Last updated on January 16th, 2022 at 02:25 am
Wood is not only used for heating purposes but also used to smoke food as well. If you are fond of camping and going outdoors you definitely would like to have nice smoked food with flavor and fragrance. The important thing to remember is to have good quality wood that can smoke the meat and add flavor to it as well. The author of the article has honestly answered the question “How to season wood for Smoking” through experience and professional research methods.
There are two proven methods for drying your wood for smoking. These are the air drying and the kiln drying. Drying wood by air drying is one of the most common methods used today. It’s normally accomplished by exposing wood to direct sunlight. Heated chambers are used for kiln drying because they’re able to control the temperature and other factors.
How to Season Wood for Smoking Using Air Drying Method
Air drying is the traditional way of drying wood. You need to leave your wood out in the open air. It needs to be exposed to the elements (sunlight, wind) for several months before being finished.
Start Seasoning in Summer
Drying wood outdoors is much easier than indoor drying. You should dry your wood in summer when the sun shines. If you want to speed up the drying process, try to dry your wood in warmer weather.
Chop up the Wood into Smaller Pieces
Wood should be cut into smaller pieces before being dried. Smaller pieces dry faster than larger ones. Wear the right safety equipment when cutting wood. You can buy pre-cut wood or you can chop your own with the best splitting axe of 2022.
Build a raised platform
Raised platforms prevent moisture build-up under the wood. You should put your wood in direct sun or else it won’t dry properly. A raised platform also helps prevent rain damage to your wood.
Pile your wood neatly in piles
Wood should be stacked in piles. This allows for even ventilation. Keep wood in single stacks to prevent toppling. Leave gaps between pieces to allow for airflow.
Allow enough time to dry
You should avoid moving the wood until it’s completely dried out. Drying time varies depending on the type of wood, initial moisture level, thickness, and density. Usually, it takes 3-6 months to dry.
Check Moisture Content
A wood moisture meter should be used to determine if the wood is dry or wet. It’s a very useful tool for measuring the moisture content of the wood. A trusted and accurate wood moisture meter is available by clicking here. You want to use wood that is between 9% and 14% moisture content. If wood is dried out too much, it will burn up too fast during the smoking process, therefore you should avoid over-drying.
How to Season Wood for Smoking Using the Kiln Method
Kiln drying is a controlled process used to dry wood. It involves heating up the wood until it reaches a specific temperature. Then you remove the wood from the heat source and let it cool down naturally.
Put the wood into the kiln
Wood should be placed inside the drying chamber (or kiln) according to the type of kiln used. Stack your wood along the wall or place it in the assigned space.
Select the temperature you desire
Drying wood takes about 11 days. You should set the temperature according to the type of wood you want to dry. In general, the lower the temperature, the slower the wood dries out, but it takes longer to burn. High temperatures cause fast-burning but a short life span.
Turn on the ventilation system
Turn on the ventilation system of your wood drying machine to ensure even drying.
Maintain a constant supply of fuel
Make sure to keep an adequate supply of fuel to maintain the desired temperature. The amount of fuel required depends on how long you plan to leave the wood in the kiln. Check the manual for the proper way to load the fuel.
Turn off the kiln when the time comes
When the drying process is complete, turn off the kiln. Remove the wood from the kiln and check its moisture content.
Place the wood in a storage area
You should store wood in an open shed or under a tarp if the weather is bad. Now, your wood is ready to smoke!
How long to season wood for smoking
It depends on your personal taste. Some people prefer green wood because it releases more flavor, which means it can be used in smaller amounts. As a general rule, you should season wood between 6-18 months for smoking. If you exceed 18 months of drying, the wood becomes dried out and begins to lose some of its flavors.
Check the ends and see if they have started to form crack lines. If you can see little crack lines, it means the wood started drying. In addition, you can check for greenness near the wood by scratching the bark. Alternatively, you can try to split them. It’s ready if the axe passes through or if it makes a splintering noise.
What is seasoned wood?The wood that has been cut and left out to dry at least for a year is called seasoned wood. Ideally the quality seasoned wood should have a moisture content below 20%. The wood should be seasoned at the end of the winter season so that you let it dry for at least 6 months during summers before you start using it in winters again.
Once the tree is cut down its wood is slightly green in color. Greenwood or freshly chopped wood has a water content of around 50%. This wood is left out in open space for at least 12 to 18 months and lets the sun and the air reduce its moisture content to below 20 %. Experienced woodmen also use different electric devices to measure that moisture content to make sure wood is completely ready for the fireplace or firepit.
A recently cut green wood with a moisture content of more than 50% is certainly not ideal for smoking food. Green or fresh wood has the following disadvantages.
• Hard to ignite
• Burns poorly
• Doesn’t produce heat
Seasoned Wood can be used in 2 different ways to smoke the meat:
- As the main source of heat or fuel
In his case wood is burnt as a main source of fuel, in this case, it not only provides heat but also helps smoke the food and adds some flavor to the food as well.
- As a source of smoke only
In this case, wood is not used as a main source of fuel and for that purpose, you can use charcoal or gas. The wood chips and chunks are placed on top of the charcoal to provide that Smokey flavor.
How To Season Firewood Fast – 5 Methods
- Drying at room temperature using the stove
This is the simplest way to dry wood at room temperature and out of the elements. You don’t need to store wood under a tarp or a shed and obviously, you won’t like to go out in winter storms to bring some firewood.
Just sit by your stove and place small chunks of wood near your fireplace. The heat from the stove will dry out your wood chunks and you can later use them for smoking meat.
- Cleave off the Bark
If you use this method you will surely have wood with below 20% moisture content only in 12 months’ time. You just need to cleave off the bark from the wooden logs and leave it to dry outdoors. The bark is like a raincoat with higher moisture content and won’t let the sun penetrate through the wood to let it dry. This way not only does the wood dries quickly but the bark itself gets dry and can be used later.
- Don’t wrap the Wood
People tend to wrap the wood when trying to season the wood, that’s totally wrong. You just need to cover the wood instead of wrapping it completely. If you don’t have a machine shed or garage to cover wood then you can tarp it cover it but don’t wrap it.
Tarping is a very effective and inexpensive method, you just need to cover the top of the pile only don’t wrap or enclose the sides. The idea is to let the air flow through the side of the wood and let it dry efficiently.
Remember don’t stack firewood on the ground elevate it onto pallets, bricks, or blocks.
- Cross stacking
In this method, you stack wood in different rows side by side, people tend to throw logs one right on top of another right beside each other onto a pile. You certainly can save some space by getting more wood in a stack but this is not an efficient way to let every piece of wood get dry.
In cross stacking, you start off with your first row and lay logs side by side and the second row should be laid perpendicular like Lincoln logs. Repeat each level until you get to the top and this way you will find gaps between the logs to let air fly through and let them dry.
- Stacking in an enclosed structure
Unlike wrapping wood with a tarp which actually traps moisture, this method will trap heat but the ends are open to allow airflow just like a greenhouse. You can use metal carports for this purpose as well.
The greenhouse will increase the temperature and the open end will allow airflow to let the wood dry efficiently and quickly. In this process, you make sure that the air is flowing In and out of the structure especially during warm days.
You can apply any of the methods and the best time to season wood is at the end of the winter season.
How to tell if the wood is seasoned? – Seasoned vs Unseasoned Wood
These are the following 10 points/indicators to judge the seasoned wood.
Seasoned wood is dry and less vibrant and its color is faded. Fresh wood is normally in green color.
2. Split wood
it’s important to buy wood that has been split already rather than buying logs in a stack. Split wood is one of the indications that wood is being dried, split wood dries more quickly than the unsplit wood or the wood that is touching the ground.
Is another important indicator, seasoned wood with less moisture content is lighter than fresh greenwood.
Once the wood gets dry It tends to get hard as well so it’s an important indicator for picking up seasoned wood.
Dry wood has loose barks on it that can easily be removed.
Dry wood may have some cracks that appear from the center to the edges of the wooden pieces. An important thing to notice is that green or dry wood both may or may not have cracks so keep other factors in notice when buying seasoned wood.
Fresh wooden pieces always make a dull thud when struck against each other whereas dry wood produces a hollow sound.
Depending upon the type of tree, fresh wood has a strong aroma while dry wood has a woody smell.
Greenwood is hard to burn and produces more smoke as compared to dry wood.
10. Moisture content
you can check moisture content by any reliable moisture meter dry wood should have moisture content less than 20 percent as compared to wet wood with 50 %.
Know This Before Buying Seasoned Wood
Good quality seasoned wood is hard to find and often you find wood that is not properly dried to a desired moisture level that is below 20%.
This is because the firewood providers don’t arrange or stack the wood that allows all the pieces to dry to the desired level. Many of them found stacking the wood outside and exposed to rain or might not even stack it, they just have a large pile of wood that’s it.
If you buy the wood from such a provider the problem will be the inconsistency some wood pieces may burn as expected and some will cause a real headache because they have high moisture content.
Best Types of Wood for Smoking
Well, the different wood tends to produce different flavors and colors and it really depends on your choice. You may try out different types of wood over time and judge by your experience the type of wood that suits your food.
Before using any wood for smoking you need to know a few characteristics that the wood should have to give you a great smoking experience. You may be using electric, gas, or charcoal as a main primary source of heat, and adding some chunks of wood for flavor and color, even then selecting the right wood is important.
Wood should be seasoned for at least 6 to 8 months if you are using such wood it would give you a great smoking experience because its moisture content will be just perfect to smoke meat.
“Important point is to avoid kiln dry wood because it will burn much faster and you won’t be able to control the heat. Wood with some moisture burn slowly for longer periods which is ideal for the slow and low process of smoking meat, and it’s a very popular method of smoking.”
Famous woods for adding flavor.
There are a variety of woods like:
• Fruit woods
These types of wood can add flavor to your cooked food, we have discussed them in detail in one of our articles 11 best smelling firewood. This will give you a better idea for sure. Remember we have also mentioned some bad-smelling firewood in that article, which you should avoid.
Benefits of Burning Seasoned Wood
Although seasoned firewood is a bit expensive it comes with some great benefits that fresh or wet wood doesn’t provide. Some wood may take more than 6 months to get dry and get the moisture level below 20%. Softwood like pine can get seasoned in 6 months but hardwood like oak can take up to 2 years to get fully seasoned.
Seasoned wood comes with the following benefits.
• Burns well – generate more heat
• Generates less smoke – less harmful substances
• Easy to light the fire – less effort to keep the fire going
Dangers of Burning Unseasoned Wood
Many experienced outdoorsmen love to have pure seasoned wood to burn and smoke the meat. Unseasoned wood apart from its other disadvantages, can also be dangerous and cause real damage to the chimney.
As we all know unseasoned wood has a high moisture content, which is above 50% or more. When the wood is burnt the water vapors combine with other gasses and particles, and with the help of condensation it creates creosote substance in the chimney. The creosote substance when hardens forms tar in the chimney.
Remember if the chimney is unlined the tar can certainly cause damage to the brickwork as well. If you have a chimney then a chimney fire can be a risk in presence of tar, fire can start due to the accumulation of residue, and the flow of gasses is restricted, which are trying to escape to the atmosphere.
Burning seasoned wood may not stop chimney collecting residue but it will certainly reduce congestion. It’s very important to clean the chimneys at least twice a year.
Seasoned firewood vs Kiln Dried Firewood
Seasoned firewood is what everyone desires but when compared to kiln-dried wood it comes with certain disadvantages as well, no matter how efficiently the wood is seasoned.
Kiln Dried Wood
How easy to light fire
It's Hard to light
Easy to light fire
Nice woody smell
Produces more emmisions
Not harmful for health
Bugs, mold, and fungus
creates more creosote
very less creosote
We are pretty sure, we have answered the question How to Season wood for Smoking with some awesome tips and tricks. The seasoned wood is in great demand just because of the benefits it provides over fresh or wet wood. Although seasoned wood can be a bit expensive, but it not only burns well, it generates less smoke, and also provides you with a great smoking experience.
Seasoned firewood can be inconsistent if it’s not dried properly. You should not buy a stack of wood with some dried and wet wood mixed in it. If you are not confident about any firewood seller you can buy kiln-dried wood from the store where each wooden piece is carefully dried with the help of an oven up to 20 % moisture.
What is kiln drying?
It’s the process where wood is dried using an oven often term as a kiln. At a certain temperature, moisture is reduced to below 20% so that the wood provides real benefits when burnt.
How much wood is required to smoke?
It depends on the type of smoker you are using, there are smokers where wood is not your primary source of heat in that case a few chunks of wood will be enough to create smoke for your meat.
How long wood should be seasoned?
Well-seasoned wood can be obtained by letting fresh wood dry for at least 6 to 18 months. Remember if you seasoned wood for more than 18 months it might lose its flavor.
How long to season oak firewood?
Oak firewood can take around 6 to 24 months to get the moisture content to below 20 %.
Does firewood dry out in the winter?
Yes, firewood dry in the winter season as well but not as quickly as you would expect it to dry during summertime
Should you cover firewood with a tarp?
Yes, you should cover the firewood with a tarp so that it’s not exposed to rain, as we have discussed in the article better not to wrap the stack completely should allow air to flow through the stack.
How much does a cord of kiln-dried firewood cost?
The cord of kiln-dried wood cost around $300 to $400 and it cost 30 % more than others and has 30% less moisture content.
At what temperature is wood kiln dried?
There are different temperatures ranging from 120 to 190 Fahrenheit depending upon the different stages of the process.