Wood pellets have become more and more popular as fuel for wood stoves in recent years. Their popularity stems from a number of reasons, not the least of which is that wood is a renewable energy source – unlike others like gas, coal and heating oil.
Wood pellets were invented in the 1970s following the oil crisis of 1973. They were a logical solution to a problem that faced not only U.S. citizens, but also home owners around the world.
Wood pellets are a byproduct of local sawmills. They are produced using untreated sawdust and shavings – leftovers from the cutting of logs into boards and other basic materials made from wood. Shavings and sawdust are dried to eliminate almost all moisture, then compressed under high temperatures and pressure. The result is a 5-10mm pellet that is ready to be burned inside a woodstove.
Those that are accustomed to using wood pellets will know that there are varying degrees of pellet quality. A poorly manufactured pellet can become loose and can even crumble causing its burn to be less than efficient.
A high quality wood pellet contains no additives or binding agents and burns long and hot. Ligin, a natural constituent present in wood, is released under the heat and pressure of the pelleting process.
It is Ligin that actually binds the small particles together to form the pellet itself. The best pellets are made from hard woods such as oak, or from a mixture of hard woods. Pellets that produce less than 1% ash per ton are considered to be premium grade, and the best pellet money can buy.
Wood pellets have proven to be good for the environment as well. Emissions from combustion are low compared the burning of traditional logs or wood. Low emissions makes the burning of wood pellets in urban areas especially attractive to wood stove owners.
If you are in the market for a wood stove, consider a wood pellet stove as a fine choice. They are economical, environmentally friendly, and produce an ambiance and heating comfort that is hard to match with any other home heating method.