The Wood Chips You Need To Avoid Grilling With At All Costs

steak over fire wood grill
steak over fire wood grill - Grandriver/Getty Images

There are plenty of mistakes that grilling beginners might make, and while some snags can show up out of nowhere, others are easily avoided -- and neglecting them just makes things harder for yourself. This includes pitfalls like waiting until the last moment to prep ingredients, or forgetting to make sure you have all the equipment that you need. And when it comes to wood, even if you remember to buy enough and light it up correctly, making the wrong choice can ruin your barbecued or grilled foods in a big way.

Daily Meal reached out to chef Silvio Correa, a Brazilian Grill Master with years of experience in the business, to find out which woods are on his no-go list. He confirmed that certain woods add unpleasant flavors to food, no matter how carefully you cook with them. "Softwoods like pine, cedar, and spruce contain high levels of resin and can produce a bitter, sooty flavor," he said. Not a single person at your barbecue is going to appreciate a piece of chicken or a steak that essentially tastes like a Christmas tree on fire. Taste isn't the only reason to skip out on softwood, either.

Read more: 11 Tips For Keeping Your Grill Shiny And Clean

Why Softwoods Shouldn't Be Used For Cooking

wood chunks on fire
wood chunks on fire - Visual Art Agency/Getty Images

Softwoods don't just make food taste off; they're hard to cook with and could even make you sick. Hardwoods — the right woods for smoking meat and grilling it — are incredibly dense, burn very slowly, and release a smoke that impart desirable flavors. In barbecue circles, the flavor produced by these woods is often called "clean" smoke. That longer, slower burning gives your grilled foods enough time to take on a caramelized, crusty exterior, which everyone knows is the best part of barbecue.

Softwoods, on the other hand, burn much faster, and contain a higher percentage of sap and resin, as Silvio Correa notes. As these substances burn, they give off an acrid smell, and the wood tends to produce a lackluster heat that fades too fast. Your grilled dishes won't brown properly and will taste like, well, sap.

Some sources also claim that smoke from softwoods can make diners sick, as the excess resin might cause respiratory issues. There are also types of wood will definitely make you ill, such as lumber scraps and pressure-treated wood, along with varieties like mangrove and oleander. It also doesn't hurt to examine each piece of wood — or sift through your wood chips — before throwing them on the grill, especially if you're using leftover pieces from the previous season. If you see mold or mildew, toss that wood right in the trash.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal