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Seasoned vs. Kiln-dried? What is better for smoking?

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    Seasoned vs. Kiln-dried? What is better for smoking?

    I am new to the stick burner game and I am now looking to source wood. My urban backyard has limited space for storing wood. While I am figuring that out, I’ve read that seasoned wood actually provides better flavor than kiln-dried, as it allows the natural sugars to become mor pronounced.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.


    As per Bill;
    "The best species are dense hardwoods such as oaks, hickory, and mesquite. Avoid kiln-dried and freshly-cut wood; split and air-dried for 3-12 months is ideal, having a moisture content of 20-30%."


      most of the wood I use is between 14%-10 %. I cut all my own, so I do not buy the kiln dried stuff. I think you are better off skipping the kiln dried stuff. It is almost always more expensive. Why pay for something you do not need?

      Look into seasoned firewood sales. And make sure they are selling hard woods. That will be a much better deal. Kiln dried wood is for stoves and heating.


        I have used locally sourced, seasoned oak, hickory, maple and black cherry, all with good results. Oak takes the longest of those to get fully seasoned. I have found that kiln dried burns more readily, but also more efficiently, so a little less smoke flavor.


          As per Meathead from the free side of AR;
          "If you buy kiln dried, ask for 15 to 22% moisture. The water provides steam that makes the droplets larger and stickier."

          If you are interested additional information concerning the fire science of how wood burns, I suggest reading about what Meathead has written on the free side of AR, what Bill Karu has written at kbq.us and what Dr. Blonder has written in the food section of genuineideas.com


            From my research and a lot of feedback from pitmasters on this website, seasoned wood and not kiln dried wood is the way to go for smokers. The main reason is kiln dried wood does not provide as much "smoke" flavor as seasoned wood. I kind of poo-pooed this but the last time I used my offset with kiln dried wood (and I know how to manage a fire) I was surprised at how little of the smoke got onto the ribs. I had a good smoke ring (which is not a great indicator of smoke), but hardly any smokey flavor.

            Getting a new smoker in a few days (weeks?), bought some seasoned wood and a moisture meter. I'm trying Fruitta Woods. They sell seasoned wood.


            • TripleB
              TripleB commented
              Editing a comment
              Rob whatever - Looks like they changed their website graphics and info. When I ordered some pecan and oak a couple months ago, it stated that the wood was seasoned and not kiln dried. For my own edification, I sent them an email requesting verification if the wood is kiln dried or seasoned.

            • Rob whatever
              Rob whatever commented
              Editing a comment
              Out of curiosity, what kind of smoker did you get? I am doing my first stick burning session as I write this. I got some cherry from a neighbor and needed some more wood and ended up getting some oak from my local gas station. Both are seasoned. I’m adding split every 30 minutes.


            • TripleB
              TripleB commented
              Editing a comment
              Rob whatever - I purchased a KBQ. Has not arrived yet. I own a Jambo offset. 30 mins/split is about right.

            I habitually use Seasoned'

            In my case, I've found kiln dried to be overtly devoid of moisture, an flavour components...



              Yeah as others have told you already, the kiln dried wood is almost TOO dry for use in smoking. You want seasoned hardwood.

              Around here, since I am in a suburban lot and don't have trees to cut down myself, I've sourced firewood for the fireplace, fire pit and smoking from a local tree service in the past. Turns out those trees they cut down for folks get hauled off to a seasoning lot where they have acres of wood split, stacked and sorted by species, and they can provide oak, hickory and fruit wood by the full, half or quarter cord. I got a half cord of oak and hickory delivered right before SWMBO informed me I needed to switch the fireplace back to gas logs so that SHE could make fires with a remote control. I've had it under a tarp behind the shed for a second season, and am only using it for smoking wood or the fire pit.

              I imagine wherever you live, there is a tree service that also resells the seasoned wood they harvest by cutting down folks trees.


                My wood tends to be higher in moisture, say 15-25%, and this is only of course when I bother to check it. It's all good, don't fret it. If you have the option then avoid kiln-dried, but don't not cook with wood if that's all you can get. Too dry, light & airy, is bad though, you won't get much use beyond heat.


                  Generally, it's my understanding that wood that ships across state lines has to be kiln dried as an insect transfer preventative. Florida wants fumigated wood!


                  • jfmorris
                    jfmorris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Ouch! I don't think anyone needs to be smoking with fumigated wood!


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