Liquid Smoke

November 2, 2012

Vincent has extended from steak sauce into BBQ sauce during its ninth decade.  Our involvement is through an ingredient in char which is used by sauce producers to add smoke flavor.  Char presses surprisingly well, yielding a 15% percent moisture drop from an original moisture content near 55%.  We have only one installation at this time, but it is a niche application which has proven easy to master.

Char is used in a number of industries and applications.  There are three main uses for char:  it is concentrated to make liquid smoke; compressed to make briquettes; and dried to harvest activated carbon.  This issue of “Pressing News” will focus on the use and production of liquid smoke.

The liquid smoke produced by our client is sold to barbeque sauce producers and meat processing companies.  To treat a meat with liquid smoke requires a “smoke house” and atomizers (very fine misters).  The meat is hung in the “smoke house”, and the atomizers create a fine cloud of liquid smoke.  This cloud interacts with the meat in much the same way as actual smoke, even leaving a “smoke ring” in the meat.  After the meat has hung for an allotted time, it is deemed smoked, and is ready for distribution. 

The production of liquid smoke requires a supply of saw dust.  This saw dust is screened to select the right particle size.  (The temperatures and timing in the continuous production of liquid smoke require a specific particle size.)  The screened sawdust is then carbonized by heating in an oxygen-free environment.  This creates the char.  The char is then soaked with water.  Water soluble elements in the char enter into solution.  The water is filtered in a screen and then concentrated by evaporation, leaving behind the liquid smoke.  

It is important to note that char is different from ash.  Char is essentially elemental carbon, but it holds some of its original cellular morphology and organic content.  In contrast, ash’s organic compounds have been combusted, and its cellular morphology no longer resembles its original makeup.

The gasses from producing the char are burned as a heat source.

The char sludge from the screen is run through a Vincent screw press.  The press liquor from the press is liquid smoke, water, and char fines.  This press liquor is sent back over the same screen mentioned earlier, to remove the fines.  Thus the liquid smoke in the press liquor adds to the yield of the production process.

The press cake is sold to charcoal briquette companies.  These firms compress the char to produce their own products.

In the case of our client, Vincent was able to increase their production of liquid smoke by 50%.  That result speaks for itself.


Issue 250