Why not Cedar ?

Discussion in 'Woods for Smoking' started by canadiannewbie, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Hi Gang

    I read that cedar should not be used to smoke but could not find the reason.

    Is it because it will give off fumes (like pine)

    I planed a lot of cedar and have 5 garbage bags of shavings I was hoping to use :-(

    Thanks in advance

    Dave in Canada
  2. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Pine, Fir Spruce and Cedar contain resins that may negatively affect the taste of your food.

    Do a test burn and see for yourself.

  3. http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/wiki/wood-types-and-flavor

    Types of wood that is unsuitable or even poisonous when used for grilling. Don't use any wood from conifer trees, such as PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CEDAR, CYPRESS, etc. Also ELM, EUCALYPTUS, SASSAFRAS, SYCAMORE and LIQUID AMBER wood is unsuitable for smoking.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  4. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  5. Perfect ! Thanks for the link also :)

  6. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    What about ceder planks ? I have see people cook on them many times.
  7. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

         Newbie, if you want the flavor of pine in your food without all the Creosote getting on your food, go to a Spice Store and get some Juniper Berries and grind them up in your Rub. I have tried it and it gives a stout Piney fragrance,but ground-up and cooked ,it get bitter. The only way I use it is in Brines and Cures,and not much then either.
  8. raymo76

    raymo76 Smoking Fanatic

    I have cooked many racks of ribs on a cedar plank and everyone has enjoyed them.
  9. Cedar "planks" are not true cedar. I believe they are from the Mahogany family thus not poisonous.  Most of your true cedars are what is called "aromatic" cedar.  Not good........
  10. raymo76

    raymo76 Smoking Fanatic

    Well there ya go. Use the planks and don't worry.
  11. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A buddy of mine does smoked Northern Pike and cans them with a few spigs of juniper.  The taste is fantastic!!
  12. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Cedar planks are cedar. Period. Cedar planks are used for grilling all the time. Cedar is used to smoke fish by natives in the PacNW and Canada, but the technique is more like smoking in a smoke house than in an offset or a WSM.

    BTW the smoke woods list needs to be amended in regard to Sassafras, people do use it with good results.
  13. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Conifers, should not be used for smoking

    Resinous woods such as conifers create smoke thick with unburned carbon and pitch.

    Cedar is a conifer, Conifers should not be used for smoking. However Cedar planks are safe to smoke or grill on.


    Planks for grilling, untreated cedar, Hickory, alder, or maple.


    My father has smoked with Sassafras many years ago, he said he used to chew on the twigs as a kid and from what I read a sassafras twigs stimulates saliva production: a useful fact for desperately thirsty hikers.

    The dried and ground leaves from sassafras are used to make filé powder, an ingredient used in some types of gumbo.

    In 1960, the FDA banned the use of sassafras oil and safrole in commercially mass produced foods.

    Safrole oil is extracted from the root-bark or the fruit of sassafras plants.

    The roots of Sassafras was used in the flavoring of traditional root beer.

    Sarsaparilla, sassafras are ingredients still used by hobby or microbrew enthusiasts.

    Sassafras wood is commercially available for smoking, however, smoking woods are not regulated.

    Would I use Sassafras wood for smoking? If I had sassafras, absolutely, after all my research I have not found any reason not to use it.

    So I have to concur with Cliffcarter on both points.

  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would not use cedar for smoking due to its oils and resins/rosins....  Here is one article...  there are others you might consider "googling"

    J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1989 Mar;83(3):610-8.

    The toxicity of constituents of cedar and pine woods to pulmonary epithelium.

    Ayars GH, Altman LC, Frazier CE, Chi EY.


    Department of Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


    Occupational exposure to cedar and pine woods and pine resin (colophony) can cause asthma and chronic lung disease. Prior studies suggest that plicatic and abietic acids are responsible for the asthmatic reactions that occur in cedar-wood and colophony workers; however, the etiologic mechanism(s) of the chronic lung disease is unknown. To determine if plicatic acid from cedar wood and abietic acid from pine resin could directly damage lung cells, we exposed monolayers of rat type II and human A549 alveolar epithelial cells, intact rat lungs, and rat tracheal explants to solutions of plicatic and abietic acids. As indices of injury, we measured lysis of alveolar epithelial cells with a 51Cr technique, quantitative desquamation of epithelial cells from tracheal explants, and histologic alterations in tracheal explants and intact lungs. Plicatic and abietic acids both caused dose- and time-dependent lysis of alveolar epithelial cells. Instillation of plicatic and abietic acids into rat lungs produced bronchial epithelial sloughing. Abietic acid also caused destruction of the alveolar epithelium. The addition of either acid to rat tracheal explants caused epithelial desquamation that was dose- and time-dependent. Our results suggest that plicatic acid, a unique constituent of cedar wood, and abietic acid, the major constituent in pine resin, can produce lytic damage to alveolar, tracheal, and bronchial epithelial cells. We hypothesize that repeated occupational exposure to these substances might promote the chronic lung damage observed in some cedar- and pine-wood workers and in electronic workers exposed to colophony.

    PMID:2926083[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] 
  15. Did the planks burn or emit smoke at all? It seems people use these planks over and over again so I imagine they are not burning or emitting any smoke.
  16. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Read this

    Thought it was interesting
  17. sasafras is great for smoking, also the roots from young trees can be boiled for tea,i've drank many of cups of it!
  18. raymo76

    raymo76 Smoking Fanatic

    Yep the planks burned, I don't think any flame ever licked up the top to my ribs though (as in the pictures in the link just posted). The bottom of my planks always looked all aligatored from burning. I still have a few that I haven't used yet. I soaked those from the moment I decide I'm going to use them, so i thats in the morning for dinner that's when I soak em.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
  19. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes the planks burn/smolder and flavor the meat, usually you place fish on them, never heard of ribs but okay. Here/over there in the pacific northwest it is very common to cook your fish with cedar/on a cedar board.

    Cedar planks are very much true cedar. Especially when you go the the hardware store and buy a cedar board. You should only cook with WESTERN RED CEDAR, Eastern cedar varieties are NOT SAFE TO COOK ON.

    Hope this helps.
  20. Thanks SQUIB. Very informative.

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