Left over Unfinished Hickory #3 Flooring used for chips?

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by micklouie, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. I have some left over Hickory flooring that have never been treated. Could I cut it up into chucks and use it in my smoker? I wouldn't think it would be bad since it has never treated with any chemicals. I'm going to double check with my flooring supplier just to make sure they didn't put anything on it.

    Any thoughts?


  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As long as you can verify it is in fact un-treated, and also has not had any insecticides used during the growth of the tree(s) it was harvested from (this may not be an easy task), it would be safe for use with open-grate cooking. I mentioned the use of pre-harvest insecticides because it can be mixed into water during irrigation of saplings to be drawn into the plant through the roots, or it can be sprayed as a mist onto the plant. Finding this information would require some in-depth research into the actual source of the wood, including records of it's source from purchase invoices which will help you trace back to the logging company and land/owner.

    It may sound like a lot of effort, but if you're talking about a fairly large quantity of wood, this can translate into the posibility of long-term periodic exposure to these chemicals, so it would be in your best interests to do your homework. 

    Good luck, and great smokes!

  3. Thanks for your input.

    I had a question about your response. So all these bags of chips/chucks we buy to use for smoking has a complete clean track record of no insecticides used on them? Wouldn't we be worried about every tree we use for smoking could have some type of water contaminated in the tree? It seems like a pretty broad statement to think that we have a completely clean tree for smoking purposes. Wouldn't we be worried about the method used to make chips/chunks. That some diesel fuel or oil could have leaked during the chipping or cutting process? I doubt they are hand cutting these chips and not using some type of fuel powered tool to make them.

    With that statement you could cause a pretty large concern with the smoking world wood chip industry. What is in your wood?


  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're welcome, Mike.

    After reading your reply, I spent a couple hours searching various websites, and for various topics related to smoke woods, regulatory info being my key focus, while looking over anything related when it came my way (which wasn't often)...not the most rewarding hunt I've had lately for info, but I did retrieve a few things worth noting for my efforts.

    To answer your question about what's in most commercially processed/packaged smoke woods, well, I really don't have the answer. I've done some researching this evening for info pertaining to any regulations regarding this topic within the code of federal regulations and I wasn't able to locate anything even remotely close, and I searched through the consumer commodities and agricultural sections, as well as using specific word searches. Finding no regulations doesn't mean they don't exist, however I now am wondering how some of the brands of smoke woods which are sold to retail buyers are handled, all the way from a sapling tree to store shelf. If in fact there are no regulatory statutes governing the growth, harvest, processing and packing of woods intended for and advertised as being suitable for cooking/smoking, then, I would have to ask myself if all brands are handled the same or not. If they are not, then, I would be inclined to wonder if some of the wood comes from trees which were harvested with typical logging equipment using hydrocarbon based lubricants, hydrocarbon fuel (gasoline/diesel) powered equipment. Then, there's the possible issues with chemical application during tree growth, such as insecticide(s) and fertilizer(s).

    The possibility of contaminated water (other than intentionally dissolving fertilizers/insecticides/fungicides) getting at the tree population in question would be based mainly on geographical location in relation to certain nearby industrial properties (1), and non-organic farming of human food or animal feeds (2). Leaching through ground water and run-off from upstream or uphill locations would be the main suspect causes if that type of chemical contamination were present, though in these instances, the contaminants should only be found in trace quantities, except in extreme cases. Also, in flood plains, every tree or piece of wood could be considered suspect...flooding can carry enormous amounts of unknown substances down-stream, but this would be of relatively short-term duration in the case of standing live trees. (EDIT:) Then, I would have to ask, how mush residual contaminant could absorb into the top soil, then penetrate the sub-soil and into the root system? (FINISH EDIT) If the smoke wood in question was cut and seasoned, with soaking it in flood waters possibly containing high concentrations of water-soluble chemicals (or lighter hydrocarbons floating on the surface as in an oil-sheen), then, one may ask, how much contaminants could be absorbed into the wood?

    As for use of hydrocarbon powered/lubricated equipment being used to cut, split, or chip the smoke woods sold to the consumer, I can only say that I hope they use alternative methods such as electric powered chain-saws with vegetable lubricants for harvest, band-saws for final cutting and non-hydraulic splitting equipment for mini-splits, chunking and chipping. I have located one website which has published that they use only organically grown stock for their smoke wood products, which are then harvested and processed without any harmful contaminants, as well..

    I tried searching on Weber's site for the smoke wood chunks with their label in order to find out what goes (or more importantly doesn't go) into the product, seeing as that's what brand I last purchased for smoke woods, in the 5lb bags of chunk...came up empty handed. So, to answer your last question about what's in my wood? I don't know, and now I'm wondering, though I won't be overly concerned to the point that it stops me from using it, or any other presumably suitable smoke woods...smoke on, I say.

    I definitely had no intention of stirring up any major concerns about the smoke wood industry in general, but I may have given us all a few things to consider when acquiring our smoke wood, either when harvesting our own, or, when purchasing it from a retailer. It does make the inquiring mind wander a bit, doesn't it? If you're wondering, don't be alarmed...be informed and educated on the subject.

    I had not specifically looked at any other sites offering smoke wood too closely before I stumbled upon this site (below), but this one seemed promising to me when I found it last night. Their mention of certain conditions which must be met before accepting any wood for further processing and packaging for resale as a cooking wood immediately caught my attention, so I would have to trust what they say to be true. Some of which they don't specify, being the actual visual inspecyion for characteristics, but they do use loaclly grown/harvested when possible. If they aren't practicing what is published on their site regarding organically grown, then, they would be opening themselves up for a class-action lawsuit involving mis-representation and/or false advertising, as well as possible criminal prosecution...I'll take their word for it, as I doubt anyone with the intelligence to operate a business would be so ignorant that they couldn't recognized the legal ramifications which would eventually come. That's my personal basis for wanting to look further into their products.

    As I recall from last night's reading (that is, if my CRS didn't shift into over-drive), they have free shipping, and their pricing seemed comparable with many store-bought smoke woods on price per quantity or weight. Higher quantities will get better pricing, and they offer some customizing and flexibility of orders:


    (this would be my first choice for on-line smoke wood orders, thus far...and, no, I'm affiliated with this site or it's owners)

    Tonight's search for organic wood chips (I haven't taken the time to completely review all of their info/products yet):

    Not too bad on prices if ordered in their larger volume packages:


    Somewhat spendy for smoke wood, I thought:

    http://www.smokinlicious.com/index.php?About Our Wood Chunks and Wood Chips

    Very spendy stuff, here...put your seat-belts, or you may be picking yourself up off the floor like I did (LOL!!!):


    With the few organic smoke wood sites I found above (there's more, I'm sure), and in just a couple minutes of browsing, it kinda opened my mind a little more, not only to what's out there for alternatives to the limited local supplies in my area, but to how expensive things are getting in today's economy. Without knowing what those not claiming to sell organic smoke wood products are really selling you, the organic smoke woods are a good choice, IMHO...just depends on what you find to be of personal importance. The main thing I think we need to remember is that we eat everything we put into or on our food, whether it's good for our bodies, or not, regardles of when it got there. Trace amounts of most contaminents? Probably nothing to be concerned with. Moderately heathy adults can process small amounts of various contaminents and suffer no ill effects, within reason, and with a few exceptions. Elderly, small children and infants are more succeptable to almost anything abnormal that comes through the food supply, placing them at higher risk. Moral? Everything in moderation, and practice due caution with those at risk.

    Time permitting, I will continue searching for hard data on regulatory info, etc, and I'll keep you informed.

    If anyone has already stumbled into this info, please, do post a link to the site or specific document. I'm a pretty good good researcher, but my eyes aren't as sharp as they were 30 years ago, so how much do I miss?...LOL!!

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011

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