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Cold smoker built with treated (tanalised) plywood??

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by boydw, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. boydw

    boydw Newbie


    My mate has just built a cold smoker box using treated (tanalised) plywood.

    I raised some concerns regarding the use of treated wood.

    He seems to think it will be fine, as the temperatures will be low, the meats will not be in contact with the ply, and after a pre-smoke he reckons it will have a protective layer coating it anyway.

    What are your thoughts on the use of treated (tanalised) plywood in an otherwise unlined cold smoker?

    Thanks, Boyd
  2. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    As treated wood sometimes contains arsenic, I would not use it to prepare food.

  3. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Temps under 100* i'm not seeing any issues and it's not like the meat is being prepared on the plywood. 
  4. JckDanls 07

    JckDanls 07 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    I vote "no"
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    NO! Even at lower temps, the moisture (yes moisture) that will be present can leach the toxins out of the wood.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
  6. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    I could be wrong, God knows it wouldn't be the first time...  Still can't picture air born toxins at ambient temps.   Plywood is in peoples kitchens, under their sinks etc...     You would think it would absorb moisture vs leaching. 

    Regardless i'd probably attach something to the inside like durarock maybe. 
  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Treated plywood is not used under counter tops, nor is it approved for indoor use (where it is exposed). Even when cold smoking moisture is formed. That moisture will form on the "treated" plywood, which can leach the toxins out of the treated plywood and then drip onto the meat. Same goes for other treated lumber.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
  8. They stopped using arsenic in pressure treated wood in 2004, but their's still nasty stuff in it.  Check the EPA website, there is plenty of documentation there on it and how it should never be mixed with food or used for food preparation.  The whole purpose of using it is that things don't like to eat it.  Seems to me I read somewhere that it off-gasses potentially dangerous fumes just in the process of drying, which is why they don't want you using it inside your house.

    I'm sure your friend has spent plenty of time and money building this, he's probably not going to want to hear that he shouldn't be using it.  But when comes to the health of safety of the people eating the food, is there really a valid argument for risking it?  I wouldn't feed it my family.
  9. Hello WaywardSwede.  Great advice in my opinion but you missed the 2 "hints".  As it is his 1st post I don't know for sure but he used the terms "mate" and "tanalised".  He is either from or still in U.K. or Aus. IMHO.  Whether they still use arsenic I don't know.

    Hello BoydW.  Welcome.  I see this is your first post.  Please take some time and swing over to Roll Call and introduce yourself so that we may give you a proper "Hello".  All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have.  As for your question:  My vote is NO!  I can't quote chapter and verse about treated wood but if I ever have a doubt about food safety I try to err on the safe side.  My advice to you would be not to eat food your mate has smoked.  Just my opinion.  Keep Smokin!

  10. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I used plain old regular plywood for my smokehouse with no adverse effects at all; nothing 'leached out' or was there any smell other than smoky food.  The air goes up, not out horizontally.  The smokehouse has stood out in the weather for several years now.  I have no qualms of using plywood, I've cut up many a deer, pig and steer on it too; with or without a tablecloth underneath it; once done, it's burned.  I actually have never seen 'treated' plywood, like treated lumber; I've only afforded the least expensive.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
  11. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Ahh... i feel vindicated. lol

    Thanks for chiming in Pops. 
  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Why do you feel vindicated? Pops used non-Tanalised plywood. The original poster mentioned that Tanalised plywood was used for the build. Even though they no longer use arsenic in the treating process, and they claim that it doesn't leach toxins, if you work with it everything that touches it especially in damp conditions leaves the color (brown or green depending on the manufacturer) on everything it touches. I don't want that on my food.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
  13. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    I think he was assuming the same as me and it was just plywood. I've never heard of anything else than regular everyday plywood...and the op thought it was treated with something.

    You're the builder maybe you've seen the stuff....i just know of plywood being glued all the way through...wouldn't think it would be treated other than it's own binder

    Pops even mentioned he didn't have "leaching"   so that tells me he hasn't heard of it either. 
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
  14. Hello.  As I stated earlier, I think you guys missed the 2 "hints" in the OP.  This is from a company in the U.K.


    Tanalised Ply

    At Southern Timber we keep stocks of pressure treated ply to improve the durability of the ply when used in humid and damp conditions. 

    While all of our standard ply sheets use WBP (waterproof & boil proof) glues the faces and edges of ply are susceptible to water ingress which will ultimately lead to fungal and de-lamination of the sheet. By pressure treating whole sheets of ply with Tanalith E this reduces the effects of moisture. Where this ply is cut into smaller sections the edges should be treated with a suitable preservative to prevent the ingress of moisture and de-lamination of the ply.

    This ply is used in a wide range of constructional applications where there is going to be contact with moisture – stable partitions and roofs; bathroom & shower flooring & walling surfaces to be tiled; trailer beds, silage clamps etc. 

    The following sizes are all kept in stock as 2440mm x 1220mm (8' x 4') sheets
       ●  9mm (3/8”); 
       ●  12mm (1/2”);
       ●  18mm (3/4”); 
  15. Treated wood is definitely a VERY bad idea!
    Regular plywood is also a bad idea.
    That manufactured crap can give of fumes of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) regardless of the temperature.
    "The main VOC that is tested in plywood is formaldehyde."
    That's not something I want near my food.
    Use real wood or something else that's inert.

    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013