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Pine Needle Envy


Ya know…at certain points in your life, especially when you’re younger, you try to pre visualize what your life will be like, what your emotional landscape will be…but at no point during these failed attempts at prescience did I envision that I’d have a palpable pang of envy at seeing someone else happening upon a barrel full of pine needles.
(Photo courtesy of A&Z Apiaries)


LOL! I’m one of the lucky one’s, got pine trees in my backyard hillside…


Yup! Pine needles are great in the smoker - love em!!


I have a public sport ground complex located about 500 meters from my front door. Its surrounded by a small forest of pine trees to keep the wind down. Plenty of pine needles whenever I want them. :+1:


I think pine needles produce too much tar and hot smoke. What’s the funnel of your smoker like after a few uses?


Heyyy, be careful, your driving on the wrong side of the road.


I think by definition that is the “right” side of the road, in all respects…


What do you use Dee?
I’ve been using dried leaves and I just can’t get them to persist the smoke.


Well, I am not @Dee, but I have two things that I like to use. The first is tightly rolled up cardboard. Many years ago, we used to paint it with creosote, but I don’t think that is a really healthy thing to do, so I don’t do it any more. Shame, because it really seemed to help keep it alight.

My current favorite is burlap - just simple scraps of that open weave type sacking. It is very cheap, and burns cool. If you light it properly with some paper or smoker starter sticks (I use the ones from Mann Lake), then pack in some more, it will burn happily for over an hour. Don’t light the top, light the bottom first, then add more on top, otherwise it won’t stay lit properly.

As @JeffH suggests, if you open the lid of the smoker a crack when you are not going to use it for a bit, the extra airflow over the top of the firebox helps to keep the material alight.


Burlap. Is that what we call Hessian in the UK?
I use dry rotten wood, birch is best and I avoid anything with resin in it. I am always scrounging bits when I’m out walking. It burns with a cool smoke.This is topped up with dry lavender trimmings (I always save them when I cut the bushes back) and dry orange peel. That gets dried on the Aga in the winter time. Often I throw in some fresh Bay leaves or Rosemary. That gets topped off with a handful of green grass as I walk down to the bees.
I like the smell…and the bees don’t seem to mind

PS. You can buy smokers with a separate fuel chamber that sits like perforated tin can in the smoker. They tend to work better if you haven’t the knack. I find the smoker will stay alight quite happily for a long time if you pack it really tight and give it a slow puff now and then


Yes, a sort of brown, coarse, stringy, open weave cloth. Used for sacking, and also used in upholstery to hold in fillings underneath the finer outer covers. Pretty strong stuff, but burns cool and cleanly - no tar, and no cinders. It does deposit carbon in the smoker of course, so I still have to clean it up periodically.


Yes…thought so. I have loads for when the other stuff runs out


I would love to use non-resinous, dry, rotten birch, but that is sort of like rocking horse manure in California! :wink:

On the other hand, in our back garden we have about 30 rosemary bushes, lots of lavender and a 20 foot bay tree, so I can certainly add dried out donations from those. No Aga to dry them over, but maybe the summer sun will do. The only problem will be stopping my husband from adding them to the mulching/compost bins! :smile:


Trying to avoid cardboard and newspaper for fear of chemicals in glue or ink (respectively) being toxic if at a low yet cumulative level.


Corrugated cardboard is glued with starch glue, so it is safe. Most newspaper ink is now soy-based, so that is also non-toxic. However, it is all your choice! :blush:


I drove on the other side of the road in the U.S. one day. A bloke came over the crest of a hill driving straight for me. I had to get out of his road real quick. It’s easy to go back to what your used to when there’s no other cars on the road.


There are a lot of accidents involving Brits as they leave the ferries across the channel


Yup, know the feeling well… was in the U.S. earlier this year and boy oh boy, kept getting in to the wrong side of the car each morning… and why so many pickles? … now I realise why cremation is so popular cause your bodies will never breakdown if buried…
I do like those cypress pine needles, the smoker never goes out.


Hi @Jstrano, I think the trick to get a smoker working for you is to get a little fire going at the base of a smoker. Once you have a nice little hot fire going down there, then add the leaves or hessian or whatever you want to use to make the smoke from. I have a stack of firewood cut ready to split, it still has a lot of it’s bark on. I grab a few good chunks of that plus cardboard boxes. The passenger side of my truck always has a good stock of smoker fuel. Actually I found an old phone book ideal to tear pages out of to get the fire started. The white pages burn better than yellow pages. A good thing to have on hand is a jar of petroleum jelly. Smear some of that on things to get a good fire going.


The most confusing to me is driving in the Virgin Islands. You drive on the wrong side of the road in a car that has the steering wheel on the left. At least driving sitting on the right reminds me to drive on the wrong side of the road… but sitting on the left does not…