Pellet stoves have so many advantages, but if you don’t buy a suitable pellet to be burnt up then you could be counteracting all the good you’re doing!
In general wood pellets are better for the environment, burn cleanly and produce a good amount of heat. But all of that is only true if you use good materials.
Bad quality pellets can be smokey, produce tons of ash, smell ghastly and not give you that much heat. It isn’t hard to find good pellets, but to do so you have to know what you’re looking for!
I’ve compiled a list of points you should be looking for, or should at least be aware of when you buy some pellets for your pellet stove, and I’ve even gone one step further.
I’ve found the best pellets on the market right now, so you can safely buy pellets that are good for the environment and will keep you warm.
There isn’t that much regulation around pellets at the moment, which means anyone trying to make money can sell you anything and call it a good product. I’m going to help you avoid smoking out of your house and or ruining your stove altogether.
It’s not as complicated as you might think! Scroll down to my buyer’s guide to learn what to look out for, or jump down to my “5 Best Pellets For A Pellet Stove” list if you’re happy to go with my picks.
Rest assured that these pellets will be a healthy choice for your pellet stove. All you have to do is pick a packet that best suits you and your needs.
If you want a “one bag for everything” type of purchase to allow you to cook on your pellet stove, then I recommend the Signature from the Traeger brand.
It pairs well with everything including beef, poultry, pork, lamb, and even seafood! Traeger has a very large range of wood pellets, and their signature is the most rounded.
It’s not necessarily the best product on the list, but that’s the price you pay for a product that tries to do it all. What this means is that the blend of wood is a mixture of hickory, mesquite, cherry, pecan, and applewood.
It tries to encompass all the good qualities of all these different woods, to make your pallets functional and flavourful. What Traeger has done is capture and add wood extras to the pellets so that it can create a balance for any type of food you want to cook.
Basically a “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of deal. Essentially, this is a little bit of everything and is perfect for someone who wants more than a heated home.
The ash content is low, the moisture content is a little higher than I would have liked, and the mixture of wood does mean that they burn at different rates. None of these issues are terribly bad, but I would warn you that due to the extras the pellets can be a little smokey.
- Good for any type of food
- Low ash content
- 100% Hardwood
- Mid level moisture content.
- Clumpy Ashes
At almost half the price of the Traeger packages and a ridiculous amount less than the most expensive pellets on my list (asmoke), you would be forgiven for thinking that the Pit Boss was a bad quality bag of pellets.
The wood in particular is made out of hickory which will create a wonderfully deep wooden smell.
Most of the time you won’t be wanting to cook on your pellet stove so there is no point trying to get a pellet that can harmonize with a massive of different flavors, when instead you want a product that burns well.
For a good pellet, you want something that has a low ash content and doesn’t include impurities. With such a small requirement list, you can be happy that the Pit Boss satisfies these needs.
The only real negative I found is that the Pit Boss did produce some clumps in the ashes, due to the hickory hard wood. This isn’t a massive problem but does mean that there is more ash content than I would like.
- Cheapest Pellets
- Low Ash Content
- Low Moisture Content
- No Impurities
- Clumpy Ashes
If you want the pellets to have a good strong smell, then I suggest getting the Traeger Hickory. Just like the other Traeger on our list, this one is made out of hard wood.
The hard wood in particular is hickory and hickory produces a wonderfully deep woodland smell.
The difference between the Traeger’s Hickory and the Pit Boss’s Hickory is the way in which the wood had been pressed. In the pressing process, Traeger allows the natural sap in the wood to bind the pellets together, which in turn doubles the forest smell.
It has a very clean burn, and because the pellets aren’t a blend the wood burns at the same rate.
This means that the ash content is lower and so is the moisture content. This makes the maintenance of cleaning your pellet stove a lot easier than the hickory’s sister the Traeger Signature.
The only issue I had with both the Traeger pellets is the hard wood’s clumpy nature. Although they bring out wonderful smells, it does create more clumpy ash. This means more cleaning than some of the other pellets I’m about to show you.
- Woodland Smell
- 100% Hardwood
- Low Ash Content
- Low Moisture Content
- Clumpy Ashes
The Lignetic is my favorite pellet on the list. For me, the lowest ash content you can get is the most important topic on my mind and that’s what you achieve with the Lignetics.
It reduces the pellets down to 1%. That’s 100% of however many pellets you used will be turned into 1% of its original size as ash. That’s a crazy small amount!
Because of the tiny ash content, the lignetics is the easiest to clean, the most efficient palette, and amazing for the environment due to the low wastage!
It doesn’t produce a strong smell (which is a bonus for me because I’ll use a candle to make my home smell the way I want it to) and isn’t trying to be fancy.
It’s only a tad more expensive than the Pit Boss, but for the efficiency, the Lignetics definitely makes up for it.
The Lignetics is honestly my top buy!
- Most Efficient
- Lowest Ash Content
- Easy To Clean After
- No Strong Smells (If That’s A Con For You?)
I’ve considered Asmoke as the best pellet for the environment, not just because it has a low ash content, but also because of the whole journey the smoke wood pellets go through. The apple trees that Asmoke use are from their own orchard. Asmoke harvests the trees themselves. They are turned into pallets only days from their harvest meaning that they don’t over collect their supply. Because the Applewood isn’t a hard wood it is easy for the pellets to reduce the ash content, and all of this shows reduced waste from beginning to end.
In a world that is so micro-managed, this streamlined company has created a strong statement in sustainability.
The Asmoke does have a strong applewood smell, which is mild and sweet. It isn’t as strong as the Traeger collection and instead aims for a gentle fragrance.
The only negative I can find with the Asmoke is their price tag. Using your own orchard and controlling the tree numbers as well as the pellet creations had to take a toll somewhere, but at least it isn’t in the quality.
- Low Ash Content
- Sustainably Harvested Wood
- Mild and Sweet Smell
Once you know what to look out for, buying good quality pellets will be easy. Save this page as a bookmark so you can remind yourself what to avoid when you need to buy your next bag!
Low Ash Content!
Burning anything will create some form of ash, but when it comes to efficiency you want a product that “digests” more of the materials than it dumps. You should look for products that claim to have a “low ash content”. Because regulations aren’t exactly tight, you shouldn’t go off just what the packaging says. Instead when you burn the pellets check the ash yourself. If there is more ash than you thought there would be, then the company might have lied about its low ash content.
If you also notice that the ash looks a little irregular, then you could have impurities in the materials. I’ll explain more about that in a minute, but these impurities and an abundance of ash can stop your pellets from burning and which leads to clogs and blockages in your pellet stove.
This means that you’ll have to buy more pellets more often, and you’ll have to clean the stove more regularly too. Both of these things are avoidable if you chose an actual low ash content pellet.
What Is An Impurity?
When it comes to wood pellets and impurities, what we need to look for is anything that is a filler ingredient. Normally these fillers are bark, cardboard, recycled paper, or even glue! These materials lower the amount of heat the pellets can produce, and at the same time, they create more ash. Normally the lower priced pellets are likely to contain these materials, but that’s not true of all of them.
You may have noticed that apart from the glue, the other materials I listed as impure are still burnable and it’s true they are. But those ingredients aren’t as efficient as wood and too much of them can even create an unpleasant smell.
If you burn some pellets and notice a strange odor coming from the stove then you have probably purchased some impure pellets.
Low Moisture Content!
This one might seem obvious, but if your pellets are wet they won’t burn as well, if at all. The problem is that pellets tend to absorb water well, and if you are in a humid area you’re more likely to suffer from high moisture. The best way to combat this is to be aware of the wood pellets’ moisture content. You ideally want to buy a packet that has a moisture content of 6.5% or less. You then want to store the pellets somewhere dry and off the ground, this will help them keep their low moisture content.
Those are the three points to keep in mind when buying pellets for your pellet stove, but if you don’t want to read the back of every bag you find, you can always pick from my list of the 5 best pellets. I’ve done all the research for you, so you can be confident that these bags will be pure, low in ash, and low in moisture. Instead, you can focus on price, smell, and other features!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Better To Burn Hard Wood Or Soft Wood Pellets?
Soft wood has a better low ash content percentage than hard wood, and it also creates a more efficient heat when it’s being burnt. Because of this, I would always recommend soft wood over hard wood, if you have the choice.
How Long Will A 40lb Bag Of Wood Pellets Burn?
On average, 40lb of wood pellets will burn for 24 hours. You will need more for the winter and less for the summer, but this will vary depending on how strong your winters are.
For an example, I would suggest buying 100-150 bags of 40lb wood pellets to get you through to the end of winter.
Can I Use Food Grade Pellets Or BBQ Pellets For A Pellet Stove?
Yes, you can. The only difference will be in the flavorings that the BBQ pellets are aiming for.
If you don’t cook on your pellet stove, then these qualities will be wasted on you but it won’t harm the stove. Essentially a BBQ pellet would be unnecessarily expensive but work just as well.
Can I Make My Own Wood Pellets?
Pellets are normally made in big batches from a pellet mill, but small businesses and even homeowners can create wood pellets without much difficulty.
You will need to break down some raw wood into smaller pieces, let them dry for around 24 hours, and then using the tiniest dab of vegetable oil get them to stick together into the shape of a pellet. Sometimes you don’t even need the oil.
Can I Use Wood In My Pellet Stove?
Pellet stoves aren’t designed to burn wood in their natural state. If you were to try and burn firewood or kindling it wouldn’t take well and may waste your fuel.
Once the wood pellets are already burning, you can try adding kindling to the fires, but you should watch to see how the stove takes these new materials. Most pellet stoves don’t have the structure to keep the wood’s fire alive, so the fire might be snuffed out.
Is Cooking With Wood Pellets Bad For You?
You shouldn’t cook with heat source wood pellets, because they haven’t been approved for digestion. The smoke could do you some harm.
However you can use BBQ Wood Pellets to cook with, and you can use them on BBQs or Pellet Stoves alike. As long as the cooking equipment approves of wood pellets in general, then you can cook using BBQ Wood Pallets.
Well, my declaration of love towards the Lignetics still stands. It has the lowest ash content and it is very cheap, so for a pellet stove that will eat up a fair amount of product, the Lignetic is music to my ears.
But if you care about smells, cooking, or your environmental impact then the other pellets I have shown you are all great choices too. You might even want to buy a selection to suit your mood.
As long as you remember to look for low ash content, low moisture content, and low impurity content then whatever you buy (from my list or not), you’ll get a good product.