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Can you describe the different smells that different woods produce when burning?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by mywaynow, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    I have seen posts on the foul smells of Locust. What woods have pleasant smells? And how can you describe the smells? I keep running across logs that really smell nice, but there are not that many in the mix.

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  2. Cate68

    Cate68 Member

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    Good question. When I burn hickory, it smells - to me - like baking ham. It's quite pleasant!
  3. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Pleasant - Apple,Cherry,Pear,pretty much any fruitwoods.Hickory,White/Bur Oak,Mulberry,Eastern Red Cedar/Juniper,Black Walnut.

    So-So not a real strong smell or unpleasant one that I noticed - Red/Black Oak,Honey Locust,Silver Maple,Hophornbeam (Ironwood),White/Green Ash.

    Kinda stinks or is really bad - Ailanthus (Tree Of Heaven) never again,its the worst I've come across.American Elm (only smells strong outside,so I still burn some every year.
  4. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    willow is like someone keeps crapping, ever splitt raise the bar! Wet to, that where we coin the phrase picking up wet poop bare handed all day long!
  5. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Thistle pretty well covered it for me except I will add Osage Orange (hedge) has a very pleasant distinctive odor. And Black Locust that stinks really bad. Hackberry and Sycamore I have burned but don't remember so probably wasn't bad. A lot of others, I don't know because I have never burned them....like beech....Zap? Now describing what they smell like would be difficult for me....burning wood is how I would describe them %-P
  6. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I burn a great deal of oak, mostly water oak, along with quite a bit of hickory. The oak doesn't have much smell at all. The hickory is mild but nicely fragrant. However, I rarely smell them at all unless a little smoke gets out when I open the doors of the stove.
  7. kwikrp

    kwikrp Feeling the Heat

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    One time I got a load maybe 1/2 cord of Sugar Maple ??? guessing and went we burnt it made the house smell like warm maple syrup. When the kids woke up in the am they thought we were haveing pancakes :)
  8. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I hate the smell of all smoke! I've gone outta my way to rid smoke spillage in the house.don't know why anyone wood smell it on purpose.
    Sorry to rain on the parade.
  9. Jutt77

    Jutt77 Feeling the Heat

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    About the only good smelling wood I've burnt so far is black walnut. Its got a nice mellow sweet kind of smell.
  10. IanDad

    IanDad Member

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    I split 3 cords of apple last Feb. Kept all the spltting trash and use if for startup underneath paper knots in a top down start.

    Smells incredible outside during the first 5 minutes of the burn. I also, of course, use it to smoke pork.

    Have had several neighbors actually compliment me on the smell and the fact that they rarely see smoke except at startup.
  11. Stump_Branch

    Stump_Branch Minister of Fire

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    apple wood smells like a bbq. sweet odor, i would say like apples but close?
    Cherry smells wonderful, ill catch a whif when i am outdoors.
    Oak has a smell to it, i would call it bad, to me it smells like a fire as alot of folks aound me burn it.
    pooplar smells kinda off, but because it sucks so much theres not much smell
    black locust does stink
    elm is up there as well.

    I rarely have smoke coming out of the chimney, but i can still smell the wood burn...best when you open the door, but the smell is more subdude when its down to coals.
  12. tpikaart

    tpikaart New Member

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    Russian Olive = cheap, wet cigars. However once it's burning hot it's fine, and I never smell it indoors!
  13. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    my sniffer must be defective
    all I ever smell is smoke and ash
  14. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I don't often smell any smoke unless there is a bit of spillage or if the conditions are just right (or maybe it's just wrong) outside . . . to me (and more importantly my wife who seems to have a stronger sense of smell than me) the very rare smoke in the home or even outside is not bad -- perhaps because it smells more like wood smoke and not creosote . . . and it is a rare occurrence . . . if we had to smell smoke every day perhaps we would think a lot differently.

    As for the tree species . . . I like giving my buddy some apple and cherry wood . . . which he turns around and uses to smoke ribs, chicken, etc. Love that smoke then . . .
  15. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    This wood smell like teen spirit
    [​IMG]
  16. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I've always liked how Ash smoke smells. I used to compare it to vanilla, then I read it was in the olive family and realized that's what it smells like. Not strong, but distinctive. Sometimes get the same whiff when cutting or splitting it.
  17. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    I agree. I pride myself when guests say they are suprised I burn wood since they couldn't smell it.

    What surprises me here is how many people say they like black walnut. I've never burned the stuff, but I certainly don't like the smell of the raw wood when cutting / sanding it in the shop.

    pen
  18. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    I've been around it for 30+ yrs now,luckily the dry dust/shavings dont bother me.Some people have respiritory problems with it,same as Cocobolo & other certain dense oily tropical woods.When I'm turning any bowls or shaping any green Walnut,I make sure to shower soon afterwards,the wet shavings can be an skin irritant,I found that out years ago when sawing & digging out a large tree that uprooted in a late summer storm & was laying down.Especially bad right under the bark next to the white sapwood,juglone is present,same thats in the nut husks,bark,roots & rain-drip from the leaves.
  19. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    I've always loved white ash in a campfire. Hickory too, just because it smells like barbecue. I burned ash almost exclusively for the previous two winters. My downwind neighbor always thought it smelled nice.
    Ash also has a distinctive scent when it's burning hot and clean in the stove. Kinda sweet smelling, I guess. I used to have a corn burning furnace that had a similar smell when in active burn.
  20. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I try to not smell the wood burning but do try to feel the heat it gives.
  21. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    Redwood smells like the back deck is on fire. :)

    Cedar just smells awesome.

    I can instantly tell when someone is burning oak. Very distinctive and one of my favorites.
  22. PA. Woodsman

    PA. Woodsman Minister of Fire

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    Like others said, I only get a whiff when the door is open (sometimes) or if I go outside to see if I can get a smell.

    Don't forget Black Birch!!! AWESOME Wintergreen smell when burning (and splitting, of course)....
  23. DonNC

    DonNC Member

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    Like was said above, all the fruit trees smell great. My experience is mostly from smoking meat. I love hickory too. Mesquite is something you are either going to love or hate. It either reminds you of an awesome brisket that slow cooked for 13 hours with mesquite, or you will think it smells like someones hot sweaty smelly socks fresh from the running shoes. There is usually no middle of the road.
    Pallet wood just plain stinks too. Ive looked for pallet trees all over and never found one so I cant help you ID it
  24. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    I like fresh oak smell when I split. My wife is not a fan of smoke in the house. Therefore, I am careful with the stove. I'll not be wearing out the door hinges. Fortunately I have a good draft on mine.
  25. ccwhite

    ccwhite Member

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    Anything that is used for smoking meat is gonna smell good .... or it wouldn't be used to flavor meat. ;-)

    Cherry and apple are great. Black locust stinks a bit (best to have a tall chimney). Oak is ok. So is poplar (as long as we're talking about smell and not BTUs) Hickory is very nice.

    Go for BTUs not smell.

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