Any time I've ever started with wood chunks in my ECB charcoal pan and started it minion method; or, added them to hot coals halfway through cooking, they pretty much immediately catch fire and burn, usually for a while, until they are ash. As you might expect from hardwood sitting adjacent to white-hot coals.
My question is, is this the intended application of wood chunks for smoking?
Or is there some magical technique where they are supposed to smolder, but not burn? I ask because I've read a few opinions where wood flareups are to be avoided because they can impart a bitter taste. I've also seen it suggested to wrap wood chips in foil so they don't catch fire. So I'm a little confused here.
Thoughts / comments appreciated! Thanks.