The more you learn, the more you need to know.
Take wood pellets, for instance. Wood pellets are burned for heat in pellet stoves. Choosing wood pellets can be as simple as buying the first bag you see; but if you want to maximize your consumer dollar, use your pellet stove economically, and burn with as much heat and little fuss as possible…
Here’s what you need to know.
The Seven Best Pellets for Pellet Stoves
- Okanagan Douglas Fir Pellets
- Hamer’s Hot Ones
- Vermont Pellets
- Kirtland Premium Pellets
- Barefoot Wood Pellets
- La Crete Pellets
- Bear Mountain Pellets
Best Pellets for Pellet Stove Reviews
Dig in for more information about these pellets that burn clean and efficiently.
Okanagan Douglas Fir Pellets
Okanagan makes two pellets. The original Okanagan Premium is the brand’s top seller. But we like the Doug Fir pellets, considered the highest quality and very pure. There are no additives and no recycled wood.
Famous for extremely low ash output due to its 100% softwood sawdust composition, Okanagan Douglas Fir Pellets routinely receive some of the highest customer satisfaction reviews. The Okanagan Pellet company claims it “sets the standard for super premium wood pellet fuel.” Consumers pay a little more for the premium quality, but these pellets are worry-free.
Features: Softwood composition, low ash, 100% Douglas Fir. Less ash means less cleaning and maintenance of your stove.
Estimated Retail Price: One ton, $299.00
Online at okanaganpellets.com
Hamer’s Hot Ones
Very dense pellets burn hot with low ash. Eastern US lumber operations provide clean Appalachian sawdust for Hamer’s Hot Ones production. Consumer reviews consistently mention the “amazing hardwood floor smell” of these Ohio-made pellets.
Hamer Pellet Fuel Company proudly meets the Pellet Fuels Institute standards for Premium Grade. Every fifth ton is lab tested for quality control.
Features: Hardwood. Superior density virtually eliminates hopper hang-ups. Creates less than 1% ash and includes less than a half-percent fines – i.e., dust. These pellets have 8% moisture or less.
Estimated Retail Price: One ton, $279.99
Online at hamerpellet.com
Premium sustainably-harvested natural softwood produces high BTU’s and less than 1% ash in a carbon-neutral package. The Vermont Pellets are made with the proprietary “Heatright” process, which uses super-compression to create cleaner and hotter burn times.
Online reviewers agree, “Excellent product. No dust. Better than wood. Service is wonderful. They burn hotter so you use less of them.”
Features: 100% softwood from forested pine. These pellets produce very low ash – less than 20 cups per ton burned.
Estimated Retail Price: One ton, $309.00
Kirtland Premium Pellets
Hard and soft wood are blended in this Michigan product. Low bark content and a two-step screening process ensure low ash production and unbroken pellets for consistent burns.
Features: Kirtland Premium Pellets make extensive use of Northern Michigan’s Jack Pine, once considered a waste product. Kirtland Products operations also improve the habitat of the famous but endangered Kirtland Warbler. The jack pine forests of northern Michigan are the summer breeding grounds for this rare bird.
Estimated Retail Price: $5.50 per (40 lb) bag; one ton, $209.00
Online at kirtlandproducts.com
Barefoot Wood Pellets
Raw material is harvested renewably and sustainably in the hardwood forests of Pennsylvania; clean sawdust and other waste from wood product production are consistently blended. Barefoot Pellet Company makes superior wood pellets with low ash, low emissions, and high efficiency.
A typical online testimonial from Sean D. assures “I used Barefoot Pellets all winter and loved them! Burned very clean! Can’t wait to buy more! Thanks!”
Features: Includes Cherry, Maple, Red and White Oak, Walnut, Maple, and Hickory. They are 100% hardwood with no fillers.
Estimated Retail Price: One ton, $309.00
Online at barefootpellet.com
La Crete Pellets
Spruce, aspen, and natural resins are the only ingredients in La Crete Pellets. 100% premium softwood receives positive online reviews for high heat and low ash production.
Features: Produced in the hardwood forests of American’s Northeast as a byproduct of vertically-integrated lumbering, the spruce and aspen blend gives great heat output performance.
Estimated Retail Price: One (40lb) bag, $6.50; One ton, $289.00. La Crete also offers “minibulk” 1,000lb loads and full truckloads of its high-quality pellets.
Check out La Crete’s process in this video!
Online at lacretesawmills.com
Bear Mountain Pellets
Recycled and renewable sawmill residue combine for high-performance, low moisture content, and less than .5% ash. Consumer reviewers consider a small price premium reasonable, compared to product performance. Available at Big Box retailers and their websites.
Features: Northwest US company; 100% natural wood with no glue or binders. They are also certified pure by the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI), something to look for in any brand you select.
Estimated Retail Price: 40 lb. bag, $6.09; one ton, $242.00
Learn more on the Bear Mountain page of parent company Lignetics.
Wood Pellet Buying Guide
Given the variety of heating challenges and personal consumer preferences, there is no such thing as a “best type of wood pellet,” or “best overall wood pellet brand.” There is, though, a “best wood pellet for you.”
What Makes the Best Wood Pellet for Your Stove?
Factors to consider as you choose your personal favorite wood pellet include:
Most heat produced
Longest burn time
Least amount of ash
Least amount of bag dust
Lowest price/best value
Also, do you prefer softwood, or hardwood, or a combination? Which wood pellets are compatible with your wood pellet stove? Do you want to buy locally produced eco-friendly wood pellets?
Good, Better & Best
Just to complicate things, many wood pellet producers manufacture a “regular” grade and a “premium” grade. Some manufacturers make more than one brand. Some brands are made from a single species of wood (Douglas Fir is common); many are mixed. Some wood pellets are pure wood; some are made from lumber scrap. Many wood pellet brands include fillers like paper, cardboard, and bark; some wood pellets are from sustainably harvested forests.
Some wood pellet brands are only available locally; some wood pellet brands are widely available in Big Box stores; and other wood pellets can only be ordered online.
There is little regulation of wood pellet labels. Heat output, burn time, ash residue, dust content, and all other label claims may be inconsistent.
That got complicated fast!
The best advice for a new wood pellet stove user is to try several different brands to see which one works to heat your space most conveniently, with the least mess, at the best value. As you decide which wood pellets to try in your wood pellet stove, many online reviewers advise that you keep these things in mind…
Pellet Stove Pellet Buying Tips
Hardwood or softwood? Hardwood pellets from trees like beech, oak, hickory, and maple are marketed as being “better” than softwood pellets, which are made from trees like cedar, spruce, and pine. Independent tests confirm that softwood produces more heat per pound than hardwood. In short, if high heat output is your goal, softwood maximizes it.
Heat output of 8,000 to 8,500 BTU’s is a standard for the better grades of wood pellets.
Ash Issues: Ash production is the amount of ash remaining after a specific amount of wood pellets has been burned. Lower ash means better efficiency, so seek pellets labeled “low ash content.” And then make them prove it in your stove. If they produce more ash than you expect, try another brand.
Beware of Impurities: Non-wood filler material like bark, cardboard, recycled paper, and glue lower heat production while producing more ash. Brands with filler material may be less expensive, but they don’t burn as well and can be hard on the environment.
Moisture content obviously has direct bearing on the time it will take to light the wood pellets in your wood pellet stove, and how much smoke is produced. Wood pellets will readily absorb atmospheric moisture, especially under humid conditions. Look for wood pellets with a moisture content of 6.5% or less. Be aware that wood pellets may be subject to moisture during transportation and storage. End users often experience moisture intrusion at home, so store your pellets where they will remain dry. If they’re outside, you might have to bring in several loads at a time to allow the pellets to dry sufficiently before adding them to the stove.
Pro Tip: Premium wood pellets are made from wood and nothing else. Check wood pellets for a chemical odor before purchase. Any smell other than wood indicates impurities in the wood pellets. We’d avoid them!
Save By the Ton
Pellets are offered from most brands in 40lb bags, but that’s not the most economical way to shop. It makes more sense to have a ton of the pellets delivered to your home.
Some brands ship a pallet of 50 bags to make the ton – 50 bags x 40lbs each = 2,000lbs.
Others offer bulk pellets. The problem is having a place to store the bulk pellets. Here’s a handy how-to guide for building wood pellet storage.