Sticky Wood Topic + Seasoning Wood Question

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smoking falcon

Fire Starter
Original poster
Jan 19, 2006
So after contemplating where this post fit in best I've decided that it probably fits best here. (Moderators, feel free to move it if you want)

Being pretty new to the smoking world, and knowing that newbies like me are signing up on this forum all the time, I think that it would be helpful to us all, and was wondering if it was possible, if we could have a sticky topic on wood types, and uses (ya know, what wood is best suited for different types of meat as well as tips on what wood not to use) to make sure that we can have an easy place to find all that info.

Other info that I'm curious about includes the "seasoning" of wood to use in smoking. Does that mean just letting it sit outside as it was cut off the tree and dry out naturally, does it need to be split first to season properly, or is there something more complex about this process?

Thanks All!

I cut and split the majority of wood that I use. Here in the northwest there is always an Alder that needs cut up. I also have made friends with a farmer that allow me access to cherry and apple woods. I cut and split everything down to reasonible chunks and then stack it on pallets in the back of my car port. I figure that in the end I need chunks and splitting them ahead of time just helps speed up the drying process. Wood used for smoking should be stacked to season for at least 9 months and I would shoot for a year.

I did run short on good seasoned wood earlier this year and purchased a cord of apple wood from it was well seasoned but came in 14 inch lengths so I spent a day cutting it down.

In regards to Alder I remove the bark before smoking with it, some people claim Alder bark leaves a bitter taste. But I don't bother with removing the bark from either the apple or the cherry.

Just my two cents worth :)

I've been wondering this for a while, but since it's getting close to spring, I thought that I would confirm my previous thoughts so that I could begin procuring some wood from a youth camp that I work at during the summer. Hopefully it won't take much convincing to the director to let me fill my trailer with some good smoking woods for a small monetary contribution to the campership fund. :) Maybe if I'm really lucky I can get some volunteers to pre-split it :D :lol:
Falcon, as far as what woods are good for smoking, a good rule of thumb is any tree the produces a fruit or nut is worth a try. The one obvious exception to this is (for me anyway) is walnut, which is quite pungent and too strong for most peoples tastes.

Which woods are "best" on what meats is largely a matter of personal taste. Fruit woods like apple, pear, and peach and also maple are lighter in flavor and good on birds and light pork (loin). Cherry is a bit stronger and good on stronger flavored pork and beef. Nut woods like pecan, oak and hickory are stronger yet and best used in combination with other woods. Mesquite is very strong and best used in moderation, although some Texans wouldn't cook without it, i rarely use it at all and then only sparingly on brisket.
I rarely cook anything with a single wood except chicken breasts which I just like cooked with apple. Most other things I like some hickory and a lot of cherry smoke on, but that's just my personal taste.

Find a place like Hawgeyes that you can order a variety of chunks from and try them out and see what you like.
That is an excelent idea Falcon! I'll move this topic down to the "Smoking Meats and other things" Forum and put it in the General Discussion thread as a sticky. I'll shoot a PM to tulsajeff and see if he will open a "Smoking Woods" thread in the "Smoking Supplies & Equipment" forum.
I know that there is a list somewhere here on Smoking Meats Board that lists the different types of woods. I'll try to find it and add it to this thread.
This is information that was provided as a download from bigdaddyviking. . .

Reference guide for Woods used to Smoke Food

ACACIA - these trees are in the same family as mesquite. When burned in a smoker, acacia has a flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy. Is a very hot burning wood.

ALDER - Very delicate with a hint of sweetness. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.

ALMOND - A sweet smoke flavor, light ash. Good with all meats.

APPLE - Very mild with a subtle fruity flavor, slightly sweet. Good with poultry (turns skin dark brown) and pork.

ASH - Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.

BIRCH - Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.

CHERRY - Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some List members say the cherry wood is the best wood for smoking. Wood from chokecherry trees may produce a bitter flavor.

COTTONWOOD - It is a softer wood than alder and very subtle in flavor. Use it for fuel but use some chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor. Don't use green cottonwood for smoking.

CRABAPPLE - Similar to apple wood.
GRAPEVINES - Tart. Provides a lot of smoke. Rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.

HICKORY - Most commonly used wood for smoking--the King of smoking woods. Sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.

LILAC - Very light, subtle with a hint of floral. Good with seafood and lamb.

MAPLE - Smoky, mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.

MESQUITE - Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game. One of the hottest burning woods.

MULBERRY - The smell is sweet and reminds one of apple.

OAK - Heavy smoke flavor--the Queen of smoking wood. RED OAK is good on ribs, WHITE OAK makes the best coals for longer burning. All oak varieties reported as suitable for smoking. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.

ORANGE, LEMON and GRAPEFRUIT - Produces a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.

PEAR - A nice subtle smoke flavor. Much like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.

PECAN - Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is an all-around superior smoking wood.

SWEET FRUIT WOODS - APRICOT, PLUM, PEACH, NECTARINE - Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory.

WALNUT - ENGLISH and BLACK - Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.

Other internet sources report that wood from the following trees is suitable for smoking: AVOCADO, BAY, CARROTWOOD, KIAWE, MADRONE, MANZANITA, GUAVA, OLIVE, BEECH, BUTTERNUT, FIG, GUM, CHESTNUT, HACKBERRY, PIMIENTO, PERSIMMON, and WILLOW. The ornamental varieties of fruit trees (i.e. pear, cherry, apple, etc.) are also suitable for smoking.

Types of wood that is unsuitable or even poisonous when used for grilling. Don't use any wood from conifer trees, such as PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CEDAR, CYPRESS, etc.

There are many trees and shrubs in this world that contain chemicals toxic to humans--toxins that can even survive the burning process. Remember, you are going to eat the meat that you grill and the smoke particles and chemicals from the wood and what may be on or in the wood are going to get on and in the meat. Use only wood for grilling that you are sure of.

If you have some wood and do not know what it is, DO NOT USE IT FOR GRILLING FOOD. Burn it in your fireplace but not your smoker.

Also ELM and EUCALYPTUS wood is unsuitable for smoking, as is the wood from SASSAFRAS, SYCAMORE and LIQUID AMBER trees.
Here are some more woods that you should not to use for smoking:

Never use lumber scraps, either new or used. First, you cannot know for sure what kind of wood it is; second, the wood may have been chemically treated; third, you have no idea where the wood may have been or how it was used. For all you know, that free oak planking could have been used in a sewage treatment plant.

Never use any wood that has been painted or stained. Paint and stains can impart a bitter taste to the meat and old paint often contains lead.
Do not use wood scraps from a furniture manufacturer as this wood is often chemically treated.

Never use wood from old pallets. Many pallets are treated with chemicals that can be hazardous to your health and the pallet may have been used to carry chemicals or poison.

Avoid old wood that is covered with mold and fungus that can impart a bad taste to your meat.
Excellent, I've been promoted to Sticky Status! BTW, That list is exactly the thing that I was looking for. I actually saw a similar list on the web somewhere else, but of course it didn't get it bookmarked and without a doubt it vanished without a trace.

Thanks Dutch!
Ok Dennis!! Our most kind and humble leader has added a "Woods for Smoking" thread in the "Smoking Suppies & Equipment" forum. So this is the LAST TIME I'm moving this thread!!! :mrgreen:
These are some excellent posts folks.. a wealth of information. You guys would not believe how many emails I get on any given day asking me if you can use kiwi or sassafrass of some other odd wood..

I will just start directing them to this set of posts.. looks like it covers about everything!
So Jeff, since I had an idea that is going to be saving you time and (ahem) money as they say, does that mean that I am eligible for one of your two super secret recipes for oh... a reduced price or even free
*wink wink :D
Dennis? What is the matter??? You got something in your eye??? :P Or is that just a spastic eyelid that you have???? LOL
oh that... I was just cutting up some leftover ABT's to add to an egg salad sandwhich and I accidentally wiped my eye. :lol: It sure was good, instead of using celery or whatever, I just added the ABT's to the dressing and egg and it was delish!
NB5Z, how are you doing? looks like ther's another "ham" on here, pun intended lol. I wondered if my callsign would attract any attention :) Know of any others up here?
You are the first I've noticed. Nice to know there are others out there! I've really enjoy the forum (it is a lot nicer than the amateur radio forums) Folks here are really helpful. I'm enjoying this thread also.

73 de November Bravo Five Zed
I also hear a lot of folks asking about what types of wood can be used to smoke with. Interest in unusual woods usually stem from something that is local and free or easy to obtain. a fellow once asked about using bittersweet wood because his neighborhood was full of it. I would recommend that you do careful research before using bittersweet on food.

The following link is for a cockatiel website that list the plant as dangerous to birds:

This one says it's fatal for cats:

And poisonous to dogs:

A definition of the poisonous plant:

Most of these mention a shrub or vine, I'm not sure if it is of the same family. Just be careful!!! Stick to the common fruit and nut hardwoods that are proven or do your homework first.
Wood for smoking
The wood used for smoking should be relatively new and kept in a well ventilated but covered area. A freshly cut tree contains 50 % moisture, but when it is dried properly the moisture content drops to about 25 %. That level of dryness requires about 6 – 9 months of drying. Wet wood can be recognized immediately because of the hissing sound it creates when burned. This is escaping vapor and billing particles of water.
To achieve moisture contents of less than 20%, the wood must be oven dried. This wood will burn quickly and cleanly, but will not be suitable for smoking that calls for some moisture. And of course you cannot use any wood that was previously pressure treated, painted, or commercially manufactured. All wood must be natural. The type of wood used is responsible for the final color of the smoked meat or a sausage and it can also influence its taste.

Mesquite burns too hot and fast and should be used for grilling. The most popular smoking wood is oak as it grows all over the world. In Pacific North West alder was traditionally used for smoking salmon but in England fish was smoked with oak.
You know for me it's all about taste, because in the end if what you've spent all day smoking dosn't taste good then you've just spent all day getting drunk (okay not a horrible scenario but you know what I mean.)

For my tastes you can't beat oak and hickory but the Texan in me absolutly loves mesquite. I'm also a fan of applewood bacon. It used to be all about hickory and mesquite but these Missiourians have shown me just how wonderful oak can be.

I'm actually very excited, the boy told me he might be able to get his hands on some mesquite chunks soon. This means I will soon be able to make my Mesquite Chicken Salad that I havn't had since my college days. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Yummm!
Hey jlloyd,Im interested in your chicken salad,we do a grilled apple chicken that is just wonderful.Think you could clue me in.Thanks,David is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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