How to dry Wood for Smoking?

Conventionally, wood is the only method for smoking meat. Nevertheless, the present era has taught us the easier way to smoke our food, but the favorite smoke of barbeque requires wood. Drying wood is known as wood seasoning, but many people do not know how to dry wood for smoking.

The critical factor in the smoking of food is wood. If you do not use it properly, you will not get the same flavor from the wood as you are expecting it to. Knowing what kind of wood is best for meat would be very challenging. So, let’s have a detailed discussion on it.

What Is Wood Seasoning?

It is not possible that you can start smoking by only sourcing wood. The wood used for smoking is generally dried hardwood, so they initially go through a process where the moisture dries out. It is also known as the seasoning of wood.

The process of wood seasoning is divided into three steps, preparation, aging, and drying. You can age and dry the wood by either kiln-drying or air-drying. After removing the moisture from the wood, it will become easy to burn and burn consistently.

After drying, you can break them according to the size of your smoker. You can prepare it as wood pellets for smoking, wood chips, chunks, or logs for open-fire smoking. 

How to dry Wood for Smoking

How To Dry Wood?

There are two ways of drying wood: kiln-drying and air-drying. Air-drying is a slow process that removes more moisture than other methods, while kiln-drying is faster.

The Air-Drying Method

The air-drying method is a traditional method for drying wood. It includes cutting and splitting and then requires leaving for some time. This method has the below-given steps:

Step 1: Begin Drying Early Summer/Late Spring

In this method, the local weather conditions have a significant impact. For quick results, I recommend you start the process in the early summer or late spring when the sun shines hotter. However, if you begin the process in the early winter, the wood always absorbs moisture in the form of humidity.

Step 2 – Cut Wood Into Small Parts

Cut the wood into small pieces before drying so that the air penetrates the surface more, and thus the process begins quickly. Make sure to use a sharp axe that cuts all the pieces of the same size. Wear something on the eyes to protect them from splinters.

Step 3 – Set Up The Raising Platform

After cutting the wood properly, you would have to raise a structure where your wood completes the process. Do not place the wood directly on the mud, as it stops air circulation. You will benefit from raising them as it promotes drying and prevents moisture from gathering up under the wood. An old table will be best, but the wired shelf is better because it presents the best air circulation.

Step 4 – Stack Then In Piles

Keep the wood on a raised structure in the form of piles. I recommend placing one on top of the other in piles, so you should not have to build a high pile. The reason is that it gets unstable and falls. Place the wood in a single stack to ensure consistent ventilation. Leave ample space between the wood, so air circulation does not disturb it.

Step 5 – Leave It Alone Now

After taking the above steps, leave the wood alone for about 3-6 months to dry naturally. How much time the wood takes to dry depends upon many factors like the type of wood, density, thickness, and moisture level. Never try to move the wood unnecessarily, but in the rain, it should be moved.

Step 6 – Measure The Moisture Content Of The Wood

You can notice the wood drying process with the help of a moisture meter. You must press the meter in front of the wood pieces to check the water content. New wood contains about 30% water, so it should be less.

The Kiln Method

You can control the kiln method. You have to put the wood pieces into the heating chamber.

Kiln Method

Step 1 – Arrange The Wood Inside The Kiln

Place the wood in the kiln or drying chamber. It depends upon the type of wood, whether you would have to place them in assigned places or with the kiln walls.

Step 2 – Set The Desired Temperature

After that, set the temperature inside the kiln, depending on the wood typer. The greater the temperature of the kiln, the more the speed of the process. The whole process might take 11 days, so do not rush. If you want slow smoke, you should have to select a low temperature as the wood releases less smoke and lasts long. 

Step 3 – Adjust The Ventilation

It is imperative to set the kiln on ventilation, but if you do not do this, the wood will not dry evenly.

Step 4 – Maintain Your Fuel Supply

You have to ensure that the fuel supply is always constant. You can also add coal, firewood, or oil, but it relies on the kind of kiln. To add the proper amount of fuel, you can take advice from your adviser.

Step 5 – Turn Off The Kiln

You would have to turn off the kiln the open the air holes so that the warm air escapes out after passing the recommended time. It will take 4-6 hours. Open the kiln properly and avoid opening it cools down because it can be hazardous to you. There will be a risk of blasting it if it is opened earlier.

Step 6 – Move The Wood To Storage Area

When the wood becomes cool, you can move it to storage. If you store them in a wet place, they will get moisture again. Dry shelters and other open sheds are the best places for wood storage.

How To Tell If The Wood Is Sufficiently Dried?

You can check the following conditions to know if the wood is sufficiently dried:

Weight

The wood that looks lightweight carries less moisture. Similarly, heavy wood contains more moisture.

Color

A sign of the fresh wood is that it shines bright and has a tan color. Over time, it loses its color and shine. Woods having light gray color and less shine contain less moisture.

Sound

You can also check the moisture in the wood by scratching it with your finger. Wet wood produces a light sound, while dry wood produces a deep sound.

Bark

If you have noticed a few cracks and falling bark, then it means that the wood is dry or getting dryer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you are drying wood by air, it will take some time, so you will have to be ready when you leave them for about 3-6 months. Do not move them unnecessarily, and the drying time depends upon the environment. The process takes only a few weeks in hot conditions.

Wet wood could never produce too much smoke till it carries a lot of moisture. So, it loses moisture when you place the damp wood in a smoker first. Although steam is not smoke, so you cannot use it for smoking.

Using a hair dryer for drying wood is unnecessary and might be dangerous. But by constantly using the 100% humidity will get off.

You have to turn off the oven, and as the oven temperature decreases, the moisture in the wood is removed. For fresh wood, you have to set the temperature at about 300 degrees Celsius for about two hours.

Final Words

Drying your wood is a good experience, and it creates good smokey food and allows you to be proud of your hard work. You can also become creative by seasoning your wood by applying the above-mentioned techniques.

If you have chosen a traditional method for drying wood, you must show great patience. The benefit of wood seasoning is that you have your wood stock for barbeque. I hope after reading my article, you know how to dry wood for sublimation.

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