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Need to find pellet sifter: Need to sift dust from a few tons of pellets

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by bit_flores, Jan 21, 2008.

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  1. bit_flores

    bit_flores Member

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    Hey all,

    I now have a few tons of pellets with lots of dust & fines (like it or not, I have tons of this stuff!). I had so many issues with these pellets that they jammed my auger so many times that they trashed my auger motor assembly and damaged the auger. Now that I have my stove working again, I am manually sifting the pellets one bag at a time.

    I am looking for something that I can buy that will allow me to sift my pellets for fines & dust more easily. Maybe a screening table with a vibrating motor to shake the pellets down a wire bottomed chute? The fines and dust would go thru the wire mesh and empty into a bucket, and the remaining sorted pellets would go into another bucket.

    Any leads or thoughts anyone?

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  2. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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  3. bit_flores

    bit_flores Member

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    Yeah, I saw that vacuum duster. I really don't think that's what I am looking for. I am thinking a sifter such as the mechanical sifter table, like I 1st described.
  4. pete324rocket

    pete324rocket Feeling the Heat

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    At the most I get maybe half a cup of unusable stuff from a bag.Sounds like you are getting more than that.Even so,I made a simple screen to separate the good vs the bad. Not very sophisticated-just a wooden frame-rectangular shaped but could be square and tacked on to the bottom of the frame is metal screen-the hardware store called it utility cloth or something but it is metal screen and I'm guessing the holes are 1/4" square.It would be better if it was a bit finer as some of the pellet bits also come thru besides the sawdust. Anyways,I usually shake the plastic bag the pellets come in to let as much dust settle as possible-then pour 3/4 of it in the hopper and sift the rest. You can let the fines fall into another container or on the floor if you have a vacuum handy. Long and the short of it,if you had a box,took out the bottom and replaced it with a screen,you'd have a sifter. But if you have a lot of debris,maybe a mechanical deal is what you need.
  5. petejung

    petejung New Member

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    I just do it a bag at a time - not too bad really. Where are you going to store the mass of sifted pellets? My thought on it is that the more times you move the pellets, the more fines you're going to create. That's one of the reasons I sift a bag at a time...

    I use a 2-3 gallon bucket and a good sized kitchen strainer I bought at Walmart for a dollar or two. Seems to work OK.
  6. bit_flores

    bit_flores Member

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    I plan on doing 5-6 five-gallon buckets at a time.

    and YES, I have major problems with these pellets as they have already trashed my stove with all the dust. (see other posts) Worst problem I ever had in 15 years!

    A simple strainer from sprawl-mart will not do! I still have 3 1/2 tons of this stuff.
  7. pegdot

    pegdot New Member

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    You might try searching on line for a shaker table but they are fairly pricey and the dust they generate is bad. Bad enough that you'll want to wear a particle mask when you are running it and not have anything near by that you value. My fear with an industrial table is that it will shake so hard that it will actually break up some pellets.

    I've got 2 tons of some pretty dusty pellets to deal with as well so I've been looking for an easier way to clean them. It would be nice to be able to do a few days worth at once and get it over with. I tried using 1/4" hardware cloth to make a ramp. Simply dumping the pellets in at the top and letting them roll down into a bucket at the bottom with the fines falling thru the wire along the way. It didn't work too well because the pellets didn't want to roll. I ended up having to shake the thing to get them to flow down the chute. When they went it did a pretty good job but I had to increase the angle of the chute to get them to fall on their own and that meant either making the chute shorter or climbing up onto something to pour the pellets into the top. I tried both and neither worked well. Climbing up onto a milk crate with a forty pound bag of pellets was no fun and when I shortened the chute there wasn't enough length to get the dust out. Back to the drawing board. :roll:

    I think a chute would work with a different material. One that's smoother than hardware cloth. Don't have a clue what that would be but....I'm still working on it.

    The shop vac thing looks interesting but I'd really like to hear from someone who's used it for pellets.
  8. bit_flores

    bit_flores Member

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    I would like to hear some feedback from someone who has a vacuum unit.
  9. allenfrme

    allenfrme New Member

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    Assuming you're not going to make a habit of buying pellets like that, why go to all cost and effort. I sifted two tons last year and this total. Walmart and a big storage container. Some wire mesh, about 1/4 inch on a frame of two by fours. Hold the mesh frame over the plastic bucket, sift. Pour, shake, pour shake, a bag gets done is a couple of pour and shakes. Occassionaly I run into a punky bag, and it takes a couple minutes to sift it now.
  10. pete324rocket

    pete324rocket Feeling the Heat

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    hey pegdot,thats the direction I was heading when I was building my thing-and meant for it to be like a ramp-same idea but realized it was just too awkward and instead made it with a handle on each end and one end open so I could tip it up and into the hopper with one quick motion-after shaking it to a container below.Wouldn't want to do the whole bag that way so I try to get the worst of it at the end of a bag.The 1/4 inch hardware cloth is quite coarse and lets a lot of niblets thru-but the sawdust falls quickly.Takes getting used to but with practice,not all that messy.
  11. pegdot

    pegdot New Member

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    The 1/4" hardware cloth is a little too large. I got a lot of small pieces falling through that shouldn't so I offset a second layer of the cloth behind the top layer. That put a stop to the pieces falling through but it also made the pellets less likely to roll down the chute without help. In hindsight, I should have known that pellets don't roll downhill as well as you might expect after seeing the way they tend to stack up in the corners of my hopper! lol

    The pellets I have are so dusty that I'm having to sift each bag, the whole bag, or my auger starts to squeal so I've got to find an easier way.
  12. pete324rocket

    pete324rocket Feeling the Heat

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    yeah I tried doubling up as well and got really frustrasted! Way too rough.
  13. galen

    galen New Member

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    I would think that something along the lines of a tube. Like a 4 ft. piece of 6" PVC. With wide slots cut in it. Then use gorilla glue to attach the wire mesh over the slots. Angle it, so one end is lower than the other, so pellets will drop in a plastic bin. You could even rig up a belt and pulley to an electric motor. With pulley's, you could control the speed of rotation. This would take some effort to build but then after perfecting it, you could mass produce it, move to the Caribbean and never have to worry about fines again. I want a ticket also!
  14. bit_flores

    bit_flores Member

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    Ok I am going to make up a pellet sifter of some type this weekend. The dust cloud that I get every night with "hand sifting" is out of control. So even making up a sifting table has to be better than what I am doing now! I have to dust my pants, coat, hair and shoes off after every night sifting pellets by hand. I even have to blow the darn dust out of my nose. yuk.

    I found some heavy gage steel mesh screen at Home Depot. It's has about 7/32" openings. I will cut this and fit into a table type sifter. I will use 2x4's for the top and 4x4's for the legs. I please to use some plenum ducting to catch the dust & fines into a 5-gallon bucket and I will funnel the top to catch the pellets to another 5-gallon bucket. I think I will use hinges to angle the table top and shake the pellets into the buckets. The dust should fall below the table, where the plenum duct will funnel the dust into a 5-gallon bucket.

    at least that is the plan.... If anyone has some design ideas or real-life examples, PLEASE let me know!
  15. cntbill

    cntbill New Member

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    How about some kind of hopper and on the inside of it a piece of screening / wire mesh at an angel. So the pellets would go one way towards an opening that would have a slide valve (like one used in a wood shop) to let the pellets out to control the flow and another opening below the screening for the dust... doesn't need to be too large, maybe using or on the line of a 55 gal. barrel.

    And yep I'd like to see something I could make myself too...
  16. mitakuuluu

    mitakuuluu New Member

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    Why not sell them at a reasonable loss (with appropriate disclaimer - perhaps they will burn fine in a different model of stove) and then get a different brand?

    Even if you were to only get $125 a ton for them, you'd probably save enough wear and tear on your stove to make it worthwhile.
  17. pegdot

    pegdot New Member

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    If I could find any pellets to replace them with I would sell them but I had a heck of a time finding these. I've got 8 hours driving time in those 2 tons. None to be found now.

    I've got a couple of plastic 20 gallon drums. I'd thought about drilling a bunch of holes in the sides of one, pouring a bag of pellets in it, and rolling it around the backyard. Kind of like one of those concrete mixing drums. Wouldn't work if it was raining or if there was snow on the ground.

    I'm not sure I'm following you, Flores. What's going to move the pellets? Lifting the screen?
  18. bit_flores

    bit_flores Member

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    Yes, lifting and shaking the screen.

    I was at Home Depot last night and saw a concrete mixer. I was thinking about maybe trying to make something like that as well. But I think I would have dust flying around worse....
  19. Philip

    Philip New Member

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    My method is probably too labor intensive for getting the dust and fines out of a few tons of pellets, but it is working great for me. I found some wire mesh with 1/8" holes in it at my local hardware store and bought enough to fit down inside a plastic storage container that I had laying around (about 14"x20"). I pour most of the pellets into the stove hopper, but the last half gallon or so of pellets I dump into the plastic storage container along with the dust and fines. I then place the wire mesh over the pellets that are in the plastic container, turn on the shop vac and move the hose across the wire mesh vacuuming the pellets. It does an excellent job of removing the fines and dust from the pellets.
  20. MainePellethead

    MainePellethead Minister of Fire

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    Hey Phil.....now I like that idea....not to high tech and seems like a pretty simple idea, not to mechanical. I'm going to try that as well.
  21. hyip1206

    hyip1206 New Member

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    A friend of mine took an empty cat litter bucket, holds 28 lbs, and drilled many small holes in the bottom. I put the container in my ash bucket then pour the pellets into the homemade sifter, shake and all the fines end up in my ash container. Simple cheap and effective.
  22. pete324rocket

    pete324rocket Feeling the Heat

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    Cheap and effective is always good.Now that I've gotten into a routine,I just pour from the bag into a bucket-enough that I can lift easily-shake it around and pour in the hopper.By shaking,I can get the fines near the bottom of the bucket-so to say and as I pour,watch for them to show up and also feeding from the top with my hand as I go.When the fines get too thick,I pour this aside in another bucket to seperate later with a screen.I was screening all of it for awhile but it got too tiresome and messy.I keep an eye on the hopper to see if the fines are building up-then I vacuum.Wouldn't it be nice it you didn't have to do this at all-I wonder if there is anyone out there that are getting pellets with no fines(sawdust) at all.Hey,if they can out a man on the moon,this shouldn't be so out of reach.
  23. cntbill

    cntbill New Member

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    I was at Lowes the other day and found a wire mesh trash can, although it only holds about 3 gals. but the mesh is about 1/8" I put the trash can in another container to keep the mess down then dump the pellets in, shake it a bit then dump the pellets in five gallon paint bucket and dump that into a container by the stove... OK a bit of work but it is light and takes most if not all the fines out... I guess pellet manufactures don't have NASA's budget :)
  24. heb80

    heb80 New Member

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    Maybe a dumb question (i'm new to this), but how does a little sawdust hurt the stove?
  25. cntbill

    cntbill New Member

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    Well for my stove, the fines, dust, will build up in the auger and bind it, along with caking on the end of the auger creating more carbon deposits there.
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