Charcoal isn’t the only fuel that you can use when grilling meats or veggies. While charcoal is undoubtedly popular, an alternative fuel source to consider is wood. Whether it’s whole logs, split logs or chunks, high-quality excels in its ability to create a hot and clean fire. If you’re hesitant to switch away from charcoal, check out the nine following benefits of grilling with wood.
#1) Longer Burn Time
Wood typically burns longer than charcoal. Most types of charcoal, including lump and briquette, only burn for about a half-hour. When grilling thick cuts of meat, this may not be a sufficient amount of time. Thankfully, wood burns longer than charcoal, making it a better choice when grilling thick or otherwise large cuts of meat. While charcoal only burns for about a half-hour, cooking wood can burn for over an hour.
#2) Easier to Handle
Wood is easier to handle when grilling than charcoal. If you’ve ever grilled using charcoal before, you probably know just how messy it is. If you touch it with your hands, it will leave a black powdery residue on your skin that’s difficult to clean off. And if it gets on your clothes, it can cause stains that are equally difficult to remove. Wood, of course, doesn’t contain this black powdery residue. Assuming it’s dry, it will be clean and free of stain-causing powder or soot. You can carry wood from your rack or storage area to your grill without fear of getting dirty.
#3) All Natural
You can rest assured knowing that wood is an all-natural fuel source. High-quality cooking wood, as well as smoking chunks, are derived from hardwood trees like oak, hickory and cherry. The trees are cut down, after which they’re processed into logs or chunks and allowed to dry. Some types of charcoal are also all natural. Charcoal is typically made by slow-burning wood in an oxygen-free environment. With that said, some types of charcoal contain filler ingredients, such as binding agents or adhesives. When burned, these synthetic chemicals will be released into the surrounding air where they are potentially absorbed by your food.
#4) Better Flavor
Perhaps the greatest benefit of grilling with wood rather than charcoal is the flavor. Charcoal offers little in terms of flavor. It burns fast, as well as hot, but it doesn’t have a substantial impact on the flavor of grilled meats and veggies. If you’re looking to grill delicious meats and veggies, you should consider using wood instead. Wood contains organic compounds that are released in the form of flavorful smoke when burned. When grilling with wood, this flavorful smoke will rise up and into your meats or veggies where it enhances their flavor. Keep in mind, however, that different varieties of wood produce different flavors. Hickory wood, for instance, offers a strong and robust flavor that’s comparable to bacon, whereas oak wood offers a milder and less-overbearing flavor that complements most types of meat.
#5) Fragrant Aroma
In addition to better flavor, grilling wood produces a fragrant aroma that’s simply not found in charcoal. Nothing the beats the aroma of a wood-burning fire. When used in a grill, wood will create a pleasant aroma that fills the surrounding space. Whether you’re grilling on your lawn, patio or elsewhere, you’ll appreciate the fragrant aroma of wood. Of course, this is just one more benefit of grilling with wood rather than charcoal.
#6) Easy to Light
High-quality cooking wood is surprisingly easy to light. If it’s been kiln dried, such as the wood sold here at CuttingEdgeFirewood, you should be able to light it with nothing more than a match and some tinder and kindling. Charcoal, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to light. Unless it’s pre-soaked in lighter fluid, you may struggle to light it. Even then, you shouldn’t use pre-soaked charcoal when grilling because it contains harsh chemicals that can affect the flavor of your food.
#7) Produces Lots of Heat
Another reason to consider grilling with wood is because it produces lots of heat. If it’s a chilly evening, grilling with wood can help keep you and your family members, as well as other guests, warm. The key thing to remember is that you need to use high-quality wood. If the wood is wet or otherwise has a high moisture content, it won’t burn as hot. It will still produce some heat, assuming you are able to light it, but moist wood doesn’t produce nearly as much heat as dry wood. With high-quality wood that’s been kiln dried, you’ll get better heat. The dry wood will burn hotter thanks to its low moisture content, making it an excellent choice when grilling on a chilly evening.
Along with using dry, high-quality wood, you can build hotter fires with wood by following these tips:
- Arrange your wood so that air can easily flow through the center.
- When grilling with wood, open the damper vents to further increase airflow.
- Keep the lid on your grill closed.
- Choose split logs — or wood chunks — rather than whole logs.
- Store your wood in an area where it’s off covered and off the ground.
Wood is a multipurpose fuel source, meaning you can use it for more activities than just grilling. You can use wood to smoke meats, for instance. Smoking is an alternative cooking method that involves slow-cooking meat at a low temperature with the help of smoke. The smoke from a wood-burning wood will cook meat while, at the same time, enhancing its flavor. Along with smoking meat, you can use wood to build fires in a fire pit or chiminea. If you choose charcoal, on the other hand, you won’t be able to use it for these activities. Charcoal is designed exclusively for grilling. It’s not a viable source of fuel for smoking meats or building fires in a fire pit or chiminea. For these activities, it’s recommended that you stick with high-quality wood.
#9) Combine With Charcoal
Of course, you can always combine wood with charcoal when grilling meats or veggies. Some pitmasters assume they should only use charcoal or wood in their grill, but it’s perfectly fine to use both of these fuel sources. Just add a mound of charcoal to the bottom of your grill’s fuel compartment, followed by a separate mound of wood logs or chunks. You can place the wood either directly on the charcoal or off to the side of the charcoal. When placed directly on the charcoal, wood will burn hotter and faster. When placed off to the side of the charcoal, wood will burn more slowly and at a lower temperature. Regardless, don’t assume that you must use either charcoal or wood when grilling. You can use both to achieve a delicate balance that offers the benefits of both worlds.
Find the best quality smoking chunks by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a variety of high-quality smoking chunks, including white oak, hickory, cherry, pecan and whiskey that you can use when grilling steaks or other meats. We offer complimentary shipping for our smoking chunk products across the United States.