How to Dry Wood for Smoking [2 Simple Methods]

You can dry your wood for smoking in two ways: 1) Klin dry which allows you to dry the wood in an oven. 2) And the second way is natural which is called air dry. 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 you get them
  • How to season wood for smoking
  • How to dry wood for smoking fast

So, keep reading to learn everything…

What is Smoking Wood?

Smoking wood is the processed wood which we use for browning, cooking, preserving, and flavoring food. Without processing, we are not able to use the tree directly. We need to cut them off and make them use whatever it is for cooking or woodworking. 

Best & Popular Cooking Trees or Cook Woods

Woods come from trees obviously. There are 3.04 trillion (approx.) trees around the world according to the latest research. But, some specific trees are there to get the cooking woodsLet’s see what they are, 

  • Oak: The recent 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 woods. So, hickory woods are very much popular for cooking bacon and for a long time.
  • Pecan: It is used for short cooking and has a sweet flavor but mild. Normally fish, poultry, and ribs are cooking with pecan smoke woods. 
  • Fruit-Tree: Fruit wood is also for short-time cooking because this wood doesn’t burn faster than others like pecan. Apple, cherry, peach, and pear are the fruit-tree woods. The woods have a delicate sweetness and 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.

Smoking with Green Woods

Generally, green woods are not for all-time uses. It produces so much smoke so 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 the 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.

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. 

How to Dry Wood for Smoking

Now, the most important thing that we are talking about. Till now, we know which type of woods are best for smoking and it’s time to make the fresh wood dry to smoke. Seasoned wood is the other name of drying wood. You can not use green wood or unseasoned wood usually for smoking because it contains water.

So, you need to dry the woods for grilling or smoking meat. 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.

Method 1: Kiln Drying

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

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 its flavor.

Kiln-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. Remember that, increasing the temperature lowers the time of drying. So, if you have enough time then keep the temperature low. 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. 

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

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.

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 a small wood chunk according to your electric smoker, gas grill, or charcoal grill size. 

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.

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 in 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. 

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

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

How to Dry Firewood Fast?

There are 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 woods 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. 

Method-2: Separate the cleave from the woods 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 woods will dry quickly. 

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

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 as burning seasoned wood or for wood chips.

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 so they do not burn fast and deliver a deeper smokey flavor.

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 delivers moderate but less clean smoke. You also need to check regularly, if your smoker is maintaining the required temperature.

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. 


Can I use wood pellets in my smoker box? 

Yes, you can use wood pallets in your smoker box. It delivers lots of advantages to wood smokers. As they are made of composed dried first wood, they maintain a consistent moisture level which doesn’t let them burn fast and deliver a deeper smokey flavor.

You will also have controlled burning for a longer period of time in your wood smoker. You just need to set a particular temperature. They are also cheaper to buy.

Can you use fresh wood for smoking?

When smoking food in a wood smoker, it is very important to use the right type of wood. It can turn the whole scenario because of a right or wrong choice. 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 that can easily ruin your whole BBQ. Almost all the experts recommend using dried wood rather than fresh wood for smoking.

What wood should you not smoke with?

There are various types of wood for smoking. Using the right type of wood can hugely impact your output. While there are many types of trees that can be used for smoking, there are also some types which you shouldn’t use.

Woods with a high moisture and sap content such as cedar, pine will provide bad flavor to the food as well as produce creosote. Fresh green woods also contain high moisture and sap, also burn unevenly, and make excessive wood smoke which can ruin the whole prospect. So you should avoid them too. 

Can you use fresh-cut apple wood for smoking?

The apple woods are one of the most popular mild woods that provides sweet, fruity smoking flavor. It is mostly used in smoking pork and poultry. But your fresh-cut apple woods need to be properly dried before using, else it will produce excessive smoke and creosote which can destroy 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.

What kind of wood can you smoke with?

There are various types of wood available for smoking usage. They differ in four types. Which are:

Mildest: Cherry, Apple, Almond, Alder

Moderate: Pecan, Sarsaparilla, Maple, Grape

Aggressive: Hickory, Oak, Beech, Acacia

Most Aggressive: 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.

Should I soak my wood before smoking?

Soaking wood before smoke 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 woods. Like, how to season wood for smoking, drying wood in the oven for smoking, how to store smoking woods, and many more things as we said before. 

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 woods. 

So, what are you waiting for? Start making your own seasoned wood for smoking now. 

Leave a Comment