In order to cold smoke, you need a fine wood dust.

I work with wood and have obtained, using a band saw, a very fine wood dust. The wood this dust comes from has been well seasoned.

Is it OK to use this wood dust in a cold smoker? What can I do to prepare this wood dust for use in a cold smoker?

  • A router has a band saw totally outclassed as a producer of fine wood dust. – Wayfaring Stranger Feb 6 '16 at 2:01

It is okay to use wood, you need to ensure that there is not pine or especially MDF dust in the sawdust that you are using. Approach with caution, unless you can absolutely guarantee the source of wood shaving/sawdust is what they say it is then leave it well alone. There are a lot of joiners using MDF and pine and to have a batch of oak or cherry contaminated with either of these products will render any food you smoke as inedible at best and actually quite dangerous.

If you'd rather enjoy a more DIY approach you can harvest wood after fresh autumn or spring winds. The best time for collecting wood is in the winter or very early spring before the sap rises. The sap will add moisture and a slightly bitter taste to your wood shavings due mainly to the higher resin and sap content of the wood. This can be avoided by choosing when to collect. I wouldn’t hold onto this rule, but if I had a choice, I would go for the winter harvested wood.

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    This is absolutely the best time. It is also not so coincidentally the best time to prune trees, because it harms the tree the least during times of dormancy. – Escoce Jan 5 '16 at 23:58
  • Would you find MDF on non-plywoods? MDF is usually plywood for making roadside advert signage. – Escoce Apr 5 '16 at 14:04
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    My concern is when there is MDF used in the same plant/factory as where you are getting you timber shavings. I am speaking about cross contamination rather than direct use. – Adrian Hum May 22 '16 at 23:46

Check out the Harbor Freight 7.5 amp electric planer with dust bag for 60$. You can set it to generate thin shavings and will get dust, all in the collection bag. I have on dedicated solely for my smoker.


I'm planning on using a surform (wikipedia) on oak or apple next time I try my homemade cool smoker.

I had some success using just whittled oak for smoking garlic and chillies. This wouldn't work in the smoker pictured at your link, butI didn't burn the wood directly. Instead I used a spirit burner outside the smoking compartment, with the wood in a beaker sticking out of the bottom of the chamber. The flavour after a few hours was a bit more subtle than I was aiming for but otherwise excellent. Finer wood should give me more smoke quicker. The burner wasn't ideal (fuel capacity too low), so I need to come up with a better heat source as well.

  • I am curious about the safety of this treatment. I make this statement this because burning wood by heat without direct flame produces gases that would otherwise be consumed by the flame. This process is used to create fuel gases. Reference "Gasification of wood", "wood gasifiers", or "wood gas" – Escoce Apr 5 '16 at 14:02

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