How to Keep Wood Chips From Burning in Smoker – Pro Tips

Updated: October 20, 2023


how to keep wood chips from burning in smoker

For grill masters and barbecue enthusiasts, achieving the perfect smoky flavor is crucial for creating delicious dishes.

One crucial element in achieving that smoky perfection is using wood chips in your smoker. However, keeping those wood chips from burning too quickly can be a challenge.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various techniques and tips to ensure your wood chips provide the right amount of smoke for your grilling adventures.

Understanding the Role of Wood Chips

Before delving into the techniques, it’s essential to understand why wood chips are a vital component of smoking food.

These are responsible for adding that unmistakable smoky barbecue flavor to your meats, vegetables, and other dishes. They infuse your food with rich aromas and flavors that can turn a regular meal into a culinary masterpiece.

However, if your wood chips in a smoker burn too quickly, you’ll miss out on that smoky goodness, and your food will have a different signature taste. Let’s explore some strategies to prevent your chips from burning prematurely.

How to Keep Wood Chips from Burning in Smoker – Tips & Techniques

tips & tricks to prevent wood chips from burning

Here are some pro tips to prevent wooden chips from burning in smokers.

Selecting The Appropriate Type of Wood Chips.

  1. Select the Appropriate Wood Type:
    Various types of wood provide unique flavors. Oak, hickory, applewood, and mesquite are commonly chosen. Conduct experiments to discover the flavor that best suits your preferences.
  2. Opt for Larger Wood Chips:
    Larger chips have a slower burn rate compared to smaller ones and also generate a more subtle smoke, making them suitable for extended smoking sessions.
  3. Soaked Chips vs. Dry Chips:
    Soaked chips have a longer ignition time compared to dry ones. To slow down the burning process, it is recommended to soak them for at least 30 minutes.

Controlling Heat Sources

  1. Use a Smoker Box:
    Smoker boxes are specifically designed to securely hold the chips and prevent them from igniting directly. Place the smoker box on your grill grates, and it will release a steady stream of smoke.
  2. Wrap Chips in Aluminum Foil
    If you don’t have a smoker box, you can wrap your chips in a piece of foil, poke some holes in it to allow smoke to escape, and place it on the grill.
  3. Metal Smoker Box:
    A metal smoker box, often made of stainless steel or other common metals, can be an excellent investment. They are designed to withstand high heat levels and promote even smoking.
  4. Cast Iron Skillet:
    Another alternative is using a cast iron skillet. Add your wood chips to the skillet and place it on the grill. The skillet’s durability and thickness make it an ideal choice for controlling the burn time of our chips.

Managing Oxygen Flow

managing oxygen flow to prevent wood chips from burning
  1. Control the Oxygen Flow:
    Controlling the flow of oxygen is crucial for combustion. By adjusting the vents on your grill, you can regulate air circulation and slow down the wood chips burning process.
  2. Use a Wood Chip Pouch:
    To create a small pouch, use aluminum foil and put the chips inside. Make holes in the pouch to control oxygen flow and avoid direct contact with the heat source.

Preparing Your Wood Chips

  1. Seasoned Wood vs. Unseasoned Wood:
    Seasoned wood chunks have a lower moisture content, resulting in a slower burning rate. On the other hand, unseasoned chips may ignite faster due to their higher moisture content.
  2. Avoid Wet Wood Chips:
    While soaking wet wood chips for smoker can slow down the burning process, using excessively soaked chips can lead to a lack of smoke. Strive for the right balance when preparing them.
  3. Experiment with Wood Bits:
    If you have a variety of wood bits, use them strategically. Place the slower-burning wood closer to the heat source and the faster-burning wood further away to control the release of smoke.

Additional Tips

  • Choose the Right Fuel Source: If you’re using a charcoal grill, consider using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, as it produces less ash and provides more consistent heat.
  • Monitor Heat Levels: Monitoring the temperature in your smoker is important for maintaining a consistent heat level and ensuring a steady burn time for your chips.
  • Know Your Smoker: Different types of smokers, such as electric smokers, may require unique techniques to control wood chip burn times. Familiarize yourself with your specific smoker’s requirements.

Can We Use Wood Chips on Gas Grill or Electric Grill?

can we use wood chips on gas or electric grill

You can certainly use wood chips on a gas grill or electric grill, but the techniques you’ll need to use will be slightly different than for a charcoal smoker.

For gas grills, you should consider using a smoker box, as this is the best way to get smoke from your wooden chips. Place the box directly over one of your burners.

For electric grills, you’ll need to use a foil pouch or a metal smoker box. Place the pouch or box directly on your grill grates and over one of the heating elements.

Additionally, be sure to keep an eye on temperatures while using chips on either type of grill. If the temperature gets too high, your chips may burn up quickly, and you won’t get the smoky flavor you’re looking for.


So, I hope you have learned some tips & techniques on how to keep wood chips from burning in smokers. Remember, the key is choosing the right type of wood, controlling the heat sources, managing oxygen flow, and preparing your wood chips correctly.

By conducting some experimentation and practice, one can attain the ideal smoky flavor for any dish.

Why do my wood chips catch fire?

Wood chips can catch fire if they come into direct contact with the heat source or if there is an excessive amount of oxygen.

To avoid this, use a smoker box, aluminum foil pouch, cast iron skillet, or metal smoker box to keep the chips away from the heat source.

Should I wet wood chips before smoking?

Yes, to slow down the burning process, wetting your chips before using them in a smoker can be beneficial.

Soaking them for at least 30 minutes should suffice. However, it is important to avoid using excessively wet wood chips as this may result in a reduced amount of smoke.

At what temperature do wood chips burn?

Wood chips generally ignite at temperatures between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

The specific temperature can vary depending on the type of wood and how moist it is. It is crucial to keep an eye on the temperature of your smoker while using chips in smoker.

Can we put too much wood in a smoker?

Overloading the smoker with chips can result in too much smoke. This can negatively affect the taste of our food and make it challenging to achieve the desired flavor.

It is advised to use a suitable quantity of wood chips in order to achieve the desired smoky flavor.

Why are my wood chips not smoking?

Your wood chips might not produce the desired wood smoking due to high moisture content, lack of oxygen, or insufficient heat.

Ensure they are dry and well-ventilated for proper smoking.

Should I soak wood chips for an electric smoker?

It is not necessary to soak chips for an electric smoker but it could be optional.

Soaked chips produce less intense smoke and burn longer, while dry chips create a more intense smoky flavor. Experiment to find your preference.



Hello, friends! I'm Kaur, and I welcome all of you. Grilling has been my passion since childhood. After completing my education, I worked as a successful chef for two and half years. However, my dream was to spread the joy of grilling worldwide, and it wasn't possible while working as a chef. So, I decided to run my own grilling shop. Despite this, there were limitations to expanding my grilling experience. Now, I've started my own blog to share my grilling tips globally.

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