other hand, has more power and can give you direct heat. This makes wood smokers versatile and can cook any type of food in no time.
The secret in making wood smoky is to limit the airway. This way, you do not produce as much flame but it gives off the right amount of smoke that will bring that delicious flavor to your food.
When you are smoking meat, you would want a fuel source that will last long. Smoking requires slow cooking with low heat, so as much as possible, choose the one with higher fuel efficiency.
Wood is pretty amazing and it is in fact, the basis for all fuel sources as they are the initial fuel when cooking food starts. Therefore, they have the standard for smoking and searing as well.
However, it does not mean that you cannot get past those standards. For example, gas grills give off more heat and are more consistent, sometimes as good as smoker tubes, compared to wood fuel.
Pellet smokers, on the other hand, have the ability to prolong the cooking process with compressed wood as fuel. This makes pellet grills better than a wood smoker in terms of releasing smoke.
See, the compressed wood burns slower than the regular chip of wood or logs. They might not give off as much power but they are perfect for smoking.
2 pounds of pellet fuel can last an hour of smoking with low heat just like bbq in vertical pellet smokers. This means that the regular 20-pound pellet hoppers can last for up to 10 hours of low and slow cooking.
This does not mean that wood cannot give off the same amount of smoke. They have the ability to bring the smoke flavor with more enhanced flavor depending on the type of wood.
However, they are not as efficient as pellets. That is why this round is won by pellets as they bring more hours of cooking by consistently releasing smoke as well.
This process is a controversial one. Many people argue about whether it needs to be done or not, again, it would be a matter of preference and you do not have to be pressured about it,
Soaking is done to wood alone. If you try to soak pellets, they are most likely to disintegrate and the heat source will be nothing but dust, or more of a bunch of wet wood shavings and dust.
Soaking is basically letting your wood fuel well, soak, in liquid so that you get more consistent heat like making barbecue in charcoal grills, and a slower burn making the wood efficient and producing more smoke.
Some people even suggest soaking wood in other forms of liquid aside from water. There are claims that soaking wood in beer or juice will make the smoke more fragrant.
This technique is not recommended as wood does not absorb liquid as much as we think it would. In fact, experiments have shown that only 3% of the initial weight of wood is added after it is soaked.
So we suggest that you get out of this hassle and just put some regular firewoods in your smoker and get the same results as soaked wood.
How Wood and Pellet Smokers Work?
To put it shortly, they work pretty much the same. Yes, of course, there are components on a pellet smoker that you cannot get from a wood smoker and vice versa but they function the same.
One main difference, however, is the way you feed the smoker. Traditional pellet smokers often have a pellet hopper that will automatically feed the pellets into the burner.
The pellet grill is better than a wood smoker in terms of the ease of feeding fuel which makes it totally worth it. It is better than a wood smoker since you do not need to do a lot to refuel it.
As for wood smokers, you will need to get to the firebox and manually refuel the smoker. One common type of wood smokers is an offset smoker where you have a separate firebox.
The separate firebox in the offset smoker will allow you to refuel the smoker without opening the chamber or the main body where the meat is so you do not lose too much heat in the offset chamber.
Both wood and pellet smokers have temperature control. This may come digitally or manually where you have to turn vents and airways to produce the desired temperature.
Digital controls are more efficient especially now that people are too busy going on with their lives. You just crank up the heat and let it cook for the time needed which is also set via the controller.
Pellet smokers also usually have an auger mechanism that acts as the bridge between the pellet hopper and the burner. This limits the release of the pellets.
With the auger mechanism, you get more control over the fuel consumption of the smoker and it also prevents clogging of the pathway between the pellet hopper and burner as it has a slow-spinning motion.
Cleaning Pellet and Wood Smokers
This is the hassle part when owning whether a pellet smoker or a wood smoker. Compared to some appliances powered by electricity or propane gas, wood and electric pellet smokers require more cleanup.
Not to be overwhelmed, cleaning an electric pellet or wood smoker does not take a lot of time and effort as they can be easily cleaned with the proper tools.
This will also allow you to make the smokers as good as the more expensive options for your bbq. Even electric smokers, like Pit Boss, that are relatively clean, need to be maintained properly.
So first, prepare yourself for the mess. Get the proper attires such as an apron and gloves that will protect you from both the dirt and the heat that might still be in the smokers.
It is a benefit if your smoker has an ash-catcher so you should invest in those. The first step is the dry cleaning where you remove all the parts that need to be cleaned.
Start with the firebox and remove all the ashes by shaking it off. The leftover wood for wood smokers can still be used so go ahead and remove them and set them aside.
The same goes for pellets but after a long cooking session, it is most likely that the pellets have been burned away so just get rid of the remainders left in the firebox.
Using a shop-vac, clean out the rest of the dust and ashes from the firebox and put them back into the smoker. You can also reload it with fuel by then.
The grates and racks should be removed for ease of access on the inside of the smoker. The interior will be most likely filled with grease and soot so just wipe it down with a paper towel or a cloth.
The grates can be washed with soap and warm water. This way, the grease, and the food residuals will be removed and they will look as good as new.
We do not recommend putting the grates in a dishwasher as the dishwasher might accumulate the grease and the food residuals which will be harder to clean off of the dishwasher.
Rinse them well and put the smoker back together. It is recommended that you do this after every use in order to keep the integrity as well as the elegance of your smoker.
Wood smokers are worth it and are a great addition to your grilling sessions. They bring much versatility and can cook almost any recipe that you want.
Electric pellet smokers are the real deal as well. They are believed to be the most efficient type of smokers because of their ability to produce a lot of smoke and their efficiency.
Both can produce the smoky flavor that you want in your food, making them totally worth it, so if you want that, these two types of smokers should be on top of the choices.
Smokers are great and there is a variety of them but we still think that wood and pellet smokers are the best options when it comes to choosing one.
Wood is pretty accessible and even when you are in the wilderness, far from home, you can get this type of fuel around. Pellets are not that hard to bring as well since electric pellet smokers do not require a lot.
Either way, these smokers are amazing and it is up to you to make a decision. Just take a look at the advantages above that each smoker brings and see which one is best for you!