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Old 08-05-2010, 09:15 AM
henryorhank henryorhank is offline
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Default Any types of wood that I shouldn't cook with?



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Living down by the Gulf Coast, I was imagining a scenario in which a major hurricane had hit and I had decided to stay put. Now, this wouldn't be a worst case scenario, but one in which I might be out of power and perhaps gas for a week or so, maybe 2. I was also thinking, what if I ran out of charcoal to cook with? What to do? Well, use wood i guess. So, if I were to go scavenging for wood, I was wondering if there are any types of wood that would be harmful to use, say by either imparting some kind of toxic effect to the food, or toxic fumes that might be inhaled. I know the more common types of wood that folks cook with (oak, apple, misquote, hickory, pecan), but there isn't exactly an abundance of those sort of trees in my neighborhood. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:34 AM
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Definitely don't cook with pressure treated wood as it's treated with Arsenic. Also, make sure your not throwing on wood composite materials that are mixes of wood fibers and glue or wood residue and plastic. Ditto for woods that are stained, painted, varnished or coated in anything. I suggest storing up some good old hickory to have some great barbeque
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:35 AM
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Well I wouldnt cook with pressure treated woods or any processed lumber. Playground wood was sprayed with arsenic at one point.

If you are talking natural trees, though not really a tree, oleander is pretty toxic. Ficus trees and rubber trees are more rare, but I wouldnt cook with these either. Marginally ones that you might want to burn last are camphor and castor trees. Not nessecarily toxic, but can make you neaseous.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:35 AM
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Any resinous tree - pine, evergreens etc ~ Pine, spruce, cedar-evergreens of this sort are really not usable as the sap content can leave soot on the food. They also contain high levels of tannin, which is used primarily in curing animal hides. Oak also contains tannin so it would not be good to use. Willow or other soft woods are not good to use either as when they either contain too much water or when dry burn too fast. Fruitwood trees are my favorite followed by mesquite then hickory

Hope this help
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsttex View Post
Any resinous tree - pine, evergreens etc ~ Pine, spruce, cedar-evergreens of this sort are really not usable as the sap content can leave soot on the food. They also contain high levels of tannin, which is used primarily in curing animal hides. Oak also contains tannin so it would not be good to use. Willow or other soft woods are not good to use either as when they either contain too much water or when dry burn too fast. Fruitwood trees are my favorite followed by mesquite then hickory

Hope this help
Hmmm I have to respectfully disagree with the above. I have cooked many many times with pine, cedar and oak. In fact oak is one of the best tasting ones. The resin and sap will also burn off pretty quickly leaving hot coals the cook with.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:40 AM
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Don't use plywood, particle board, sealed deck or pressure treated lumber.
I don't know of or heard of any American trees that are dangerous, there are some Brazilian/(rain-forest) trees that I wouldn't mess with..but, I'm not a scientist(I was a cabinet maker,woodworker, carpenter).

P.s. Don't burn them big poison ivy ropes..lol
Old 08-05-2010, 09:42 AM
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Don't cook with treated wood of any kind
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicdotcom View Post
Hmmm I have to respectfully disagree with the above. I have cooked many many times with pine, cedar and oak. In fact oak is one of the best tasting ones. The resin and sap will also burn off pretty quickly leaving hot coals the cook with.
I think your both right...ive cooked with just about everything at one time or another. IMO it depends on how ya cook. I wouldnt roast anything over a pine or cedar flame(green) but i would over the coals. I prefer oak over hickory myself...any thing from blackjacks to water oaks but i do let it burn down to coals. If im cooking in a pot, i've used about anything. The worst expirience with me was cooking with "poison wood' as they called it in the bahamas...i think its sumac?....that **** eat me up. I dont know if it was from contact while forageing for wood or from the food that i cooked with it but it was no fun at all for a week or so.
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:27 AM
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invest in a woodstove if you can, then it doesnt matter what types of wood u burn for the soot and the such wont enter the food *nods* my 3 cents
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:07 PM
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I live on the gulf coast and one thing we have no shortage of is Oleander! I hate oleander! It's poisonous so don't cook or even burn it in fire pit. Toxic smoke.
Old 08-06-2010, 01:18 AM
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Oak is not only fine, but preferred by many. I have many friends on the competition BBQ circuit that use it. Pine and cedar may not be great as fuel woods because of resins, but cedar planked salmon sure is tasty!!
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Old 08-06-2010, 01:20 AM
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Make sure that the area in which you get your wood does not have poison ivy. Ingested smoke from burning poison ivy can cause serious problems including lung damge. Sometimes, there are no leaves on the vine. The vine is probably dangerous when burned. If a person is very sensitive to poison ivy, it can be dangerouse to burn wood that had (but no longer has) poison ivy on it.

Other types of trees to not burn are
Oleander
Mountain Laurel
Rhododendrons


oleander

http://www.rlrouse.com/pic-of-the-da...l-blossoms.jpg
Mountain Laural (likes to grow by streams and water).



poison ivy




Rhododendrons
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryorhank View Post
Living down by the Gulf Coast, I was imagining a scenario in which a major hurricane had hit and I had decided to stay put. Now, this wouldn't be a worst case scenario, but one in which I might be out of power and perhaps gas for a week or so, maybe 2. I was also thinking, what if I ran out of charcoal to cook with? What to do? Well, use wood i guess. So, if I were to go scavenging for wood, I was wondering if there are any types of wood that would be harmful to use, say by either imparting some kind of toxic effect to the food, or toxic fumes that might be inhaled. I know the more common types of wood that folks cook with (oak, apple, misquote, hickory, pecan), but there isn't exactly an abundance of those sort of trees in my neighborhood. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
What woods are more available where you live? I would think you'd have hickory or pecan there. How about mulberry, alder, hawthorne?

This site recommends some woods:
http://www.firepit-and-grilling-guru...-firewood.html
Mostly stick with hardwoods or fruit wood.

http://seasonalcooking.suite101.com/...g_and_grilling

http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/faq2/8.html
Old 08-06-2010, 03:16 AM
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I wouldnt trust Yew - as its poisonous to cattle, not sure about the human. There isnt many Yew trees left due to this problem so are usually in Church Yards etc where cattle werent allowed to go.
Old 08-06-2010, 07:10 AM
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Out west, the predominate options for firewood are pine, fir, cottonwood and aspen. I've used all of the above for cooking with no major issues. As stated above, pines and firs can leave a soot on the food if its pretty sappy. If you keep to dry, less-sappy pines/firs it's not a problem. Cottonwood is good stuff. Burns very clean (altho it burns pretty fast). Cottonwood fires produce very little smoke, which has many benefits. Dry aspens make good firewood as well. In the western US, I am not aware of any poisonous woods. Heck, I've used dry sage brush for camping in the desert where even junipers are scarce and it burns good...
Old 08-06-2010, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicdotcom View Post
Hmmm I have to respectfully disagree with the above. I have cooked many many times with pine, cedar and oak. In fact oak is one of the best tasting ones. The resin and sap will also burn off pretty quickly leaving hot coals the cook with.
Appreciate that as I was thinking directly over the wood...evergreens here in NH are highly resinous and create large amounts of smoke ~ but I wasn't thinking outside the box when cooking over the coals ~ just goes to show ya making it on your own is easier with someone else around!

ps: I love cedar planked salmon but I am hoping the plank isn't on fire whenI get my food....
Old 08-06-2010, 10:50 AM
henryorhank henryorhank is offline
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Thank you all for your great suggestions and recommendations. There are actually quite a few oak trees around here. When I lived in Texas, that seemed to be the preferred wood to cook with. The famous Salt Lick restaurant in Driftwood, TX use a combo of oak and pecan shells for their fires. Man, the aroma of that place when you first pull up and step out of your vehicle just made your stomach get real excited. I could have sat outside of that place all night, just smelling that heavenly smoke. Anyway, I might just go out one day and identify the various trees growing around my house, make a mental note of where the best ones are.
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Old 08-06-2010, 12:26 PM
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Salt Lick.....you have indeed been to Heaven on earth, henryorhank! Some of the best BBQ around.

Oak and Mesquite are excellent.....better to cook with if aged a few months, though.
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Old 08-07-2010, 11:33 AM
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In Florida, we use a lot of Live Oak for cooking and such. No problems at all.
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:18 PM
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I have heard that repeatedly being around a burning pine-fueled fire can result in "pine lung." I spent about three days around pine fires and I felt congested.
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