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Old 02-17-2020, 01:48 PM   #1
Brontoburger
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Default Wood species: please help identify

Hello All. I got a couple of cords of this for firewood. The elderly gentleman who sold it to me only said "It'll burn good". He said his son does the actual cutting. It would be local to SE Pennsylvania. I'll take a guess and say Pin Oak, but I'm not certain. Well, he was right. It's very hard, doesn't catch easily but burns hot and long when it does. Tough to split, has very red fibrous underbark. Just wondering if I could smoke with it. I'm running some ribs in the WSM today, so maybe I'll throw a chunk in after I wrap just to see how it smells.
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Old 02-17-2020, 02:02 PM   #2
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The grain definitely looks like some sort of oak. I'd toss a chunk in and see. My guess would be that it's fine for cooking. I use a lot of oak, usually mixed with hickory and cherry...
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Old 02-17-2020, 02:43 PM   #3
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Almost looks like sassafras wood to me, grain is similar to oak.
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:19 PM   #4
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Can you take a picture of some different pieces of bark? Doesn’t look like any oak I’ve ever seen. I even looked at bark pics of Pin Oak and I’m pretty sure that isn’t it. To me it looks like it’s from a conifer, but I need to see a little more. Just because a wood is dense and slow to catch doesn’t mean it’s a “hardwood.” Try marking the wood with your fingernail (press your fingernail into it). Report back.
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:24 PM   #5
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Per Google Images ~ redwood, specifically Sequoia which do grow in Pennsylvannia; who knew!

https://www.google.com/search?tbs=sb...%20image&hl=en

https://www.giant-sequoia.com/gallery/usa/pennsylvania/
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:57 PM   #6
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Without seeing more pics...my best guess would be Eastern Hemlock. Checks all the boxes...even the insect damage (Hemlock borer) common in your area. Pop some of that bark off on a piece that has holes and see if it looks like a bunch of squiggling lines.
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Old 02-17-2020, 06:25 PM   #7
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Default Not good for smoking

It did NOT smell good when I tossed a chunk in the smoker. Very acrid and eye-stinging. Tried to get it down to a sweet blue haze and couldn't, so I guess the experiment is done.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:24 PM   #8
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It looks like Orocai infested Red Oak. Definitely
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:28 PM   #9
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I'm pretty sure that is chestnut oak. It is in the white oak group. It should be perfectly acceptable for cooking. If you're getting acrid smoke, perhaps it is not seasoned.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:00 PM   #10
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From what I read, Eastern Hemlock is high in tannic acid. If it is Hemlock. But sounds like you'll probably use it for heat instead of cooking.
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Old 02-18-2020, 05:52 AM   #11
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Chestnut oak is one of the few eastern oak species that can be identified conclusively by the bark. If the wood grain looks like oak, the wood is dense and hard like oak, and it has that very thick, heavily ridged bark, it is most likely chestnut oak.

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=QUMO4
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Old 02-18-2020, 06:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey Uncle View Post
Chestnut oak is one of the few eastern oak species that can be identified conclusively by the bark. If the wood grain looks like oak, the wood is dense and hard like oak, and it has that very thick, heavily ridged bark, it is most likely chestnut oak.

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=QUMO4
Iíve looked at some of the Chestnut Oak pics online (specifically bark) and while it does have that silver outer layer of bark in the OPís photos, I have yet to find one with a deep red fibrous under-bark? If you find one Iím curious to see it. The chestnut oak pics Iím seeing are a lighter brown under the top bark (even in log pics).
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Old 02-18-2020, 06:47 AM   #13
Mike in Roseville
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At the end of the day...lol he says he doesnít like it in his smoker so that might just settle it.

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Old 02-18-2020, 07:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike in Roseville View Post
Iíve looked at some of the Chestnut Oak pics online (specifically bark) and while it does have that silver outer layer of bark in the OPís photos, I have yet to find one with a deep red fibrous under-bark? If you find one Iím curious to see it. The chestnut oak pics Iím seeing are a lighter brown under the top bark (even in log pics).

I didn't find any pictures of the inner bark in a quick search. But I've cut and split a good bit of chestnut oak over the years, and that inner bark looks normal to me.

It is definitely not hemlock. I'm familiar with that one also.

Bad smoke could be due to the wood not being seasoned, or due to burning the thick bark in a low air-flow environment. Bark makes strong-smelling smoke, and a chunk of chestnut oak has a higher bark-to-wood ratio than other species. A WSM doesn't have enough air flow to get a clean flame, even with all the vents open.
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