Burning Pellets In A Wood Stove: Why You Shouldn’t & How To Safely

Wood pellets are meant to be burned in pellet stoves. But can you burn pellets in a wood stove? This informative guide has the answers.

Can I burn pellets in my wood stove?

You shouldn’t burn pellets in a wood stove in its usual configuration. Pellets burn at higher temperatures than wood, meaning they may end up damaging your stove. However, there are workarounds to burning pellets in a wood stove, such as using a pellets basket.

During the winter, you will need a reliable way of heating your home. If you do not prepare for this before the winter sets in, you could find yourself inconvenienced. Again, failure to keep yourself warm in an adequate way will mean that you could compromise on your health.

Millions of people around the country rely on wood stoves to heat their homes. As their name suggests, these stoves are specifically built and designed to burn different types of firewood. And this brings us to the question, can you burn pellets in a wood-burning stove? This guide has all the answers. 

In this article, we will explain in detail what wood pellets and whether you can burn them in a wood-burning stove.

Also, we will take a closer look at how to burn them in a wood-burning stove. We will also share some benefits of using pellets to heat your home. 

By the end of the article, you will have comprehensive answers, and you will be in a position to make an informed decision regarding wood stoves. Having said that, let’s jump straight in.

About Wood Pellets

So, what exactly are wood pellets? Wood pellets are a type of fuel made from recycled wood remains. 

In some areas, the pellets will be made from sawmilling residue, whenever logs are converted into timber and various other wood-based products.

Also, they may be made from low-quality logs that are mainly left to rot in the forest. Some manufacturers will also produce wood pellets from recycled wood shipping pallets. Such manufacturers seek to get rid of such materials.  

To make them, the manufacturer will remove the moisture from the wood and grind it into dust. 

They will then compress it into small, compact cylinders, known as pellets. These pellets measure approximately six to eight millimeters in diameter with a length of around 40 mm.  

Heat will be applied during the manufacturing process.

This heat will cause a natural polymer present in wood known as lignin to become a gluey substance, which holds the dust together. 

So, no chemicals or other foreign substances are added to the wood during the manufacturing process.

Pellet stoves, furnaces and boilers are used to burn wood pellets. Today, around one million homes in the U.S. are heated using wood pellets in order to save the cost of energy.

Millions of homes and businesses in Europe also use them as their main heating source.

Can You Burn Pellets in a Wood Stove

We’ve mentioned that wood pellets are small, cylindrical bits of compacted material, made from wood residue.

And, they are specifically meant to be used with pellet stoves and furnaces.

Wood stoves, on the other hand, are designed to only burn pieces of firewood. So, can you burn pellets in a wood stove? Generally, you shouldn’t burn pellets in a wood stove in its standard configuration.  

Pellets tend to burn at higher temperatures, compared to firewood, due to the heavy compacting when being produced.

And, most wood-burning stoves are not designed to handle these higher levels of temperature.

So, if you burn wood pellets in a stove, you may end up damaging it permanently. For instance, the extreme heat the pellets will produce when burning may end up damaging key parts such as the baffle plate and the fireproof lining. 

There’s also the risk of damaging the main body of your stove, which can be extremely costly to replace or repair.

How to Burn Pellets in a Wood Stove

Without a doubt, burning wood pellets in a wood stove may cause costly damage since they burn at higher temperatures. But on the other hand, if you use pellets you will use lesser fuel while getting a sufficient amount of heat for your home.

Furthermore, studies have shown that pellets heat up faster, compared to wood.

Also, due to their compact design, it will be easier to store pellets in your home, compared to wood. Due to such reasons, some people may want to shift to pellets instead of wood. 

So, what happens if you would like to shift from wood to pellets but have a wood stove?

The good news is that you can still burn pellets in a wood stove. However, you will need to find a means of protecting the surfaces of your stove from the excess heat that the pellets will produce. And this is where a pellet basket comes in.

Also known as a pellet tray, a pellet basket is some sort of metal tray, which you will insert inside your wood stove. 

After inserting this tray, you will then pour pellets into it, and light them.

You will need to buy a tray or basket that will fit your stove perfectly, without touching the walls.

To do so, you first need to remove all the debris from the stove. You then need to take accurate measurements of its interior dimensions.

And with these measurements, you can then hire someone to create the tray. You can also create one yourself if you have an ammo box in your house. 

Alternatively, you can buy a BBQ grill basket, and fold it to form a tray.  

Ideally, this tray should hold a minimum of five pounds of pellets. But, the more the better. 

Once you’ve acquired a pellet basket, you can now proceed to burn pellets in your wood stove. Here are the steps to follow.

  • Insert the pellet tray: You will begin by placing the tray inside your stove. Place the tray in such a way that you can close the stove’s door easily even when it’s fully loaded.
  • Add pellets: You should then proceed to add pellets to the tray until it’s full. Avoid compacting the pellets too much so that there will be sufficient air circulating.
  • Open the stove’s vents: After putting some pellets in the basket, you should then open your stove’s flue and vents fully to ensure adequate airflow. You can then proceed to light the pellets.

After a few minutes, the top layer will catch fire.

From there, you can then adjust the vents accordingly to regulate the heat output and burn time. However, always ensure there’s some air flowing in the stove. 

If you close all the vents, the pellets will begin producing smoke, which can be dangerous when you inhale it.

You should also ensure all the pellets you are using to heat your home are fluffy and dry. Moisture will make the pellets clump together, which may cause incomplete combustion. 

And as you may expect, incomplete combustion will lead to the production of smoke and creosote.

Benefits of Heating Your Home with Pellets

As you can see, you can burn pellets in a wood stove. 

You simply need to purchase a pellet tray or pellet basket, which will help to protect your stove against the excessive heat the pellets will produce.

 And, choosing pellets are your primary means of heating your home comes with numerous benefits.

Here are some of the top pros of using pellets to heat your home.

Outstanding Energy Efficiency

One of the primary benefits of using wood pellets to heat a home is that they have excellent energy efficiency. Pellets come with almost no moisture in them or other impurities. Hence, you can convert almost 90% of them into energy, meaning you will only end up losing less than 10% via the chimney.

Firewood, on the other hand, will retain around 20% moisture, meaning the overall efficiency will be around 80%. As you can see, pellets have better energy efficiency, compared to firewood.  

Convenient and Easy to Use

Another reason why you should consider switching to wood pellets is that they are convenient and easy to use. 

Unlike good quality firewood, which may be sometimes hard, to find, wood pellets are readily available in almost all the major stores across the country. Most home improvement centers and gardening stores sell them. And once you place an order, the store will deliver them to your home.

Furthermore, pellets are easier to store, compared to firewood. They won’t consume too much space, meaning you can store them close to where your stove is. 

Furthermore, loading them onto the stove isn’t a challenge. 

You just need to scoop and place them in the stove.

Also, since pellets don’t leave much residue behind, cleaning your stove will be easier, compared to when you are using firewood.

Lower Emissions

We earlier highlighted that pellets come with almost zero moisture.

So, if your stove has adequate ventilation, you are assured of complete combustion. Consequently, they won’t produce too much carbon dioxide or other harmful gases. 

Also, creosote build-up will be minimal when you are heating your house using wood pellets.

Compared to other fuels, pellets come across as the cleaner option. So, as much as they may be slightly more expensive than the alternatives, you will have lesser health issues to contend with.

Renewable Resource

Fossil fuels like natural gas and oil have limited supplies. Wood pellets, on the other hand, are a renewable resource. 

They are made using the by-products of paper and wood industries.

Also, they may be made using wood that may have been left to rot in the forest. So, as long as more trees are being grown, then the supply of wood pellets will be almost endless.

All Natural Fuel

Pellets are made using wood dust, which has been compressed at high temperature and pressure. So, they don’t contain any additional unnatural substances or chemicals. Therefore, whenever you are burning wood pellets, you don’t have to worry about inhaling harmful substances.

The most important thing is to ensure that the pellets that you purchase are marked premium. 

Pellets with this designation have passed the rigorous testing standards set by ENPlus or Pellets Fuel Institute (PFI).

No Need for Expensive Modifications to Your Stove

If you decide to switch from firewood to pellets, then you won’t have to make expensive or extensive modifications to your stove or the chimney.

You just need to purchase a pellets basket or tray. 

After getting this tray, you can start burning pellets in your ordinary wood stove right away.  

In case you decide to switch back to firewood for whatever reason, you only need to remove the tray and you can start burning wood again in your wood stove.

You will only spend money on the pellet basket, which isn’t expensive.

Besides, you can also make one yourself, meaning you may end up spending nothing on this switch.

Key Takeaways

  • Pellets can be a great means of heating your home
  • It’s not advisable to burn pellets in a wood stove
  • Their higher temperatures may damage the stove
  • A pellets tray or basket provides a solution for burning them in a wood stove

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