How To Dry Wood For Smoking [2 Simple Methods]

You can dry your wood for smoking in two ways: 1) Kiln dry which allows you to dry the wood in an oven. 2) And the second way is natural which is called air drying.

2 methods of drying wood

Today, we will show you how to dry wood for smoking following these two methods, step by step. Plus, we will also cover:

  • Which are cooking trees
  • How do you get them
  • How to season wood for smoking
  • How to dry wood for smoking fast

So, keep reading to learn everything…

How To Dry Wood For Smoking [2 Easy Methods]

Already you know there are two ways to dry wood mainly, kilndry and air-dry for a better smoky flavor. Below, we are discussing the process of drying.

 how to dry wood for smoking

Following the methods, you can dry any type of wood like oak, apple, hickory, pecan, and so on.

Method 1: Kiln Drying [Drying Wood In Oven For Smoking]

The kiln is the name of an oven that dries the wood. There are many types like giant-gas-powered ovens, giant-electricity-powered ovens, and solar kiln ovens.

kiln drying of wood

These are for drying wood in the oven for smoking. This system is faster than air-dry. The wood becomes dry more for high heat exposure. Kiln-dried wood loses its flavor while air-dried wood doesn’t lose flavor.

How To Kiln Dry Wood For Smoking

Here is the step-by-step Klin dry wood-making process:

Step 1: Set the wood rack’s position properly. Put a thermometer far from the racks and place a large sheet on the rack. 

Step 2: The temperature must be 215-218 degrees Fahrenheit in digital ovens. This may vary from different ovens. In analog ovens, the temperature should be 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

 set the temperature between 200 to 225 degrees fahrenheit to dry wood

Remember that, increasing the temperature lowers the time of drying. So, if you have enough time then keep the temperature low. The point to be noted here, fast-dried woods will burn fast.

Step 3: Start the convection fan and wait for 15 minutes. Check the temperature reading, if it is between 210 to 225 degrees F. Adjust the settings. 

Step 4: Arrange the woods in the racks separately. Let them dry for an hour. 

arrange the wood separately in the oven to dry

Step 5: After passing one hour, check two different sizes of pieces with the moisture meter. If the moisture level is not satisfactory, then keep them for more time in the oven. 

Step 6: Continue the retest after every fifteen minutes. When you get the desired moisture level, put the woods in a dry place to cool. Your kiln-dried firewood is ready to use. That’s it!

Method 2: Air-Drying [Natural Drying Process]

As the name implies, it is easy to understand the process. The woods will dry under the sun in the open place. The drying time is longer than the kiln-dry system. It depends on the climate. In sunny weather, the woods take a few weeks to dry.

air-drying of wood

On the other side, if the weather is wet or gloomy, it may take months or a year to dry up your wet wood. Air-dried woods contain higher moisture than kiln-dried woods. 

Air-Dry Wood-Making Process

Step 1: Wet or cold weather delays the time of drying the woods. It would be best if you started to dry in the early or mid-spring. If you think to start late in the year, then the air-dry process would not be the right choice. 

Step 2: Cut the wood into small wood chunks according to your electric smoker, gas grill, or charcoal grill size. 

cut the wood into small wood chunks

Step 3: Select a place with good sunlight and sufficient airflow. Put the wood rack high from the ground so the woods get proper air from all ways. Cover the area with a tent to save the woods from the rain.

drying woods in the air

Step 4: Arrange the woodpiles on the platform and make sure that if you need another row then keep the distance at least 51 cm between them. 

Step 5: Let them dry for 3-6 months. No need to replace them until the drying has ended. 

Step 6: Check the moisture level of the woods with a moisture meter. 

check the moisture level of the woods

Step 7: If the moisture level is satisfying then move the piles and store them in shed storage. 

This is how to season wood for smoking. The properly seasoned wood makes the food taste better than average. 

Can I Dry Wood In A Smoker?

Yes, you can dry wood in a smoker. It will take a little bit of time but you can go through this process to dry out your wet wood.

drying wood in a smoker

Here is a thing the wood should not be over-moisturized. Overwetted woods will be best to dry in an open place with air ventilation. 

  • First, cut the wood logs into chunks. If you are using logs or large wood, it will fail to dry out properly. 
  • Then, place the pieces of the chunk in the chamber of your smoker. 
  • Turn on the flame. It takes 100-120 degrees to dry the woods.
  • Make sure, the ventilation system of the smoker is opened and properly working. 
  • After drying, turn off the smoker and leave it to cool. Then, store the wood in a dry place.

You can also watch the video to learn the drying process of your smoke wood in your smoker:

How To Dry Firewood Fast?

There are a few tricky methods that are effective to dry the woods fast. You can apply any of them as per your environment and facility. 

Method 1: You can dry the wood in the room instead of the oven or open space. Near your stove or fireplace, just put some small piles or chunks and the heat will dry the woods. 

keep wood piles or chunks beside fireplace to dry

Method 2: Separate the cleave from the wood and dry it. It makes the woods dry faster.

Method 3: Wrapping around the woods makes the woods wet. It may delay the dry or season process. You should not cover the woods.

Method 4: Arrange the woodpiles in the cross-stacking method. So the sunlight and airflow can reach every portion of the pieces and the wood will dry quickly. 

arrange the woodpiles in the cross-stacking method

Method 5: You can use an enclosed area with open ends for seasoning firewood. It will work as a greenhouse and increase the temperature. With the high temperature and plenty of airflows, the woods become seasoned firewood quickly.

But, if you are going to season sweet gum tree firewood that is available in your yard, it will take at least 1 year for the complete seasoning. 

How To Store Wood For Smoking

Smoking wood storage is not a big deal actually. You can store them in your shed or garage or covered area or cardboard box.

how to store wood for smoking

Make sure that the box has enough holes to pass the airflow so your firewood won’t get moldy. Plastic containers are also preferable for this purpose but they must have holes. 

How To Season Wood Chips

The air-dry process is the simplest way to dry wood chips. Make a covered area and spread the chips over the floor. In warm weather leave them as it is, but in cold weather, you may have to use a room heater. 

how to season wood chips

In sunny weather, you can dry them under sunlight but make sure to avoid the rain. After 4-6 days, the chips become dry and seasoned. Measure the moisture content with the wood moisture meter. 20% or below is perfect for burning seasoned wood or for wood chips.

Woods come from trees obviously. There are 3.04 trillion (approx.) trees around the world according to the latest research.

oak tree

But, some specific trees are there to get the cooking woodLet’s see what they are, 

  • Oak: The most usable cook woods are oak woods. To put a different flavor on the meat white oak uses often. The smoke of the white oak is a little bit sweet and vanilla-tinged
  • Alder: This is the traditional smoke wood in Europe. Fish like salmon and poultry get the sweet smell while they cook on alder planks. 
  • Hickory: The smoke produces a stronger smell and flavor than oak wood. So, hickory woods are very much popular for cooking bacon for a long time.
  • Pecan: It is used for short cooking and has a sweet flavor but is mild. Normally fish, poultry, and ribs are cooked with pecan smoke woods. 
  • Fruit-Tree: Fruitwood is also for short-time cooking because this wood doesn’t burn faster than others like pecan. Apple, cherry, peach, and pear are fruit-tree woods. The woods have a delicate sweetness and are best for fish, poultry, and pork.
  • Mesquite: Another cooking tree is the mesquite tree. There are plenty of these trees in Texas. It produces lots of smoke and burns faster. For steak cooking, or making coals these woods are best. 
  • Apple Wood: Applewood is also popularly used while smoking poultry chicken or pork to have a mildly sweet and fruity flavor.
  • Cherry Wood: Many smoky food lovers use cherry to get a light and fruity smoked flavor with meets.

Different Types Of Woods For Different Types Of Smoking

There are various types of wood available for different types of smoking usage.

different types of woods for smoking

They differ in four types which are:

Mildest Smoking: Cherry, Apple, Almond, Alder

Moderate Smoking: Pecan, Sarsaparilla, Maple, Grape

Aggressive Smoking: Hickory, Oak, Beech, Acacia

Most Aggressive Smoking: Pimento, Walnut, Mesquite

You can use all of these according to your requirement but the most important thing is to make sure the woods are properly seasoned and dried up.

Smoking With Green Woods

Generally, green woods are not for all-time uses. It produces so much smoke that people don’t want to use it. But, it gives the food a different flavor. Seafood, turkey, barbecue, and ribs are very compatible with the green woods. The best way to use green woods is to mix them with other smoking woods.

After that, you will get a good result. There are many other trees also available for smoking like maple, lilac, nectarine, walnut, beech, carrotwood, cottonwood, citrus, birch, acacia, and many more. All are good for making smoke while cooking and they add different flavors to the food. 

Woods Are Not For Smoking

Some woods are strictly avoidable to use for smoking. They contain toxins, sap, terpenes, chemical poisons, pesticides, lead, fungus, and more dangerous things which are harmful to humans. These poisonous elements from such woods can make humans sick or sometimes to death.

pine tree

Here are some of these trees such as pine, redwood, fir, spruce, oleander, cypress, tambootie, cedar, elm, eucalyptus, laburnum, sycamore, liquid amber, mangrove, poisonous walnut, yew, old orchards wood, wood from manufactured furniture or pallets, painted wood, mold-covered wood, etc.

You should not use these woods for making smoke while cooking. 

Are Wood Pellets Better than Wood Chips?

For smoking purposes, you can use both pallets or wood chips. Both of them are constructed from hardwood. The pallets are dried first wood so they maintain a consistent moisture level, do not burn fast, and deliver a deeper smokey flavor.

are wood pellets better than wood chips

Pallets are also easier to use as they provide controlled burning for a long time. You just need to set a particular temperature. They are also cheaper to buy.

On the contrary, wood chips consist of small pieces of wood. They burn very quickly and deliver moderate but less clean smoke. You also need to check frequently, whether your smoker is maintaining the required temperature or not.

If not, you need to add more material which is not an easy process at all. It is also a little more expensive than pallets. You can determine which one is better to use in your smoker but according to the overall study, the pallets seem better. 


How long does to dry wood for smoking?

If you dry the wood with the Kiln drying method, it will take highly 10-11 days. But, following the natural or air drying method may months to 1 year.

Can I use wood pellets in my smoker box?

Yes, you can use wood pallets in your smoker box for a slow-burning and deeper smokey flavor.

Can I use fresh wood for smoking?

No, you shouldn’t use fresh wood for smoking purposes. Fresh woods have so many moistures and sap that they deliver less heat. It creates too much wood smoke while burning which can easily ruin your whole BBQ.

Can I use fresh-cut apple wood for smoking?

No, you need to dry your fresh-cut apple wood before using them. Otherwise, it will produce excessive smoke and creosote which can spoil the whole smoking experience.

What can you smoke with applewood?

The apple woods deliver a sweet, fruity smoky flavor to your food. It is one of the mildest woods. You can use it as all-around smoke for bbq, pork, and poultry.

Should I soak my wood before smoking?

Soaking wood before smoking may provide better taste and flavor but it isn’t necessary. Although soaked wood makes the wood burn for a longer time, it doesn’t provide clean smoke because of the high moisture content.

Final Verdict

The whole article covers many sides of smoking wood like how to season wood for smoking, dry wood in the oven for smoking, how to dry wood for smoking, how to store smoking wood, and many more things as we have said above. 

We strongly believe that, if you have already read the article thoroughly, then you have become a superb smoking wood maker. And also, you know how to make perfect smoke by using seasoned wood. 

So, what are you waiting for? Start making your own seasoned wood for smoking now and share your experience in the comment box below.

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