I was watching a Heston Blumenthal Show called "Cooking like Heston" the other day, the episode was on potatoes and he made doughnuts using them. one of the things he did to prepare the potatos for the doughnut mixture was to smoke them using wood-chips.

I have seen wood-chips be used by him, Jamie Oliver and on Iron Chef (Japan) and Master Chef (Australia) a few times and i've been wondering if any kind of wood-chips can be used to do smoking (ie. ones picked up from the gardening section of a hardware store or made by myself from junk off cuts from trees or building material) or if i should be looking out for a particular kind which is meant for cooking.

  • The ones from the gardening store would be the poisonous kind Jthon warns about.
    – Ross Ridge
    Mar 26, 2015 at 6:47
  • I wouldn't want to smoke my food with wood that's been treating with chemicals...
    – SaturnsEye
    Mar 26, 2015 at 10:45
  • If you're going to buy chips, and not make your own, look specifically for bags labelled "smoking chips", "BBQ chips", or something along those lines. In the US, where such things are sold in big-box hardware stores, they'll likely be near the "entertaining" section with the grills and such, rather than near other gardening/paving equipment.
    – logophobe
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


You can't just pick up any old wood chips but you can get ones for cooking at the hardware store. Even Home Depot or Lowes should have wood-for-smoking available.

You have to be careful since if you get chips made out of treated lumber for example the resulting smoke could be poisonous. Probably not something you want to eat. You also want to avoid poisonous wood or trees.

Warnings aside, you can use just about any non-poisonous hardwood to make woodchips. Just make chunks or chips out of nice dry seasoned logs. Usually, people use wood with interesting favors to add such as fruit tree woods (apple, pear, cherry). Other popular woods are mesquite, hickory, or maple.

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    Note that hardwood is important, here. Softwoods, like pine, are full of nasty resins that will make the smoked food taste horrid. Mar 26, 2015 at 14:55
  • Also, the asker mentions British chefs Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver so they might not have access to Home Depot and Lowes. I doubt (though I may well be wrong) that equivalent stores in the UK would sell wood for smoking: it's not something we have a tradition of doing, here. Mar 26, 2015 at 15:03
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    @DavidRicherby Fortunately: the Internet! I think I heard you've got that in the UK.
    – logophobe
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:13
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    @DavidRicherby: There is nothing a true DIY fan couldn't find in his favourite store, obviously even wood chips. They have appeared even here in Germany.... Sometimes I'm impressed how much money can be made from a few scraps ;-)
    – Stephie
    Mar 26, 2015 at 15:41
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    Yep, emphasis on HARDWOOD - so most pieces/bits from construction or project lumber would be out, since that's usually pine. As noted, specialty lumber like landscaping or deck timber is often soaked/treated/saturated with preservative chemicals that are nasty and poisonous. Aug 11, 2016 at 19:17

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