Do Pellet Stoves Smell Like Wood?

Stack of Wood

You are standing in a store and trying to decide what will work the best to heat your home, with the obvious answer being the wood-burning stove. However, having a smoke billowing stove that can make even the most well-ventilated room can’t help with. Pellet stoves are the next best answer; however, the question is do pellet stoves smell like wood?

No, pellet stoves do not smell like wood, and once the pellet stove has been started for the first time in a season there should be no more strong smells emitted from the appliance. Pellet stoves only emit strong smells of smoke when the wrong type of pellets are used, the pellets are wet, or there is something wrong with the pellet stove itself. 

As simple as pellet stoves are, there are many things about them that people need to learn, most of the problems that people face with their pellet stoves are results of no maintenance. When a pellet stove does start emitting smoke or starts to drastically emit the smell of smoke, then it is a clear sign that many things are wrong. Understanding each part of how a pellet stove works will allow you to comfortably fix the issues that may arise. 

What do pellets smell like?

While your pellet stove should never emit any smoke, there are situations in which people will smell pellet smoke and not even realize it is the pellet stove. This is usually caused by people using specialized pellets for their normal pellets stove, or when they are using pellets for more than just heating their homes. 

Knowing what the most popular pellets smell like will allow you to comfortably find the culprit of the smell in your home. There are many instances where people are using pellets to smoke meat, which can cause headaches for those trying to figure out why the pellet stove is emitting a new smell. Fortunately, each type of pellet has a distinct smell when smoking, and learning what they are will save you hours of head-scratching. 

  • Sawdust: Fresh sawdust is one of the most recognizable woodworking smells in the world, and sawdust pellets are the same. When smoking most sawdust will smell more like slightly wet wood than only normal wood. This is the type of pellet that you will most likely easily recognize when it is smoking too much.
  • Organic: Organic pellets are the type of pellets that you won’t want to have to release any smoke into your home, it is always best to get the pellet stove burning for a day or two before adding these. Organic pellets that are smoking will release a smell remarkably similar to that of burning foods mixed with wood. 
  • Cooking: Cooking pellets are nothing like other pellets and should not be used in your pellets stove, to begin with. These are usually cherry woods or hickory woods and will have a distinctly sweet smell to them, which is what makes to so perfect for smoking hams and meats. 
  • Hardwood: The most likely pellet you will find at stores will be hardwood, as these are the woods used in construction and appliances the most. This means that the pellets are going to suffer a bit, hardwood has a tendency to smoke a lot more than softwood, which is why this is also the most likely to smell like normal wood smoking. If there is no open fire in your home then the smell of burning wood is most likely caused by the hardwood pellets you are using. 
  • Softwood: The most sought-after pellets by all pellets stove owners, these are usually a bit more expensive than other pellets, however, they release almost no smoke at all. Described as a light woody smell, these pellets have almost no real smell to them and the only way to learn what they smell like would be to light one on fire and allow it to smoke. 

How to decrease the smoke from a pellet stove?

You will need to keep your pellet stove well ventilated, cleaned, and supplied with a constant exit to stop any smoke from escaping into your house. The danger of a pellet stove smoking into your home comes from the other gasses that will be going into your house from the smoke. Usually, the most dangerous one being carbon monoxide, the reasoning being that if the smoke is getting in then so too is the CO2. 

Having a source of constant fresh air can be a good way to ensure that no one can be poisoned, however, you will need to do the full set of maintenance on your stove before using it to ensure it is perfect. Cleaning everything, the vents, the stove, the ash, and everything else of your pellet stove will ensure that it is perfectly working. 

Ultimately, the only way to stop smoke from coming into your home is to prevent the smoke from ever occurring. Pellets that are in the perfect conditions will never smoke, with the soot and other gases all being funneled out of the vents that your stove should have. If you feel that some smoke is getting into your house it would be better to have everything inspected than using the stove at all. 

What can cause consistent smoke?

If you are walking around the house, even when there is no smell of smoke in your home, but you see the vent for the pellet stove billowing clouds of smoke you will need to check on the stove. The list of things you will need to check goes from simple to complicated, and most people will be doing something simple wrong. 

However, there are things that go wrong with older stoves that need to be considered, and many people will be surprised to learn that maintenance is more than just cleaning the stove. To understand what step you need to take, to stop the smoke from billowing, you need to understand how everything affects your pellet stove. 

  • Moisture: The biggest enemy of pellets is moisture, and most of the time they will be stored in the wrong way. Pellets need to be stored in low humid, dry locations where they can’t absorb moisture from the air. Overly moist pellets will still burn perfectly fine; however, they will release a lot more soot and smoke while doing so.
  • Low heat: Usually only a problem when you start your pellet stove for the first time of a season, the low temperatures of a stove starting up can cause the pellets to smolder rather than smoke. As the pellets start burning this usually stops, however, if you suspect it’s a constant problem you need to have the electric starter of your stove checked. 
  • Ash: The most likely culprit for smoke in the pellets stove is not actually from the burning pellets, but from the bucket of ash underneath the spot where they are burning. As some pellets fall through, the ash becomes more, and just general lack of care builds up the ash can become a smoldering pile of wood. This can release a large amount of soot and smoke that will make any pellet stove owner groan in displeasure. 
  • Low oxygen: The vents on the side, the vent outside, and the fan are all there to ensure that the fire inside the pellet stove is constantly going. If any of these start to fail or get dirty then the pellet stove will have a weaker flame, which means lower temperatures, which causes more smoke to start billowing out. 
  • Not enough spark: This is a problem with older pellet stove, the electric starter can become corroded and when the pellet stove needs to burn more pellets, or simply needs to start up, the starter can be faulty. This causes no fire to start forming, which causes the pellets to start smoldering if this happens then most people will usually turn up the temps which can help. However, if the pellets become too much on the smoldering pile then the problem can become much worse. If you notice the stove, not lighting, shut it down and check to see what part is not working. 
  • Wrong pellets: First-time pellet buyers tend to go towards either the cheapest pellets or pellets that are too fancy. Cooking pellets are made to be smoky, as this is how they cook the meat, while cheaper pellets tend to be organic pellets which cause a lot more soot and smoke to appear naturally. 


pellet stove that are running perfectly won’t have a lick of smoke coming into your house and will have a negligible amount of smoke coming from their vents. If your pellet stove does start smoking then you will need to check on which part of the stove is not working properly, many people have to judge when to clean their stoves by how much smoke is starting to arise from the vents. 

If your vents are starting to release smoke then it is already past due, remember, that smoke will cling to the side of your house!

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