How to Dry and Store Wood Chips for Your Smoker or Barbeque

How to Dry and Store Wood Chips for Your Smoker or Barbeque

Dry wood chips are great for using in your smoker or barbeque to add a delicious, smoky flavor to your meals. You can buy dried chips from a store, but why spend the money if you don’t have to? Drying your own wood chips is easy! It just takes some time to let all the moisture evaporate. After that, you can start grilling with your home-dried wood chips.

Method 1 of 2:
Air-Drying

Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 1
1
Chip up the wood if it isn’t already chipped. Put on gloves and goggles, and make sure the wood chipper isn’t pointing at anyone. Then turn the chipper on and carefully feed the wood into it. Don’t feed more than 1 piece of wood into the machine at one time, or you could cause a clog. When you’re done, turn the machine off and gather the wood chips on the other side. [1] X Research source Always follow the instructions that come with the wood chipper you use, especially the safety guidelines. If you don’t have a wood chipper, then you can rent one from a hardware store. Chipping the wood increases the surface area for more effective drying. Drying chopped logs takes a long time and the results are inconsistent.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 2
2
Spread the chips in a covered structure to keep them dry. Choose a structure that is not airtight so the moisture can escape. Spread the chips out in a single layer. Any structure will work, but sheds and empty trailers are the most popular choices to keep the chips dry and protected from the rain. [2] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf You could also just leave the chips outside to air-dry if you live in a warm climate, but make sure it won’t be raining for at least a few days.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 3
3
Keep the temperature at 14–26 °C (57–79 °F) to encourage drying. If the weather is already warm, then you probably don't have to do anything extra to heat the room. If it's cold where you live, then use an indoor heater to keep the room at this ideal temperature. [3] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 4
4
Point a large fan at the pile to encourage evaporation. Angle the fan directly at the wood chips and turn it on to a high setting. Circulating air between the chips helps draw out moisture and dry the wood. [4] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf The bigger and more powerful the fan, the better. Large fans above 200 kilowatts can dry out a big pile of wood chips. Household fans are much smaller than this, but if you don't have a larger fan, this is better than nothing. If your fan is too small to cover the whole pile, you can use more than one. The chips will also dry on their own without a fan, but it’ll take a lot longer.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 5
5
Dry the wood for 4-6 days. Leave the fan running to help moisture in the wood evaporate. In general, the wood chips will take about 4-6 days to dry out. [5] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf The drying time depends on how many wood chips there are and how thick they’re spread out. Without a fan, the wood can take more like 2-3 months to dry out fully.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 6
6
Confirm that the moisture content is 20% or below before stopping. After 4-6 days, do a test with a moisture meter. Hold the meter against a piece of wood to get a reading. If the moisture content is below 20%, then the wood is dry enough to burn well. If not, then leave the wood longer to continue drying. [6] X Trustworthy Source United States Environmental Protection Agency Independent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting safe environmental practices Go to source Generally, fresh wood has a moisture content of 30-50%. To burn effectively, the content needs to be 15-20% or less. You can find moisture meters online or at hardware stores. If you’re not using a fan, remember that you'll have to leave the chips for a lot longer before checking them.
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Method 2 of 2:
Proper Storage

Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 7
1
Keep the chips in a spot where they won’t get rained on. Dry wood chips won’t rot or decay, but you don’t want them getting wet again. It’s best to leave them in a shed or covered container where they won’t get wet in the rain. [7] X Research source Also make sure the structure the wood chips are in doesn’t have any leaks. Otherwise the chips could get ruined if rain gets in.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 8
2
Rake the chips into a pile. A simple pile like this works no matter where you store the chips. The pile can be tall: Manufacturers recommended limiting pile sizes to 25–50 ft (7.6–15.2 m), and you probably don't have anywhere near enough wood chips to make a pile that big. [8] X Research source If you're storing the chips on dirt, put a plastic tarp down first so they don't get wet. In some areas, these heights are actually enforced by law to reduce the risk for fires.[9] X Research source
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 9
3
Cover the pile with a plastic sheet if it’s outside. This sheet protects it from the rain. Make sure the sheet is secured with something so it doesn’t blow off in the wind. [10] X Research source You can also cover the pile with plastic if the shed or container might have a leak. This should protect the wood if any water gets in.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 10
4
Turn the pile weekly if the air is humid. Rake the pile again and rearrange it so the inner chips are now on the outside. Doing this on a weekly basis should prevent the chips from getting too damp in humid weather. [11] X Research source
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 11
5
Keep any accelerants or combustible material away from the wood. In dry areas, piles of wood chips could be a fire hazard. Keep any gasoline, chemicals, matches, lighters, or other combustible materials far away from the pile. This reduces the risk for an accidental fire. [12] X Research source If you live in a fire-prone area, then storing the wood away from your home or any other structures is a good precaution as well. There may be other local laws in effect if you live in an area where fires are a problem. Always follow these regulations to keep everyone safe.
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Method 1 of 2:
Air-Drying

Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 1
1
Chip up the wood if it isn’t already chipped. Put on gloves and goggles, and make sure the wood chipper isn’t pointing at anyone. Then turn the chipper on and carefully feed the wood into it. Don’t feed more than 1 piece of wood into the machine at one time, or you could cause a clog. When you’re done, turn the machine off and gather the wood chips on the other side. [1] X Research source Always follow the instructions that come with the wood chipper you use, especially the safety guidelines. If you don’t have a wood chipper, then you can rent one from a hardware store. Chipping the wood increases the surface area for more effective drying. Drying chopped logs takes a long time and the results are inconsistent.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 2
2
Spread the chips in a covered structure to keep them dry. Choose a structure that is not airtight so the moisture can escape. Spread the chips out in a single layer. Any structure will work, but sheds and empty trailers are the most popular choices to keep the chips dry and protected from the rain. [2] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf You could also just leave the chips outside to air-dry if you live in a warm climate, but make sure it won’t be raining for at least a few days.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 3
3
Keep the temperature at 14–26 °C (57–79 °F) to encourage drying. If the weather is already warm, then you probably don't have to do anything extra to heat the room. If it's cold where you live, then use an indoor heater to keep the room at this ideal temperature. [3] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 4
4
Point a large fan at the pile to encourage evaporation. Angle the fan directly at the wood chips and turn it on to a high setting. Circulating air between the chips helps draw out moisture and dry the wood. [4] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf The bigger and more powerful the fan, the better. Large fans above 200 kilowatts can dry out a big pile of wood chips. Household fans are much smaller than this, but if you don't have a larger fan, this is better than nothing. If your fan is too small to cover the whole pile, you can use more than one. The chips will also dry on their own without a fan, but it’ll take a lot longer.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 5
5
Dry the wood for 4-6 days. Leave the fan running to help moisture in the wood evaporate. In general, the wood chips will take about 4-6 days to dry out. [5] X Research source FR_BEC_Woodchip_drying_FCPR045_2011.pdf The drying time depends on how many wood chips there are and how thick they’re spread out. Without a fan, the wood can take more like 2-3 months to dry out fully.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 6
6
Confirm that the moisture content is 20% or below before stopping. After 4-6 days, do a test with a moisture meter. Hold the meter against a piece of wood to get a reading. If the moisture content is below 20%, then the wood is dry enough to burn well. If not, then leave the wood longer to continue drying. [6] X Trustworthy Source United States Environmental Protection Agency Independent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting safe environmental practices Go to source Generally, fresh wood has a moisture content of 30-50%. To burn effectively, the content needs to be 15-20% or less. You can find moisture meters online or at hardware stores. If you’re not using a fan, remember that you'll have to leave the chips for a lot longer before checking them.
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Method 2 of 2:
Proper Storage

Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 7
1
Keep the chips in a spot where they won’t get rained on. Dry wood chips won’t rot or decay, but you don’t want them getting wet again. It’s best to leave them in a shed or covered container where they won’t get wet in the rain. [7] X Research source Also make sure the structure the wood chips are in doesn’t have any leaks. Otherwise the chips could get ruined if rain gets in.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 8
2
Rake the chips into a pile. A simple pile like this works no matter where you store the chips. The pile can be tall: Manufacturers recommended limiting pile sizes to 25–50 ft (7.6–15.2 m), and you probably don't have anywhere near enough wood chips to make a pile that big. [8] X Research source If you're storing the chips on dirt, put a plastic tarp down first so they don't get wet. In some areas, these heights are actually enforced by law to reduce the risk for fires.[9] X Research source
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 9
3
Cover the pile with a plastic sheet if it’s outside. This sheet protects it from the rain. Make sure the sheet is secured with something so it doesn’t blow off in the wind. [10] X Research source You can also cover the pile with plastic if the shed or container might have a leak. This should protect the wood if any water gets in.
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 10
4
Turn the pile weekly if the air is humid. Rake the pile again and rearrange it so the inner chips are now on the outside. Doing this on a weekly basis should prevent the chips from getting too damp in humid weather. [11] X Research source
Image titled Dry Wood Chips Step 11
5
Keep any accelerants or combustible material away from the wood. In dry areas, piles of wood chips could be a fire hazard. Keep any gasoline, chemicals, matches, lighters, or other combustible materials far away from the pile. This reduces the risk for an accidental fire. [12] X Research source If you live in a fire-prone area, then storing the wood away from your home or any other structures is a good precaution as well. There may be other local laws in effect if you live in an area where fires are a problem. Always follow these regulations to keep everyone safe.
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