Is this Red Oak?

Rotondi123

New Member
Jul 9, 2019
13
California
Hi all! I’m new to the forum. I have recently bought myself a Santa Maria style bbq and plan to use Red Oak which is tradition in the area (plus it makes thick cuts taste phenomenal). I had this 1/4 cord of wood delivered to my house today and simply wanted to verify that it is in fact Red Oak. Not having the knowledge of wood I had to place a bit of trust in the guy delivering.

Please see the two pictures attached. Second, I did use a moisture meter to test this wood that is supposed to be seasoned. It said the moisture of different pieces was pretty consistently under 20% (albeit right below or at 20%) but I have a very cheap meter and this test was done without splitting the wood further than it already is and testing the inside of these pieces. When I went to start a fire today, there was quite a bit of that steaming water hissing sound, smoke, and most of the pieces took ages to finally get a small flame going. They only got going a little after they were on top of very hot coal. Any information or advice about this? I appreciate it!
 

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neverbilly

Member
Dec 27, 2015
113
Louisiana, USA
Hi all! I’m new to the forum. I have recently bought myself a Santa Maria style bbq and plan to use Red Oak which is tradition in the area (plus it makes thick cuts taste phenomenal). I had this 1/4 cord of wood delivered to my house today and simply wanted to verify that it is in fact Red Oak. Not having the knowledge of wood I had to place a bit of trust in the guy delivering.

Please see the two pictures attached. Second, I did use a moisture meter to test this wood that is supposed to be seasoned. It said the moisture of different pieces was pretty consistently under 20% (albeit right below or at 20%) but I have a very cheap meter and this test was done without splitting the wood further than it already is and testing the inside of these pieces. When I went to start a fire today, there was quite a bit of that steaming water hissing sound, smoke, and most of the pieces took ages to finally get a small flame going. They only got going a little after they were on top of very hot coal. Any information or advice about this? I appreciate it!
Hi, never heard of Santa Maria style bbq, I learned something. As for the wood, your pics are not close enough for me to see. It does look like oak. I am not familiar with CA woods and I am not sure what I call red oak grows there. A google search provided hits on Northern redoak and southern red oak and both ranges are, generally, the east half of the USA. So, not sure what CA calls red oak. I know around here, sometimes people call oaks that are NOT red oak exactly that. Because it is about as good as it gets for firewood.

Yes, you need a new split for a moisture reading.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
2,333
Eastern Ontario
Need some better pictures . close up of grain , close up
of bark and a close up of end grain. In general it does look like
red Oak at a distance
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
1,449
Marshall NC
Might be red oak. You have some wet wood, you have to split a piece and measure on the freshly split face.
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,610
NNJ
Looks like red oak from here. Split it small, it may be ready in 3 yrs.
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
707
Rochester NY
Looks different from my red oak but I'm in NY and I've only gotten one truck load of it in my wood hoarding career so it's not my most easily identifiable wood.

If the wood is hissing, it's too wet and needs more seasoning.
 

Tar12

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
1,537
Indiana
I burn a lot of Oak...it doesnt appear to be Red Oak to me from this distance...
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,024
Philadelphia
As others have said, looks like it could be red oak, but pics are too low resolution to make positive ID at this distance.

Oaks take much longer to dry than most woods. Easily 3x-4x longer than softwoods, and 2x many other hardwoods. Most here usually figure 3 years to season oak. Steam and water are all the proof you need, these are definitely above 20% moisture content.
 

Rotondi123

New Member
Jul 9, 2019
13
California
As others have said, looks like it could be red oak, but pics are too low resolution to make positive ID at this distance.

Oaks take much longer to dry than most woods. Easily 3x-4x longer than softwoods, and 2x many other hardwoods. Most here usually figure 3 years to season oak. Steam and water are all the proof you need, these are definitely above 20% moisture content.
Thank you for your reply. Here some closer photos. I noticed when taking these that the bark on some pieces seem different than others.
 

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Rotondi123

New Member
Jul 9, 2019
13
California
Need some better pictures . close up of grain , close up
of bark and a close up of end grain. In general it does look like
red Oak at a distance
Thank you for your reply. Here some closer photos. I noticed when taking these that the bark on some pieces seem different than others.
 

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Rotondi123

New Member
Jul 9, 2019
13
California
Hi, never heard of Santa Maria style bbq, I learned something. As for the wood, your pics are not close enough for me to see. It does look like oak. I am not familiar with CA woods and I am not sure what I call red oak grows there. A google search provided hits on Northern redoak and southern red oak and both ranges are, generally, the east half of the USA. So, not sure what CA calls red oak. I know around here, sometimes people call oaks that are NOT red oak exactly that. Because it is about as good as it gets for firewood.

Yes, you need a new split for a moisture reading.
Thank you for your reply. Here some closer photos. I noticed when taking these that the bark on some pieces seem different than others.
 

Rotondi123

New Member
Jul 9, 2019
13
California
Hi, never heard of Santa Maria style bbq, I learned something. As for the wood, your pics are not close enough for me to see. It does look like oak. I am not familiar with CA woods and I am not sure what I call red oak grows there. A google search provided hits on Northern redoak and southern red oak and both ranges are, generally, the east half of the USA. So, not sure what CA calls red oak. I know around here, sometimes people call oaks that are NOT red oak exactly that. Because it is about as good as it gets for firewood.

Yes, you need a new split for a moisture reading.
Thank you for your reply. Here some closer photos. I noticed when taking these that the bark on some pieces seem different than others.
 

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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,024
Philadelphia
Those close-ups look like red oak to me. Can't speak for the whole pile, if some look different, but there's definitely red oak in there.
 
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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,093
Schenectady, NY
Some looked like oak to me, others did not.

I wouldn't get hung up over it. Having 1 type of wood or another isn't going to make, or break a Bbq.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,024
Philadelphia
What surprises me is that we are absolutely surrounded by red oak, to the point where it’s almost all I burn for heating my house some years, and I’ve never even heard of anyone using it for a BBQ. Most here seem to use hickory, or import mesquite.
 

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
542
NE Ohio
The Oak will be fine for smoking....easily identified by the sunburst rays on the end grain of your splits....as others said, some splits do not look like oak, i would avoid using those in your pit....some wood can make you and others sick or ruin your $100 brisket you spent 12 hours tending to. My favorite is black cherry, ...here's two lists of the good and bad

https://www.wisconsinfirewood.com/woods-for-smoking/

https://www.wisconsinfirewood.com/blog/what-wood-not-to-use-for-smoking/

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kborndale

Burning Hunk
Oct 9, 2008
161
LI
What surprises me is that we are absolutely surrounded by red oak, to the point where it’s almost all I burn for heating my house some years, and I’ve never even heard of anyone using it for a BBQ. Most here seem to use hickory, or import mesquite.
Really? Oak is a very common wood used for smoking...hickory is probably the most common wood but I would put oak as common as apple or cherry.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,093
Schenectady, NY
I've never heard of anybody going out of their way for it to cook with either.
 

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
542
NE Ohio
I've never heard of anybody going out of their way for it to cook with either.
Probably because they are using amateur hour $200 Home Depot wood chip smokers and not $1000+ stick burners you feed splits.

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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,093
Schenectady, NY
Maybe. Or there might be enough fruit wood around here they are satisfied.