February 4, 2020

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.

#8) Multipurpose

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.

January 29, 2020

Smoke is a byproduct that’s created when organic matter, including wood, burns. Whether you use a fireplace, a fire pit, a stove or a chiminea, it will probably produce smoke. As a result, many people assume that it’s normal for wood-burning fires to produce lots of smoke. The reality, however, is that excess smoke is indicative of an incomplete combustion process, and if left unchecked, it could lead to several problems.

Why Wood-Burning Fires Produce Smoke

Wood-burning fires produce smoke when the wood doesn’t burn completely. To the naked eye, smoke may look like nothing more than gases or vapors. If you observe it under a microscope, though, you’ll discover that it contains many small pieces of organic matter. Also known as particulate matter, these ultra-fine particles are released into the air when wood doesn’t burn completely.

All fires involve the combustion of organic matter, and wood-burning fires are no exception. If the wood doesn’t burn completely — meaning the combustion process is incomplete — it will release smoke as a byproduct. Smoke contains fine wood particles that float up and into the air.

The Dangers of Smoke

While a little smoke is typically harmless, excess smoke poses several concerns. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to smoke can cause upper respiratory irritation. When smoke gets into your nose and mouth, it will inadvertently enter your lungs where it causes irritation. People who suffer from asthma are especially at risk for upper respiratory irritation caused by smoke exposure. If you suffer from asthma and are exposed to excess smoke, it may trigger an asthma attack.

Smoke is also responsible for creosote buildup in chimneys. If your home has a fireplace, excess smoke may cause creosote to accumulate inside the chimney flue. As the smoke rises up into the flue, it will stick to the flue’s interior walls. Over time, the flue may become clogged with creosote to the point where it restricts air from entering and leaving through the top of the chimney. What’s even more concerning, however, is the potential for a house fire. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that can ignite and trigger an explosion. If the creosote inside your fireplace flue heats up enough, it may ignite or explode.

Choose Dry Firewood

To minimize the amount of smoke your wood-burning fires produce, only use dry firewood. All wood contains moisture, but the amount of moisture they contain varies depending on how the wood was processed. Wood that’s harvested from a free and immediately sold typically has a high moisture content. Known as fresh firewood or green firewood, it may have a moisture content of 100% or higher. At 100%, half of the wood’s weight is in water. All that moisture prevents the wood from burning completely. Some of the “wet” wood will burn, but much of its organic matter will be released in the form of smoke.

Some firewood is processed outdoors to lower its moisture content. Known as air-dried firewood, it has an average moisture content of about 20% to 25%. Even air-dried firewood, however, can produce smoke.

Don’t just fresh, green or even air-dried wood. Instead, choose kiln dried wood to prevent excess smoke. Kiln dried wood is characterized by an advancing processing method. In terms of performance, it’s superior to all other types of wood. Kiln dried firewood is processed in a drying kiln that extracts moisture from its pores. Kiln dried firewood often has a moisture content of just 10% to 15%, making it several times drier than fresh firewood and green firewood. The exceptionally dry properties of kiln dried firewood means it produces little to no smoke when burned.

Choose Hardwood Firewood

In addition to being dry, you should choose hardwood firewood. Hardwood varieties, such as oak, are denser than softwood varieties. The density of wood, of course, refers to the amount of organic matter it contains. With more organic matter, hardwood varieties contain more fuel than their softwood counterparts. Therefore, they are able to burn brighter and hotter to create a more complete combustion process.

Hardwood firewood isn’t just denser than softwood firewood; it contains less sap. Why does this matter? Like moisture, sap restricts the combustion process. It prevents the wood from burning completely while causing it to produce more smoke as a result. Hardwood trees don’t produce sap, however. They still produce resin, but they don’t produce any sap. Therefore, hardwood firewood burns more completely than softwood firewood to achieve greater heat and less smoke. By sticking with kiln dried firewood of a hardwood variety, you can rest assured knowing that you won’t get smoked out.

Common types of hardwood firewood include the following:

  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Maple
  • Ash
  • Cherry

Increase Airflow

Another way to prevent excess smoke with a wood-burning fire is to increase airflow. Starving or otherwise restricting your fire of fresh air will cause its temperature to drop. All fires need both organic matter and oxygen to burn. Without either of these elements, they’ll burn out.

So, how do you increase airflow in a wood-burning fire? It really depends on the type of device in which you build a fire. If you’re building a fire in a fireplace, you can increase airflow by opening the flue damper all the way. If the damper is only partially open, less air will be able to enter and leave the fireplace, thereby starving your fire of fresh air. If you’re building a fire in a fire pit, on the other hand, you should position the fire pit in an area where it’s exposed to the wind. With greater airflow, your fire will burn brighter and hotter, resulting in less smoke.

Add More Wood

The amount of wood you burn in a fire will affect the amount of smoke it produces. Generally speaking, smaller fires produce more smoke than larger fires. If you only use two or three small logs to build a fire, for instance, you can expect a significant amount of smoke. With only a few small logs, the fire will burn at a lower temperature, which may prevent some of the organic matter from burning completely.

To prevent your home or outdoor living space from being smoked out, build large fires using lots of dry, hardwood firewood. Your fires will burn brighter and hotter if you build them using lots of firewood. You should also keep your fires going by adding more wood when needed. If the fire is dying down, toss a few new pieces of kiln-dried firewood into it.

The bottom line is that it’s not normal for a wood-burning fire to produce a lot of smoke. Excess smoke is a sign of incomplete combustion. If the wood doesn’t burn completely, it will release airborne particulate matter in the form of smoke. You can reduce the amount of smoke produced by your wood-burning fires, however, by following these tips.

Experience the difference kiln dried firewood makes in your fires by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood is the Southeast’s premier vendor of high-quality kiln-dried firewood. We offer a variety of the industry’s finest firewood, including oak, hickory, cherry and more.

January 28, 2020

With spring right around the corner, you should use this opportunity to prepare your outdoor living space for the new season. As the weather becomes warmer and the days longer, you’ll probably want to spend more time outdoors. To take full advantage of your outdoor living space during the spring season, though, you’ll need to prepare it ahead of time.

#1) Clean the Leaves

Use a broom, rake or leaf blower to clean the leaves from your outdoor living space. Trees typically shed their leaves — or needles, depending on the type of tree — during fall and early winter. As a result, your outdoor living space will probably have a fair amount of dead and loose foliage. By cleaning the leaves, you’ll create a cleaner outdoor living space that’s ready for the upcoming spring season. Just remember to properly dispose of the leaves rather than leaving them piled up in your yard.

#2) Inspect for Loose Nails

Assuming your outdoor living space has wood flooring, such as a deck, you should inspect it for loose nails. It’s not uncommon for nails to work their way out of wood planks. As wood planks contracts and expands due to thermal changes, nails will gradually work their way out. They may not come all the way out. Rather, most nails will only protrude partially out of the wood plank in which they are used. Even if a nail is only partially sticking out of a wood plank, though, it can still create a tripping hazard for you and your family members. If you discover any loose nails such as this, use a hammer to drive them back into the wood planks.

#3) Clean Your Grill or Smoker

If you own a grill or smoker, you should clean it in preparation of spring. Grills and smokers will accumulate dirt when not used for an extended period. And if your grill or smoker is dirty, you won’t be able to use it. Regardless of which type of outdoor cooking device you own, you should clean it. Start by scooping out any remaining ash, after which you can use warm water and dish soap to scrub the exterior. When finished, dry your grill or smoker with a washcloth or some paper towels.

#4) Plant Trees

The beginning of spring is the perfect time to plant a few trees around your outdoor living space. Trees will improve the aesthetics of your outdoor living space while also offering cost-savings benefits in the form of lower cooling costs. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, few a few strategically planted trees can lower a home’s cooling costs by as much as 25%. Once fully grown, trees will create shade that covers your home and protects it from the sun’s otherwise hot solar rays. Whether they are coniferous and deciduous, trees are an invaluable element to an outdoor living space that shouldn’t be ignored.

#5) Adjust Seating

You’ll probably want to sit and relax outdoors this spring season. Of course, this means you’ll need to include seating in your outdoor living space’s design. So, where should you place the seating? A good rule of thumb is to position seating around your outdoor living space’s focal point. A fire pit or outdoor fireplace, for example, will act as a natural focal point. Therefore, you can position seating around the fire pit or outdoor fireplace. With the seating positioned around the focal point, your outdoor living space will have a more cohesive and enjoyable design.

Here are some different seating ideas to consider for outdoor living space:

  • Plastic chairs
  • Cast iron chairs
  • Benches
  • Stools
  • Hammocks
  • Wicker chairs
  • Chaise lounge chairs
  • Adirondack chairs

#6) Install Lighting

If your outdoor living space is poorly lit, you may struggle to use it during the nighttime hours. A fire pit or outdoor fireplace can certainly help to illuminate your outdoor living space, but it’s still a good idea to have some form of artificial lighting. You don’t have to necessarily install a traditional overhead fixture, but you should add some form of supplemental and artificial lighting to your outdoor living space. As shown below, string lights offer a stylish alternative to overhead fixtures. You can run them across the roof or canopy of your outdoor living space for added illumination as well as aesthetics.

Along with string lights, wall sconces offer a stylish alternative to overhead fixtures. Wall sconces are characterized by their wall-mounted method of installation. They are mounted to the wall during installation where they project light upwards. Other types of lighting to consider using in your outdoor living space include track lighting, lamps, floor lights and bollard lights. With the extra illumination, you can enjoy your outdoor living space long after the sun goes down.

#7) Upgrade the Furniture

You should consider upgrading your outdoor living space’s furniture in preparation of the spring season. No piece of outdoor furniture lasts forever. Whether it’s a chair, bench, table or any other piece of outdoor furniture, it will degrade over time. If a piece of outdoor furniture has become physically worn to the point where it’s no longer functional or attractive, you should replace it. Upgrading worn furniture with new pieces will improve the functionality and aesthetics of your outdoor living space, allowing you to take full advantage of this space during the spring season and beyond.

#8) Purchase Firewood

There’s no better time than the beginning of spring to stock up on firewood. Without an adequate supply of firewood, you won’t be able to build fires this spring season. Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces require the use of high-quality firewood. You shouldn’t burn just any piece of wood you find lying around your property. Unless it’s dry, it will produce lots of thick and unpleasant smoke when burned.

So, what’s the best type of firewood to use in your outdoor living space? You can’t go wrong with a hardwood variety of kiln dried firewood. Hardwood is denser than softwood, making it ideal for firewood. It contains more organic matter, which means more “stuff” for the fire burn. Kiln dried hardwood is the all-around best type of firewood for an outdoor living space. During the kiln drying process, wood is baked in a commercial oven to lower its moisture content. The end result is exceptionally high-quality firewood that’s easy to light, burns clean and produces lots of heat.

#9) Add an Area Rug

Finally, consider adding an area rug to your outdoor living space. An area rug helps to define your outdoor living space by introducing new colors and patterns into its design. At the same time, it will protect the underlying flooring from premature wear and tear. With that said, you need to choose an area rug that’s designed specifically for outdoor usage. An indoor area rug won’t work because, unlike outdoor area rugs, they aren’t water-resistant. Outdoor area rugs are made of water-resistant materials, such as polypropylene, that can withstand rain and humidity.

Experience the difference kiln dried firewood makes in your outdoor fires by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood is the Southeast’s premier vendor of high-quality kiln-dried firewood. We offer a variety of the industry’s finest firewood, including oak, hickory, cherry and more.

January 21, 2020

With its flavorful and rich fat content, a pork loin is the perfect cut of meat to smoke. Not to be confused with a pork tenderloin, it’s a wide and thick cut of pork that comes from the sides of the ribs. When smoked, the pork loin’s fat will melt, essentially infusing the meat with delicious flavors while protecting it from drying out in the process. For the best flavor, though, you should follow these tips on how to smoke a pork loin like a pro.

Use a Wood Smoker

Don’t assume that all smokers are the same. When smoking a pork tenderloin, you’ll experience better results using a wood smoker rather than an electric smoker.

Wood smokers rely exclusively on wood to create heat, whereas electric smokers use a combination of both wood and electricity. Electric smokers don’t actually create a fire. Rather, they feature an electrically powered heating element that warms the wood. The wood still heats up — and it still releases smoke — but it doesn’t burn. Wood smokers, on the other hand, burn wood to produce higher cooking temperatures as well as more flavorful smoke. You can technically smoke a pork loin using either an electric or wood smoker. Of those two options, though, the latter offers an unparalleled level of performance. Wood smokers burn high-quality wood chunks to produce flavorful smoke. As the smoke rises, the pork loin will absorb it.

Prepare Your Smoker

Assuming you use a wood smoker, you should prepare it by filling it with high-quality wood chunks. Also known as smoking chunks, wood chunks are blocks of wood that come from hardwood trees. As they burn, they produce flavorful smoke that’s used to cook meats and veggies.

What type of wood chunks should you use when smoking a pork loin? You can always conduct your own culinary experiments by testing different varieties of wood chunks. With that said, cherry and hickory are popular choices for pork loins. Cherry wood chunks offer a mildly sweet flavor that’s reminiscent of fresh cherries, whereas hickory wood chunks offer a stronger and bolder flavor that naturally complements pork. The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong using either cherry or hickory wood chunks to smoke a pork loin.

Regardless of which variety you choose, place the wood chunks in the bottom of your smoker’s fuel compartment. You can then light the wood chunks — either with or without the help of charcoal — to start your smoker.

Aim for a Cooking Temperature of 220 to 230 Degrees

You should aim for a cooking temperature of about 220 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit when smoking a pork loin. Maintaining the correct temperature is essential when smoking any cut of meat, and a pork loin is no exception. If your smoker is too hot, your pork loin may burn and dry out. If your smoker is too cold, your pork loin may fail to reach a safe internal temperature. Therefore, you should wait until your smoker has reached a temperature of 220 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit before adding your pork loin to it.

Unlike electric smokers, wood smokers don’t have automatic controls to adjust the temperature. There are still ways, however, to raise or lower the temperature of a wood smoker. To make your wood smoker hotter, open the damper vents. Most wood smokers have two damper vents: one on the top of the lid and another on the bottom of the main fuel compartment. Like with grilling, the damper vents are used to control airflow into and out of the smoker. Wood smokers burn wood, so they require oxygen to facilitate in the combustion process. If both the damper vents are completely closed, the fire won’t receive fresh oxygen, which will cause to burn out. By opening both damper vents all the way, however, fresh oxygen can easily enter your wood smoker, allowing the wood to burn at a higher temperature.

Along with opening the damper vents, you can make your smoker hotter by adding more fuel to it. If it’s not hot enough, toss some more charcoal or wood chunks into the fuel compartment. Charcoal, of course, burns hotter than wood chunks. Therefore, you really don’t need to use much charcoal, if any, to achieve an appropriate cooking temperature in your smoker. Just add a small amount, check the temperature of your smoker, and gradually add more charcoal as needed.

Place Pork Loin Fatty-Side Up

When you’re reading to begin smoking your pork loin, place it fatty-side up on your smoker’s cooking grate. Pork loins, of course, have a fatty side and a lean side. For the best flavor, you should cook it fatty-side up.

If you place your pork loin lean-side up, the fat will simply drip onto and through your smoker’s cooking grate. Aside from causing flare-ups, this will limit the flavor of your pork tenderloin. Fat is flavorful, but all this flavor is lost if you cook your pork loin lean-side up. Cooking it fatty-side up, the fat will drip down the sides of your pork loin, essentially covering it in flavorful juice. Some of the fat may still drip through the grate, but most will remain trapped on the sides of the pork loin. You’ll experience a better flavor when cooking pork loin fatty-side up in your smoker. The fat will liquefy and infuse your pork loin with flavorful juice, all while keeping it moist in the process.

Aim for an Internal Temperature of 140 to 150 Degrees

Wait until your pork loin has reached an internal temperature of about 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from your smoker. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to identify the internal temperature of a pork loin by looking at it. Granted, a pork loin will develop a darker color, as well as a firmer texture, as it cooks, but you can’t rely solely on the appearance to determine whether it’s finished. The only surefire way to know if your pork loin is finished is to check its internal temperature using a probe thermometer.

After smoking your pork loin for about 2 hours, insert a probe thermometer into the thickest section to check its internal temperature. Once your pork loin has reached an internal temperature of 40 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, you can remove it from your smoker.

Apply Sauce After Your Pork Loin Has Cooked

If you’re going to use sauce, apply it after your pork loin has finished cooking. What’s wrong with applying sauce to a pork loin before cooking it? If you smother your pork loin in sauce before adding it to your smoker, the sauce may burn. Even at a cooking temperature of 220 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, most sauces will burn. As the sauce burns, it will leave a not-so-pleasant char that negatively affects the flavor of your pork loin. To prevent your sauce from burning, wait until your pork loin has finished cooking to apply it.

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 to smoke a delicious pork loin like a pro. We offer complimentary shipping for our smoking chunk products across the United States.

How to stay warm - fire
January 17, 2020

Cold nights can be tough sometimes, but they don’t have to be. In fact, cold nights present a great opportunity to get loved ones together and connect.

If you’re dreading the cold or looking for a way to make the most of a night stuck inside, then look no further. There are some very practical things you can do to stay warm (block drafts or turn up the thermostat), but in this blog we’re going to focus on doing things that are actually fun and memorable as well.

Here are 8 great ways to stay warm and make memories on a cold night.

1) Make some Hot Drinks

Warm drinks are great for keeping you warm. They are fun to make, keep your hands warm, and they warm your whole body as you drink them. Most importantly, they can be delicious!

If it’s a really cold night, then we recommend going all out with your hot drink. Don’t just make hot chocolate, add some whipped cream and chocolate syrup and marshmallows. If you want some inspiration, check out these 25 hot chocolate recipes from Country Living.

2) Get out the blankets for a movie night

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, movie nights have never been easier. Grab a blanket or three, and snuggle up together on the couch. Put the phones away so that you can all enjoy the same story together, and stay warm under the blankets!

If it’s really cold, you can always watch a movie that will help keep you warm. Depending on your preference, there are several genres that could work for this:

  • Live vicariously through some characters who go to the beach
  • Get your heart racing with a thriller or scary movie
  • Watch something sentimental and heart warming
  • If it’s really cold, watch a movie about volcanos or journeys through the desert

3) Play Games together

We get a lot of screen time, so why not skip the movie night and play games together instead? Playing games near the fire is a great way to stay warm, or you could always play a more active game like Charades, Twister, or Cranium. Having fun and laughing together is a great way to forget about the cold and connect with others.

Game night around the Fire

And of course, any level of competition can get “heated.” So grab a few of our favorite games and start playing something together!

4) Tell some stories

Snuggling together under the blankets isn’t just for movies – it’s also a great chance to share stories. Life is hectic and chaotic, but we desperately need moments together to share stories and connect. When it’s cold outside everything freezes, put your worries on ice for a bit and spend time together talking with those nearest to you.

Doing this around the fire always seems to enhance the experience. Looking at a phone screen distracts you from conversation, but somehow looking at a fire always has the opposite effect. It’s mesmerizing, but not distracting. You can even turn the lights down and tell some scary ones, or laugh together about funny memories. Check out our guide to great storytelling around the fire.

5) Bake something delicious

One of my favorite things to eat on the planet is Blackberry Cobbler. It’s perfect on a cold night because it’s so warm and delicious and I just want to eat 4 bowls of it. But there are many wonderful things to bake, and on a cold night you can bake all of them.

Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

So don’t limit the amount of time you spend baking – that oven will help warm the kitchen and area around it. This is a win win – not only do you get some warm food from baking, you get some warm air as well. Bake something for dinner, bake something for dessert, and just to be safe, bake something for a second dessert. Looking for ideas? Taste of Home has an epic list of 40 warm desserts on a cold night.

6) Make a Fort

I always loved making a fort as a kid. Now that I’m an adult, I still secretly love making forts. Hang the sheets and blankets around your couches and chairs and coffee table, it will give you a more intimate space to hang out together. It will even create a small layer of insulation, keeping you warm.

For the next level win, build the fort in such a way that you can still see the fire, watch a movie, or play games together. You can even go all out and gather extra blankets, pillows, and cushions and have an indoor campout by spending the whole night in the fort.

7) Gather around the fire

Building a nice fire is an awesome way to stay warm because it can make every other idea on this list more memorable. Enjoy a movie with the fire crackling below, tell stories around the fire, or enjoy hot chocolate while watching the fire dance.

When it’s cold, you want to choose firewood that will light easily and quickly so that you don’t have to wait too long for the heat. You also don’t want to use wet wood – the heat energy gets consumed by the moisture and won’t warm you up. Using properly kiln dried firewood from Cutting Edge will guarantee your fire is easy to light, burns bright and hot, and will help keep the chimney more clean and safe.

Learn how to start a fire the Cutting Edge way with this video:

8) Make s’mores inside

Making s’mores is an awesome tradition around campfires and bonfires, but you can also make s’mores on the indoor fire! Gather around the fireplace with some marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers and get to roasting those marshmallows. Making s’mores gets you close to the fire, which is going to warm you up. It also gives you a warm and delicious treat.

Once again, don’t feel limited to the traditional s’more ingredients. Get creative and make it a more memorable experience. Check out our ultimate guide to making s’mores for more!

Be Prepared – Stock Up on Firewood Today

There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re stuck on a cold night without firewood. Stock up now so you can be prepared when cold weather strikes. Cutting Edge Firewood is completely free from bugs and mold, so it’s safe to store inside or in the garage. That way, you won’t have to venture out into the cold when you want to enjoy a nice fire!

Shop Firewood now >>

January 14, 2020

Are you thinking about buying a smoker? While most grills feature a similar design consisting of a grate over a heat source, smokers do not. There are several different types of smokers, each of which uses a different method to slow-cook foods by exposing them to smoke. In this guide, you’ll learn more about the most common types of smokers and how they work.

Bullet Smoker

Also known as a vertical smoker, a bullet smoker is a cylindrical-shaped smoker that features a water bowl or pan between the cooking grate and the fire. The purpose of the water bowl or pan is to regulate the bullet smoker’s internal temperature while also protecting foods from drying out. With their large and vertical design, bullet smokers can accommodate a bowl or pan of water. The bowl or pan water is placed directly above the fire and below the cooking grate. The fire will essentially vaporize the water above it, and your food will absorb some of this steam so that it doesn’t dry out.

While the primary purpose of the water bowl or pan is to release moisture vapor into the bullet smoker, it also catches fat drippings from meat. When smoking beef, pork or other fatty types of meat, the fat will drip down through the grate. The water bowl or pan prevents the liquefied fat from reaching the fire — something that could otherwise cause a flare-up.

Drum Smoker

Another common type of smoker is a drum smoker. Drum smokers live up to their namesake by featuring a steel drum construction. They are made by adding grates and hooks, as well as other components, to the inside of a large steel drum. Once fitted with these components, the drum can be used to smoke meats and veggies.

Drum smokers have been around for over a half-century, but they’ve become increasingly popular over the past few years. They are attractive, compact and offer stable cooking temperatures. The only downside is that they have a small cooking grate. While you can cook large cuts of meat vertically in a drum smoker by hanging them on hooks, you can’t easily cook large cuts of meat horizontally because of the drum smoker’s small grate.

Offset Smoker

We can’t talk about common types of smokers without mentioning offset smokers. Offset smokers feature a similar design as a traditional charcoal grill but with an added compartment on the side. Known as a firebox, the additional compartment is “offset” from the main compartment.

How does an offset smoker work exactly? They contain two compartments: the main compartment and the offset compartment or firebox. The main compartment is where you place your meats and veggies. It contains a large horizontal cooking grate in a spacious interior. The firebox, on the other hand, is where you place your fuel. You can add charcoal, smoking chunks, cooking wood or any combination thereof to the firebox. Once lit, both heat and smoke will travel from the firebox to the offset smoker’s main compartment where your meats and veggies are located.

Many pitmasters prefer offset smokers because they offer an ideal environment in which to smoke meats and veggies over an extended period. The secret to smoking delicious foods is to use indirect heat with a flavorful fuel source, such as smoking chunks. If you expose your food to direct heat, it may cook too quickly. An offset smoker prevents this from happening by separating your food from the fire.

All-in-One Smoker

Perhaps the most versatile type of smoker is an all-in-one smoker. All-in-one smokers, such as the Primo XL 400 All-In-One, do more than just smoking. They support a variety of cooking methods, such as grilling, baking, roasting and, of course, smoking. With an all-in-one smoker, you aren’t restricted to smoking your food. You can use any of the aforementioned cooking methods, allowing for an unparalleled level of versatility.

Drum smokers, bullet smokers and many other types of smokers only support a single cooking method: smoking. If you want to grill hamburgers, you’ll have to purchase a separate grill. If you want to bake chicken, you’ll have to use the oven in your kitchen. Alternatively, though, you could purchase an all-in-one smoker. It’s a smart investment that will open the doors to a world of new culinary activities. At the same, an all-in-one smoker eliminates the need for multiple cooking devices.

Primo makes some of the industry’s finest all-in-one smokers. Some of their notable features include the following:

  • Ceramic construction that’s strong, durable and resistant to corrosion
  • Top damper vent made of cast iron
  • Folding side tables
  • Porcelain-coated cooking grates
  • Exterior thermometer display that measures the smoker’s internal temperature
  • Ash removal tool
  • Grate lifter tool
  • Locking casters

Pellet Smoker

A pellet smoker is a type of smoker that uses wood pellets for fuel. They feature a hopper in which you pour wood pellets. The wood pellets travel into a heating chamber where they are vaporized. As the pellets vaporize, they produce smoke that fills the inside of the pellet smoker.

Electric Smoker

There are also electric smokers that cook meats and veggies using electricity. Electric smokers feature a heating element that’s connected to a power outlet. As the heating element warms up, it will cause the wood chunks or pellets to smoke. You don’t actually light the wood chunks or pellets. Rather, the heating element eliminates the need for an actual fire by creating an alternative source of heat.

Electric smokers are easy to use, but unfortunately they don’t offer the same delicious flavor as other traditional smokers. While electric smokers still use wood chunks or pellets, they produce less flavor because of their lower cooking temperatures. Since electric smokers don’t actually use a fire, less smoke is released from the wood chunks or pellets.

Which Type of Smoker Should I Choose?

As you can see, there are several different types of smokers, including bullet, drum, offset, all-in-one, pellet and electric. Each type of smoker uses a different method to cook food with smoke. Because they all rely on smoke to cook food, you should choose a smoker that supports high-quality smoking chunks.

Pellet and electric smokers are typically at the bottom of the smoker totem pole. Pellet smokers only support pellets, which aren’t as effective as high-quality smoking chunks. The wood pellets are comprised of sawdust held together with a food-safe binder. They’ll still produce smoke when heated, but they won’t offer the same flavorful and clean smoke as high-quality smoking chunks.

While you can usually use smoking chunks in them, electric smokers also suffer from lackluster flavor. The problem with electric smokers is that they don’t actually burn the smoking chunks or pellets. Rather, they create just enough heat — using electricity — to release smoke from the chunks or pellets. Without combustion occurring, the smoke isn’t clean or as flavorful as it should be. For these reasons, you should probably avoid pellet and electric smokers. Instead, choose a different type of smoker, such as an offset or all-in-one smoker.

Experience the difference high-quality cooking wood makes in your wood smoker by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood is the premier vendor of premium cooking wood and smoking chunks, all of which you can use in your wood smoker.

January 9, 2020

Few foods are as savory and delicious as a grilled steak. Grilling the perfect steak, however, requires more than tossing a cut of beef on a grill for a few minutes. When grilling steaks, use caution to ensure that you don’t make the following mistakes.

#1) Choosing Lean Steaks

What’s wrong with choosing lean steaks to grill? With less fat, they aren’t as flavorful as their counterparts. Fat is responsible for giving steaks their flavor. As steaks cook on the grill, their fat will liquefy, resulting in juicier and more flavorful steaks. While all cuts of steak have at least some fat in them, the ratio of fat to protein can vary. For the juiciest and most flavorful grilled steaks, choose a fattier cut, such as a ribeye, rather than a lean cut.

#2) Using a Gas Grill

Another common mistake to avoid when grilling steaks is using a gas grill. Whether it’s liquid propane or natural gas, gas grills pale in comparison to traditional charcoal grills. Granted, they are easy to use, but they lack the distinct flavor offered by charcoal grills.  When cooked on a charcoal grill, steaks will have a distinct flavor that’s synonymous with grilled meat. You can even enhance this grilled flavor by adding high-quality cooking wood or smoking chunks to your charcoal grill.

Furthermore, charcoal grills more effective at searing the exterior of steaks because they produce more direct heat than gas grills. The heat created by a charcoal grill will sear the exterior of your steaks, essentially creating a light char. This char will help to seal and contain the steaks’ juices. You can sear steaks by cooking them on a gas grill as well, but gas grills aren’t as effective at searing because they produce less direct heat than charcoal grills.

#3) Only Flipping Steaks Once

There’s an age-old myth stating that you should only flip steaks once when grilling them. The general belief is that flipping steaks more than once prevents the juices from settling and, therefore, adversely affects the steaks’ flavor. The truth, however, is that it’s perfectly fine to flip your steaks more than once. In fact, doing so can prove beneficial. If you only flip your steaks once, they may dry out. By flipping your steaks regularly, they’ll grill more evenly and without burning on either side. Depending on the thickness of your steaks, you should typically flip them about once every two to four minutes.

#4) Adding Steaks to Grill Prematurely

Don’t make the mistake of adding steaks to your grill prematurely. You should only add your steaks after your grill has reached an appropriate cooking temperature. If your grill is still warming up, your steaks may not cook. And adding steaks prematurely can even result in a harsh and unpleasant flavor. Whether you’re using charcoal, smoking chunks, cooking wood or any combination thereof, the fire inside your grill must be hot. If your grill is still heating up, the fuel won’t burn completely. Instead, it will experience incomplete combustion that manifests in the form of black smoke. As the black smoke fills your grill, your steaks will absorb some of it. For a clean grilling experience, only add your steaks after your grill has reached an appropriate temperature.

#5) Neglecting to Clean the Grate

Always clean your grill’s grate before adding your steaks to it. Even if it looks relatively clean to the naked eye, it probably contains burnt debris from your previous cookout sessions. Neglecting to clean a dirty grill grate may result in your steaks sticking to it. It’s not uncommon for meats to stick to grilling grates. If you’re cooking steaks and they stick to the grate, you may struggle to remove them without tearing the outer skin and releasing their juices. You can prevent this from happening, though, by cleaning the grate beforehand.

#6) Insufficient Seasoning

Don’t be afraid to use a generous amount of seasoning on your steaks. Seasoning does more than just add flavor; it encourages the formation of a crispy exterior. When your steaks cook on the grill, the seasoning will harden to form a crispy exterior. If you don’t use enough seasoning, though, your steaks may not develop this crispy exterior. Instead, they’ll have a softer and less-flavorful exterior. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be afraid to use a generous amount of seasoning on your steaks. Seasoning enhances the flavor of grilled steaks while encouraging the formation of a crispy exterior in the process.

#7) Using a Low-Heat Oil

Smothering your steaks in oil will help the seasoning stick to them, but you need to choose the right type of oil. If you use a low-heat oil, your steaks may taste funny. Low-heat oils live up to their namesake by featuring a low smoking point. In other words, they burn at a lower temperature than high-heat oils. When oil burns, it produces harsh-tasting smoke that’s injected into your steaks. But not oils suffer from this problem. High-heat oils require greater heat to burn than low-heat oils, making them ideal for grilled steaks and other grilled meats.

What type of high-heat oil should you use on your steaks? Some of the most popular high-heat oils for steaks include canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. They are all high in monounsaturated fats and, most important, are able to withstand the hot temperatures of a charcoal grill without burning. Low-heat oils lack the heat-resistant properties of high-heat oils, so they are more likely to burn and produce smoke when used on steaks.

#8) Overcooking

Overcooking is a surefire way to ruin an otherwise delicious grilled steak. Overcooked steaks, of course, are tougher, drier and less flavorful than properly cooked steaks. Whether you’re grilling a ribeye, sirloins, filet mignons or any other steaks, you should take precautions to ensure that you don’t accidentally overcook them.

Keep in mind that you can always add your steaks back to the grill if they are undercooked. If they are overcooked, on the other hand, you’ll have to settle for the tough and dry steaks. Depending on your desired serving temperature — rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, well, etc. — it may only take anywhere from five to 15 minutes to grill your steaks. If you believe your steaks are almost done cooking, remove them from the grill. They’ll continue to cook up for a few minutes as they sit.

#9) Cutting Into Steaks Too Soon

Finally, you should let your steaks sit for a few minutes at room temperature before serving or consuming them. If you cut into them too soon, you’ll release the steaks’ juices before they’ve had the opportunity to settle. This is why most chefs and culinary experts recommend letting steaks sit for at least five minutes after they are done cooking. By allowing your steaks to sit at room temperature, the juices will evenly distribute through the steaks.

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.

January 7, 2020

Does your home have a wood-burning fireplace? When compared to natural gas fireplaces, wood-burning fireplaces offer several advantages. They are safer to use, produce more heat, offer a pleasant aroma and crackling sound, and they promote a more relaxing environment. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, though, you’ll need to clean it. Otherwise, it will accumulate ash, soot and other debris. Below are 10 tips on how to clean and maintain your wood-burning fireplace.

#1) Sweep Out Ashes Once Cool

Wood-burning fireplaces produce ashes as a byproduct. As wood burns, some of its organic and inorganic compounds will linger behind in the form of ash. With that said, you shouldn’t attempt to remove ash immediately after the fire has burned out. To protect against burns, as well as damage to your home, wait until the ash is completely cool to sweep it out. You can then scoop up the ashes and dispose of them in a metal container. Alternatively, you can save the ash to use in your garden.

#2) Check for Soot

It’s a good idea to check your fireplace, especially the flue, for signs of soot buildup on a regular basis. Soot has a powdery texture that’s softer than creosote. As a result, it can make its way into hard-to-reach cracks and crevices of your fireplace. If you discover soot buildup inside your fireplace, scrub it off with a brush and some vinegar. Vinegar offers a nontoxic and effective way to clean soot. Its acidic properties help to loosen soot so that it’s easier to remove.

#3) Burn Dry Firewood

The golden rule of using a wood-burning fireplace is to only burn dry firewood. Burning wet or moist wood is never a good idea. Even if you’re able to light it — which can be extremely difficult — it won’t produce much heat. Wet and moist wood doesn’t burn efficiently, resulting in less heat and a shorter burn time. Furthermore, if the wood contains too much moisture, it will produce soot and creosote when burned that sticks to the interior of your fireplace and its flue.

To keep your fireplace clean, burn dry firewood, such as kiln dried firewood. Kiln dried firewood is prized for its low moisture content. When firewood is kiln dried, it’s processed in a heating oven, known as a kiln, where the moisture is literally baked out of it. Whether it’s oak, hickory or any other hardwood variety, kiln dried firewood is the perfect source of fuel for your wood-burning fireplace. It’s easy to light, and because of its low moisture content, it will won’t contribute to soot or creosote buildup.

#4) Avoid Starting Fires With Paper

Avoid the temptation of starting your fireplace with paper. Whether it’s a piece of newspaper, computer paper or a page torn out of an old magazine, you shouldn’t burn paper in your fireplace. Paper doesn’t burn as well as wood. Granted, it’s easy to light, but it leaves behind a lot of ash once burned. For a clean fireplace, don’t use paper. Instead, use a natural fire starter, such as tinder and kindling, in conjunction with kiln-dried firewood. If the wood is dry, it should easily light with nothing more than some tinder and kindling.

#5) Close the Screen When Using Your Fireplace

When using your fireplace, shut the screen closed to reduce the risk of hot embers landing on your carpet. Also known as a fire screen sheet, a fireplace screen is a tall and flat panel that’s used to cover the front of a fireplace. They are used to contain the fire’s embers. Fireplace screens are made of a heat-resistant material, such as metal or glass. They don’t completely cover the front of a fireplace. Instead, they typically feature a semi-permeable design that allows for the passage of heat. By closing the screen when using your fireplace, hot embers are less likely to damage the carpet and surrounding space.

#6) Clean the Screen

Of course, you may need to clean your fireplace’s screen as well. Over time, fireplace screens will develop smoke stains. This is particularly true for glass fireplace screens. The smoke will settle on the surface of the glass, creating unsightly black stains. You can restore a smoke-stained fireplace screen back to its original appearance, however, by cleaning it. Just spray an ammonia-based glass cleaner on your fireplace screen and wipe it down with a few paper towels. For a metal fireplace screen, use warm water and some gentle dish soap.

#7) Sweep the Outer Hearth

The outer hearth of your fireplace will likely accumulate ashes if not regularly swept. All fireplaces have an inner and outer hearth. The inner heart is the area inside the firebox where the fire is contained, whereas the outer hearth is the area outside the firebox that extends into the accompanying room. Using a screen can help protect the outer hearth from ashes, as well as embers, but you’ll still need to sweep the outer hearth regularly.

#8) Vacuum Around the Outer Hearth

The outer hearth is designed to catch any ash or embers that escape the firebox, but it’s not a foolproof solution. If you build large fires, or if you don’t clean the firebox, ash may land on the carpet around the outer hearth. Some homeowners make the mistake of trying to clean ash out of carpet by scrubbing it. The problem with scrubbing is that it digs the ash deeper into the carpet, which can lead to permanent stains that are nearly impossible to remove. An easier and more effective way to clean ash out of carpet is to vacuum it. Just run over the ash with a suction-powered vacuum cleaner to “pull” out the ash.

#9) Allow Fires to Burn Out Naturally

Rather than extinguishing your fires with water, allow them to burn out naturally. Pouring water — even small amounts of water — into a fireplace is never a good idea. While it will probably extinguish the fire with minimal effort, water will mix with the ash to create a thick, sludge-like paste. As the water mixes with the ash, it forms a paste that sticks to the walls and floor of the firebox. Furthermore, water contributes to rust and corrosion. If your fireplace screen or any other components are made of metal, water may cause them to rust or corrode. Rather than extinguishing your fires with water, allow them to burn out naturally.

#10) Spot Clean Brick

The brick encompassing your fireplace may develop smoke stains. You can easily clean these smoke stains, however, using a solution of diluted vinegar. Mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Next, spray the diluted vinegar onto the stained brick. After allowing the diluted vinegar to soak into the brick for at least 10 minutes, you can proceed to scrub it. If the stain persists, you can try cleaning the brick with a cream of tarter paste. Also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, cream of tartar, it’s highly effective at cleaning brick.

Experience the difference kiln dried firewood makes in your fireplace by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood is the Southeast’s premier vendor of high-quality kiln-dried firewood. We offer a variety of the industry’s finest firewood, including oak, hickory, cherry and more, all of which you can use in your fireplace.

January 1, 2020

A fire pit is a smart investment for your patio or outdoor living space. It will create a more comfortable and relaxing environment, allowing you to spend more time outdoors. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, you can use a fire pit to build fires. While all fire pits offer a safe container in which to build fires, though, there are many different types of fire pits. So, how do you know which fire pit is right for your outdoor living space?

Fuel Type

All fire pits require some form of fuel to operate, the most common of which include liquid propane, natural gas and wood. Liquid propane fire pits use tanks, whereas natural gas fire pits use the same natural gas line to which your home is connected. Wood fire pits, on the other hand, use wood for fuel. There are certain advantages to using a liquid propane or natural gas fire pit, but they typically pale in comparison to wood fire pits.

Wood fire pits are inherently safer than their natural gas and liquid propane counterparts. Both natural gas and liquid propane are highly combustible, so fire pits using either of these fuel types are more dangerous than wood fire pits. Safety aside, wood fire pits produce a fragrant aroma, as well as a pleasing “crackling” sound, that’s not found in natural gas or liquid propane fire pits.

Material

Different fire pits are made of different materials. Steel is a popular material in which fire pits are made. An alloy of iron and carbon, it’s strong, durable and resistant to heat. You can also find fire pits made of aluminum. While aluminum fire pits usually cost less than steel fire pits, they are more likely to suffer from weather-related degradation. Over time, an aluminum fire pit will corrode, which can leave large holes behind in the bottom of the fire bowl.

Some fire pits are made of cast iron. Cast iron is even heavier than steel, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good choice of material for a fire pit. Cast iron fire pits are somewhat brittle and, therefore, prone to cracking. For these reasons, steel has become the preferred choice of material for fire pits. Steel fire pits are strong, durable and resistant to heat, allowing them to withstand the hands of time, all while offering a superior level of performance.

Legs

Fire pits typically have legs to elevate them off the deck, pavers or other surfaces on which they are used. The taller the legs, the higher the fire pit will sit. With that said, longer legs isn’t always better. Fire pits with exceptionally long legs are more likely to topple over than those with shorter legs. If the legs are too short, on the other hand, the fire may scorch or burn the surface on which it’s used.

If a fire pit doesn’t have legs, you’ll need to place it on a heat-resistant surface. You can build a special pad for your fire pit using brick pavers. Alternatively, you can purchase and use a fire pit pad. Fire pit pads consist of a flat and flexible piece of heat-resistant material that’s used to protect decks and other surfaces from the heat generated by a fire pit. The bottom line is that your fire pit needs either legs, brick pavers or a pad to protect the surface on which it’s placed from heat-related damage.

Size

Of course, you should consider the size when choosing a fire pit. Fire pits are often measured by the diameter of their fire bowl. Some of the smaller fire pits have a fire bowl measuring about 25 to 30 inches in diameter, whereas larger fire pits have a fire bowl measuring 42 inches or more in diameter.

With a larger fire pit, you’ll be able to build larger fires. Assuming it’s a wood fire pit, it will accommodate more wood. And because wood offers fuel for to the fire, it will create brighter and hotter flames. Just remember to choose a size that’s appropriate for your outdoor living space. If your outdoor living space is small, you may not have the luxury of using a large fire pit — and that’s okay. As long as it’s a high-quality fire pit with a deep fire bowl, it will offer a high level of performance.

Portability

Something else to consider when choosing a fire pit is portability. In other words, how easily can you move the fire pit? Most commercially produced and sold fire pits are portable, though you can build a stationary fire pit using the right materials and tools. Of those two options, you’ll experience better results with a portable fire pit.

You can easily move a portable fire pit to different areas of your outdoor living space. If you’re renovating your outdoor living space, for example, you may want to move it to the opposite site — something that’s not possible with a stationary fire pit. You can also take your portable fire pit camping or tailgating. As long as it’s cool to the touch, you can pack up your portable fire pit and hit the road with it.

Price

How much are you looking to spend on a fire pit? When shopping for a fire pit, you’ll quickly realize that the prices vary. Some fire pits are available for as little as $100, whereas others cost over $1,000. Not surprisingly, natural gas and liquid propane fire pits tend to cost more than wood fire pits. A natural gas or liquid propane fire pit may cost over twice as much as a wood fire pit. If you’re looking to save money, this is one more reason to choose a wood fire pit.

Aesthetics

Considering that a fire pit will serve as the focal point for your outdoor living space, you can’t ignore aesthetics when choosing one. Low-quality fire pits tend to feature a basic construction that isn’t particularly attractive or stylish. You may be able to build fires inside a low-quality fire pit, but it won’t enhance your outdoor living space.

Rather than choosing a low-quality fire pit with a basic construction, consider choosing a high-quality fire pit that’s designed with an emphasis on aesthetics. A rustic steel fire pit, for instance, offers a modernly stylish appearance that’s all-but-guaranteed to complement your outdoor living space. Fire pits are available in countless other styles, but you can’t go wrong with rustic steel. They offer the perfect blend of aesthetics and performance, making them an excellent choice for your outdoor living space.

There are hundreds if not thousands of different fire pits on the market. To get the most use and value out of a fire pit, you need to choose the right type for your outdoor living space. Consider the fuel type, material, legs, size, price and aesthetics when choosing a fire pit. Doing so will allow you to take full advantage of your new fire pit.

Experience the difference kiln dried firewood makes in your outdoor fire pit by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood is the Southeast’s premier vendor of high-quality kiln-dried firewood. We offer a variety of the industry’s finest firewood, including oak, hickory, cherry and more, all of which you can use in your outdoor fire pit.

December 31, 2019

Offset smokers have become increasingly popular among pitmasters. Featuring a separate firebox that’s away from the main cooking compartment, an offset smoker offers the perfect environment in which to smoke meat. You can place your meat inside the main cooking compartment, and you can place your charcoal or wood in the separate, “offset” firebox. If you’re going to use an offset smoker, though, you’ll need to keep the fire going in it. Otherwise, the temperature will drop, which may prevent your meat from reaching a safe internal temperature.

What Is an Offset Smoker?

Before we reveal how to keep the fire going in an offset smoker, let’s first take a closer look at the basic mechanics of this outdoor cooking device. Like other smokers, an offset smoker is a cooking device that’s designed to cook meat, as well as veggies and other foods, by exposing them to heat and smoke for an extended period. The difference between traditional smokers and offset smokers lies in their design. Traditional smokers have a single compartment, whereas offset smokers have two compartments.

Offset smokers feature a main cooking compartment as well as a secondary compartment known as a firebox. The firebox is the smaller compartment that’s located on the side of the offset smoker. It’s used to contain charcoal and wool that, when ignited, produces heat and smoke that fills both the firebox as well as the main cooking compartment.

Set Up a Probe Thermometer

When using an offset smoker, you should set up a probe thermometer to measure the temperature of the main cooking compartment. Without a probe thermometer in place, you’ll struggle to maintain an appropriate cooking temperature for your meat. With that said, you shouldn’t place the probe thermometer inside your offset smoker’s firebox. Rather, set it up either on or directly below the cooking grate. Doing so will provide you with a more accurate reading of your offset smoker’s cooking temperature. If it drops below the safe cooking temperature — safe cooking temperatures vary depending on the type of meat — you can take action to raise the temperature of your offset smoker.

Add Lump Charcoal to Firebox

To prepare an offset smoker, add a moderate amount of lump charcoal to the firebox. You can (and should) use high-quality cooking wood or smoking chunks, as well. However, you’ll experience better results when starting your offset smoker exclusively with lump charcoal. You can either use a chimney starter to warm up the lump charcoal before pouring it into the firebox, or you can add the lump charcoal directly to the firebox and then light it. Regardless, try starting your offset smoker with a hot bed of lump charcoal.

Lump charcoal is preferred over briquette charcoal because of its ability to burn hotter. Briquette charcoal typically produces less heat, so stick with lump charcoal when cooking meat in your offset smoker.

Wait Until the Charcoal Is Hot Before Adding Wood

Once the lump charcoal is glowing orange and covered in a light layer of white ash, you can add your wood to the firebox. Don’t use just any type of wood, though. Because of its ability to affect the flavor of your food, as well as the temperature at which it cooks, you need to use the right type of wood.

Low-quality cooking wood like pine will adversely affect the flavor of your meat. The high moisture properties of pine wood prevent it from burning completely. As a result, it will produce thick black smoke that’s filled with particulate matter known as soot. Some of this soot will travel from the firebox into your offset smoker’s main cooking compartment where it sticks to your meat.

What type of wood should you use when smoking meat in an offset smoker? You can use either high-quality cooking wood or smoking chunks. High-quality cooking wood consists of small, conveniently sized logs derived from hardwood trees like oak or hickory. In comparison, smoking chunks consist of smaller blocks of high-quality wood derived from the same or similar hardwood trees.

Add Your Meat

Assuming the lump charcoal has turned glowing orange — and you’ve added cooking wood or smoking to it — you can proceed to add your meat. Some pitmasters add their meat at the same time when they add their charcoal, believing it’s harmless. If you add your meat while the lump charcoal is still cold, though, it may create an unpleasant flavor. Both charcoal and wood require hot temperatures to burn completely. When cool, they’ll produce soot that, as previously, mentioned will stick to any meats or veggies that you are smoking. By waiting until the charcoal is hot, you’ll create a hotter, more stable internal temperature that results in better-tasting food.

Adjust the Dampers

You can keep the fire going in your offset smoker by adjusting the dampers. Although there are exceptions, most offset smokers have two dampers. Dampers are air vents that you can open and close to control airflow. You can typically find a single damper on the top of the main compartment’s lid as well as another damper on the bottom of the firebox. To keep the fire going in your offset smoker, you’ll need to adjust the dampers accordingly.

Normally, you’ll need to have both dampers on your offset smoker at least partially open at all times. If either of them are fully closed, it will restrict air from entering the firebox, resulting in the fire going out. With the dampers partially open, on the other hand, air will flow into the firebox and out of the main compartment. With that said, you can increase the temperature of your offset smoker by fully opening the dampers.

Poke the Coals

If you notice the temperature inside your offset smoker dropping, poking the coals may help raise it. While wearing heat-resistant gloves, carefully open the firebox and poke the coals with a metal fire poker. Poking will stir up the coals while fueling them with fresh oxygen in the process.

Add More Wood As Needed

In addition to adjusting the dampers, as well as poking the coals, adding more wood will keep the fire going in your offset smoker. Whether you use cooking wood, smoking chunks or a combination thereof, they’ll eventually burn to ash. You can make them burn a little slower by placing them next to the lump charcoal rather than directly on it. Eventually, though, you may need to add more wood, especially if you’re smoking a thick piece of meat like a beef brisket for multiple hours.

Offset smokers feature a unique design that makes them ideal for smoking meat. They allow you to place your meat away from the fire where it can cook more slowly and for a longer period. If you’re going to use an offset smoker, however, you’ll need to keep the fire going. If the fire goes out, conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that the temperature will drop. And if the internal temperature of your offset smoker drops too low, you may struggle to fully cook your meat.

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 in a smoker box when grilling meat. We offer complimentary shipping for our smoking chunk products across the United States.

December 26, 2019

Oak trees are found extensively throughout the United States. Regardless of where exactly you live, you’ve probably encountered some of these hardwood trees. Because they are so common, oak trees are frequently used as firewood. But do oak trees really make good firewood?

What Are Oak Trees?

An oak tree is a hardwood tree in the genus Quercus. Contrary to what some people believe, oak isn’t a specific species of tree; it refers to trees in the genus Quercus, which are characterized by spiraling leaves as well as acorns.

According to the University of Arizona (UA), there are over 600 known species of oak trees in the world, 90 of which are located in North America. Like other hardwoods, oak trees grow more slowly than their evergreen counterparts. Depending on the species, it can take an oak tree anywhere from 15 to 40 years to mature. All oak trees reproduce through pollination. Male flowers produce pollen in spring that pollinates the female flowers to produce acorns.

Some of the most common species of oaks in the United States include the following:

  • White oak
  • Southern live oak
  • Emory oak
  • Gambel oak
  • Black oak
  • Bur oak
  • Cherry bark oak
  • Maple leaf oak
  • Arkansas oak
  • Boynton oak
  • Scarlet oak
  • Buckley oak
  • Red oak

Easy to Split

Back to the question at hand: Yes, oak trees make excellent firewood. One of the many reasons why oak is ideal for firewood is because it’s easy to split. While there are hundreds of species, all oak trees have a straight grain that makes them easy to split. Wood is typically split into halves or quarters to improve its performance as firewood. Splitting reduces the amount of bark on the surface of the logs so that it’s easier to light and burns more cleanly. Unfortunately, some trees are difficult to split because they contain an irregular grain. If a tree has an interlocking grain, for example, it may not split evenly.

The good news is that oak trees don’t suffer from this problem. They have a straight grain that allows for quick and easy splitting. Oak wood can be split manually using an ax or automatically using a gas or hydraulic log splitter. With their straight grain, they are particularly easy to split compared to other types of trees. With that said, there are several other reasons why oak trees make excellent firewood.

Burns Hot

When using oak firewood, you can rest assured knowing that it will produce a substantial amount of heat. Research shows that a full cord of red oak firewood will produce 24 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) of heat when burned. The only tree species that produces more heat than red oak is black locust at 26.8 million BTUs.

Whether it’s red oak, white oak or any of the other 598 known species, all oaks produce a substantial amount of heat when burned. Oak trees are hardwood, so they denser than their softwood — also known as evergreen — counterparts. The dense composition of oak trees means there’s more organic “stuff” inside them. When used as firewood, the organic matter in oaks will burn to produce heat.

Smells Nice

A benefit of oak firewood that’s often overlooked is its fragrant aroma. What does oak firewood smell like exactly? It’s difficult to describe the aroma of oak firewood without experiencing it yourself. It’s a mild yet pleasant earthy aroma that most people find enjoyable. When you burn oak firewood, some of its organic matter will be released into the air, resulting in a fragrant aroma that fills the surrounding space. Some homeowners, in fact, specifically use oak firewood because of its fragrant aroma. Don’t take my word for it, though. Experience its pleasant aroma firsthand by using oak firewood the next time you build a fire.

Low Resin and Sap Content

A little-known benefit of oak firewood is its low resin and sap content. Most trees produce resin and sap, though the amount they produce varies. Softwoods typically produce more resin and sap than hardwoods. Pine trees, for instance, are widely known for containing a substantial amount of resin and sap. If a pine tree is injured, all the sticky resin and sap will leak out. Hardwoods like oak, on the other hand, contain significantly less resin and sap.

With low levels of resin and sap, oak firewood is easier to light than pine, yew, spruce or other softwoods. If there’s too much resin or sap inside of firewood, you may struggle to light it. All the resin and sap inhibits the combustion process. You can still light firewood that’s saturated in resin and sap, but it will take more work. Alternatively, you can choose firewood with low levels of resin and sap, such as oak. There’s virtually no noticeable amount of resin or sap inside oak. Therefore, you can easily light oak firewood using tinder and kindling (along with a match or fire starter).

Readily Available

You shouldn’t have trouble finding oak firewood to use in your fireplace, fire pit, stove or chiminea. As previously mentioned, the United States is home to approximately 90 species of oaks. While different species grow in different states, you can find oaks across the entire country. Why does this matter? Well, because oaks are so common in the United States, they offer a convenient and readily available source of firewood. You can even order oak firewood from Cutting Edge Firewood, which we’ll deliver straight to your home.

Low Moisture Content

Another reason oak trees make excellent firewood is because they have a low moisture content. Oaks don’t retain as much moisture as softwood trees. A live oak tree may have a moisture content of 75%, whereas a live pine tree may have a moisture content of over 100%. More importantly, oaks are easier to dry out than softwood trees. The moisture content of oak firewood can be lowered even further through processing. Common firewood processing techniques include air drying and kiln drying. The former involves leaving the firewood outdoors to dry for up to six months, whereas the latter technique involves baking firewood in an oven known as a kiln. Kiln dried oak firewood has an exceptionally low moisture content, containing just half the moisture as air-dried oak firewood.

Burns Clean

Oak firewood burns clean while producing lots of heat and little to no black smoke. Black smoke is the result of an incomplete combustion process. If your firewood doesn’t burn completely, it will release unburned matter in the form of black smoke. Softwood trees, unfortunately, have an inefficient combustion process. They have a higher resin and sap content as well as moisture content, both of which inhibits the combustion process. Oak trees, however, contain low levels of resin and sap as well as moisture. Therefore, oak firewood has a more complete combustion process that manifests in the form of greater heat and less black smoke. If you’re tired of building fires, only to get smoked out by a cloud of thick black smoke, you should consider using a hardwood variety of firewood like oak.

Experience the difference kiln dried firewood makes in your fires visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood is the Southeast’s premier vendor of high-quality kiln-dried firewood. We offer a variety of the industry’s finest firewood, including oak as well as other hardwoods.

December 24, 2019

Flare-ups are a common occurrence when grilling meat. It’s characterized by the eruption of a large flame, which usually lingers for just a few seconds to a few minutes before subsiding. With the towering flame rising up through the cooking grate, it can char and dry out your meat. By familiarizing yourself with the causes of grill flare-ups, however, you can take precautions to prevent them.

Fatty Meat

Certain types of meat are more likely to cause flare-ups when grilled than others. Generally speaking, the fattier the meat, the greater the risk of a flare-up. Fatty meats contain lipids that will melt and drip down onto your charcoal or cooking wood. Once the fat-based lipids reach the charcoal or cooking wood, they’ll trigger a flare-up. This is the same concept behind grease fires. The lipids, or grease, provide fuel for the fire. As the lipids burn, they’ll produce a temporary but powerful flame.

Beef and pork almost always have a higher fat content than chicken and fish. With that said, you can still grill beef or pork — you just need to choose the right cut. If you’re grilling burgers, for example, consider using lean ground beef with a fat content of just 5% to 10%. Standard ground beef has a fat content of 15% to 30%, so it’s more likely to cause flare-ups than its lean counterpart. Regardless of what type of meat you’re planning to grill, check to see if there’s a lean cut available with a low fat content.

Wind

Wind can also cause flare-ups when grilling meat. If your grill is positioned in an open area of your landscape on a windy day, you may notice the occasional flare-up. All fires need two things to stay lit: oxygen and fuel (e.g. charcoal or wood). If it’s windy outside, all that oxygen-rich wind will flow into your grill, thereby increasing the intensity of the fire.

While you can’t control the wind, you can prevent wind-related flare-ups by choosing the right area for your grill. Look for an area of your landscape with a windbreak. Whether it’s a retaining wall, a wooden fence or a row of trees, a windbreak will restrict the amount of wind that enters your grill. Along with placing your grill near a windbreak, make sure the lid is closed at all times. Leaving the lid open will draw more oxygen into the fire, which may result in a flare-up.

Dirty Drip Pan

If your grill has a drip pan, you should get into the habit of cleaning it on a regular basis. Otherwise, you may encounter flare-ups when grilling meat. What is a drip pan exactly? Also known as a drip tray, a drip pan is a metal container that’s used to collect the juices, as well as liquefied fat, that drips from meat. They are commonly found in gas grills, though some charcoal grills have them as well.

When you grill meat, the juices and liquefied fat will drip down into the drip pan. As these juices and liquefied fat accumulate, it can create a fire hazard. A burning ember may fall into the drip pan, thus igniting the juices and liquefied fat. To protect against flare-ups, clean your grill’s drip pan after each use. As long as it’s clean, it shouldn’t cause or contribute to flare-ups. Some pitmasters even use the collected juices and liquefied fat to make sauces. Regardless, you shouldn’t ignore your grill’s drip pan. The longer it goes unnoticed, the greater the risk of it triggering a flare-up.

Lighter Fluid

Dousing your charcoal or cooking wood with lighter fluid can increase the risk of flare-ups. There’s no denying the fact that it’s easier to light charcoal or cooking wood with the help of lighter fluid. The highly flammable properties of lighter fluid will create an instant flame. Unfortunately, though, lighter fluid can also cause flare-ups. Some of the lighter fluid may collect in a corner or crevice of your grill, and once exposed to a burning ember, it will create a flare-up.

If you’re struggling to start your grill without lighter fluid, perhaps you should reevaluate your fuel source. Neither lighter fluid nor any other accelerant is needed if you use high-quality fuel. Kiln dried cooking wood, for example, is widely recognized for its easy-to-light properties. It has a lower moisture content than all other types of wood, including fresh and air-dried wood. With its low moisture content, kiln dried firewood is particularly easy to light. Using some basic tinder and kindling, along with a match, you can light kiln dried cooking wood.

Overcrowding

Overcrowding your grill is a major risk factor for flare-ups. Whether you’re grilling burgers, pork chops, chicken breasts or steaks, you should space them apart from each other. As previously mentioned, flare-ups are typically the result of meat juices and fat dripping onto the burning charcoal or cooking wood. If you overcrowd your grill by placing all the meat in a single area, the juices and liquefied fat will accumulate on the charcoal or cooking wood directly below that area.

To minimize the risk of flare-ups, avoid overcrowding your grill. Ideally, you should give each food item you are cooking an equal amount of space. If all the items are crowded together to the point where they are physically touching, they may trigger a flare-up.

Dirty Cooking Grate

A dirty cooking grate can cause flare-ups when grilling meat. Whether your grill has a cast iron or stainless steel cooking grate, you should clean it after each use. Over time, debris will accumulate on the cooking grill. Not only will a debris-caked cooking grate cause your meat to stick, but it can also cause flare-ups. As your grill heats up, the debris on the cooking grate may ignite to create a flare-up.

You can clean your grill’s cooking grate using a wire brush and some dish soap. Scrubbing the top and bottom of the grate with a wire brush should remove most if not all of the debris, allowing you to grill delicious meats without experiencing problematic flare-ups.

Other Tips to Prevent Flare-Ups When Grilling Meat

There are a few other steps you can take to prevent flare-ups when grilling meat. Depending on the type of meat, for instance, you may be able to trim excess fat from it. If you’re planning to grill a particularly fatty cut of meat, trim some of the fat before placing it on your grill.

In addition to trimming excess fat, you can lower the risk of flare-ups by moving your meat to the side. If you notice the fire growing larger, moving your meat to the side for a minute or two will allow it to subside. And once the fire has subsided to a normal level, you can move your meat back to its original location. Just remember to avoid using water to extinguish a flare-up.

Find the best quality kiln dried cooking wood by visiting our online store today. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a variety of kiln dried cooking wood that you can use in a smoker box when grilling meat. We offer complimentary shipping for our kiln dried cooking wood, as well as smoking chunk products, across the United States.

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