Seasoned or kiln dried?

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by georgie porgie, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. What do you recommend, seasoned or  kiln dried logs for the fire and where do you get them or would you always use charcoal with smoking chunks/chips? 
  2. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I cannot answer the seasoned or kiln dried question yet however the answer to the second part of your question will depend on how much of the wood you had available. If you were buying bags of wood in small quantities it would work out very expensive to run your smoker exclusively on it for 10+ hours. If this is the case then you would probably use it on a bed of charcoal or briquettes. 

    If you had access to large quantities of it at low cost then that would be a different matter. 
    georgie porgie likes this.
  3. I was looking at Seasoned Firewood Log  at 2 builders bags for £130 and wondered if this would work out any cheaper than charcoal [​IMG]
  4. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Kiln dried logs have a moisture content of around 9 or 10% +/- and because of this will burn faster.

    Seasoned logs SHOULD have a moisture content of around 16 - 20%, and most suppliers will advertise a moisture content of around 20%.  Some unscrupulous dealers have been known to sell "green wood" which is from newly felled trees and this will have a moisture content of about 50%.

    I have had a look at the link and it is for a mixed bag, so you are going to get mainly a mixture of Beech, Ash and Sycamore.  I know you can use Beech & Ash but Sycamore is not on any of my lists of Smoking Woods.  There might be other hardwoods in there also, whatever they may be. 

    There are a couple issues:

    1.  It is going to difficult to create the same flavour twice unless you can identify the different types of wood. in the bag.  Some species are easier  to match and identify than others, so what you think is Ash might be something else!  

    2.  If you cannot identify what wood you are going to burning I would not personally use it, as It may not be suitable for food smoking and could also be poisonous.

    Most of the larger suppliers will not separate the different wood types as this is time consuming to them and will only separate them into hard & softwood. some of the smaller tree surgeons might be more accommodating and willing to  sell you a bag of Oak or Beech once they have felled a tree. 

    I occasionally burn logs instead of charcoal, and I can use 10 Kgs in a couple of hours.  I have not cooked a full brisket or cooked on logs for a prolonged burn so I can't really help you on the overall amount you will use.  I am sure one of our American cousins will be able to help you on that one, as they tend to use logs or splits more than in the UK.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
    georgie porgie likes this.
  5. Hello.  I can only speak from my experience.  When back in Tx. I only used mesquite logs ( but I had it running out my ears ).  If you are going to use logs for heat you will add time to your cook.  You will need to wait for the logs to burn to coals for your base heat source before you put the meat on.  What I did was burn logs on the ground and then add coals to the smoker as needed.  Throw on a split now and then for smoke.  But as I said I had TONS of it.  If you chose to use lump wood charcoal as a heat base you will use a lot on a long smoke and you have to have a plan to add hot coals or you can use the "snake" method.  But even then you may have to add more unburned lump to the smoker on really long smokes.  There are better and lesser bags of lump quality.  It is cheaper to buy than logs sometimes but either burn fairly quickly as smokewood pointed out.  So; cheaper???  As smokewood pointed out; 3-5 kgs. per hour?  I was ALWAYS a wood man.  NO BRIQUETTES!!!!  Hated the after taste!  I'll pay for 20kg. of wood before I use 1g. of briquettes.  BUT!  As Wade has shown me there are new products on the market now.  Good QUALITY briquettes that burn FOREVER and ZERO after taste.  I still use a bit of lump wood in my heat base but I now use these type briquettes for heat.  As smokewood pointed out; I then add a KNOWN wood or blend of KNOWN woods to add smoke flavour that I can reproduce or change next time.  Be it chips, chunks, or splits.  Just my opinion for what it's worth.  Keep Smokin!

    georgie porgie likes this.
  6. Thank you Wade, James and Danny, I guess I'm better off using a good quality briquette or lump wood charcoal (unless I can get a known wood for free)

    I will check out the market for those heat beads, I did buy some briquettes from my local Lidl but wasnt too impressed although their lump wood was OK.
  7. gavlar

    gavlar Fire Starter

    Just thought I would chip in here and say thanks for the pposting.

    I have often wondered about the different types of dried wood and how best to season my own..Is it possible to stack a few inside the smoker after or during coming just to speed up the drying out process for later use.

    I have also wondered about the real wood v charcoal debate and what is best in terms of temp burn rate and flavour.

    Thank you to all in this post I have learnt from it.

  8. I too have learnt a lot, the guys here have a wealth of information and are always willing to help.

    I have just ordered 4 bags of heat beads so next week will be giving the smoker its trial run  [​IMG]
  9. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just be mindful that, because they are so dense, they take a little longer to get going - a chimney starter really helps here. Once lit they do burn for a long time with a good consistent heat.
  10. Thanks Wade, we have a gas weed burner that does the job rather than paper and sticks.
  11. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    As wood is hydroscopic your wood will also take up and retain water if left outside in the rain.   I have just been playing around with a bit of kiln dried oak and the moisture content was 9%, I left it outside uncovered for about a month and the moisture content increased to 16%.  So it works both ways.  

    I dried some Apple out in the bottom of the oven on the lowest temperature for a couple of hours to see how much moisture I would lose ( a weights & measure's experiment) and the apple's moisture content was between 0% and 5% and was no good at all.  It was far to dry and I could not rehydrate it afterwards for some reason?  The wood will smoke but I don't think there would be much flavour as there is no moisture left, so I would be really careful about force drying your wood too quickly.  The airing cupboard is a great place depending on quantity you want to dry, or a greenhouse with a heater, just make sure you have sufficient ventilation.

    My own personal log store has slats to 3 sides to allow good air flow from the sides and rear and a tarpaulin at the front to keep everything dry and it only takes a couple of months for logs to dry out.  If you are going to store your logs in more than one row just leave a good 6-8 inch gap to allow the air to fully circulate and you should not have a problem.

    I wrote the following article last year and it gives you a bit of an incite into drying your wood. 
    gavlar likes this.
  12. Hello Georgie.  Hydroscopic!  And moisture content of a lump o wood!  I told ya these guys know their stuff!!!  He**, I usually just throw the wood on the fire and watch the pretty sparks.  [​IMG]

  13. I agree Danny, these guys know their stuff [​IMG]
  14. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    As Gavlar posted, what do you think to the real wood or charcoal debate?  

    Personally I think you get better flavour with wood as there is "flavour" in the moisture of the logs that you burn. 

    What does anyone else think?
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2015
  15. Well I just got my heat beads delivered, 4 x 4kg bags for £26 delivered and thought I'd make a charcoal chimney and then the sky went dark and it's pouring down,

    guess I'll have to wait another day to try it [​IMG]  

  16. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Georgie ! You let a little bit of rain put you off? I would never have put you down as being a lightweight !

    Where is your sense of commitment and dedication to the cause ?

  17. Sorry Wade, I dont do well in cold or rain.........
  18. Georgie.  I am with you Mate.  NO cold and rain!  I hope you are making a chimney because you like "tinkering".  Have you looked at a chimney to see how it is made?  The air REALLY needs to come from underneath and you usually place the chimney on you smokers grill rack to promote good air flow.  IF the ash from the newspaper and charcoal; along with and charcoal dust cannot fall out the bottom on their own or you cannot raise the chimney and give it a slight shake to cause it to fall out, the airflow will stop.  If the airflow stops the coals will go out. I know you said you have a good weed burner but as heat rises the chimney must be lit from below.  Not sayin to can't be done.  You can USUALLY buy one from B&Q for £10 and a REALLY good Weber chimney costs about £20.  Just some thoughts.  Keep Smokin!

  19. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Excellent bit of tinkering there Georgie,  

    I bought a Webber chimney starter for £15 which still is in good use.  The only modification I carried out was to drill holes large enough to get my blow lamp in at the bottom where the charcoal sits to give it a bit of a kick start if required, plus it allows extra air flow as Danny has mentioned.. (that would be a couple of inches above the bolts that secures your charcoal tray.)  
  20. Right on Danny, I made a chimney 

    but the heat beads took a lot to get going  so started things with some lump-wood, there's so much to learn but I'm getting there slowly.

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