Wood Pellet Fuel Information

Wood Pellet Fuel Information

All wood pellets are NOT created equal! We hear questions about pellets all the time and would like to share some of the answers here.

Q: What makes a good pellet stove wood pellet?

A: All wood, no bark and no paper or cardboard products added. This is the most important issue when choosing pellets. All wood pellets produce the most heat and the least ash. A clean running pellet stove will produce the most heat, most efficiently.

Q: How can you tell a quality wood pellet from an inferior pellet?

A: The easiest way to check the quality of a pellet stove wood pellet is smell. Simply take a hand full of pellets and smell them. You should smell a pleasant clean fresh wood scent. If you notice any strange odor it’s a clear indication of by-products in the pellet.

Most warehouse clubs and retailers carry pellets that have a strong smell of cardboard, or other unpleasant scent. DO NOT BURN THESE PELLETS! Although they will burn, they have a lot of glue, inks etc. in them and will greatly reduce your pellet stoves ability to create heat, as well as cause buildup and heavier ash content adding to the stove’s maintenance. Some of these retailers try to sell you on the idea that it’s recycled products. Burning cardboard is not recycling! The best method for this is to recycle it back to a cardboard plant. Sure it’s cheaper for them to add cardboard instead of real wood, but it’s not recycling, it’s not good for your stove, and it’s not good for the environment!

Q: What is better Hardwood Pellets or Softwood Pellets?

A: Most people jump to the conclusion that “we have always burned hardwood in our woodstove so hardwood must be better” – Not true with pellets.

The first and most important thing to remember is that you are buying pellets by weight NOT volume. A cord of dry hardwood vs. dry softwood weighs about 2-3 times as much. However, a pound of dry hardwood weighs the same as a pound of dry softwood.

So what counts is the heat output of each. This is where softwood wins. Below is information from a study done by the wood industry.

White Oak 8810 BTU/pound
Yellow Pine 9610 BTU/pound

A softwood pellet will produce 10-20% more BTU’s per pound than hardwood depending on the species and create a lighter ash.

Many retailers call their hardwood pellets “Premium” – and charge accordingly. At the Pellet King we consider “Premium” pellets to be those made from all wood only with no bark. Hardwood pellets do cost more to produce because the raw materials cost more, this is a simple fact. At the PelletKing we sell each, but we will not try to push you into hardwood pellets because they cost more or are perceived to be premium. Simply put, they put out less heat and produce denser ash.

Q: What does CO2 neutral mean?

A: The EPA has designated wood pellet stoves to be CO2 neutral and for good reason. Although a pellet stove produces CO2, the product came from a tree that lived on and used CO2 it’s entire life while providing O2 (oxygen) as a by-product. So unlike coal/oil/gas that creates a lot of CO2, but never used any, a wood pellet is neutral – same amount used as produced.

Q: Are these pellet manufacturers cutting all the trees down?

A: Not hardly. One example is International Paper. One of the largest providers of wood in the world. IP plants 6 trees every year for each one they cut. Any other long term manufacturer will follow the same policy. It’s really one of the key features of wood pellets, unlike coal/oil/gas wood pellets come from a renewable resource.