Best source for quality wood chunks?

Kevin James

New member
Hi all, new WSM 22.5 owner here. I've had my WSM for about 2 months and loving it so far. I've used it every weekend since I got it. The one issue I'm having is I'm not getting enough smoke flavor. My wood of choice is hickory, and I'm using about 4 fist size chunks per smoke session. I've found that I get a stronger smoke flavor using my pellet grill and a smoke tube with Lumber Jack hickory pellets than what I'm getting with the WSM.

I have a feeling the problem may be the specific wood I'm using, which is the "Western" brand which doesn't seem to get good reviews at all. The reviews suggest it is overly dried out due to kiln drying. So, I'm looking to try something else and wondering if there are any good commercially available or mail order brands I should look at for a decent price. I'm looking for something I can order online as I don't have any locally available hickory in my area. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 

BobJ

TVWBB Fan
I've had good luck with Kingsford from HD but I've never tried anything else. How long do 4 fist size chunks burn for in the 22?
 

Tim K

TVWBB Pro
I've had good luck with Kingsford from HD but I've never tried anything else. How long do 4 fist size chunks burn for in the 22?
Bob, I think Kevin is referring to using the 4 fist sized chunks as a way of adding a smoky flavor to the meat, not as the sole means of heat.

Also,
Kevin, I have read where several have had good luck using Frutia wood chunks as well..
https://fruitawoodchunks.com/
Good luck,
Tim
 
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BobJ

TVWBB Fan
Bob, I think Kevin is referring to using the 4 fist sized chunks as a way of adding a smoky flavor to the meat, not as the sole means of heat.
That's what I figured, just trying to determine why the smoke flavor is lighter then wanted. I get more smoke flavor when I add more chunks, after 30 minutes or so, granted mine are smaller for the 14.
 

Kevin James

New member
Thanks for the info everyone, I'll look into smokinlicious and fruita. If anyone has any other recommendations please let me know!

Oh... and Bobj, Tim K is correct, the chunks are just for the smoke flavor, not the primary fuel for heat.
 

KToliver

TVWBB Fan
I happened to be picking up some firewood before a camping trip and found that the local firewood guy had small batches of all kinds of wood...a bucket cost me $6, and they were nice round chunks that I could split into 2 or 4. I get fantastic applewood from the guy.

Make a few calls, you might be surprised what you can get locally.
 

Kevin James

New member
I'm now convinced the Western brand wood is the problem. I literally can't even smell that hickory smell at all, all I smell is burning charcoal. I did a test today just for the heck of it and took a torch to a single chunk to see if I could smell anything and nope.... nothing at all. I know that sweet hickory smell very well, both my pellet grill and my pellet smoke tubes when lit with a torch produce it in spades... but I literally get nothing with this Western brand of chunks.

I looked into the Fruita Wood and Smokalicious brand and both look good. I even found an interview with the owner of Fruita online and he seems like a really solid guy who genuinely cares about the quality of his product. That plus all of the varieties of wood and size options they offer, plus the free shipping sold me. I just placed an order for 25 lb's of hickory and 25 lb's of sweet cherry, all in 3x3 chunks.

On a side note, I'm thinking this may also solve another problem for me as well, which I also think may be related to the crap wood I've been using. I've been struggling to get that nice mahogany color on my ribs, which no matter what I do seem to come out way too dark, almost black. I generally wrap my ribs and have tried wrapping earlier at the two hour mark instead of at 3 hours, I've tried reducing the amount of sugar in the wrap, I've tried cooking at lower temps of 200 -225 to not burn the sugar or paprika in the rub, I've tried cooking at hotter temps of 275-300 for shorter cooks to not "warm them to death", I've tried water in the water pan, I've tried no water in the water pan, I've tested changes in my rub recipe to put less or even no sugar or paprika, I've tried just salt and pepper only, I've tried spritzing more often, I've tried not spritzing at all.... doesn't matter, any which way they still come out too dark, almost black. I'm thinking in a round about way this problem may also be stemming from the crap quality wood. I realized that since I can't smell even a hint of the hickory smell, that I've been putting my food on too early, before the thick smoke is totally dissipated, and adding wood 1 chunk at a time when I can't see a hint of smoke anymore, assuming that the wood is totally gone since I can't see the smoke and I can't smell it either... so then I get the thicker smoke again which may be what is darkening my ribs.... creosote from dirty smoke, even though they don't taste bitter I wonder if THAT is my problem. With the new wood, I will wait until the thick smoke is totally gone before the ribs go in, and even if I can't see even a wisp of smoke, as long as I can smell that hickory smell I'll refrain from adding any more wood. Hopefully THAT will solve my rib problem. Time will tell...
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
Although I'm not familiar with Sweet Cherry, both Cherry and Wild Cherry do give food cooked over them a nice mahogany color.

I suspect, with fresh Fruita, you will use far less smoking wood than normal.
 

Liam Black

New member
Maybe try the same size of wood, but change its type? I only use one type of tree myself, but it might help. Nobody forbids you to experiment ;)
 

Tim K

TVWBB Pro
Kevin, cherry will definitely help achieve the mahogany color you’re trying to achieve on your ribs. As far as when to place the meat on the smoker and when to place the wood on your coals, now you have introduced several different variables into the equation. If you start changing several different things in your process at once, you’ll never know for sure what the real problem is/was. I definitely think the wood you’ve had to choose from has hurt more than helped, so you’re definitely moving in the right direction. My advice would be to load your charcoal ring, place the desired amount of smoke wood in with the top of your coals and pour your lit coals over the top of the wood and unlit coals. (I hope this is making sense) when you place your meat on the smoker is now up to you, as some wait until the smoker is up to temp before putting meat on, some wait for the thin blue smoke before the add the meat, and some (I am in this group) add the meat as soon as they poor the lit coals on top of the unlit coals. There’s no 1perfect method, try each one and see what you like best or works best for you. But again, try to limit the variables you change at one time so you know what the difference maker is.
Again, I hope this makes sense and I’ll be glad to help with any or all questions you have.
Good luck,
Tim
 

BobJ

TVWBB Fan
I've only used Smokinlicous wood and have been very satisfied. 1 or 2 chunks is all I need ( because it has the right moisture content) compared to 3 or 4 of the bagged stuff.
https://www.smokinlicious.com/

The Hickory is one of my favorites.

Here's a post I did with pics that show the moisture content.
https://tvwbb.com/showthread.php?74168-My-Smokinlicious-order

Tim
Tim
Moisture content is something I haven't given any thought when it comes to smoker wood, do you do anything to keep the chunks at the moisture content it came to you at?

I buy lumber and store it for 6 months or so for the purpose of drying out to 10% +/-, I would suspect buying smoke wood in bigger amounts would do the same just sitting around.

Makes me wonder what the bagged Kingsford that I've been buying is.
 

timothy

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Tim
Moisture content is something I haven't given any thought when it comes to smoker wood, do you do anything to keep the chunks at the moisture content it came to you at?

I buy lumber and store it for 6 months or so for the purpose of drying out to 10% +/-, I would suspect buying smoke wood in bigger amounts would do the same just sitting around.

Makes me wonder what the bagged Kingsford that I've been buying is.
I keep in the garage in the original box opened or in cheap dollar store laundry baskets.
I usually buy enough for a 1 to 1-1/2 years so I know the moisture level is still alright.
https://www.smokinlicious.com/moisture-recommendations-and-table.html

Tim
 

MartinB

TVWBB Super Fan
I buy the big bags of split wood they sell for stick burners, and cut it into nice size chunks on my saw.
 

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Platinum Member
I've ordered from Fruitawood twice. I was skeptical that it would make a difference. On a whim I bought some and haven't been disappointed. For the record, I don't necessarily think Western Wood is that bad. If I have to buy kiln dried I get them or B&B. I usually wind up using more. The Fruitawood is more potent for sure.

Like Martin I've used the bags of Western splits in my offset. They are perfectly fine in that application.
 
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