Moldy wood

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by markd85, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. markd85

    markd85 Newbie

    Hello all,

    Totally rookie move here, but i bought some wood from a local tree farm back in April while it was still cool out, about 7 pounds each of apple, cherry and hickory. wood chunks are about the size of a softball. 

    Since it was cool, i left them in my garage and bought some plastic bins with lids and neatly organized everything.


    My first 4 or 5 smokes of the season the wood seemed fine. no problems at all. It started mid-may to get a little warm out and two weeks ago i went to smoke a beef chuck and noticed this!

    Nasty yellow and black mold all over my woods. Now, the only wood that wasnt bad is the maple which came from a bag from amazon.

    Two (actually three) things:

    1) My guess is that because the apple/cherry/hickory were fresh from a farm that they werent seasoned or dried out. Which would explain why they molded and didnt have great smoke either before they molded.

    2) I seemed to have good luck with the bags of weber brand wood i bought from amazon. any thoughts yay or nay on this?

    3) Is there anything i can do to salvage the wood i have? laying it out in the sun? washing it off? it all seems to be a surface issue thus far, but many of the other forum posts indicate its not worth it and to just throw it away. this is $30 in wood so if i CAN save it, i'd prefer to.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First...  never store wood in an air tight container.... but you probably figured that out....  

    Second....   for $30 you are willing to smoke food, that you will give to your family, with moldy wood ??

    I wouldn't use moldy wood....  not worth taking any chances with my families health....
  3. markd85

    markd85 Newbie

    Dave, thanks for the reply. I only indicate that it was $30 in wood to show that it wasnt wood i got from around my property or for free, as many people on here seem to be able to do. If it were inexpensively obtained, one might say "go ahead and toss it, there's always more" Granted, with home depot and amazon prime shipping, one might be able to say that anyway.
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    OK......   So, would you pick up free wood that was moldy and smoke food for your family with it...   

    I'm not sure what you question is now.... 
  5. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    I think that is surface material that will burn off well before he would put any food on the smoker.  I don't know about using it to replenish the smoke wood in the pit once the food is on though. IMO I would think it should be no problem to use it *IF* it is well lit in advance of putting the food on and the wood has time to start to carbonize.  Now if the wood is punky, that's another story, but if the wood is solid and it's just surface funk, I would probably use it with the above caveat.

    Heck even the stuff you buy at HD and Lowes in chunks has black streaks sometimes.  That's nothing but another type of mold in the wood (but in fairness its not as pronounced as what he has).  Check the average smoking stick burner wood pile and unless it's 100% covered and out of the weather, it's going to have some form of something on some part of the wood.  Fungus spores are just a part of life and they are in the air and pretty much everywhere.

    PS - if you keep it, take the lids off the containers so it can air and dry out (and leave them off).  Mold needs moisture to grow so if there is no moisture remaining it will stop the further growth of mold and fungus.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like there are several "if ands or buts" in that thought....   So I guess you are saying you would use the wood to cook food and feed your children...   Well, why didn't you just come out and say "It's perfectly fine to use it"....  Why beat around the bush....  It's only in the category of food safety...
  7. Hey mark: If you have or can borrow a chop saw, you could saw a thin slice off the ends of each chunk, then with an ax or hatchet split a thin layer off of the remaining four sides.  I know this sounds a little labor intensive, but you should be able to salvage 1/2 to 2/3's of your wood that way.  Whatever is on there is only on the surface I would suspect.  Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  8. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ummm, OK.... I would use it.  But that is me, and I'm not using it in a stick burner so it would be chunks in the charcoal at the start of the cook in my WSM (which from the looks of the wood in his photos is probably what he was going to do with it, as chunks in a pit).  But, that's not saying I'm right, either.  I'm just saying I would use it instead of tossing it.
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's good....  members need positive answers to difficult questions.....     [​IMG]  ....
  10. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Let's start with a fun fact about mold- It is the single most common life form on the planet, you breathe it's spores every time you take a breath. And unless there is a severe mold problem in the home almost no one is effected by it except for the occasional sneeze.

    Lets go point by point-

    1. Yes you surmised correctly, this and the fact that you sealed it up in plastic containers is why the mold grew on the wood.

    2. Yay and Nay, it's OK if your free wood is unseasoned, but why buy expensive wood if you can get it for free?

    3. Yes. All you need to do is dry it out. You can air dry it or you can fire up the pit to 200° and put the wood chunks in the cook chamber for an hour, this will kill the mold and kick start drying the wood.

    You should lose the plastic containers and store the wood directly on the shelves.

    I have used spalted wood(spalt is the black in your pick) many times without any problems with foul taste or making anyone sick, so IMHO you are good to go.
  11. markd85

    markd85 Newbie

    Thanks for everyone's replies. Obviously there are a lot of mixed opinions about this, which i totally get. I think i will try and salvage what i can and anything that is too difficult to clean off i will chuck out.

    Also, regarding the plastic bins. If I drill holes in the sides and the tops would that make it better storage? My problem is that i live in a condo in new england and having the wood indoors isnt really an option with the central air running all summer and my only other option is the garage where i park my car. 
  12. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The plastic bins should not be used unless you leave the lids off, having the wood in an air conditioned space would be a help in seasoning the wood, the less humidity the better. I keep my cooking wood in the garage year round, so that is a good option. Again, heating it up as mentioned before will kill the mold.

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