FAQ – Liquid Smoke

Information on Liquid Smoke?

For thousands of years people have known that the smoke from burning wood can enhance the flavour of food and help to preserve meat. When food is exposed to smoke in an enclosed area, dark brown drops will form as the smoke cools to become a liquid. Controlled methods of cooling smoke make it possible to gather it as a liquid, which can then be used as a seasoning to flavour food without needing a smoke house, smoking box, or a ‘buccan’, as Native Americans call such a device.

What is Smoke?

Smoke from burning wood is the result of pyrolysis, the transformation of a substance by heat. The wood’s two primary components, lignin and cellulose, contribute to the resulting blend of compounds that make up smoke. This smoke contains some ingredients that provide an anti-bacterial effect and others that provide flavour.

Obtaining Liquid Smoke

The process begins with wood chips that are subjected to high temperature. A high moisture level allows the wood to smolder rather than burn, thus producing smoke. The hot smoke is captured and transferred to a series of condensers that cool the vapours of smoke into a liquid. This liquid is usually refined and filtered, and may be aged in oak barrels for a more mellow product.


The primary smoke flavour comes from the pyrolysis of the lignin in the wood, while the pyrolysis of cellulose adds a hint of a ‘burnt sugar’. Many types of wood can be used, as well as other combustible materials. In Europe the traditional smoking wood was Alderwood, though now Oak or sometimes beech is used, while in North America Hickory, Mesquite, Oak, Pecan, Alder, Maple, Apple, Cherry or Plum may be used for smoking. Different types of wood will yield different flavours, and combinations are often used. Corn cobs are used by some in North America to smoke bacon or ham, while peat is used to dry and smoke barley malt for Scotch whisky and some beers. Uncooked rice, sugar, and tea, heated at the base of a wok are used for Chinese tea-smoking.

Smoke as a Preservative

Long before refrigeration was invented, meat was smoked to increase its shelf life. This is due to the fact that the chemicals and organic acids found in smoke lower pH, and this increase in acidity destroys the walls of bacteria cells. The phenolics that are present in smoke also have a bactericidal action which helps to preserve the meat. In university studies, researchers have added liquid smoke to pathogenic bacteria in petri dishes, showing that it inhibited microbial growth. Liquid smoke also works well against salmonella, listeria and other spoilage organisms. Beef tissues, trimmings and ground beef were found to have reduced amounts of bacteria on the surface after having liquid smoke added. This seems to show that washing large meat trimmings with liquid smoke may have a sterilising effect. Hunters, manufacturers & butchers have been using Liquid Smoke in this way for centuries.

Uses for Liquid Smoke

Liquid smoke is used in many different ways. It can be applied to meat before cooking for both its antibiotic effect or to give the food a smoky flavour. It can also flavour almost any other food but since it is very potent, moderation is key. Before heating a gas grill, liquid smoke can be sprayed onto the cool lava rocks to give a wood fire flavour.


Liquid smoke can be added to many of the Hi Mountain products to add a smoky flavour, particularly in the Sausages and Jerky. If you are looking for a recipe that uses Liquid Smoke do a search on the internet, there are literally thousands of them up there including Vegetarian Bacon!

Some of the food we recommend adding Misty Gully Liquid Smoke to:


Baked Beans

Eggs & Bacon

Home Made and tinned Soups

In the water when boiling Corn on the Cob

Added to Garlic Butter (powder form)

Salad dressings

You can add Liquid Smoke to just about any foods including home made bread or savoury scones if you wish, just think laterally.

Please note that all of our liquid smoke products are Vegan friendly and Gluten Free