Black and White

Dinger Posted By Dinger, Feb 12, 2013 at 10:23 PM

  1. Dinger

    Burning Hunk

    Nov 23, 2011
    SW CO
    Look at the crazy color difference in these two pellets. On the left is HDX from Home Depot. I'm assuming these are Heatrs as I have a few bags of these and they are very dark like this. On the right is beetle kill pine from Ecoflames. Those have been my staple and favorite so far this winter. The Heatrs not so much.

    It's funny, I used to live a few miles from the Heatr plant in Showlow AZ and burned them exclusively. They were never this color. I'm thinking they're using scorched logs from that huge fire down there in '02. I'm guessing here, but that is the largest stand of Ponderosa pines anywhere, and they're not this color unless they're burnt.

  2. CT Pellet

    CT Pellet
    Minister of Fire

    Dec 1, 2012
    Torrington, CT
    Good morning Dinger.
    What may appear to you to be a "crazy difference" is actually relatively routine. The variance in color from brand to brand , or in some cases, varience in color among batches of the same brand, is caused by many things. The main reason is the species of wood used will contribute to variations in color. Others include bark content, sharpness of the die in the progression of manufacturing, (as the die dulls , the color of the exterior of the pellet dartkens due to friction) the bark composition percentage,as well as the age of the sawdust. As sawdust sits outside, it will darken with the elements, and the older dust is darker in color than the new dust. Many times pellets will look different than other pellets, but it is never a conclusive indication of a problem. In your pic above, you are comparing what looks like a hardwood pellet vs a softwood pellet, thus explaining the difference in color. I will agree with you on the Eco Flames though...good solid super-premium softwood pellet, by Confluence Energy in Colorado.
  3. jtakeman

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 30, 2008
    Northwestern CT.
    Everyone thinks "bark" when they see darker pellets. Its not always the case. Wood naturally turns darker when it is seasoned. Saw dust piles left in the open elements and solar exposure will become darker from what I have heard.

    Maybe some of the pellet mill peeps can offer some input. Their word should have more weight than mine!
  4. mithesaint

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 1, 2011
    NW Ohio
    Amazing how pellets burn differently in different stoves. I went through a ton of Eco Flames...HATED them. They were the first pellet I bought, and they were so useless in my stove that I honestly thought the stove was broken. When I did the test burn in the garage before getting the stove installed, they didn't produce enough heat to make the convection blower kick on. Had to run the stove at full blast to get 140 degree temps from it. They made Prestos feel like molten lava was coming out of the stove when I finally got something better.

    Glad they're working for you. My local Lowes has a few tons left over if you're interested LOL.
  5. ScotL

    Feeling the Heat

    Feb 7, 2011
    Central Maine
    This initial moisture content of the wood will affect the color a lot. The more energy (heat) you have to apply to dry it to the correct moisture, the darker the pellets will be. The beetle killed wood for example was probably dead on the stump and pretty dry to start with.
    The time of year it was made will cause the same effect. Lighter pellets in the summer when the wood is dryer, darker in the winter when the wood is frozen. It takes energy to convert the moisture from a solid to a liquid ("heat of fusion") before it can be converted to a gas ("heat of vaporization").
  6. Dinger

    Burning Hunk

    Nov 23, 2011
    SW CO
    I remember somebody voicing their opinion on these. I've been through almost two ton of them and couldn't be happier. I've yet to have any burn pot buildup, whatsoever. I mean none. I have others in the stash that I can't get through a bag with out breaking up the crap. I bought five bags of a certain brand to try and only got through two before I yanked them from the pile and put them in my wife's Tahoe for weight, as that's their only value to me. Lately I've been mixing in the crappers with the Eco's just to burn through them so I don't have a bunch of duds come spring.

    I guess the colors got my attention because I'm thinking these are the same species, just from different areas. My focus is on the pellet on the left. Like I said, I used to live right there, in fact I was evacuated for nine days during that fire in '02. I went to Colorado on what my wife and I called e-vacation. After that I moved here as soon as I could.

    Could they be using raw material from that burnt stand of timber? That company used to use pulp from all the sawmill operations in the area. That all but dried up over the last decade so I'm sure they had to find a different source for raw materials. I still know a few peeps in the area so maybe ill put in a call for S&G's, inquiring minds want to know.
  7. Snowy Rivers

    Snowy Rivers
    Minister of Fire

    Feb 7, 2010
    NW Oregon
    Another thing that can cause darkening of the pellets is how hard they are running the presses.

    As the material is fed through the pellet mill, the die heats up, and if it gets a tad too hot, the pellets will get a slightly darker shiny finish to them.

    Having the die at just the right temp makes things work just right, and too hot will actually burn the material slightly.


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