Ideal moisture content for stick burners

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by sunday smoker, Jun 5, 2015.

  1. sunday smoker

    sunday smoker Newbie

    I have been cooking on a box store propane smoker for awhile now and finally pulled the trigger on a lang 48 patio deluxe a few weeks ago waiting on delivery now. For this season I'll have to order my cooking woods online, so I started searching which led me to some questions. First let me say it plan on using only logs no charcoal. Some places say you need kiln dried logs for there heat some places say you lose all flavor and they keep there woods as wet as possible. Just wondering what I should be lookin for, if anybody has a website recommendation that would be great too.
  2. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome aboard! I don't use a stick burner so can't make any accurate recommendations. Just saying hello and hopefully giving your thread a bump so someone else might chime in with some answers.
    Enjoy your new Lang!!
  3. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to the board! You don't have to kiln-dry wood to smoke with it, but in these days of invasive bug infestations I wouldn't be surprised if kiln drying is becoming a requirement for interstate/international shipping. I know there's some regulation like that in place for wooden pallets.

    If the wood is too wet you'll get nasty white smoke. Just ambient-air drying should be fine if it's kept out of the rain, etc. Depending on the kind of wood, it will usually "check" (crack) at the ends of the logs, and then you know they're plenty dry.

    Consider running some lump charcoal as a neutral-flavor heat source to mix in with your flavoring wood.
  4. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    I use a stick burner with oak being my main smoking wood.

    If you notice the last few splits on the left are a different color; that is red oak that has been air-dried under this shelter for about a year and is perfect for smoking. The rest of the wood is white oak and has been drying for about 6 months and is still a little wet. It pops and snaps when burning, and you can see water seeping out from the ends of the larger splits when you burn them. Something to consider is the average humidity where you live, it may take your wood just a few months to dry in a more arid climate than steamy South Georgia.

    I can tell you that the wood must be dry if you are going to use it for fuel. I have never used kiln-dried wood, but I have tried using wood that wasn't good and dry and you will get the dreaded creosote contamination on your meat if there is too much moisture.

    Craigslist can be a source for local hardwood. Search firewood. You can usually find it already dried and split, and sometimes they can even tell you the species of the wood.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
  5. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    First you do not need to buy wood that has been kiln dried, but it is an option. Many states, Maine and California for instance, do not allow firewood from other states in unless it has been certified to have been heated to 160°F in order to kill off any of the bugs that may be infesting it.

    Second wood that is not at or below 20% moisture will not burn properly and will make it hard to keep the small hot fire required for running a stickburner.

    FWIW I like to have my wood splits at a moisture content of around 12%-16%. YMMV.
  6. sunday smoker

    sunday smoker Newbie

    Appreciate the advice, I have been using mix of Hickory and apple for my smokes so far really like the results trying to stay close to that. I'm looking for local wood all I can find is fresh, so I am planning on getting that together and seasoning for next year. Found this website
    seems like quality wood, every other wood like this I over 50 dollars per cubic foot that's crazy this place is 9 and claims a moisture content of 20% which they say is perfect for cooking
  7. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    I would agree that 20 percent is probably right. Kiln dried (if I remember right) gets it down to about 8%. Before you discount oak, that is the preferred wood of the famous Franklin BBQ in Austin, Tx. I have oak and pecan on my property so finding wood isn't a problem for me, but around here, you can get a pickup truck bed full of oak firewood for around $60.
  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Those are very high prices for firewood IMHO.

    Where do you live?
  9. sunday smoker

    sunday smoker Newbie

    Southern new Jersey
  10. timtimmay

    timtimmay Action Team

    Wow monkey, that's a stack of sticks!

    I used charcoal just to get things going then used mostly oak because it is readily available, but I would mix in Apple wood when I got my hands on it. I also threw a smoulder box with different flavored pellets in it.

    No right answer experimenting is the fun part!
  11. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Welcome , Sunday smoker .  Glad to have you .

    As for the wood you use , the Guys are correct in saying wet is not good . I doubt you have a way of telling the moisture , therefore a rule of thumb comes into play . Your

    wood should be a little heavier than expected when picked - up , opposed to being green . The cracks , Blue wisper speaks of , will be evident in cured wood.   ,  here's a bit of reading for you to peruse.

    Have fun and . . .
  12. sunday smoker

    sunday smoker Newbie

    Good read thank you there was a lot of help can't wait for my smoker to come and I can start playing. Anybody have any website recommendations for woods?
  13. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Search for fire wood suppliers in south Jersey
  14. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Wood will dry more quickly when split. Splitting can be a way to evaluate how wet the wood is; the wood tends to be softer and more pliable and sometimes stringy, while dried wood snaps. That depends on the type of wood, though, because some are more stringy than others.

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