Looking for an affordable, low-cost, renewable fuel that’s easily available locally?
Wood pellets tick all the right boxes.
They have become increasingly popular as fuel options in domestic and commercial sectors. In addition, people use them for heating across the world.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has formally recognized the benefits of biomass fuels compared to the fossil energy baseline. For example, burning one ton of wood pellets is equal to using 120 gallons of heating oil, more than 15,000 cubic feet of natural gas, nearly 5000 kw per hour of electricity, and more than 150 gallons of propane.
The caveat is that wood pellet manufacture should be based on sustainable practices and used with proper care and efficiency.
Today, many people ask the question, “How are wood pellets made?” For the answer to this and many other questions relating to wood pellets, here’s all the information you need.
What Are Wood Pellets?
They are small pellets, usually cylindrical and of different diameters, made of natural wood, dry biomass, or wood products. The base material may be manufactured from compacted sawdust, waste from woodworking and lumber industries, logging operations, furniture, and construction sectors. Because of their fixed form and standard sizes can be fed automatically into a burner or stove. In addition, they are easy to store and transport.
They may be of different qualities. High-quality white pellets are available for domestic heating, while industrial-quality brown pellets are intended for large-scale commercial and industrial heating systems. They can be used in pellet stoves, central heating systems, boilers, and heaters designed for their use.
How are wood pellets made?
There are slight differences between industrial production and individual manufacturing for home-based use. A special pellet machine is required. This may be of smaller or larger size and capacity depending on whether it is a home-based pellet making machine or an industrial one for commercial purposes.
In general, the process is:
- The raw material used for wood pellet manufacture includes wood residue from woodworking industries, shavings, sawdust, off-cuts, and freshly cut timber.
- Waste from hardwood flooring manufacturers can also be used. This material is collected and thoroughly dried.
- This is to ensure that there is minimum or no moisture content in the final product.
- After drying, the material is placed in a hammer mill to flatten the wood and bring it to an even density. As a result, they burn quickly and evenly and produce more heat.
- Once the hammer mill process is complete, the material is extruded using special dies. This involves using high heat and pressure to release the lignin in the wood that softens it and binds the materials together.
- Once the pellets are formed in the shape and size of the dies used, they must be completely dried.
- When the drying process is finished, the pellets are ready for packing, storage, and transportation.
What are hardwood pellets made of?
Pellets made from premium woods are hardwood pellets. They include woods such as oak, cherry, or apple that give out a delicious fragrance as they burn. Maple, walnut, birch, or ash are other examples. Since they have less moisture content, they’re extensively used in furniture making and flooring. The waste from these industries is used to make hardwood pellets. They have very little ash content and produce lower emissions.
However, hardwood and softwood pellets can be equally efficient and effective in the final analysis. It depends on the quality controls and attention to detail during manufacture. The pellet maker used should also be efficient and of high quality.
Do wood pellets contain chemicals?
Wood pellets are used mainly in cooking and heating. They are popularly purchased for use in smoking, barbecues, and outdoor grilling. Unlike charcoal or wood fires, wood pellet-fueled fires don’t flare up or give out dangerous sparks.
Wood pellets are manufactured without chemicals, glues, preservatives, pigments, or additives. They are made from wood waste, lumber, sawdust, and other natural wood-based products. This makes them 100% natural. The wood used is food grade and very safe for human use. Wood contains a natural binder called lignin which is released during heating. This binds the material under pressure when pressed into the dies.
The gas emitted during combustion is also safe and non-toxic. This makes it a clean energy combustion process. Burning wood is carbon neutral, and the remaining ash can be used as fertilizer in your garden. You must ensure that the smoke or gas disperses well without collecting in one place.
How do light wood pellets?
While using wood pellets for cooking or heating is important to use the right kind of stove. One of the most popular options is the pellet grill. It can be used indoors and outdoors for various cooking methods such as grilling, broiling, roasting, baking, braising, and smoking. In addition, they are more efficient and versatile because you can use this single appliance in various ways.
These cookers have a container to store the wood pellets, so you can fill them up and continue cooking for a long time without replacing or replenishing the fuel. In addition, they have an automatic feeder with an electronic monitor and thermostat that ensures a regular supply of pellets to maintain the desired temperature.
- If you have a high-end automatic pellet stove, you have to simply switch it on
- Pellets are fed automatically into the burn pot and lit automatically
- For manual stoves, fill the storage container with wood pellets
- Some pellets fall into the burn pot when you turn on the auger. Switch off the auger.
- You can add a small quantity of natural gel-based accelerant
- Use a long-handled butane lighter to ignite the pellets
- Once they are burning steadily, you can turn on the blower and auger
- Ensure that all the pellets are burning evenly
- You can start your cooking once the fire reaches the right temperature.
How long do wood pellets last?
It depends on how well you store them. If you store them in a cool, dry, and well-protected place, wood pellets can remain in good condition for more than a year, up to 18 months. This can come down to six months in regions with high humidity. However, if the pellets are of poor quality, they may not last even a few weeks.
If you’d like to leave them on the grill, ensure they are well protected from moisture.