Woodchips: Add Flavor To Your Food

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 28, 2022

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Woodchips are used for smoking because they add flavor to the food. When you smoke with woodchips, you are essentially adding a smoky flavor to your food. This is why many people who enjoy smoked foods will use woodchips in their smoker.

There are different types of woodchips that you can use for smoking. The type of woodchip that you use will depend on the flavor that you are trying to achieve. For example, if you are looking for a sweeter flavor, you may want to use fruit wood chips. If you are looking for a more savory flavor, you may want to use hickory chips.

In this article, I’ll explain what woodchips are, how they’re made, and why they’re used to smoke meat. Plus, I’ll share some tips on how to use them properly.

What are woodchips

What Exactly Are Woodchips?

Woodchips (these are the top brands right now for electric smokers) are small- to medium-sized pieces of wood that are formed by cutting or chipping larger pieces of wood such as trees, branches, logging residues, stumps, roots, and wood waste. The process of creating woodchips involves cutting or chipping the wood into smaller pieces, which can then be used for various purposes.

Applications: Solid Fuel and Raw Material for Producing Wood Pulp

Woodchips have a wide range of applications, including as a biomass solid fuel and as a raw material for producing wood pulp. Here are some of the ways in which woodchips are used:

  • Biomass solid fuel: Woodchips can be used as a renewable energy source to generate heat and electricity. They are often used in industrial boilers and power plants.
  • Raw material for producing wood pulp: Woodchips are a key raw material for the production of wood pulp, which is used to make paper and other products.

Woodchips vs. Chunks: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to smoking meat or fish, there is often confusion between woodchips and wood chunks. Here’s the difference:

  • Woodchips: These are small pieces of wood that are about the size of a quarter. They burn quickly and are ideal for short smoking sessions.
  • Wood chunks: These are larger pieces of wood that are about the size of a fist. They burn more slowly and are ideal for longer smoking sessions.

Can You Make Your Own Woodchips for Smoking?

Yes, you can make your own woodchips for smoking. Here’s how:

  • Start with a piece of wood that is free of knots and other defects.
  • Use a saw or hatchet to cut the wood into small pieces.
  • Place the wood pieces in a container of water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes.
  • Drain the water and let the wood pieces dry completely.
  • Use the wood pieces as needed for smoking.

Woodchips: More Than Just a Basic Material

Woodchips (here’s how to use them for smoking) are versatile and can be applied in various ways. Here are some of the most common applications of woodchips:

  • Biomass fuel: Woodchips are a popular source of biomass fuel. They are used to produce energy in industrial boilers and power plants. The size of the chips determines their use, with smaller chips being used for residential heating and larger chips for industrial applications.
  • Organic mulch: Woodchips are an excellent organic mulch for gardening and landscaping. They help retain moisture in the soil, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Ecosystem restoration: Woodchips can be used to restore ecosystems by improving soil quality and preventing erosion.
  • Bioreactors: Woodchips are used in bioreactors for denitrification, which is the process of removing nitrates from wastewater.
  • Mushroom cultivation: Woodchips can be used as a substrate for mushroom cultivation.

Understanding the Different Types of Woodchips

Not all woodchips are created equal. Here are some of the different types of woodchips you may come across:

  • Natural woodchips: These are woodchips that are made from natural materials, such as trees and branches.
  • Processed woodchips: These are woodchips that have been processed to a specific size and shape. They are commonly used for industrial purposes.
  • High-quality woodchips: These are woodchips that are made from high-quality wood and are free from contaminants.
  • Small woodchips: These are woodchips that are smaller in size and are commonly used for residential heating.
  • Large woodchips: These are woodchips that are larger in size and are commonly used for industrial purposes.

Choosing the Right Woodchips for Your Needs

When it comes to choosing the right woodchips, there are a few things to consider:

  • Purpose: What do you need the woodchips for? This will help you determine the size and type of woodchips you need.
  • Quality: Do you need high-quality woodchips or will basic woodchips suffice?
  • Logistics: Are you able to produce your own woodchips or do you need to buy them? If you need to buy them, do you have a reliable supplier?
  • Understanding the market: If you’re in the woodchips market, it’s important to understand the different types of woodchips and their uses. This will help you connect with the right importers and exporters and build a fast and effective logistics group.
  • Export and import: The largest woodchip markets are in Asia, Europe, and North America. If you’re producing woodchips, it’s important to understand the export and import regulations in these regions.

The Future of Woodchips

Woodchips are a natural and renewable material that will continue to be in demand in the future. As the world becomes more focused on sustainability, woodchips will play an important role in producing renewable energy and reducing waste. With a better understanding of the different types of woodchips and their applications, we can bring this versatile material to new markets and build a more sustainable future.

The Basics of Using Wood Pieces for Flavorful Smoking

While large chunks of wood may seem like the better option for smoking, small wood chips actually provide a more consistent and controllable smoke. They also ignite more quickly and produce less ash, making them a more efficient choice for smoking.

Soaking Wood Chips Before Smoking

Soaking wood chips before smoking is a common practice, but it’s not always necessary. Soaking can help prolong the smoking process and prevent the wood from burning too quickly, but it can also dilute the flavor of the smoke. Experiment with both soaked and dry wood chips to find what works best for you.

Using Wood Chips in a Smoker

When using wood chips in a smoker, it’s important to follow these steps:

  • Preheat the smoker to the desired temperature.
  • Add the wood chips to the smoker box or directly onto the coals.
  • Wait for the smoke to start before adding your meat or vegetables.
  • Monitor the temperature and smoke level throughout the smoking process.

Choosing Between Woodchips and Chunks for Smoking Meat

There are many different types of wood you can use for smoking meat, each with its own flavor profile. Here are some of the most popular choices:

  • Hickory: This hardwood imparts a strong, smoky flavor that goes well with pork and bacon.
  • Oak: The quintessential smoking wood, oakwood is mild and versatile, making it a great choice for a variety of cuts of meat.
  • Mesquite: This wood delivers a bold, earthy flavor that is reminiscent of the American Southwest. It’s a good choice for hearty, savory meats like beef and game.
  • Pecan: This wood lends a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is perfect for pork and poultry. Its signature smokiness is milder than hickory or mesquite, so it won’t overpower your food.
  • Apple: This wood is a popular choice for smoking pork and poultry, as it delivers a sweet, fruity flavor that pairs well with these meats.

Quality Wood Brands to Consider

When it comes to buying wood for smoking meat, it’s important to choose a high-quality brand that delivers consistent results. Here are some brands to consider:

  • Jack Daniel’s: This popular brand sells wood chips and chunks in a variety of flavors, including hickory, oak, and apple.
  • Western: This brand offers a wide range of wood chips and chunks, including mesquite, pecan, and apple.
  • Smokehouse: This brand is known for its quality hardwoods, including hickory, oak, and mesquite.

Remember, the type of wood you choose can make a big difference in the flavor and quality of your smoked meat. So take the time to choose the right wood for your next smoking session and enjoy the delicious results!

DIY Woodchips for Smoking: A Guide to Producing Your Own

To make your own woodchips for smoking, you will need the appropriate tools, including:

  • A saw or axe that can chop up a piece of wood into small pieces
  • A clean container to soak the wood in water
  • A mixing bowl
  • A large spoon for mixing

Choosing the Right Type of Wood

The type of wood you choose is critical to the flavor and quality of your woodchips. Some popular options include:

  • Red oak
  • Apple
  • Cherry
  • Hickory
  • Mesquite

It’s best to use new, clean wood that hasn’t been treated with any chemicals.

Soaking the Wood

Soaking the wood is an important step in making your own woodchips. This will allow the wood to absorb water and produce smoke when added to your barbecue. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cut the wood into small, thinly sliced pieces
  2. Fill a container with water, preferably one that contains equal parts salt and water
  3. Add the wood to the water and allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes, but preferably for a few hours
  4. After soaking, pour the mixture into a colander to drain the excess water

Mixing the Woodchips

Once the wood has been soaked, it’s time to mix the woodchips. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Combine the soaked woodchips with a little bit of salt in a mixing bowl
  2. Add a cup of hot water to the mixture and stir until the salt dissolves
  3. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes
  4. Watch for consistency- the goal is to have a consistent mixture that is not too wet or too dry

Chopping the Wood into Smaller Pieces

To enhance the complexity and depth of flavor, it’s important to cut the wood into smaller pieces. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Set the saw or axe to the appropriate size for the wood you’re using
  2. Cut the wood into smaller pieces, preferably no larger than a quarter inch thick
  3. Frequently change the angle of the cut to produce a consistent size and shape

Adding the Woodchips to Your BBQ

Once you’ve made your own woodchips, it’s time to add them to your barbecue. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Set your barbecue to the appropriate temperature
  2. Place the woodchips on the hot coals or in a smoker box
  3. Watch for smoke- this is the point where the woodchips start to smoke and produce flavor

Making your own woodchips for smoking can be a little difficult, but with the right tools and techniques, it’s possible to produce high-quality woodchips that enhance the flavor of your barbecue. So, go ahead and try it out with the help of this guide from bbqgrillacademywood.


So, woodchips are small to medium-sized pieces of wood formed from cutting and chipping larger pieces of wood. They’re used for smoking meat, fish, and vegetables, and can also be used as mulch, biomass fuel, and raw material for wood pulp. 

You should now know the differences between woodchips and chunks, and how to use them. So, go ahead and experiment with different types and find the one that suits your needs best.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.