Introduction to Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are described as a type of wood fuel formed from compacted wood sawdust and similar industrial wastes from lumber milling, wood products manufacturing, and furniture makes. Wood pellets are usually formed as a sawmilling byproduct and activities of wood transformation. They are extensively dense with a low humidity capacity below 10% which make them combustible at high efficient. They are also characterised by their regular small size and geometry which makes them be automatically fed with a very fine scale to the burner by pneumatic conveying or auger feeding.

The high density of wood pellets gives them the advantage of long distance rational transportation as well as compact storage which can be easily blown from a tanker directly into a storage silo or bunker on a client’s compound. Presently, about one million homes in the United States are using wood pellets as a source of heat either in fireplace inserts or freestanding stoves or boilers or also in some large-scale schools or prisons environments. Wood pellets are generally considered to be economical with their affordable ease of manufacturing. Physically, they look like rabbit food with their shapes and colour.

Type of wood pellets

Different types of wood pellets have found their application in the heating industry for many years. They are being used for various purposes and wood pellets stove operation minimizing this heating system running costs with maximum efficiency. There are three main types of wood pellets based on ash composition as highlighted below:

  1. Premium wood pellets: This premium type is usually produced from maple or oak wood species. It is more expensive than other types. These wood pellets do not contain bark with 0.5 percent content of organic ash and high BTU output. This feature makes them to be hotter with high burning efficiency and the same time cost effective with required storage space.
  2. Standard wood pellets: The organic ash content of this type of wood is higher than 0.5 percent. Standard wood pellets are mainly produced from forestry industry waste and used in commercial heating stituations and power plants.
  3. Food-grade wood pellets: This type of wood pellets may be either premium or standard but most importantly, there mustn’t be the use of additives or binding agents during the manufacturing process. Food grade pellets are mostly produced by the course of pulverizing and drying hardwood sawdust with extrusion to a uniform density by passing through a rotating die under severe heat temperature and pressure of 250° F and 3,000 PSI respectively.

Wood Pellet Heating
Wood pellets are used for heat production in the design of boilers and pellet stoves. Also, wood pellets can be converted to be used in some existing oil boilers and solid fuel. Wood pellets which are produced from highly compressed sawdust or byproduct of the wood processing industry has been chosen to be used for heating because of its eco-friendly and affordable to made.  It is characterised by the combination of low water content and high compression which makes it to be higher in energy content compared to wood chips or log in relative volume which accounts for its cost effectiveness to transport wood pellets rather than others such as chips and cordwood.

Hardwood vs. Softwood Wood Pellets

A sound knowledge of different wood pellets and their properties will guide consumers when sourcing for the best fuel stock  in their heating venture. is a great start when researching wood pellets and which ones to stock up on for the season.

There are two standard wood pellet products namely; softwood and hardwood pellets which are readily available in the market. There is no difference in the overall quality of wood pellet finishing whether the contents are from softwood or hardwood.  Many consumers would conclude that hardwood is best for wood stove fuel or campfire; however, the conclusion is wrong in the case of wood pellets. There is no difference in the overall quality of wood pellet finishing whether the contents are from softwood or hardwood.

Comparison between Hardwood and Softwood Wood Pellets

Wood pellets density: As a result of higher density or weight of the wood, on an open fire such as campfire, wood stove, and others, hardwood burns slower and longer while softwood burns faster and quicker to ash as it is less dense in nature. However, since heating wood pellets are produced by compressing wood fibers into a fixed shape and size, it is assumed to be of uniform density and weight being softwood or hardwood which implies that a pellet made from hardwood is the same weight and density as that of softwood.
Maintenance: Softwood pellets from old growth trees usually burn cleaner and hotter than local hardwood pellets in an ordinary sense. However, softwood pellets doesn’t always suit the budget of many purposes, but it is cost effective when those pellets are burned in a stove with a T-stat. The more BTU’s put out, the longer that 1 ton of pellets will last. But consumers are ignorant and not always allowed to choose between hardwood and softwood. Though, the majority of pellets stoves and boilers make use of either hardwood or softwood wood pellets. Regardless of the type of wood pellets that you use, cleaning your stove regularly is most important for burn quality. Burning any type of wood leaves ash accumulation, however, if the consumer wants to avoid frequent cleanings, burn a higher quality wood pellets and clean out your stove between tons.
Heat output: The studies carried out by the wood pellet industry showed that softwood produces more heat than that of hardwood (says about 10-20% more per pound) and create a lighter ash depending on the species. West coast Douglas Fir wood pellets are the best in my eyes.
Cost: Quality drives the cost of pellets. Also, the distance they have traveled to your retailers shop. Typically you will see very high quality West Coast Douglas Fir pellets for sale in New England for upwards of $350 / ton. However, these pellets burn very well and put out a ton of heat which let’s them last longer.
The following is the summary I have deduced from the comparison between softwood pellet vs. hardwood pellet:

  • I have found that hardwood pellet produces denser ash than the softwood pellet
  • Hardwood pellets are darker than the softwood pellet
  • Softwood pellets are easier to light than the hardwood pellets
  • Softwood pellets typically produces more heat than the hardwood pellet

Cooking Pellets Vs Heating Pellets

After good knowledge of softwood and hardwood, it is worthwhile to know the different between cooking pellets (smoking or bbq pellets) and heating pellets for a better understanding of wood pellets. Most heating pellets usually make use of scrap (i.e., bark) and softwoods such as pine or fir with some mixtures of hardwoods. This results to unclean burning and makes food to taste nasty and cause harm if use for cooking. Though some heating pellets make use of hardwood such as oak, however, its consistent cannot be guaranteed. However, it is of good use in the industrial setting in boilers and other heating devices.

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Cooking pellets make use of hardwoods because of many healthy advantages offer by hardwoods. Cooking pellets manufacturers are allowed to use any types of wood they like to fulfill their purposes. The primary purpose of cooking pellets is for grilling or cooking; therefore, no contamination is needed when cooking your favorite and bring flavour to the foods.  You have the ability to select your flavor such as cooking over a Maple, Hickory, Cherry blended wood pellet.  Or apple?? yum!  There are many awesome flavors out there to try out.

If you are new to grilling over pellets then check these out!  The flavor is night and day compared to propane!

Last update was in: May 24, 2017 12:39 pm

Arising from fossil fuels (such as natural gas and fuel oils) price increase, wood pellets have found their way into the market with huge demand as heating sources for cooking purposes and industrial uses. Global climate change concern is another appealing interest in these wood pellets. Both hardwood pellets and softwood pellets are of great advantage to both economy and ecology factors of heating purpose. Have you tried these wood pellets heating systems as an alternative heating source before? If no, this is an avenue to try them today and discover what you have been missing.

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