The history of fire cooking part I


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For thousands of years, it was the only way to cook. Many believe that this discovery separated man from the other animals. Fire.

Estimated to have been discovered some 2 million years ago, the discovery of fire and more importantly, the discovery of how to tame fire, resulted in man’s brain development, value of food, changes in our body, and social structure. It gave us survivability. It extended our life by improving daily calories and nutritional needs by allowing us to cook poisonous plants and meats.

So how did fire cooking get discovered? That is the million dollar question. Here are some of the hypotheses out there regarding the discovery of fire for cooking:

The History of Fire Cooking Part I- Nature Provides Ignition

There are some scientists who believe that fire cooking was found by accident. A lightning strike or grass fires that sprung up due to the excessive dry conditions exposed to the hot sun. Many don’t feel man did anything to “discover” fire other than observe the characteristics of fire: it produces abundant heat, light, and when it traps an animal within its flames, it produced a more tender meat, easier to digest food source, and more pleasing aroma to the meat.

Tool Construction

There are others who believe that early humans realized the importance of tools. By sharpening stones to produce spears, cutting tools, etc., these early beings observed spark. Either through intention or perhaps with Mother Nature’s assistance, these sparks caught twigs, brush, fruit, and/or grains on fire. Remember, early human life did not involve a developed brain. A discovery of fire, however, would help advance not only our brains, but our bodies into the erect beings we are today.

The Earliest Cave Cooking

In South Africa’s Northern Cape province, a dwelling known as Wonderwerk Cave, contains the earliest evidence that our ancestors and apelike ancestors were using fire. Compacted dirt showed evidence of ashes, carbonized leaf and twig fragments, and burnt bits of animal bones. Scientists were then able to analyze this material and determine that the fragments were heated between 750 and 1300°F, which is the heat level of a small fire made of twigs and grasses.

If indeed our earlier species learned to harness fire for cooking, this would account for the advancement of our brains and our ability to become erect beings walking on two legs. Cooking on fire allowed for easier chewing and digestion and produced extra calories to fuel our brains. Fire also warded off nighttime predators, allowing for sleep on the ground or in caves rather than in the trees.

It’s All About Energy

Raw food diets have been popularized as a method of losing weight and of being healthier. However, only a fraction of the calories in raw starch and protein are absorbed by the body via the small intestine. As a result, the remainder passes into the large bowel, where it is broken down by the organ’s high population of microbes, which consume the majority for themselves. However, cooked food is mostly digested by the time it enters the colon. For the same amount of calories ingested, the body gets roughly 30 percent more energy from cooked oat, wheat or potato starch as compared to raw, and as much as 78 percent from the protein in an egg. In experiments, animals given cooked food gain more weight than animals fed the same amount of raw food.

Cooking breaks down collagen (connective tissue in meat) & softens the plants’ cell walls to release their storage of starch & fat. The calories to fuel the bigger brains of successive species of hominids came at the expense of the energy-intensive tissue in the gut, which was shrinking at the same time. If you look at early imagery of apes, you’ll see how we morphed into narrow-waisted Homo sapiens.– the history of fire cooking part I

Coming up in The History of Fire Cooking: Part II, learn more about why cooking foods by fire made us who we are today. In conclusion, did we provide you with new information you didn’t know? Additionally, leave us a comment and subscribe as we bring recipes, tips, techniques, and the science behind the fire and smoke.

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on "What Wood for Smoking" and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

More Related reading on “What Wood for Smoking” and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

Additional reading:




I hope you enjoyed the the history of fire cooking part I

I hope you enjoyed the history of fire cooking part I

Smoker wood storage summer or as the winter months approach, you should pop some holes in the box to circulated the air!

Smoker wood storage summer or as the winter months approach, you should pop some holes in the box to circulated the air!

Smoker wood storage for chips or chunks Click To Tweet

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SmokinLicious® has the luxury of manufacturing every wood product we offer for sale. That means, our moisture rich wood is ready to use immediately. We certainly are not firewood as we work only with the heartwood of the hardwood trees and need proper storage to maintain our clean, fresh state. Plus, we want you to have a pleasant outcome to smoking your foods which is a direct result of the moisture level.

It’s Serious Business- Smoker Wood Storage!

We take wood storage seriously! Which is why when you purchase our products, you’ll receive a card educating you on the best storage containers and conditions. Simply put, any container that encourages air flow is ideal. We have found that some plastic containers can actual cause mold spores which is why materials made from wood, cardboard or metal are preferred. If you should encounter wood that has begun to develop evidence of mold, you may follow these steps to sanitize the wood for cooking:

1. Dilute 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water (or 1.5 ounces of white vinegar to 3 gallons of water). Be sure the wood is completely submerged in the vinegar mixture.


2. Let the wood soak in the solution for a minimum of 2 minutes.


3. Remove the wood from the vinegar mixture and allow to air dry.


4. Store the wood as recommended above.


Prevent Sunburn

Just like your skin, wood can get too much sun and become sunburned, especially given we are bark-free product. It is best to select a location for storage that is away from direct sunlight. A cool, dry location is ideal. If you select a garage or basement area, be sure you don’t place any cardboard container directly on the cement surface or moisture will be drawn in through the carton to the wood and could result in appearance and aroma changes. If you do see the outside of the wood turn a bit gray, that likely is the result of some sun exposure.

Temperature and Humidity for Smoker Wood Storage

As a last point, keep temperature and humidity in mind when you select a storage location. Since our hardwoods are native to New York State, they are accustom to certain conditions including 4 seasons. Wood can be stressed especially when traveling in a truck to your location. Be sure to follow our directive sticker on the carton advising to get the carton open immediately upon delivery. Air is crucial to your wood remaining in the great condition it is in when we packaged it.

For those wanting to know if refrigeration is an option, our study shows refrigeration certainly doesn’t hurt the wood but you do need to rotate any unused wood periodically to prevent mold potential. Freezing the wood is not suggested. When you plan to use the wood for wood-fired cooking, be sure to remove the wood from a cold location and allow to come to room temperature in order to prevent a lengthy time waiting for combustion to take hold which is what produces smoke vapor.

More Related reading on this subject- More Related reading on this subject of cooking & Grilling with wood

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Dr. Smoke- Smoker Wood Storage is an important part of your grilling practices! Follow our advice to get the most out of your wood purchase

Dr. Smoke- Smoker Wood Storage is an important part of your grilling practices! Follow our advice to get the most out of your wood purchase



Our table for the moisture and storage of wood and how best to use this in cooking to your advantage

Our table for the moisture and storage of wood and how best to use this in cooking to your advantage

Listen to the audio of this blog


If you love to cook then you likely know that most dried herbs and spices never go bad if stored properly. You could say the same for smoking woods. Like a spice, smoking wood loses its flavor essence as it dries out. Lose the moisture and the wood becomes only a fire stick, producing heat. This results in the opposite of what you want when trying to add flavor from the wood.

Proper Storage is Key

We know that storage of wood in a cool, dry location will preserve the moisture level in the wood. Why? Wood loves to adjust to temperature and humidity to find balance. But how cool or warm does that location have to be? Is there an ideal temperature? Let’s find out by doing a simple experiment.

Time to Experiment!

How do we get started with our experiment. Wet and dry are all dependent on moisture. Fluctuate temperature and you will change moisture.

Using identical pieces of hardwood – same species, moisture level and size – one piece was placed in the refrigerator with a temperature between 40-42°F. The other piece was placed in the freezer with a temperature of 30°F. Using a timetable of three weeks, we took moisture readings each week. Let’s see how the hardwood did:

Freezer Refrigerator

Starting Level 27.1% 30.8% Moisture

Week One 18.8% 30.3%

Two 18.6% 30.0%

Three 16.9% 29.8%


Holy icicle! There are some major results here. First, log in the freezer lost nearly 50 percent of its moisture in just 3 weeks! Second, refrigerating smoking wood appears to stabilize it. If you want to make the wood happy, refrigerate it.

Lessons Learned?

  1. Wood likes cooler temperatures in the range of 45°F.
  2. Wood doesn’t mind a dark storage area.
  3. Freezer temperatures cause the free water in the wood to evaporate quickly.
  4. Wood likes as much space as it can get.
  5. Don’t store in plastic unless you want mold!

There you have it! If your cooking and smoking with food, regardless if you’re using wood chips, wood chunks, logs or smoking dust, the popular question of how to store smoking woods rests with a cool location, no direct sunlight and avoidance of plastic storage.

Just one more reason SmokinLicious® products are the best!


It seems that moisture and wood storage remain a hot topic. As more people invest in vacuum sealer devices for their food products, they question whether these are a good alternative for wood storage.

The short answer is, no. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.

Vacuum Sealing Wood is Not a Good Idea!

The purpose of vacuum sealing foods is to remove all the air or oxygen. Oxygen is what mold and bacteria thrive on. When using feezer bags, foods don’t show freezer burn which extend their life in the freezer. For refrigerated foods that are vacuum sealed, you’ll find an extended life as well. The question is, will the extended life transfer to wood stored in a vacuum sealed bag?

To answer this question, you need to understand what oxygen does. First, wood needs air. By removing all the air in a vacuum bag, stress results on wood fibers. Deprive wood of air and you have a greater risk for developing specific molds that thrive in oxygen low environments. Second, the plastic bag increases the risk for mold on the wood. Wood likes cooler temperatures but it does NOT like to be wrapped in plastic.

In the end, it is best to find a cool, dark location that has airflow for your wood. Keep it away from plastic and from porous materials like a concrete floor. Once the wood has air, space, cool temperature and darkness, it will thrive. Happy wood means flavorful foods!




More Related reading on the Moisture & Storage of Wood

More Related reading on the Moisture & Storage of Wood, check out these articles:

Wet or Dry Wood for Smoking- Does It Matter?

Cooking Wood- What You Should Know

Dr. Smoke- we provide the wood chip moisture readings on all our packages.

Dr. Smoke- Follow our guidelines on the moisture & storage of wood to keep your products fresh and producing tasty delights!



















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