Can You Use Wood in Pellet Stoves

Wood and Pellets

When you finally get your pellet, stove placed in the perfect location of your house you may be frustrated when your bag of pellets is empty, and you forgot to buy more. This does happen and usually at the worst possible moment, this has led some to seriously consider using normal wood as a quick alternative to the pellets they no longer have. 

You cannot use wood in a pellet stove, pellet stoves have some degree of an electrical part in them, further, the system is not made to endure the ash or the heat produced by pure wood. Pellets are slow-burning, concentrated heat that is fed in automatically by the system to create heat for your entire house, normal wood cannot be used in this at all. 

Understanding what pellets are, how they are made, how you can make some in your yard, and how to increase the efficiency of your pellet stove will make a big difference. Many people around the world are not always aware of the benefits of having pellet stoves, and many more are not always aware that their pellet stoves are running much slower and weaker than they should be. 

What makes pellets so different?

Pellets are not simply food shavings that are slowly burnt, pellets are dried, compressed wood chips that are held together with the naturally occurring lignin in the woods. These pellets are small and unlike wood, they burn at different speeds without releasing any amount of smoke. Pellets can be fed into the back of a pellet stove and then be left to slowly burn away, without much ash being created. 

Pellets are mass-produced and significantly helps prevent waste from being lost into the environment, pellets are seldom made by wood that has been purpose cut down for pellets. The pellets you can make at home or the pellets that you are buying will almost always be made by recycling waste from wood manufacturing facilities, furniture makers, or anyone else that processes a lot of wood. 

This is a big advantage for pellets going forward, as they are extremely cost-effective to produce and most manufacturers actively work with other manufacturers to make more. Most of the pellets that are sold for use as only heating a home will have signs that they are made entirely from recycled materials, with a few manufacturers repurposing old shelving into pellets. 

What are the best pellets to use in a pellet stove?

Depending on what you are doing with your pellets stove, and where it is located inside your house, you may want different things from it. Most homeowners prefer to have pellets that make as little as possible smoke and has almost no smell at all. 

However, once you realize that most pellets can be used in your Sunday grilling, then things change drastically. Making a steak, slow-roasted pork or even just a good salmon with smoke from fresh pellets can be amazing. This is why your need to know about the four main types of pellets that you can buy in bulk and where would be the best place to use them.

  • Organic Pellets: These are pellets usually made by yourself using the materials you have in your back garden. Organic pellets are combination pellets, anything from dried leaves, mulched trees, or anything else that can be dried out and burnt. Because of the wide variety of things that can be in these pellets, they are only meant for keeping your house warm. Some backyard trees can be poisonous when smoked, others become poisonous when used with cooking, and some can even induce drug-like symptoms.
  • Sawdust Pellets: This is the most likely one you will find at your hardware store or on Amazon, they are extremely cheap, and as the name suggests they are made from sawdust. This sawdust can be collected from almost anywhere, and sometimes even includes some of the glues used to make furniture. For this reason, it is best to only use them for heating a home, rather than grilling some steaks. 
  • Hickory Pellets: Hickory is one of the most sought-after woods for furniture and homemaking in the world, and for pellets, they work perfectly for several things. While they can be used to heat your home, don’t, they will be much more useful, and tasteful if you use hickory pellets as the smoke source for your kettle barbecue. You can even use Hickory pellets in your oven, using a crafted sheet of aluminum foil.
  • Cooking Pellets: As the name suggests these are meant to be used for your cooking, either as the main source of heat or as a source of the smoke. Coming in much smaller bags than the ones you would use for heating your home, cooking pellets have become a popular way to add some much-needed flavor into home-cooked meals even when you live in an apartment. 

How can you increase the efficiency of the pellets stove?

When your pellet stove has been running for a few seasons you will start to do the one thing that all humans do, tinker with it. This is usually when you go out of your way to see how you can improve the heat coming out of the stove, how to make it more efficient, or just trying to figure out how it works. It is not uncommon for most people to start changing up how they treat their pellet stove after a few years. 

There are four things you can do before removing or installing a new pellet stove that will drastically increase the efficiency of your stove. Doing any one of these, or just seeing which ones you can still do, will drastically increase the heat output, the burning efficiency, and the over usability of your stove. 

  • Cleaning: You need to clean your pellet stove regularly, and this in more ways than simply removing the ashtray that you should be doing almost every morning after use. Several vents go into and out of your pellet stove, most will have removable filters that you should be cleaning or checking on every few days to ensure they are perfect. 
  • Air Induction: When the stove just doesn’t do it anymore, many people choose to do one amazingly simple but effective thing to their stove. Installing a small metal fan to increase the amount of air that is coming in, this simple adjustment will mean a lot more heat, but it will also mean your pellets are burning away much, much faster. 
  • Adjust Stove: If your stove is not getting enough oxygen from the surrounding air, then it simply won’t work well. A simple way to fix this will be to simply move it, moving it away from a wall, or into a more open area will usually help it run smoother. Moving it closer to the area you are sitting or working in is usually a good way to increase the heat that you feel as well. 
  • Different Pellets: Before you try anything else, apart from cleaning the stove, you should be cycling through all the available pallets that you have. This is a very quick way to find a series of pellets that will work the best with your home setup, some pellets burn colder, but last a lot longer, while other pellets burn hotter, but for a much shorter time. Finding the balance for your home is all about experimentation. 

Why are pellets better than wood?

Pellets are better than wood because they cause a lot less smoke pollution, have a lot less ash when burned, and recycles materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Wood can increase in intensity and then slowly simmer down unless more wood is added, while pellet stoves are created to perfectly balance the heat setting you have. 

All of this has made pellets loved for areas of the world where it would be impractical to have a giant fireplace, an electric heater the whole time, or even a gas heater for smaller areas. Pellet stoves are quickly gaining popularity specifically because they can deliver a fireplace like quality to heating, without costing all the time and money to maintain. 

Pellet stoves are great pieces of engineering and if used properly will heat the room you are using within a few minutes, ensuring that you can comfortably watch TV or just work. The biggest benefit most have found with pellet stoves is that you can start them up, leave them for several hours, and not need to maintain them constantly for continued heating.


Pellet stoves are remarkably similar to wood stoves; however, they are not perfect matches, and what is used in a fireplace or wood stove cannot be used in a pellet stove. Understanding this is an important first step in getting the perfect pellet stove for your home. 

Some of the most amazing things can happen when you already understand everything about the new addition to your home!

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