How to Make Wood Chips for Smoking

Cutting Wood log into wood chip

Do you know that you can make your wood chips for smoking food? Well, that was what I did precisely several years ago when I was just a beginner in the field of smoking food. I tried experimenting with wood chips then. It was fun to do and more exciting, instead of buying ready-to-use wood chips. And as long as you know the characteristics and properties of the wood you will use, you will surely end up with aromatic and flavorful food.

If you have, for example, some downed or dead trees around your yard, you can collect them and make wood chips out of these fallen woods. You can also buy firewood from your local convenience store and turn them into wood chips. 

But Why Should You Make Your Wood Chips?

You may not think of it but making wood chips come with many upsides. Foremost among these advantages is that it is cheaper. In fact, it may not cost you anything. Besides, it is fun and will bring out the experimental side of your personality. Furthermore, it will save you time and effort.

What Tools Will You Need to Make Wood Chips?

Wood chips should have standard sizes. So, you need to cut the wood that you have collected into uniform and standardized forms. Besides, you will need a tool to reduce large chunks of wood into smaller manageable sizes. You can use an ax or saw to chop large pieces of wood into manageable small pieces. In this way, you can resize the wood chunks into the desired sizes and shapes. 

You can also use a wood chipper or wood shredder to reduce the wood into smaller chips. To begin with, you can take out your wood chipper and lock its wheels. Once you’ve set up your wood chipper, you can turn it on and start feeding chunks of wood into it. 

Ensure that the wood you feed onto the equipment is within the specified diameter that the equipment can handle. You can also mix wet and dry leaves into the chipper to help your chipper in the process.

Also Read:  Should You Soak Wood Chips Before Smoking?

Simple Steps for Making Wood Chips

As you set up your wood chipper, check out the manual of the wood chipper and see the maximum diameter of the wood that you can load into the wood chipper. If it can only handle up to 3 inches of wood diameter, ensure that you don’t load it with more extensive than three inches of branches in diameter. 

If you use an ax, however, you can chop the wood into smaller pieces. It may be tedious and challenging, but you can manage to do it. Make sure that you chop the logs to make it easy to reduce them into smaller pieces. Chop the wood at a slanted angle and chip small bits at a time. 

The wood chipper, of course, is easier to use. Yet, if you don’t have one, you will need to rent one or buy one. When using a chipper, you should ensure that the chipper is set on level ground. Then, set the speed and direction of the chipper. You should also follow the safety tips provided by the manufacturer. 

Additional Tips:

You can make wood chips either with bark or without bark. Remember that both types of wood chips burn equally. You can peel off the bark if you don’t want to use wood chips with bark. You can also use a chainsaw to reduce the size of the log. Nevertheless, you must make sure that you take extra precautions when using chainsaws or wood chippers because their use opens you up to the risk of injuries.

The Most Recommended Wood for Making Wood Chips

You can’t use any wood that you can find in your yard because some woods have more saps that could ruin the taste of your smoked food. So, you should be deliberate in choosing the wood you will turn into wood chips. Know the flavor that they bring into your food. Study the wood you will use. Below are the common wood types used for making wood chips:

Also Read:  Best Wood for Smoking Ribs


The most commonly used wood for making wood chips is the applewood. It brings in a slightly sweet flavor that would surely make your smoked food aromatic and flavorful. It is perfect for smoking white meat like chicken and fish. You should choose applewood that is green or moist to make good smoke for your barbecue. 

You may soak the applewood or put them inside a zipper-top plastic bag and put the plastic bag inside the freezer. When you take the plastic bag out of the freezer, the wood chips will be ready for use sans soaking. 


Hickory is another type of wood commonly used for wood chips. It brings in a sweet and smoky flavor that you would surely love. Nevertheless, it carries a strong flavor. So, you must be more careful when using these wood chips. These wood chips burn longer and are perfect for long and low heat cooking. 

To balance the strong flavor of the hickory, you can mix it with other milder wood chips. In this way, these wood chips will not overpower the taste of the meat. 


Another excellent wood option is cherry. It carries a mild flavor, tinged with a bit of tartness. Thus, it goes well with pork, poultry meat, and venison. Yet, it also goes well with any meat and food. Its milder flavor makes it a favorite among smoker enthusiasts. 


Peachwood is a favorite of enthusiasts of BBQ and smoking. It comes with a sweet scent. You can infuse your food with delicate sweet notes that make your food flavorful and aromatic. This wood complements white meat and pink meat. 


Pecan is somewhat akin to the hickory. Nevertheless, it is not as strong as the hickory. You can compare the flavor imparted by pecan to that of pecan nuts. It carries a nutty flavor that complements lamb, beef, and poultry. 

Also Read:  Best Wood for Smoking Turkey 


Oak is another excellent option if you are looking for wood to turn into wood chips. It is not light and doesn’t carry a sweet flavor. It is, however, lighter than that of the hickory and brings in a neutral flavor. Moreover, it burns longer and is perfect for prolonged and low-heat smoking of food.


You can either buy wood chips or make your wood chips for your smoker. Nevertheless, you need to choose the flavor you would like to impart to your food with care as well as the meat that complements the wood chips. In this way, you can achieve that delicious smoky flavor and aroma for your smoke food that others would love to feast on. 

Of course, you can get the optimum smoky flavor for your food if you know how to choose flavored chips. You can learn the flavor imparted by wood by searching online. YouTube, for example, got tons of videos explaining the different types of flavors and aromas imparted by different types of wood chips. Learn them by heart before you turn some logs into usable wood chips.

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