How To Season Wood For Smoking (2 Unique Techniques)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 20, 2024

Wood logs, for many years, have been used as a fuel source for a fire to cook food, but it is so much more than that; using wood to smoke your favorite meats adds a delicious flavor.

Using the suitable season wood for smoking meat is vital to ensure the flavor added compliments your dish. Let’s look at the advice and tips given by expert barbeque chefs on the correct way to season your wood for smoking.

Quick Summary

  • There are two methods for seasoning wood for smoking, air drying, which takes up to 6 to 9 months, and kiln drying, which can take 2 to 7 days.
  • Seasoning wood for smoking must be done correctly to produce high-quality wood for smoking food.
  • Indicators of dry wood: change in color, smell, texture, moisture level, and flammability.
  • Here you can see other types of smokers that use different kinds of fuels aside from wood.

Wood can be seasoned using air drying or kiln seasoning methods. The air seasoning method takes much longer; this is where fruit woods are dried outside for 6 to 9 months. The kiln method uses external energy to produce specific air conditions to dry the wood in 3 to 5 days.

Making the perfect barbeque on a Sunday afternoon will make anyone happy, especially when adding smoked flavors to the meat. Selling your wood allows you to do it exactly how you like producing the perfect smokey flavor you love.

How To Season Wood For Smoking?

pieces of wood

When deciding to smoke your food, the most important thing to remember is to ensure the smoking woods has been seasoned properly to ensure you get the best quality of smoke flavor.

Simply put, seasoning wood for a barbeque means drying the wood out and removing all the moisture content [1]. This helps ensure that when burnt as firewood, it will produce less smoke and more uniform combustion.

The time needed to season wood is dependent on the type of wood used, the size of the pieces, and the relative humidity where the wood will be seasoned [2]. This is where most undesirable flavor compounds are released from the wood.

Dr. Nick indicated that before you start drying out your wood, you must “slit it into smaller pieces”; this will quicken and improve the drying process [3]. Once it is cut up, the central parts of the logs containing the most moisture will be able to dry out easier while achieving the perfect smoky flavor.

You can use two techniques to season wood for smoking: air seasoning and kiln seasoning. Let us look at how to use these techniques to season your wood.

Air Seasoning

wood scattered

Air seasoning wood is the method that people traditionally used to dry wood; it also takes the longest time to dry out, typically six to nine months.

This is done outdoors where the logs are stacked on top of each other on pallets in a particular way where the air can easily move between the logs vertically and horizontally to ensure they can air dry completely.

An easy way to ensure you are correctly stacking them is by cross stacking the wooden planks.

The reason for placing the wood on pallets is to keep it off vegetation and the damp ground.

The ends of the logs are typically sealed to prevent excessive moisture loss from these areas. Make sure the logs are under a canopy of some kind to protect them from rain [4].

Kiln Seasoning

stack of wood

Kiln seasoning is the most widely used and effective commercial process for drying wood. This process accelerates the removal of moisture from wood as quickly as two to seven days with the use of external energy.

The amount of time necessary to dry the wood is dependent on the type of wood used, such as fruit woods. There are two types of kiln seasoning; these are progressive and compartmental.

Progressive kiln seasoning is done by placing the wood on trolleys that enter the kiln at one end and travel through the multiple chambers with different air conditions to dry out the wood. This method of seasoning produces a constant flow of dried wood.

The compartmental kiln seasoning process dries out the wood in a single compartment that is programmed to change the air conditions until the wood has been completely dried out.

This process is mainly used to dry wood that is difficult to season or expensive wood [5].

How Can You Tell If Your Wood Is Properly Seasoned?

texture of a wood

It is crucial for your wood to be thoroughly seasoned to ensure the desired flavors are obtained from the timber only, removing the undesirable bitter wood flavor. There are different ways that help you identify if your wood has thoroughly dried out.

Wood Moisture Meter

You can check if your wood is seasoned entirely by using a wood moisture meter; this is a tool you hold up against the wood, reading the moisture levels for you.

This is helpful and a more accurate way of determining whether the wood has been thoroughly dried. The desired moisture level of the wood you need should be 20%.

Color Of The Wood

Another way to check is to look at the color of the wood; if it is a rich brown color, then it still contains a lot of moisture. You need to make sure your wood is more of a grey-silver color, indicating more moisture has left the wood.

Texture And Smell Of The Wood

When wood dries, you will see that the bark will become loose and fall off easily.

There will also be cracks that appear in the wood, but before using this as a sign, make sure to look at what your wood looked like before you dried it out, as your wet wood may have had cracks in it already.

When wood dries out, it will also begin to harden, and the smell of the wood will become woodier compared to a fresh wood smell.


When wood has been dried out, it is much easier to light to form a fire; wet wood will take longer to catch and produce much more smoke that is not desired [6].

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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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