All About Wood Chips

All About Wood Chips
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Did you have a list of burning questions All About Wood Chips, well we have the answers. We have listed some common questions and answers to help you learn all about wood chips, enjoy!

How often do you add wood chips to an electric smoker?

In most cases, it will take 45 minutes to an hour before you have to add wood chips. However, this is a loaded question because it will differ from smoker to smoker, especially if it is an electric smoker.

If it were not an electric smoker, it may be a little easier to determine how often you should fuel the smoker with wood chips. For the most part, when you buy your electric smoker, the owner’s manual will tell you how often to change out the wood chips and at what temperature the smoker is used and how long the wood chips will last.

If you are in a situation where you either have a second-hand smoker or don’t have the owner’s manual, then you should try running a test on your smoker. Turn the smoker on and allow it to get hot. Do not put any food in the smoker because this is just a test run.

Once the smoker is up to temperature, add the wood chips, and see how long it takes before they burn up.

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How to use wood chips in an electric smoker?

In most electric smokers, you add wood chips to a small pan (or tray) and place this pan on a burner. It is effortless to use wood chips in an electric smoker which is why electric smokers are so popular. Most electric smokers are designed to use only wood chips to add a smoky flavor to meats and foods.

The basic design of most electric smokers has a door or loading tube to insert the wood chips to your burning area at the bottom of the smoker. In a Masterbuilt electric smoker, you fill the loader, slide it in the hole and turn it, allowing the wood chips to fill the burning tray.

On a Big Chief smoker, there is a small flap located on the front near the bottom of the smoker. By lifting the flap up, you can slide a pan full of wood chip in and set the burning element. Within ten minutes, the pan should be at a full smoke lasting for just over 30 minutes.

At the end of the smoking process, you can discard the ashes during your cleanup process.


Do wood chips go bad or expire?

The short answer is yes. Wood chips can go bad if they are not properly taken care of and stored correctly. But if you follow the rules and guidelines of storing wood chips, then they will last forever.

Wood chips are mostly just like any other type of wood you would store for the smoker, fireplace, or whatever you need wood for. So, they need to be stored in an arid and cool area with plenty of ventilation or airflow within the pile.

Just like wooden logs, if wood chips are stored in a damp area that is not adequately ventilated, then the wood will take on the moisture.  Wet wood can cause many different problems like rotting, bacteria, or mold forming.

This causes the wood to be unusable and basically trash. Since wood chips are stored in bags, make sure the bags have holes in them to create airflow and never allow any moisture in the bag. If the wood chips do get wet, you need to correct this immediately.  

If the wood chips are not moldy, you can try drying them in a 200-degree oven overnight or set them out in a warm area. Either method, you will need to remove the chips from their bag and spread them out on a sheet pan for good air circulation.


Should you use wet wood chips in an electric smoker?

No, you should not attempt to burn wet wood chips in an electric smoker. The topic of wet wood chips is the subject of many debates including among our writers, but there are a number of reasons why not use wet wood chips.

In many electric smokers, wet wood chips will not smoke, but in most, it will take an hour for the chips to dry out before they start to produce smoke. The smoker will heat up as an oven would but will lack the wonderful smoky flavor you desire.

Second, the chips will not burn clean and produce a bitter smoke. When used in a small quantity in a charcoal grill, the bitterness might not be noticed. However, when it is the primary source of flavor, this foul taste will be hard to hide.

Rather than add water, juice, or beer to your wood chips, place a foil tray as close to the heat source as possible with no more than a quarter-inch of your favorite liquid. As the liquid heats, it will become steam and add flavor and moisture to your food.


What type of wood should I be using: chips, chunks, pellets, or logs?

Depending on the type of smoker you are using, this usually determines the type of fuel source you should be using. It’s not very often that a smoker can handle all kinds of fuel sources.

There are some smokers out there to give the user as much freedom as they want when choosing the type of fuel to use for smoking, but usually, these types of smokers are costly, overkill, and unnecessary.

Some smokers can use one or two types like a gas smoker that could also use charcoal and wood chips. Or a pellet smoker that can also use wood chips. For the most part, use the type of fuel that is required of you to use for the smoker.

 Chips and chunks are usually going to be added to a smoker for added flavor like the charcoal or gas smoker. Pellets and logs are going to be used more primarily for a fuel source and will be dependent on it for the heat source as well. Pellets are also to only be used in pellet smokers, and they will not work in other smokers.

What types of wood chips are there, and where to get them?

Flavors of wood chips such as oak, hickory, mesquite, peach, apple, cherry, alder, and pecan top the list of readily available options. The list can go on for other types of wood chips sold in bags, but these are the most common flavors sold.

Wood chips can be found online or at local stores, both large and small. For stores, you will tend to find wood chips in-store with outdoor or sporting sections and home improvement centers that sell smokers. For more extensive selections and more exotic flavors, you will need to look toward local specialty smoker and grill stores.

Online can run all across the board for price and selection. Of course, Amazon.com has a large selection available on their platform because of the large number of outside vendors. But if you shop around, you might find that specialty flavor from a small website on sale.

If you are buying wood logs or lump charcoal, you might find lower prices locally, but make sure to compare, plus it is hard to beat home delivery.

What types of wood chips to use with different foods?

Now that we have told you about some types of wood flavors that are available, here is a list of what food are excellent pairings for those wood chips.

Mesquite – Beef or grilling poultry

Hickory – Bacon or fatty pork

Oak – Beef steaks, roasts, and ribs

Pecan – whole chicken

Maple – Pork, beef ribs, or poultry

Sugar-Maple – Turkey

Apple – Trout or any fish

Cherry – Fish or mixed woods for baby back ribs

Click here for our article How to Match Your Smoking Wood to Your Meat?

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