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Sourcing consistent firewood for offset smoking


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HI All,

This question was what promoted me to join the forum:

One issue I've not really found an ideal solution to yet is sourcing consistent firewood in decent quantities for running my stick burner. When I'm smoking on the offset I just run a pure wood fire with just a few briquettes at the beginning to get things started. Now I can get either wood chips or chunks from a single species very easily, but when it comes to getting decent sized splits in the UK the options seem a bit more limited. Generally I can't get firewood in a single species and in a large quantity. 

Most firewood I seem to be able to get in my area tends to be either mixed hardwood or mixed softwood. Obviously mixed softwood runs the risk of ending up with something sappy and is not an option. When it comes to mixed hardwood, as far as I'm aware there aren't really any UK species that are outright unsuitable for smoking, with the exception of sycamore. Everything else can be used and since I'm mostly cooking beef, pork and occasionally chicken, I seem to be able to get away with using mixed hardwood. I think probably the main risk is that I might end up with a batch of wood that is just too mild for the meat I'm smoking at the time. Most of the mixed hardwood seems to have a lot of mild stuff like birch, beech and alder.

The only single species firewood I've seen about is sometimes local stores have small bags of pure birch wood. Not my first choice of species though, and it comes in small bags that will work out expensive if I'm frequently doing long cooks. It's also kiln-dried, which I try to avoid if possible as I find it a bit too dry.

My current solution is a local firewood company that provides mixed oak/ash/beech/birch (no sycamore!), and you have the option to buy their barn-stored (ie. just air dried) stock that's supposed to have ~20% moisture. I got 0.75m^3 for £70, which probably saves a fortune in the long run, and I expect it to last me a while. Since firewood companies tend to have a limited delivery radius I'm guessing your options vary depending on where you live.

In general I'm fairly happy with this solution and the effects of using a mixture of woods seems to average out over long cooks, but I'm just wondering if anyone has come up with anything better? Does anyone have a reliable source of non-kiln dried, seasoned oak in decent quantities?



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