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Aspen and Cedar Shavings..Which to use?


BlastFromThePast

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At my local pet store they carry animal bedding made of wood shavings. I have a choice between cedar and aspen. I read that aspen is a relatively non-flammable wood by comparison to others. Should I go with the aspen or the cedar. I'm drawn to the wood shavings mostly because it takes less time to cook. So, which should I get?
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According to Ian von Malitz' book, aspen makes quite good charcoal. It might be worth-while to make a test batch.
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Well it's only $5 for 20 liters of aspen so I guess it's worth a shot. I'm just a little nervous of over cooking it especially considering it's shavings. I have to cook it in one of those weber charcoal grills and it's difficult to get the temp consistent considering there's very little control over air flow coming up from the bottom of the grill.
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Make a circular cage of 1/2" hardware cloth around the can large enough in diameter to allow BBQ briquets to be placed in between the can and cage. There should also be a layer of briquets on bottom first before adding can and cage. A half inch hardware cloth "platform" keeps the briquets off the bottom of grill. Douse the briquets with starter fluid and light. It will heat bottom and sides evenly enough to cook the wood in can.

 

This is the way I did it in the kettle grill and it worked great just very time consuming. Look up the Top Lit Updraft Method on YT and you may find it much easier to produce good charcoal shavings.

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Honestly, I think some of the warnings and rumors about overcooking charcoal are BS. Even through blind neglect (three extra hours in a hot fire) I have never been able to cook a batch of charcoal so poor that it even under performed commercial BP.
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I think so too. Only way I could get Paulownia to overcook was remove the retort lid too soon.

 

@ Blast - open up those bottom air ports all the way and it will cook just fine. The Weber clones all have same type system.

Edited by Bobosan
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I have used aspen snake bedding for charcoal and it does perform well. Its performance is similar to my favorite/standard, which is eastern cottonwood. I recall that others have had success with cedar as well, but I couldn't tell you exactly how it performs as I haven't tried it myself.
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Cedar is very hot!

Overcooking charcoal may decrease performance by 10% or so, I've never tested it but could tell a slight difference in the BP

it definitly won't ruin it

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I found some pine bedding and went with that instead. I know how pine performs so I felt most comfortable buying that. I have to say, this batch made for some FAST bp. I think I timed the cooking better and wound up leaving some volatiles in there. It's so much better undercooked by a few minutes!
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Whichever method works for you is the best method! :) I've never tried Aspen or Cedar. You mentioned in OP that Aspen is relatively non-flammable. If you look up Paulownia, you'll find the same.

 

From Wiki - Paulownia timber is a pale, whitish coloured wood with a straight grain, but it can also be silver grey, light brown or reddish. Its characteristics of rot resistance and a very high ignition point ensures the timber's popularity in the world market.

 

From World Paulownia Institute - Fire resistance is a feature of all Paulownia, Ignition temp 420 to 430 deg Celsius as compared to Average hardwood at 220 to 225 deg Celsius.

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Weird. I certainly would never think that a wood that is a bit flame resistant would make for good charcoal. Is paulownia harder or softer than balsa?
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Eastern Red Cedar wood chips is very good for making a hot black powder.

This is the stuff they sell for animal bedding that has a nice cedar smell to it.

I cooked a 5-gallon batch several days ago in a TLUD cooker in about 20 minutes.

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