black walnut for smoking and grilling?

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by eggs73, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. eggs73

    eggs73 Newbie

    Hello, I am new to this site and have learned alot more about smoking and grilling from here. most of the time is trail and error on my part. i have excess to a lot of different woods for smoking and grilling. but i use a combintion of charcoal and wood. my main question is if blak walnut would be ok to use, and if so how to go about using. thank you, eggs73
  2. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have never used that wood.

    I found the following information here


    • The black walnut tree contains a poisonous toxin known as juglone. The tree naturally uses this toxin to compete against other nearby trees or plants for needed soil, water and sunlight. However, it can harm horses and dogs and may even kill them. Poisoning can occur when black walnut wood shavings are included in the bedding of these animals. For humans, black walnut wood and sawdust is sometimes known to cause allergies and asthma. Anyone handling and working with this wood should always use gloves and a dust mask.
    Read more: About Walnut Wood |
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Well it doesn't sound like you would want to use that to smoke food. Maybe in an outdoor fireplace, but upwind.
  4. I've read that black walnut can be very strong and make the food bitter.
  5. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Black Walnut is actually a pretty good wood to use for smoking. It's flavour can be quite strong if used on its own, but a few chunks mixed with a milder wood works good. 

    What one needs to realize is that pretty much all wood toxicity studies are geared towards inhalation of dust or skin contact. There isn't much out there regarding smoking. With these studies, there are many woods that we use to smoke food that are considered toxic to humans.

    When we smoke with wood, we change many of the properties of the wood, so if inhaling dust is bad, it doesn't mean that inhaling some of the smoke produced from the same wood is bad. 

    In his post bmudd quotes that black walnut is poisonous to horses & dogs. That doesn't mean that it's poisonous to humans.  Chocolate is poisonous to dogs & cats, but I haven't seen too many people try to avoid it. Peppers can be quite hot to mammals, but birds can eat them with no issues, they don't have any reaction to capsaicin.
  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I wouldn't use it myself, but there may be something to what AK1 says---dust as opposed to smoke.

    The part that kills horses isn't the smoke, and a horse doesn't have to breath the dust either.

    If a horse is subjected to walnut sawdust in it's bedding, the horse can absorb the toxin through it's hoofs, causing it to contract "Laminitis".

    I believe the late great Secretariat died of Laminitis.

    When I worked in a large cabinet shop, and when I had my own cabinet shop, we could not give sawdust to people who had horses, if there was walnut in it.

    It was OK for cows, but not for horses.

    Just my two pennies.


    PS:   AK1, One thing you said is wrong---Many people try to avoid chocolate! It's just that most of us aren't very good at it.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011
  7. davef63

    davef63 Smoke Blower

    well, if you find its not good for smoking, im in the woodworking buisness, id be glad to take it off your hands! [​IMG]

  8. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sell it to a wood  working person. You'll get some money for  it. 
  9. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Bear.  Why I think that walnut is OK for smoking is simply because I can buy it at a local BBQ store packaged for smoking.

    I did some searching, but all toxicity information I could find related to inhalation of the sawdust, or skin contact of dust, bark or leaves, not just for walnut, but various other woods that are commonly used for smoking.Oak, Maple, Birch. Beech, Alder all seem to be considered toxic to humans where inhalation the sawdust is concerned. How this applies to smoke I don't know as all I could find was the typical generic reply that wood smoke contains certain substances that can be harmful to human health.

    As far as walnut is concerned, what toxicity juglone has to humans, whether from green wood, or seasoned wood, I can't say for sure. Perhaps, burning the wood does something to neutralize the juglone to the point where it has no effect on us. Yes/No?... I don't know.
  10. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I saw black walnut pellets the other day, if that means anything. I was wondering the same, when I saw them, because I always knew it wasn't good for some animals or humans.
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I agree with what you're saying, but since I am not sure about what it can do to humans, and since there are so many other great woods for smoking, I would not personally use Walnut.

    I might be a little prejudiced against Walnut too, because I worked in my own cabinet shop & others for 20 years, and I rarely wore a dust mask (paying for it now), and not counting exotic woods, there were only two woods that smelled & tasted disgustingly terrible. Those woods were Honduras Mahogany and Walnut.

    BTW:   When I say "taste", I'm talking about the dust that goes in your mouth when you are breathing wood dust from the air, such as when ripping & sanding.

  12. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I  would not use it...JMO
  13. walterwhite

    walterwhite Smoke Blower

    Most people killed in house fires are killed by smoke inhalation. By that logic, smoking meat is inherently dangerous. Wait... Look what I found:
    This from which is actually an MSDS for juglone.

    What I couldn't find is any indication of what temperature the juglone degrades at. I suspect it is destroyed in the fire. Or perhaps it breaks down into something even more toxic. :dunno

    There are lots of things in smoke that are toxic to a greater or lesser extent. I don't let that discourage me from smoking meat. I use black walnut cut from my own trees when I smoke. In fact at this very moment I have a smoke going in my WSM and I'm using box elder, hickory, black walnut and oak for smoking wood. In the past I have made chicken in my mini-WSM with black walnot alone and felt it was a mild flavor.

    That's my $0.02. Of course all of you will do what you think is best.
  14. backsmokin

    backsmokin Fire Starter

    Just want to make sure the differentiation is between Black Walnut and a standard Carpathian (English) Walnut. The black walnut (as well as the related butternut) produce juglone in their root systems. Carpathians are in the same family but planting guides and horse guides don't list them as a problem so it may be a factor of how much toxin they produce. The list is from Equus on trees that are toxic to horses. Oak and Cherry are certainly on the list of smoking woods (white oak anyway)

    yew (Taxus spp.)
    oleander (Nerium oleander)
    red maple (Acer rubrum)
    cherry (Prunus spp.)
    black walnut (Juglans nigra)
    black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
    horse chestnut, buckeyes (Aesculus hippocastanum)
    oak tree, acorns (Quercus spp)
    Russian olive, oleaster (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
  15. justgrillit

    justgrillit Newbie

    i wondered about black walnut just a few sec and then i threw it on the grill i have had what they call in west texas hay fever till i learned about honey by then i was living with hugh headaches and snot green from the first pine pollen shower it litereally blew in clouds over the tops of the pine trees , that was 30 yrs ago about that time i learned about raw honey which i just learned u do not ever want to eat if its been gathered from rohdandrines or azaleias, go look up plants not to eat, but to the black wall nut, i know every wood has its properties that differ in chemicals but we are not going into that realm being a sort of chemist i know how but its something not everyone wants to do but any tree u can eat the nuts from i cook with except fruit trees, i wondered about mesqeote since i do know you have to do certian things to the beans before you can eat the honey in them cause they are bad for you to eat, but i have been cooking with direct cut offs from fresh green branches that fall for few yrs now and have not had any ill effects i grill inside a closed smoke room and it gets pretty deep in it i do not take huge wifs and air things out good as i come in to turn the meat but being schooled on not burning posion ivy, or oak or suma nor throwing it in the fire i do try to be responsible as in all my wood i gather it clean, and not leechin, or green stuff or green leaves i cut it with only peanut oil in my saw or a skill saw or chop  saw not ur typical chain saw oil, even corn oil or vegi oil lubs the chain good i may have to use a lot or take small breaks to let  the bar cool i have welded em with the chain, but my point is i handle my wood like i was going to eat on it and no i do not leave it out in the sun or for the cats or dogs to play in or pee on, now out in the open for it to oxidize and rot or fill with ants since the love all sap from the woods i pick to cook with, and yes i wash and soak it on occasions but usually i wash it before i store it. but i have not noticed any effects i do use diff sized pieces, but i have been reading up on all trees that i would not think of eating or cooking with and i found this same referance to the tree having a natural pesticide yet not telling me what, i do know pecan trees have the same effect with the sap but i still do not know about the contents i did read where u can not eat b;lack walnuts if moldy the have converted to a cancer causing chemical so i am going to not cook with it for a while if at all but i will be careful where i burn it outside until i learn more or i know the chemicals are truly not harmful.  the food does taste great but of course i use mesquite chips and  charcoal all of which when smoldering  carry tars out of the wood i do burn my fireplace that has an catalitic converter on it and it loves the wood gas so does my wallet but its just as flammable as natural gas when heated just right.

         my point if you really know whats in the wood and how its handled then cook with it if you can t see my details and question yours and be honest with ur self about how u gather, when, how u process it and store it and ur not dead or have tumors every where and live to be 103 will you know the true effects of cooking with anything.

          but with all the choices of good flavors out there we still do not know what we are truly eating or smoking with i have been made sick by the wrong wood or someone not properly firing off the grill more than i have from the woods i pick.

        let me know cause i would like to know that i could use this wood for smoking hate to torch it but it will make some hot heat i ll get my books out n see if i can find the btu per cord or pound glad to see ya ll i was doing some deep research on all sorts of woods and i raised more questions for myself than answers but with new info out on plants and edible plants i feel i have more and more to learn but to be responsible i ll have to say no until the jury gets back with the mass spec tests on my grill smoke just due to the facts of cancer, alziemers, parkinsens types of issues and what we do not know still about the hidden chemicals i might stir up with my smoldering
  16. akhap

    akhap Smoke Blower

    Juglone is an allelopath...

    From your middle school science class you may remember how DNA works. Four nucleotides; cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine carry all of the genetic information needed to create another "anything" in the entire biotic World.

    When DNA splits each half of an allele is looking for the other to "feel whole" again. Cytosine is looking for guanine and adenine is looking for thymine, and vice versa in each case.

    Each pair; guanine and cytosine or thymine and adenine, forms an allele.

    There must be enough of all bases available to allow the DNA to replicate.

    Allelopaths "gobble up" a particular base such that cellular replication is stopped because the DNA was unable to reproduce mirror images of itself on demand. This is the basic function of chemotherapy for cancer killing.

    Walnut has been studied extensively for this purpose and found to be too broad-based for use in human medicine.

    I would never dream of using it for smoking wood... Or any other walnut flavor...
  17. glider76

    glider76 Newbie

    I like to use the green twigs and  thinner branches, up to  an inch thick, with charcoal for the heat.  The flavor is  robust  ,so use the green wood  sparingly !!+
  18. I have used Black Walnut with GREAT results. I use specifically on tri tip roast with charcoal briquettes (on a Weber Kettle). Not a true "smoke"., but used more for a hot short smoke. The flavor is amazing!! Give it a try
    (Note.... It works GREAT with beef, but not so well with pork, fish or fowl)
  19. Black walnut wood is great for smoking it is very bold but great taste mixing it with plum or silver maple and blackberry vine and leaves gives a great combination of flavors the best I can say is try different wood combinations and c what you like and have fun 😉
  20. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    I use walnut mixed with pecan with good results. Use on pork.

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