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Why are most pellets Hardwood? Isn't Softwood popular, too?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Val, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. Val

    Val Member

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    I was wondering why most pellets are hardwood? In my area, which is (western) New York, almost all pellets made and sold around here are hardwood. The only softwood ones that showed up around here briefly were LG Granules, a Canadian company. Those softwood pellets were really expensive per bag. It is strange because the pellets were made of pine wood, light in color and seemed super-
    compressed.I didnt buy enough bags to really form an opinion about them, because they were too pricey.

    Any clue why softwood pellets are loved more by some people, but hated by others?

    Why dont more pellet makers make them? I mean, even if they cost more to make isnt the wood cheaper? If they are stored for a long time...do they break down faster as they are softer wood?
    When ever you see the do-it-yourself pellet making machines, they seem geared for mostly softwood production.

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  2. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    They make a blue pill for the "softwood".

    Eric
  3. Val

    Val Member

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    yea, but dont need no little blue pills here.
    Defiant likes this.
  4. yooper81

    yooper81 Member

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    My experience with the 2 is this, hardwood seems to be a bit ashier for me with more heat output (depending on brand) while the softies I've tried burn MUCH cleaner but I would go through the softies much quicker than the hardwood without changing anything. in other words, the stove probably ran longer to maintain my stat setting....Comes down to personal preference i think... The softies I burn are a 100% red pine.
  5. USMC80

    USMC80 Minister of Fire

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    ;lol
    kinsmanstoves likes this.
  6. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Never burned softwoods, am a hardcore woodburner sorry about the pun, but I am relating this to woodburning where hardwoods rule, I am going to get me a ton of softies for next season.:cool:
  7. bdaoust

    bdaoust Member

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    When I bought my house in November, the owner left a few bags of CleanFire Pacific softwoods. I remember them burning VERY hot and little ash. I also don't find softies locally and my only option is woodpellets.com.

    Someone says softies burn faster, but if they put out more heat, than I wonder if that is really the case. On really cold days, I was burning two bags of hardwoods to heat a 1,200 foot home.
  8. mrjohneel

    mrjohneel Burning Hunk

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    I've been burning mainly Barefoots the last two seasons but I bought 1.2 tons of Spruce Points for next season (along with three tons of Barefoots) and look forward to trying out the softies.
  9. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    How'd you know they are little?
  10. Hoot23

    Hoot23 Minister of Fire

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    I don't believe that to be the case at all. Whether it be hard or softwood. The density of the pellet and determines how fast they burn. You get a good hardwood and a good softwood I, I think they might have the same burn times at least that's how it works for me.

    I like both.
  11. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Softwood pellets (Doug fir in particular) command a premium in the Midwest and back east because they have high heat and far less ash. They tend to sell for over $300 a ton in New England. Here in the west they are a lot cheaper and basically all that you can buy (around $200 a ton). Generally what I hear is that softwood is much preferred by most pellet owners that have burned them.

    That is in contrast to many wood burners like myself. I burn hard and softwood here in my wood stove. While some hardwoods have better heat and burn times, Doug fir is by far the most available and a lot cheaper, and it has good heat value for a 'softwood'. Doug fir has more heat than a lot of hardwoods here as well, like cherry, alder, and maple. If I could, I would only store and burn oak, madrone and black locust. As it is, I save the alder, cherry and maple for the smoker. They make good eats...
    briansol and DneprDave like this.
  12. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Moderator Staff Member

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    It may just be left-over perceptions from being wood burners. In wood stoves, hardwoods are the preferred heating source due to density of the wood (compared to softwood). When it comes to wood pellets density becomes roughly the same due to the pelleting process.

    Jtakeman usually posts results of pellets he's tested, here's a few:
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/12-13-pellet-testing.108795/
    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/2010-pellet-review-its-that-time-again.54880/

    Another site does pellet reviews (Jay contributes there too!)

    http://www.woodpelletreviews.com/

    Preferences depend on regional temps, house conditions, stove type, pricing. Some find the softwoods worth the extra price due to hotter burn temperatures... I do;lol but we have pretty cold temps.
    Phil D. likes this.
  13. Val

    Val Member

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    I saw the site before and it is useful for identifying the various brands that are out there. But the reviews seem not as helpful as everything seems a "3- star" . Usually you get a mix of 5 star likers and 1 star haters and the pellets end up at the 3.
  14. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    Most of the hottest, cleanest pellets on the market are softwood.
    its pretty much all I burn.
    tinkabranc likes this.
  15. john193

    john193 Minister of Fire

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    Plenty of hardwoods in this area that it isn't competitive for a softwood manufacturer. As you stated, the price kept you from buying, and the manufactures know that the north east is dominated by hardwoods to compete.
  16. bdaoust

    bdaoust Member

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    WoodPellets.com has some Cleanfire Pacifics or $269 a ton. Those are softies and have burned very HOT and low ash for me. Think I'm going to do 3 ton.
    Phil D. likes this.
  17. Phil Do's fire.

    Phil Do's fire. Minister of Fire

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    I burned hardwood for many years and after trying 5 bags of assorted softies decided to switch to softies next year. What I found was..... burn 30 - 40 degrees hotter, very low ash, glass window stays clean and ignites quicker;ex Well, that's my two cents opinion for today:p
    bdaoust and briansol like this.
  18. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Moderator Staff Member

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    I cleaned the stove today after burning Marth pellets (hardwood) for a couple of days. I switched back to the Heartlands (softwood) for approximately the last day. It gave me a good reminder that another reason I like softwoods is that the carbon build-up on the burnpot cleans easier with the softwoods. The hardwoods leave a thicker layer of carbon that requires more work to remove. The ash seems heavier which leaves me to wonder if it traps in the interior portions more easily.
    Phil D. likes this.
  19. boomhour

    boomhour Member

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    Using corran hard soft mix, very high heat output, just light soot build-up may run these next year. have to drive 45 miles 1 way for hardwood pellets
  20. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Moderator Staff Member

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    Nothing in Huntsville or are they just out for the season? Will take a bit of pre-planning then... We don't have spring specials here like they do on the US eastern seaboard.

    How's water levels now? Major damage?

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