We had someone ask about "Anoyne smoke with bittersweet?"
, a wood type common to his area and found that it was toxic to dogs, cats and birds, but we couldn't find any reference to BBQing. I guess they leave it to common sense not to use toxins while cooking. Here are a few DON'TS as well:
Wood types suitable NOT for smoking:
Don't use any wood from conifer trees, such as PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CEDAR, CYPRESS, etc.
There are many trees and shrubs in this world that contain chemicals toxic to humans--toxins that can even survive the burning process. Remember, you are going to eat the meat that you grill and the smoke particles and chemicals from the wood and what may be on or in the wood are going to get on and in the meat. Use only wood for grilling that you are sure of.
If you have some wood and do not know what it is, DO NOT USE IT FOR GRILLING FOOD. Burn it in your fireplace but not your smoker.
ELM and EUCALYPTUS wood is unsuitable for smoking, as is the wood from SASSAFRAS, SYCAMORE and LIQUID AMBER trees.
Here are some more woods that you should not to use for smoking:
Never use lumber scraps, either new or used. First, you cannot know for sure what kind of wood it is; second, the wood may have been chemically treated; third, you have no idea where the wood may have been or how it was used. For all you know, that free oak planking could have been used in a sewage treatment plant.
Never use any wood that has been painted or stained. Paint and stains can impart a bitter taste to the meat and old paint often contains lead.
Do not use wood scraps from a furniture manufacturer as this wood is often chemically treated.
Never use wood from old pallets. Many pallets are treated with chemicals that can be hazardous to your health and the pallet may have been used to carry chemicals or poison.
Avoid old wood that is covered with mold and fungus that can impart a bad taste to your meat. If you have some good cherry wood (or other good smoking wood) that is old and has a fungus growth and you want to use it, pre-burn it down to coals before you put it into your smoker.
Grilling over a wood fire is more challenging than grilling over charcoal. Wood burns hotter than most charcoal and as a consequence, burns faster. Wood also stays in the 'hot coals' stage for a shorter period of time than charcoal.
I hope this helps!