White oak

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by bhelton, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. bhelton

    bhelton Smoke Blower

    I can get white oak in south Florida and was wondering if anyone uses it and how it compairs to box store hickory chunks? Here are a few pics of what I got today.
  2. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    To me, white oak is milder than hickory.

    I love using oak and I feel its good on any meat.

    Looks like it is dry too.
  3. No worries with that oak. I've been using white oak for years. Can always throw some store bought chunks of diff. Wood in when coals are right. I would de-bark that oak btw.
  4. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    The only thing better than red oak for an all-around smoking wood is white oak.
  5. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Some fresh-cut white oak sitting on top of some dried and split red oak. These two woods are all I use in my offset smoker.
  7. bhelton

    bhelton Smoke Blower

    I guess I can't say for sure. The guy I got it from told me it's white oak.
  8. White oak or red oak are great. I am using white oak right now for ribs, I also put in a little cherry.
  9. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    We only have English oak in the UK, we don't have red or white, but it tastes good all the same. Also great mixed with Apple or Cherry.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014
  10. "We only have English oak in the UK, we don't have red or white..."

    English Oak is a White Oak - let me explain......

    I see we need both a dendrology lesson and a wood technology lesson here! Don't be ashamed, it can be confusing. There are indeed three species of oak with the common names of English Oak, Red Oak and White Oak - and of course there are  dozens of other species of oak. However, there are also ONLY TWO families of oaks. The two families are called Red Oak and White Oak. The Red Oak family includes species such as Pin Oak, Laurel Oak, Willow Oak, of course - Red Oak, and many other species. The White Oak family includes species such as White Oak (of course!), Bur Oak, Chestnut Oak, etc., etc.

    When people having any moderate knowledge of trees look at a living oak tree, they will often refer to it by its common name for the specie - and that is because they all look different to some degree. However, when one with some familiarity with wood looks at some oak lumber, there are really only two types of oak wood - red and white. But it is the family (Red and White) that they are referring to. So any of the Oak species that belong to the Red Oak family, are made of Red Oak wood. Any Oak specie that belongs to the White Oak family is made of White Oak wood.

    Does that make sense? Oh, and by the way, English Oak is a member of the White Oak family.  That is why the British of yesteryear built their ships from English Oak. White Oak wood is a superior boat-building wood. It is highly resistant to rot.

    Red Oak is an extremely poor choice for boatbuilding - it rots VERY easily and rapidly!

    Hope that helps!  FWIW, my first degree was in Forestry, and I do have a goodly fair bit of experience with boatbuilding.
  11. smokewood

    smokewood Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Hiya PianoV

    Don't worry I don't do ashamed, but thanks for the information on Oak, I appreciate it.  It would make sense that English Oak is from the white Oak family, as Red Oak does not grow in the UK, correct me if I am wrong but I think it is native to North America.  As I have only used English, or White Oak, would you say there is any difference between white or Red Oak when smoking?
  12. Wow, you are correct about red oaks in the UK. No specie of oak from the red oak family are native to anywhere in Europe - I didn't know that! Here is a link to a good list of oak species divided up into the red and white oak families:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Quercus_species  

    Live Oak, a member of the red oak family is native to Florida. Probably 80+% of the trees in Florida are Live Oaks or similar oaks - I don't know that I've ever seen any white oak in Florida. And hence, as red oak wood is very plentiful in Florida and white oak wood is not, I have never used white oak wood for smoking - so I don't know if there is any difference between the two with regard to smoking.

    I really rather doubt that there is any significant difference between wood of the two major oak families with reference to smoking. If you study the wood structure you will find that wood of the two oak families are nearly identical except for one characteristic. Oak wood is made up largely of vertically oriented large xylem cells - actually trachea cells. These are stacked one on top of another to form what are essentially "straws" - for the tree to suck water and nutrients up from the ground/roots. These trachea cells have membranes at each end of the cell - so they are like a straw with little porous dividers along the length of the straw. When trees from the white oak family die, the membranes between trachea cells solidify and effectively form little impenetrable "plugs" if you will along the length of the straw - i.e., the straw won't work any more. However, when a tree from the red oak family dies, the membranes between the trachea cells fall apart and the wood is left with a bunch of "straws" that will indeed let water flow through them.

    That's why red oak is no good for boats and whiskey barrels and white oak is good for boats and whiskey barrels - red oak will let liquids pass through it and white oak will not. A fun (kinda) trick is to take a short length of red oak - say maybe a piece 4" long by 1" by 1". Soak it in water for a little while. Put a little soap on one end of it and blow into the other end. You will see soap bubbles come out of the soapy end - you can blow right through the wood. Try that with a piece of white oak and nothing happens.

    Now you've got something to impress the ladies with at your next BBQ party!
  13. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    The darkened area of this map shows the native range of the white oak.

  14. Does anyone know how post oak compares to white oak? I am a huge fan and supporter of post oak for brisket after visiting Texas but find it extremely difficult to get it here in Iowa. It is $96 to have 50lbs shipped. I believe white and red oak are rather plentiful in Iowa. So has anyone had experience with both? Are they pretty similar to post oak? Could someone make an educated guess?
  15. Keep in mind that there are the species Post Oak and White Oak. Both are members of the white oak group. All species of oaks fall into the two groups - red and white oak. Within the white oak group are numerous species including White Oak, Post Oak, Burr Oak and a couple dozen other species. Within the red oak group, we find Red Oak, Black Oak, Live Oak, Pin Oak, and a couple dozen other species. All white oak group species have similar wood, while all red oak species have similar wood. The biggest difference between the woods of the red and white oak groups are that when the wood dies, the end grain pores of white oak become clogged with the formation of toeless, while red oak remains ports (open pores). Take a six-inch long plank of white oak and try to blow through the end grain - you can't. Do the same with red oak and you can blow slowly through the plank of red oak. Better yet, put some soap and water on the opposite end and blow - you can blow bubbles out the far end!

    Keep in mind that when you buy a board of "red oak" from the lumber yard, it may well be the specie Red Oak. But just as likely, it will actually be any one of the members of the red oak group - Black, Burr, Pin, etc. oak. Same with white oak lumber.

    So, to answer your question directly: Post Oak is pretty much the same as White Oak (the specie) because BOTH are members of the white oak group! From the standpoint of wood for smoking, I have little doubt that Post Oak and White Oak perform much the same. It might perform a little bit differently than members of the red oak group, but even that I doubt it. I burn red oak wood (mostly Live Oak - a member of the red oak group) in my smoker because that is what is commonly available here in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.

    My educated guess (B.S. in Forestry) is that for smoking meat purposes, any member specie of the white and red oak groups will be indistinguishable from one another. I wouldn't reach across to the other end of the wood pile for one type of oak over another.

    Just fire that puppy up with what you have and enjoy!
  16. Thank you very much for the detailed response! You have put my mind at ease. I was thinking it would basically be the same but it is nice to have feedback from an educated source!
  17. You're welcome!
  18. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Like I said in a previous post on this thread, "The only thing better than white oak is red oak."...or was it the other way around?[​IMG]

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