Wood chips are small pieces of wood that have been created by running wood through a shredder, breaking it into uniformly sized chips. There are a number of uses for wood chips, and there are often several ways to obtain them, depending on where one lives and for what purpose one wants to use them. People who harvest timber, trim trees, and process fallen or dead trees on their own land usually also end up with chips of wood as part of the process.
The precise size of wood chips varies, depending on the type of wood and the chipper used to create them. As a general rule, they are created as a byproduct of timber processing, with small branches, offcuttings, and other debris being run through a wood chipper as a way of compacting tree waste. Chips can also be made from larger pieces of wood, assuming that those pieces have no other uses.
One common use for wood chips is as a ground cover. A thick layer will keep weeds from breaking through, and help to retain the soil. They are often used in playgrounds, where gravel would be too hard in the event of falls and grass would be unlikely to last long. Some gardeners also use them as mulch, spreading chips out between their plants to keep grass and weeds down and to give the garden a smooth, uniform look.
Many wood chips wind up being pulped for paper, and they are also sometimes used to fuel furnaces, boilers, and electrical generation equipment at sawmills. Specialty chips made from woods like hickory and oak may be sold in kitchen supply stores for people to use in smoking, grilling, and barbecuing. These aromatic wood pieces can be soaked in water and tossed on the fire where they will smolder slowly, releasing scented smoke which infuses the food being cooked over the fire.
If you want wood chips for landscaping or gardening, you can obtain them from a garden supply store, either in sacks or truckloads. In some regions, cities dispense them by request, although the city's chips may be inferior to commercially produced versions, since they are usually made from old scrap wood that comes from city maintenance projects. Specialty wood for cooking can be found in various markets and suppliers of cooking utensils, and they can also be ordered from companies that specialize in grilling and smoking equipment.