One clarification.....Oak is NOT considered a "mild" wood. A combination of oak and pecan will work, but both are actually very similar in my opinion. Great on brisket! IMHO, the only real "mild" woods are maple and fruitwoods. Hickory, oak, pecan, and mesquite are the "strong" end of the spectrum.
As for bark, as long as it is dry, it makes no difference. I am in agreement with everyone else. If it falls off, throw it out. If not, don't sweat it
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