Are all pellets created equal?

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by firemanjim, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. firemanjim

    firemanjim Fire Starter

    Do all pellets put off the same amount of ash are do some burn better than others? I got a free bag of the Lumbermans pellets with my Smoke Daddy hopper assembly so I gave them a try. After a 7 hour cook the burn pot was half full of ash. Is this the norm for all pellets?
     
  2. Some burn better than others.

    Happy smoken.

    David
     
  3. firemanjim

    firemanjim Fire Starter

    So anyone want to enlighten me on which ones burn the cleanest or you guys gonna make me figure it out on my own?
     
  4. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Jim, I've used BBQ'ers Delight & GMG at first.... Then I found Camp Chef & I've been using them ever since. I've personally found that the Camp Chef burns just as efficient as the more expensive brands, but at $5 less a bag ! Been using the Camp Chef for little over a year...
     
  5. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi Jim...my experience has been that those Lumberjack pellets are great product.  They do produce a bit more ash than some other pellet brands, but I believe they burn more efficiently and produce a good smoke taste.  

    My understanding of pellet manufacturing is certainly not expert level...you might PM Todd (TJohnson)...he knows more about pellet manufacturing than anyone on the forums that I know of, and he can provide you with more insight than I can.  However, it's my understanding that there are about 3 general levels of quality where cooking pellets are concerned:
    1. Lowest quality would be pellets that use oil as the flavor agent.  These pellets are still all hardwood - a base of all oak or all alder, with flavored oils added to mimic the actual flavor wood.  This means that hickory or apple flavored pellets, for example, don't actually contain any hickory or apple wood, but instead are infused with hickory or apple flavored oil.
    2. The next higher quality would be blended pellets.  These pellets use oak or alder as a base wood with a percentage of actual flavor wood blended together.  Typically, the ratio of base wood to flavor wood is around 66/33.  So a blended hickory pellet, for example, would be about 2/3 oak wood and 1/3 hickory wood.  I should add that I've burned more blended pellets than any other, with good results.
    3. IMHO, the highest quality pellets would be 100% flavor wood pellets...example:  100% hickory pellets are just that...no other wood is present, but instead the pellet is manufactured from whole trees that are 100% of the flavor wood indicated.
    Just to muddy the waters a bit more, there are apparently some pellet makers that use scrap wood and sawdust from manufacturing in their pellets.  This could be an issue for a couple of reasons...the most concerning of which could be if the scraps or sawdust came from, say, a furniture plant.  Who's to say if the scrap is pure hardwood, or might have a certain amount of trash, glues, resins, etc. in it?

    Keep in mind that these are only my opinions and experiences...others may disagree.  Again, I'd suggest you ask Todd...he knows more about this than most.  I don't want to try to push one brand over any other, but a few that I've used with good results:

    CookinPellets 100% Hickory

    Lumberjack 100% Hickory

    BBQr's Delight Hickory and/or Apple (blended pellets)

    B & B Pellets - Hickory, Apple or Mesquite (blended pellets...actually rebranded BBQr Delight, sold by Academy Outdoors)

    Hope that helps some and doesn't just confuse.  Here's a link to another thread on the subject of pellets that might be good reading for you:

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/140632/affordable-cooking-pellets

    Red
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2015
  6. phrett

    phrett Smoke Blower

    The best pellets, absolutely, are Cookingpellets.com. Their 100% hickory are one pellet I can actually taste a difference with and the Perfect Mix is nearly as good. Low ash and high heat/weight ratio make you use fewer pellets each cook and make cleanouts farther apart.
     
  7. I use pellets from Q-Pellets you can find them on the web, I have a Traeger smoker/grill use Traeger pelleted at first didn't really care for them asked around and everyone said use Q-Pellets very little clean up and I feel the temp is more consistant . Give them a try and let me know what you think....good smoking....Dan
     
  8. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    I'll just throw my 2 cents in and say that Lumberjack pellets have worked very well for me.  I've got OHC, MHC, and 100% Hickory (bought a ton a little over a month ago).  Been burning OHC mainly so far.  Bulk pricing is very good.  Pricey otherwise.
     
  9. I have been running Bear Mountain and Green Mountain.  I have had very little ash with both and the perfect amount of smoke for my family.  

    I have tried Traeger, but was unimpressed by them.  There are a few shops around me that swear by the Traeger pellets but when I go in there they tend to have lots of stock deeply discounted.
     
  10. okie52

    okie52 Fire Starter

    I switched from Traeger to BBQ delight pellets and found a much better smoke flavor in BBQ delilght.  BBQ delight is about 67% oak and 33% Hickory on the flavor wood.  Traeger's (west of the Mississippi) is 70% alder and 30% hickory (if that is the flavorwood you choose).  Then I started using B & B which, as Seen Red stated, was BBQ delight rebranded and sold at Academy.  It goes for about $12 for a 20lb bag.

    Two days ago I stepped into a BBQ supply shop in OKC to buy an Amazn Tube and I was greeted with a wonderful hickory aroma.  I was told it was smokin brothers 100% hickory that was going for about $22 a bag.  I still haven't gotten that aroma out of my mind so I'm sure I will be buying some soon.  
     
  11. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hey Okie....what's the name and location of that BBQ shop? I'm in OKC from time to time, and I'm always looking for local pellet and supply dealers.

    Red
     
  12. okie52

    okie52 Fire Starter

    Seen Red-Everything BBQ. They're at May and memorial across from Barnes and noble.

    Just bought a bag of 100% hickory yesterday and I'm anxious to give it a try.
     
  13. I've been using pellets from Q-Pellets and love them you get even heat with them and they come in 30lb bags they are a much better product than Traeger pellets , look them up on the web Q-Pellets.com
     
  14. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Ok I know where they are I've been in there one time...they carry a full line of Yoders...first time I got the chance to see a YS640 up close and in person.

    Red
     
  15. cueinco

    cueinco Smoke Blower

    Another happy Cookingpellets.com customer here. I use the Perfect Mix and the 100% Hickory. My only complaint is that the shipping cost is almost the same as the cost of the pellets. 

    As to SeenRed's description above, some folks have said that the Traeger pellets use alder with added oil to flavor one way or the other. I asked a sales guy at Costco who was hustling Traeger grills and he claimed that they were all natural. Have no idea who's right but I've chosen not use the Traeger ones even though I have two 20 pound bags sitting in my basement. It would be nice to get a definitive answer on how they're made. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
  16. okie52

    okie52 Fire Starter

    Traegers pellets do use a 70% alder 30% flavor wood blend west of the Mississippi which is why the pellets smoke/flavor is not very strong.
     
  17. okie52

    okie52 Fire Starter

    The yoders are nice.

    They've got some nice products at everything bbq...not the cheapest prices but a nice product/display area.
     
  18. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    IMHO:

    I think BBQ Pellets are the closest guarded secret in the BBQ Industry

    Are they Alder base or Oak Base?

    Are they Hardwood or 100% Natural Wood?

    Are Alder Pellets that are marked "100% Hardwood" really "Hardwood"

    If Apple is added, are they still "Hardwood Pellets"

    How about the words "All Natural"?????

    Does this infer that some wood is not natural?

    It's a play on words......

    It truly amazes me that the industry can't be more transparent and list what's actually in the bag

    Some producers use whole trees and others use waste wood from sawmills, cabinet, trim & furniture factories and even a hammer handle factory.

    Do these make bad pellets?

    The simple answer is "Not Necessarily"

    How pellets are produced and what type of equipment is just as important as the type of wood fiber used

    A poorly compacted pellet will fall apart in the auger, and produce lower BTU's in the firepot

    A pellet high in bark will produce more ash

    What is "Food Grade Pellet"?

    There's a huge debate on whether a pellet is "Food Grade"

    The fact that the U.S. Government has NEVER regulated the industry and NEVER established a definition for "Food Grade Pellet", leads me to believe there really is not a "Food Grade Pellet".  Pellets can be processed on machinery that uses "Food Grade Oil" to lubricate the dies, but does this give them the designation of "Food Grade Pellet"?  I would think the USDA or FDA would have to inspect the equipment for food safety, but I may be wrong.

    IMHO: This is a marketing term used to infer the product is safe, but by whom?

    Is there oil in Pellets?

    Most pellets are produced with some sort of oil to lubricate the dies during the process.  A producer could use a "Food Grade Oil" such as corn oil or vegetable oil to lubricate the dies during the pellet making process.  Is the waste oil from McDonalds "Food Grade Oil"?.....Sure Is!

    Are Traeger Pellets really made with flavored oils?

    Traeger holds patents for adding flavored oils to sawdust, in-order to create a flavored pellet.  I cannot tell you if flavored oils are actually used in Traeger pellets, but I could see "Onion Oil" or "Garlic Oil" being used to create some of their flavored pellets.  Oil if far more expensive than the cost of waste wood that is used in most wood pellets

    Conclusion:

    I source, sell and use pellets from a number of different pellet producers all over the U.S.

    Some produce more ash

    Some produce higher BTU's

    Some are are more expensive than others

    Some have a higher moisture content

    Some are hardwood

    Some are fruitwood

    Find a pellet that works for you and stick with it

    Get better at cooking with the pellets you own

    Constantly changing pellets increases the variables during cooking

    Clean out your firepot every other smoke

    Finally....

    I invented the Tube Smoker so a customer could use good quality flavored pellets in the Tube for producing smoke, and less expensive pellets in the hopper for BTU's.

    Example:

    Smoking Pork Butt - Use 100% hickory in the Tube Smoker and a cheaper blended pellet in the hopper

    Smoking Chicken - Use 100% Cherry in the Tube Smoker and a cheaper blended pellet in the hopper
     
    waterinholebrew and jbinsk like this.
  19. okie52

    okie52 Fire Starter

    I'm glad you posted about why you created your tube smoker Because that is exactly how I'm using it.

    I had been using bbq delight $20 per 20lb bag) and then found the rebranded version at academy as B & B pellets which sell for about $12 per 20 lb bag. I was happy with the pellet and the price.

    But then I found your tube smoker and wanted to use100% hickory from smokin brothers because it had such an outstanding aroma...but it is also $23 for a 20lb bag.

    So it's a no brainer to me to use b&B as fuel pellets and smokin brothers in the tube.

    I'd also like to compliment you on how well your 18" tube smoker has worked for me. I already had a big kahuna smoke generator on my traeger and it put out plenty of intense smoke but it also needed tending every 30minutes to an hour. And then there was the cleaning. I'm still happy to have the big kahuna attached to my smoker but for my go to smoke generator it's the Amazn tube. It puts out plenty of smoke, uses pellets, and has virtually no cleanup. I'm very happy with it.
     
  20. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ding....Ding.....Ding!!!!

    We Have a Winner!

    You totally "Get It!"

    When your pellet grill gets to temp, it's just not producing much smoke.  The pellets are burning more efficiently, in-order to produce higher BTU's, so they produce less smoke.  Let the pellets in the hopper produce heat, and the Tube produce smoke.  Best of both worlds!

    An Oak Based pellet like BBQrs Delight actually produce pretty darn good smoke in the Tube Smoker.  It may not be as strong as Hickory, but oak still has a good flavor.
     

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