Can you use kindling wood for a BBQ?

When it comes to firing up the grill, the type of wood you use can make a significant difference in both the safety and flavour of your cooked foods. A common question among BBQ enthusiasts is whether kind it is possible to use kindling wood for a BBQ. In this article, we’ll explore the suitability of kindling wood for barbecuing, focusing on its properties, effects on food flavour, and safety considerations.

What is Kindling Wood?

Kindling wood consists of small pieces of wood or twigs used primarily to start fires. It’s known for its ability to catch fire easily due to its size and dryness. Kindling is typically made from softwoods such as pine or spruce, which ignite quickly and burn rapidly with a high flame.

Considerations for Using Kindling Wood in a BBQ

1. Type of Wood

The first consideration is the type of wood. While kindling can be made from both hardwoods and softwoods, the species of wood is crucial. Hardwoods like oak, hickory, or maple are generally preferred for cooking due to their denser composition and slower burning properties, which provide a consistent, long-lasting heat suitable for grilling.

2. Safety and Health Implications

Using softwood kindling, such as pine or cedar, can pose safety and health risks. These woods tend to burn faster and hotter, and can also produce excessive smoke and soot. More critically, they release resins and sap during burning, which can impart unpleasant flavours to food and potentially release harmful chemicals.

3. Impact on Flavour

The wood used in BBQs greatly influences the flavour profile of the cooked food. Hardwood kindling, when available, can add a subtle, smoky flavour that enhances meats and vegetables. In contrast, softwood kindling may result in a harsher, sometimes acrid smoke that could overpower the natural flavours of the food.

4. Burning Characteristics

Kindling wood generally burns quickly due to its small size and high surface area to volume ratio. While this is advantageous for starting fires, it is less desirable for cooking purposes, where a steady, controlled heat is preferable. The rapid burning rate of kindling might require frequent replenishment, making it inefficient and impractical for longer BBQ sessions.

Best Practices for Using Wood in BBQs

For those considering using kindling wood for BBQs, here are some best practices:

  • Select the Right Wood: Opt for hardwood kindling if possible. Look for species like apple, cherry, or hickory, which are known for their pleasant aromas and flavours.
  • Preparation: Ensure the kindling is properly dried and free from molds, pests, and chemicals, which can be harmful when burned.
  • Use as a Starter: Utilise kindling wood primarily to start your BBQ, then add larger pieces of seasoned hardwood to maintain a consistent temperature and smoke level.
  • Monitor the Fire: Keep a close watch on the fire when using kindling, as its quick burn rate can lead to sudden temperature spikes.


In conclusion, while kindling sticks can be used to start a BBQ, it is generally not recommended as the main fuel source for cooking. For optimal results and safety, it’s best to use kindling made from appropriate hardwoods and transition to larger, more suitable logs once the initial flames have settled. This approach ensures a safer BBQ experience with delicious, well-cooked meals that delight your taste buds without compromising health.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can enhance your BBQ sessions, ensuring they are both enjoyable and safe. Remember, the key to a perfect barbecue is not just the equipment or the food but also the quality and type of wood used.