How do you store wood for smoking? Guide to proper wood storage

by Susie | Last Updated: April 26, 2020

o, you’ve bought all this wood for smoking.

Maybe you’ve chopped down some trees, or perhaps scavenged some great pieces, but now you’re wondering how to store this wood properly.

When you’re ready to use it for smoking, you want it to be well seasoned, dry, and ready for use.

I am going share what you need to know about storing your smoking woods the right way to make sure they’re not wet, moldy, and full of pests.

Chopped logs ready to be stored for smoking

As you are getting ready to store your wood, the first thing to consider is the kind of wood you are going to store.

What kind of wood are you storing?

You are either going to store:

  1. pre-packaged or store-bought wood that comes in cardboard packaging or bags
  2. larger logs from cut-down trees

The storage recommendation is different for both types of wood.

If you have large logs that you bought, cut down, or scavenged, you will need more space and separate storage conditions for outdoor seasoning.

The first rule of storing your wood for smoking is:

always store it in a cool, dry place, away from any direct sunlight!

How to store wood you purchased

Most smokers purchase wood from shops. This wood comes pre-packaged in either cardboard boxes with holes or burlap and plastic bags.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Keyword: Storage, Wood
Yield: 1 perfectly stored wood
Author: Susie
Cost: $2

Equipment

  • Wood rack

Materials

  • Wood
  • Cardboard box
  • Plastic container with holes

Instructions

  • It’s perfectly fine to keep the wood in its packaging and only take it out when you use it. You can keep the wood indoors in your shed or garage.
  • The ideal container for your woods is a cardboard box with holes – this way the air can circulate, and your wood won’t go moldy.
  • Plastic containers with holes or buckets with holes are also acceptable for storing smoke woods. If you have old Rubbermaid plastic baskets or laundry bins lying around, you can use those!
  • But remember, any plastic container you use must have air holes that allow for good air circulation.

How to store large wood logs outdoors

Whether it’s large logs or smaller chunks you already cut and split up, you need to stack and store the wood properly and let it season.

Any wood you will use for smoking must be seasoned because you can’t use green wood for smoking.

The seasoning process, which lasts anywhere between 6 months to a couple of years, is essential in the preparation process of woods for smoking.

Well-seasoned wood will burn cleaner, and give your food that distinctive smoky flavor, ensuring that it won’t taste bad, or ‘off’.

A well-seasoned piece of wood will not create smoke that burns your throat and eyes, that only happens with greenwood.

When you are ready to smoke, split some wood (if you have large logs), but only the quantity you need and let the rest season.

If the pieces are about the same size, the wood will age evenly.

The easiest way to store wood is to place it in a garden shed or covered area. But if storing indoors is not an option, make sure to store them properly outdoors.

Store outdoors

In the summer months, allow your wood to air-dry outdoors, exposed to sunlight.

In autumn, always clean any leaves that fall on your wood, to avoid any rotting and extra moisture.

In the winter you should cover them keep them safe from direct snow and rain. Even if your logs freeze, it’s not a problem as they’ll still season until the summer.

Use a moisture meter to check your wood regularly. The moisture level should be under 10% at all times.

Store off the ground

The most crucial tip for storing your wood is to make sure it is off the ground. Never place your wood directly on the ground.

You might have to sacrifice some of the wood pieces on the bottom of your pile.

Before you start stacking your wood, create a base made of something solid, like wood pallets, concrete slabs, or stone.

You will have to stack your wood correctly, in the style of the chimney stacking method.

You begin by taking some medium-sized logs, cut them in half, and place them with the flat side down to use them as a base.

Select square-shaped pieces that are mostly flat to get the best results. Make a small stack of wood but keep alternating the direction of the pieces at 90 degrees each layer.

This “chimney” shaped stacks will be the ends of your woodpile.

Lay all the other pieces in layers between your chimneys, but not too stuffed together, because wood needs air.

Your stacks should be about 4 inches high. This ensures that your smoke woods are stable, as you don’t want to risk them falling over and injuring people or animals.

Should you cover wood?

As your wood is air drying in the outdoor elements, it is not necessary to cover them in warmer months.

But, keeping them under cover may make it more aesthetically pleasing to look at. If you want to cover your woods, use a tarp.

There are special firewood log racks, or wood racks, which have a built-in cover. These allow the wood to stay dry at the top, yet the air can flow through the rack.

The frames are off the ground, so your wood is at a safe distance from dirt and won’t rot.

Here’s a video from firewood direct about drying your wood in the sun:

What to watch out for when storing wood for smoking

Something to always watch out for is pests, insects, and snake infestations.

When you store your wood outdoors, there is always a chance that snakes will make their home between the wood pieces, so watch out when you go to grab some pieces.

Also, many termites and bugs like to eat and live in wood, and they can destroy your wood quite quickly!

For this reason, don’t stack and store wood right up against your home, or you risk a termite infestation in your house.

Having bugs in your smoke wood is normal and you shouldn’t worry about it too much as they’re pretty much harmless.

Takeaway

Whether you decide to store the wood outdoors or you place it in your garage or shed, always make sure to allow for air circulation.

You must be more careful with your smoking woods than with firewood because you want to ensure that you’ll get quality smoke when cooking.

So, next time you come home with your woods, remember the three essential tips: keep wood away from direct sunlight, store it in a dry place, and keep it off the ground!

Learn more about smoking with wood:

From our buying guide:

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