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Hardwood or Softwood Pellets? What's better?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Sawsalesman, Feb 24, 2008.

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  1. Sawsalesman

    Sawsalesman New Member

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    New pellet stove owner and I'm wondering which pellet is better. Hardwood or Softwood. Are there pros and cons to both?

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  2. Souzafone

    Souzafone Feeling the Heat

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    The type of wood used isn't the issue, but total btu's. Unlike cord wood, pellets are purchased by weight.
  3. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

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    This is a tough one to answer because its like asking which is better, Ford or Chevy.

    Many prefer hardwood, others prefer softwood. The best way to find out which is
    better for you is to try out a few different brands to find your own favorite.

    Someone may tell you they love a certain type or brand, but you and your stove may end up
    hating them.
  4. Sawsalesman

    Sawsalesman New Member

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    The reason I asked was this. Conventional wisdom tells us to burn hardwood in our traditional woodstoves. Why do we burn softwood pellets and hardwood pellets?
  5. roninnb

    roninnb New Member

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    I've found that the hardwood pellets burn hotter in my Drolet Eco-45. Depending on the model and feed mechanism your stove may be different. For us, the softwood pellets produced way more ashes which are half way between a brown and charcoal. The softwood ash is grainy while the hardwood ash is quite fine. The only downside of the hardwood pellets was that the window had more soot than with softwood (because it's finer it flies better. With the amount of sparks flying when pellets drop from the shoot, I suspect the softwood pellets were not all burning completely thus lowering the heat output.

    Having said that, what we have settled into is a mix of about 25-33% softwood to 66-75% hardwood. With that the window has very little soot and we are getting the high heat and lower ash production as though we were burning only the hardwood.
  6. davevassar

    davevassar Member

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    What I've found this season (my first full season burning pellets) is that it really depends on the stove. I've found hardwoods and softwoods that burn hot, as well as not so hot.

    Try some different brands and types and fine th ones that work best for your stove.
  7. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    The highest btu/lb. are softwood. Heartland wood pellets mfg. Pope & Talbot, made from ponderosa pine. 9200 btu/lb. .7% ash content (I think). The ash content is a little higher than some hardwood pellets but I don't mind that.
  8. jezbo33

    jezbo33 Member

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    How often do you clean the stove with softwood pellets?
  9. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    I clean my firebox every week. Clean the chimney annually.
  10. jezbo33

    jezbo33 Member

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    I clean mine about twice a week. every fourth clean I do a full clean, fans and behind firebrick
  11. davevassar

    davevassar Member

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    Jezbo, how easy/hard is it to take the bricks out?
  12. jezbo33

    jezbo33 Member

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    not hard at all. back out the screws on the ends(left and right of the brick) and they slide right out. takes about 2 mins
  13. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    That's alot of cleaning Jezbo! I understand that clean exchangers optimize heating performance and clean blowers lessen wear and tear, but at some point it has to be more work than its worth. But hey to each his own.
  14. jezbo33

    jezbo33 Member

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    yeah its alot of cleaning but I have been letting it go longer between cleans. this is my first season with the stove I am on a bit of a learning curve
  15. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    It's always better to see someone take better care of a stove than they need to than the other way around. I tested mine once just to see how long it would go without cleaning the firebox and it burned for 2.5 weeks before the burnpot plugged up and the thing quit working. I'm sure by that point my heat transfer efficiency had suffered considerably since the exchanger tubes were just caked in ash, but it did keep running.
  16. MikePelletier

    MikePelletier Member

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    When I first got my Harman P-61 in '05, I used Cubex hardwood pellets. They worked fine. For my second year, I burnt Energex softwood pellets and I was very disappointed with how much maintenance they required. I had one ton left and traded them in toward a ton of Energex hardwood pellets. I also bought 5 tons of Canadian Supreme softwood (made by New England Pellets, I think) and one ton of Armstrong hardwood pellets. I found that the Cubex, Armstrong and Canadian Supreme all worked great. I'm having the same problems with the Energex hardwood pellets that I had with their softwood pellets. Cleanings are daily and the usage is close to twice what I use with the other brands. I came into this believing that hardwood was better than softwood, but I've come to agree that pellet quality is by far more important. Does anyone know if there is an impartial evaluation of pellet fuels?

    Thanks
  17. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    Check out hte Pellet Fuels Institute. They have a listing of most major brands with hard numbers like fine content, ash content, btu/lb etc.
  18. jezbo33

    jezbo33 Member

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    Any thoughts or experiences with Natures Own or Lignetics?
  19. MikePelletier

    MikePelletier Member

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    Thanks for your response. Would you happen to have a link to that page? I've looked at that site and have not been able to find it. (Of course it's entirely possible that it's right there and I missed it.... )

    Thanks again.

    Mike
  20. davevassar

    davevassar Member

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    Yep, Lignetics are good. I burnt some this season. Not as hot as barefoots, but they burnt well.

    Not sure about Nature's Own, are thoise from Lowes?


    The issue I've seen as far as pellets from Lowes and HD are consistency.
  21. jezbo33

    jezbo33 Member

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    That what I am hearing too. Oh well just have 4 bags of each I will give them a try
  22. jezbo33

    jezbo33 Member

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    What are you burning right now?
  23. mkmh

    mkmh New Member

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    I've done almost all hardwood pellets up to this point and have seen generally positive results (New England Wood pellets). However, in the last ton of NE Hardwoods i've been getting quite a few clinkers...which has been causing the burnpot to back up a bit.

    I just picked up more than 4 tons of "Quality" Softwood Pellets manufactured in Canada and they seem to be burning well so far. The price was right, and i'm told that the clinkers are generally less of an issue with softwoods. Having said that, I agree with what others have posted about the quality of the raw materials and the pellet being more important that whether it is soft or hard wood.

    Lets hope with a name like "Quality" that these pellets will at least come close to living up to the hype. So far so good
  24. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

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    LOL Pook...lol.....always good to have a lil intermission comical moments
  25. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

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    Yes.....I have almost a ton left of the Fireside Ultras which I love. But wanted to try the "Natures Own" from Lowes...so I bought 10 bags...they burn good....hot...not to bad on the fines. I noticed the other day at Lowes in Biddeford(not to far from me) they had a brand but cant remember the name....but noticed at the bottom of the bag was tagged Lignetics. So they are good?
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