The Different Types of Wood Chips & What They Are Used for

Don Rainwater

Wood chips are, as the name describes, pieces or “chips” of wood. They are a byproduct of a variety of lumber industries, especially logging companies and sawmills. They are many types of wood chips, as well as several general uses for them.

Using wood chips helps the environment by eliminating lumber waste.

Types of Wood Chips

There are as many types of wood chips as there are types of trees. For grilling, wood chips from fruit trees are preferred. Mesquite and hickory chips are also used for grilling. For use in gardening and landscaping, cedar, cypress and pine are popular for their more lustrous appearance and agreeable odor. Wood chips from hardwood trees, such as oak, are often used for burning as fuel.

Cooking With Wood Chips

In grilling, the smoke that rises from chips contains trace amounts of the wood. These particles of wood are absorbed, imparting flavor to the meat. Wood chips from fruit trees like apple, cherry, and peach result in a sweeter flavor, naturally. The physical properties of certain types of wood chips mesh more effectively with different types of meat.

Landscaping With Wood Chips

Wood chips are favorites for gardens. Wood chips improve the productivity of a garden or landscape. Mulch maintains the soil's temperature. With a relatively stable temperature, plant life can germinate and grow more easily. At the same time, wood chip mulch prevents the growth of invasive plant species, or weeds. Finally, mulch retains moisture, allowing plants to survive longer periods of dryness. Cypress is the most widely used wood chip for mulch.

Wood Chips As Biofuel

An increasingly common use of wood chips is as a biofuel. As oil and gasoline become more scarce, some industries and groups have turned to biofuels to help run their facilities. Some hospitals, for example, use chips to heat their facilities. The benefits of using such a source are immense. Wood chips are far cheaper than many other sources of fuel, they burn with a lot of heat, combust quickly and the carbon emissions from wood chips are significantly lower than many competing fuel sources. Wood chip burning devices will soon be available for the public.