Biomass may ignite due to biological oxidation and chemical oxidation. If this phenomenon (spontaneous ignition) is controlled, it would be possible to produce biochar at a lower cost without the need for an external heat resource. We investigated if self-heating could be controlled by using sawdust and bark chips. When sawdust and bark chips were used under controlled conditions, the bark chips temperature increased to the torrefaction temperature. The ash content of bark chips was ~ 2%d.b. higher than that of sawdust; consequently, the inorganic substances contained in the bark chips might affect the self-heating. Self-heating was suppressed when inorganic substances were removed by washing with water. Therefore, the inorganic substances in the biomass might have affected self-heating. The inorganic element contents of the bark chips were measured by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry before and after washing. The potassium content of the bark chips was reduced remarkably by washing, and there was a possible influence of potassium on self-heating. Finally, the effect of moisture content on self-heating was investigated to obtain stable reactivity. Thus, at a moisture content of 40%w.b., a steady self-heating behavior may be realized.