New guy trying to figure out wood

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Original poster
Aug 20, 2023
Hi all,

I recently got a lone star grillz offset after having a trager for a while. After getting boxes of wood I found a local source (seattle) to get relatively reasonably priced oak, I think california oak. Some of the wood is light with the fibers straight, other logs have curvy fibers and the logs are noticeably denser than the other logs, see attached photo, the lighter log with the straighter fibers is on the top of the photo. The ones that are more dense are difficult to light and generally catch fire but start to smolder after a while unless I turn it, seems like the side just turns to a protective charcoal. Does one know if this is common for oak? Do I have different types of wood? Any suggestions on how to use the curvy more dense wood would be appreciated.




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I'm thinking they are the same... Difference is (IMO)... The straight piece (top) is from a nice straigt log... The curved piece coming from a log that had a knot in it (tree branch coming out from it) ... The knots are usually harder and therefor don't burn as well...
Thanks Jckdanls I appreciate the info. Wood coming from a more twisted or knotted tree makes sense why it is more dense and doesn't burn as well
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Do you use their fire management basket? I have it and when I preheat a split, they immediately light every time. The basket is great for keeping the coals hot and lit, and the fire contained.
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Yes, the knots don't burn well. As do other " gnarly " parts. Such as the " Y's " where branches shoot off, which is also what that bottom piece could be a part of.

I've never bought wood that included the " Y " , but I get those when I find wood on my own. They're really heavy and I don't think its because they hold more moisture. They won't split. They will wear out a Kindling Cracker trying to break them down.

I use them for starter wood. I start with lump charcoal, and then maybe a couple or three of old dried out splits that will catch easy and burn hot and fast, then put the gnarly piece on. The hotter the fire the better they burn. It takes a while for them to burn down, but when they do they make a good coal bed.
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I agree with what Smokin Okie Smokin Okie says.
The gnarled up is from a defect in the tree, the desity could be from moisture. But like he said get your fire going good then use the denser pieces when you have a good fire and coal bed built up. You always want to warm up your next piece of wood to go on the fire. I typically put a few pieces on the firebox every time I add wood to the fire. This will get the wood up to temp which will help it ignite faster when you add it to the fire.
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Seattle is alder territory if I'm not mistaken. Very neutral wood, but if you can find some oak or maybe apple - apple is about everywhere, you can run cheap alder and be frugal with more 'flavorful' woods. That was how I discovered my fave combo - which is pecan and cherry. I got a ton of pecan for free and wasn't super happy with just plain pecan, but I started mixing in maybe 20ish% cherry (tried peach, maple, apple and a few others) with 80ish% pecan. Made it a whole new delicious profile.
Do you use their fire management basket? I have it and when I preheat a split, they immediately light every time. The basket is great for keeping the coals hot and lit, and the fire contained.
Hi 62veedub, thabks for the replay, I have just started to use the fire management basket, as you suggested and others is sounds like preheating is the way to go, I have been playing with that but have a hard time preheating within the fire box. Setting things on the fire box seems to heat one side, not the whole log. In the fire box sometimes the preheating wood starts to burn/smolder. I'm thinking my splits are a bit to big so will be trying to get smaller ones.

Thanks smokin oakie, newglide for the responses, sounds like that wood is pretty dense, I will try to use it to use it to get a good bed of coals and a starter instead of temp maintenance through the smoke.

Hijack, thanks for the suggestion, I never thought of starting to mix woods but sounds like a good combo. The hardest time I have in Seattle is sourcing wood, only found one place I can pick it up is south seattle, and ordering it from another state is a pain and expensive. Anyone have suggestions on how you guys source your wood locally? Seattle or elsewhere?
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