Wood "Hissing" - Too green?

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Its_Raw

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Nov 25, 2023
143
124
I bought some split oak and I am using it for the first time today. It seemed dry, but I do not have a moisture meter. I do hear the wood hissing as it burns and it seems to be burning a bit slower than the really dry wood I had before. Good? Bad? Neither? What say you?

Thank you!
 
I bought some split oak and I am using it for the first time today. It seemed dry, but I do not have a moisture meter. I do hear the wood hissing as it burns and it seems to be burning a bit slower than the really dry wood I had before. Good? Bad? Neither? What say you?

Thank you!
It should not be hissing, that is moisture pushing out of the wood as it burns. I would split the splits again and let it dry for a few months and try again. Or you could just leave as is and let it dry for maybe a year...
I always re-split both my firewood and my smoker wood to help it dry, I buy or cut new wood way ahead of running out of existing wood.

- Jason
 
Jason pretty much has you covered. Wood moisture meters aren't bad for price... might be a good investment for you.

Ryan
 
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Well, today was an adventure. Took way to long and spent way too much time cooking and chasing the temps. I was able to sort through and find a few pieces here and there that we not too wet. For the ones that were, I split them in to thinner pieces and let them cook a while in the firebox until they started to burn. Was a long day, but the ribs turned out Ok.
 
splitting splits as advised is good info. I try to keep wood the size of my forearm. dries quick, preheated well and ignites quickly. I'll burn two of those then a thicker piece then two more. works well for keeping my coal bed. you can usually tell moisture content somewhat by its weight. dry wood is light wood.
 
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The smoke smell was OK. Taste of the ribs was good as well. The problem was trying to keep the temp of the fire going. I have to run a much hotter fire than I would have liked to dry the wood and keep it going.

Additional question - I cut the 16” splits down to about 10.” The 4“ to 6” leftover never seems to burn well. What do you do with the ends?
 
The smoke smell was OK. Taste of the ribs was good as well. The problem was trying to keep the temp of the fire going. I have to run a much hotter fire than I would have liked to dry the wood and keep it going.

Additional question - I cut the 16” splits down to about 10.” The 4“ to 6” leftover never seems to burn well. What do you do with the ends?
Pack those up and sell to someone with a cabinet who mixes wood chunks in their coal
 
The smoke smell was OK. Taste of the ribs was good as well. The problem was trying to keep the temp of the fire going. I have to run a much hotter fire than I would have liked to dry the wood and keep it going.

Additional question - I cut the 16” splits down to about 10.” The 4“ to 6” leftover never seems to burn well. What do you do with the ends?

I cut 16" splits in half, 8" splits work well for me.
 
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UPDATE: The moisture meter arrived today. I grabbed an oak split and tested the end. The meter measured the moisture level as being 14%. I cut about 4" off of the end of the split and remeasured. The moisture level inside the split was 18%. I measured just the exposed ends of a few more splits and some measured 18-20%, which would mean their interior moisture level was likely 25% or so?
 
UPDATE: The moisture meter arrived today. I grabbed an oak split and tested the end. The meter measured the moisture level as being 14%. I cut about 4" off of the end of the split and remeasured. The moisture level inside the split was 18%. I measured just the exposed ends of a few more splits and some measured 18-20%, which would mean their interior moisture level was likely 25% or so?
Looks like you have verified your problem. Split them again, put them in the sun for a month or two and give them another try.

- Jason
 
My personal opinion is that 14-18% moisture is not too wet. Many sources would say 20% is optimal and may even go a little wetter on fruitwoods.
 
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If it's hissing... it's not optimal. Not that it won't work

Ryan
 
I don't think it was the 14-18% ones giving me the trouble. I think it was the ones where the end was measuring 20% or more.
 
IMO moisture in wood is no different than humidity in the cook chamber. Some swear by water pans, others don't. I have no doubt humidity speeds cooking time. And I think it might help smoke flavor molecules to stick to meat better. The two effects roughly cancel each other so moisture gives you quicker cook times with no penalty in smoke flavor. So I like water pans, and don't mind a bit greener wood, but most here don't.
 
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I took the advice above and split some of the wood and allowed it to sit on top of the wood rack in the sun for a month or so. That helped a lot. I had a few pieces that had mid to high 20’s in water percentage once the were split again and the fresh surface tested. I put those back and grabbed wood that was lighter in weight and tested 20% or less. The cook went very well and I was not fighting to keep the fire going. Thank you for the help!
 
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