How to Season Wood for Smoking?

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When it comes to smoking food, there are several things to consider before blindly choosing a wood for your smoker. One of them relates to the question, “How to season wood for smoking?” If you want an answer to this question, then we are here to help you.

This article will provide ways to get the best smoky flavor and other essential aspects, such as its importance and wood seasoning duration. By the end of this write-up, you will be ready to impress your guests with your delicious smoked food. All you have to do is to continue reading it.

Understanding the Concept of Wood Seasoning

Firstly, you should note that seasoning wood for smoking is not something you can complete in one day. It is a process that begins many months ahead before you can use it for smoking food. 

Wood seasoning, also known as wood drying, is the process that removes the moisture content before using the wood for smoking. The advantage of wood seasoning is that it allows for a more convenient cooking experience and provides the right food flavor.

There are primarily two ways to season wood: air-drying and kiln-drying. The former is a natural method and takes a more extended period, while the latter refers to drying wood in a kiln. We will discuss these methods in more detail below.

When it comes to wood seasoning, it isn’t easy to talk about this aspect without mentioning how you store them. As such, we would like to provide some essential tips on how to keep wood properly. You should avoid storing your wood directly on the ground. We recommend placing them slightly above the ground to prevent getting moldy and damp. 

Another essential tip relates to size. If you want your wood to dry evenly, then you should consider cutting them into smaller pieces. We also recommend getting a firewood rack, especially if you are drying your wood naturally. 

Methods to Season Wood for Smoking

The following are the two ways by which you can season wood:

  • Air-drying:

As mentioned, air-dying is a traditional wood seasoning method, which means it doesn’t use any harmful chemicals and toxins. Unlike the kiln-drying, you can place the wood outside and wait for some months to reduce the moisture content. 

Additionally, you don’t need to worry even if the weather gets bad. The wood begins to dry once the weather is warm. To protect the wood from the rain, we recommend placing a tarp cover on top.

However, one of the disadvantages of this method is that it is significantly time-consuming. It also doesn’t sterilize fungal or insects in the wood. Besides, you will need ample storage space, which can be expensive.

  • Kiln-drying:

Kiln-drying is another method to season your wood for smoking. It makes use of a kiln (a type of oven) for drying the wood at a much faster pace. One of the advantages of this method is that it can significantly lower the moisture content than air-drying. Hence, it is the best option for people living in much colder regions.   

Another pro of kiln-drying is that it can sterilize any fungal and insect infection on the wood. It can also reduce the propensity to biodegrade. However, the primary disadvantage of this method is that it is costly.

How long should you season wood before smoking?

Answering this question will considerably depend on the method you choose for wood seasoning. Additionally, factors, such as the size of the wood, can also impact the duration. If you are drying wood using the traditional method (air-drying), it will take around six to eight months. However, you should not go over more than eighteen months, for the wood will lose its flavor.

On the other hand, kiln-drying will take around one to two months to thoroughly season the wood. 

Importance of drying the wood before smoking

If you are new to this aspect, then you must be asking, “Why is it important to season wood before smoking?” One of the reasons relates to the moisture content. Greenwood contains a significant amount of moisture, which makes it unsuitable for smoking food. Remember, the fire will need to dry out the wood before providing your food’s smoky flavor.

Another reason to season wood before smoking comes with the taste. If you use greenwood for smoking, then your food will end up with an undesirable flavor. Where is the fun if you are not getting the right smoky taste on your food? It will be a waste of time, money, and effort. 

On the other hand, seasoned wood will make your cooking process more comfortable and provide your food’s right flavor. We have a post all about why you shouldn’t soak your BBQ wood.

How to know if you have seasoned the wood properly?

Following are some vital signs that will help you identify if you have seasoned the wood properly: 

  • Look for tiny dark cracks: It is one of the first signs of well-seasoned wood. If there are no small dark cracks on the wood, then you have not seasoned it well.
  • Watch out for the color: Another sign to look for in a well-seasoned wood comes with the color, which should have a silvery tone.
  • How easy is the chopping? The wood is ready for smoking if you quickly chop up the wood with an ax.
  • Weight: We don’t need to emphasize this aspect. A dried wood will always be lighter than a greenwood.


To sum up, the kind of smoky flavor you will get on your food will significantly depend on how well you season the wood. The above-listed are the two ways by which you can dry the wood. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages; hence, it is a matter of personal preference. 

Remember, the bottom line of wood seasoning is all about reducing the moisture content. If you want to measure your wood’s moisture levels, then we recommend buying a moisture meter.

About The Author

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James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.