1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

Heating Pellets in a Pellet Smoker

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by ross77, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. ross77

    ross77 Smoking Fanatic

    I saw a thread at Pelletfan about using pellets for wood stoves in a pellet smoker. So I decided to give it a shot.

    I found 40lb bags of Premium Hardwood Heating Pellets at a local Menards in the Twin Cities for $4. I picked up 2 bags and have used them twice with perfectly fine results. I would compare them to typical competition blends. According to their website it's likely oak/maple.

    I haven't used them on an extended low and slow cook yet but so far so good. The only downside is you don't know exactly what wood it is. But as long as it's hardwoods, you're good to go. At the very least I'll use these for high heat grilling. IMG_0329.jpg
  2. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't know man....5-10 % softwoods and their MSDS is NOT an MSDS it's titled Safety Data Sheet, excluding the Materials part.Though they say on their FAQ page there are no additives....my .02
  3. lwestby

    lwestby Newbie

    MSDS's are no more - they are called SDS's now with the new Globally Harmonized System that is in place - so that isn't really a head turner.

    I still would be skeptical about what it is them. For instance: Is there any softwoods? Is there any glues or other impurities (if they get them from scraps from a wood shop)? Does the manufacturer have any input (asked directly if they are safe for use in grills)?
    crazzycajun likes this.
  4. troutman

    troutman Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I'm running a Pellet Pro 18" in my cooker and their manual specifically says "not" to use the heating system type pellets. Given I need to keep my warranty in tact I choose to avoid them. I believe Traeger started this who way of cooking based on their original pellet heater designs. Be interesting to hear what they have to say.....o_O
  5. ross77

    ross77 Smoking Fanatic

    Check out the thread at PelletFan if you're a member: https://pelletfan.com/index.php?topic=818.0

    I haven't been able to find any BBQ Pellet standards setting them apart from heating pellets. The only difference I can think of is the specific wood species you can get with BBQ pellets. But BBQ pellets are not 'food grade'.


    Can I use Indeck Energy Premium Wood Pellets in my wood pellet grill or smoker?

    Our premium wood pellets contain no additives, scraps, or non-wood elements. They are manufactured with a mixture of northern Wisconsin hardwood species including aspen, ash, basswood, birch, maple and oak. To the best of our knowledge, there are no standards for barbecue wood pellets.

    Premium Indeck Energy™ Wood Pellets contain:
    • NO inorganic additives
    • NO wood glues
    • NO wood derived from low-quality sources - like pallets or other scrap
    • Hardwood blend
  6. mowin

    mowin Master of the Pit

    I wouldn't use them. Just don't trust that there's no glue, stain, ECT in them. Also made up from so many different woods with very light smoke flavor. The answer to the question "can I use these in my pellet grill"? Well, they didn't answer it... They don't say you can, but they don't say you can't.
  7. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Exactly,and they state all hardwood and name the species and then state 5-10% softwood elsewhere on their site.
    • NO inorganic additives - what organic additives are in there??
    It's all shifty to me.
  8. ross77

    ross77 Smoking Fanatic

    Understandable. But their is no guarantee that BBQ pellets are any better. Adding BBQ or Cooking pellets to the name is marketing. The heating pellets are regulated and required to meet standards. The only benefit to BBQ pellets IMO is the ability to select specific woods but even some of those are blended with maple or oak filler. As long as the heating pellets are premium hardwood I’ve got no problem with it. I’d be willing to bet they are very similar to typical competition BBQ pellet blends.
  9. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Cook'em up Dude.
  10. troutman

    troutman Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Yea if you're happy with them use them. After all they are a source of heat, if they claim no funny stuff than they are probably alright. Best check your equipment and make sure they are not screwing things up in there. I gotta admit; however, $4 a bag is almost 10x less than what I pay for Lumber Jack !!! Are we getting ripped off ? This was one of the main reasons I didn't become a pellethead until recently :(
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've seen pellets for stove heating being made... Huge dump trucks hauling in sawdust from wood mills... Driving through mud.. Dumping the dust in a parking lot that is dirt and gravel.. They leak hydraulic and engine oil in that parking lot... The filthy front end loader scooping up filth with the dust and dumping it in an open hopper to feed the press... The press is greased with non food grade grease which drips, contaminating the pellets... Leaky hydraulics.. Who knows what happened to the sawdust at the wood mill... Collects under the saw, on the floor where there are untold contaminants infecting the dust... Mill workers spitting their "chew" on the floor... Maybe antifreeze dripped and is contaminating the dust..

    It's not just the type of wood that goes into the "food grade" pellets... It's what does NOT go into the food grade pellets that makes them food grade...

    Anywho... Just something to think about while saving a few bucks....

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
    sandyut, NU2SMOKE and gmc2003 like this.
  12. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I have a pellet stove in my house for supplemental heat, and use hardwood pellets. According to the information listed on the bag and from my distributor there isn't any type of glue used in the manufacturing process. The wood itself has a natural binding agent that does the job. For cold smoking I've only used Todd's pellets and can tell you that his are all uniform in size and color. The home heating pellets not so much. Many of the home heating pellets are very long(which could cause auger jams) up to two inches, and the pellet color is inconsistent. So you don't really know what is mixed in. If I had a pellet smoker I would stick to pellets made for pellet smokers.

    NU2SMOKE and daveomak like this.
  13. ross77

    ross77 Smoking Fanatic

    How do we know they aren’t driving through mud and leaking fluids while producing BBQ pellets? After all, there are no additional standards for food/bbq pellets. The FDA isn’t checking in on how these are made.

    It comes down to trusting the company I guess. I assume some are better than others.

    Did you know that Lumberjack also makes heating pellets? Are they using a different process? Possibly.

    IMHO they are slapping BBQ on the label and charging more for essentially the same product.
  14. ross77

    ross77 Smoking Fanatic

    The particular heating pellets I bought are all uniform in size and color. They smelled good during cooking. In fact it seemed like there was less dust than the Lumberjack pellets I usually buy.

    At any rate, it’s interesting. Besides knowing what species you’re getting in some cases, I wonder if they are much different?
  15. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I don't know about Pellet Poopers because I don't have one, but I would never use Heating Pellets in my AMNPS.

    I was buying 2 Tons at a time for my House Pellet Stove for $225 per ton.
    That's $4.50 per 40 pound bag, but I would not use them in my AMNPS.

    NU2SMOKE likes this.
  16. ross77

    ross77 Smoking Fanatic

    There is no standard for food grade pellets. So if the bag says "BBQ" or "Cooking" it doesn't really guarantee anything.
    Short of visiting or calling each plant, you'll have to take them at their word on what does or does not go into the pellet.
    Indeck is pretty forthcoming about how they make their pellets and they are a member of the Pellet Fuels Institute.

    "Not for human consumption" means you shouldn't eat the actual pellet. Also stated on this bag of Lumberjack BBQ pellets.

    Do whatever works for you. Just have an open mind and consider what 'food grade' really means. It's curious that a heating pellet company, Great Lakes Renewable Energy, Inc also makes Lumberjack 'BBQ' pellets. Are they actually doing something different with the 'food' vs heating pellets besides specifying the wood species? Not trying to anger anyone but I've been enlightened to the availability of 40lb bags of hardwood pellets for $4 and wanted to share. The thread at PelletFan was pretty convincing.
  17. hondabbq

    hondabbq Meat Mopper

    If you really think about it, if adding all the lovely "extras" some posters have mentioned that may or may not be in the pellets used for heating, ( oils, cardboard, rubber, stains, varnishes) wouldn't you be breathing those "extras in when the fans are blowing air into your houses?

    My point being, that if there is a standard for home heating pellets, aside from the soft wood varieties, is there really any difference?
  18. ross77

    ross77 Smoking Fanatic

    Correct, the heating pellets are regulated and they are supposed to meet standards depending on the grade of pellet. The main difference I think is with BBQ pellets you can get specific wood species.

    As far as the unwanted extras, the fact they claim it’s a “food grade” pellet doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything.

    It comes down to the company. As with any industry, some are better than others.

    People hear heating pellet and they just assume it’s full of junk. When in reality there are standards and the reputable companies include the analysis of their product on the bag and/or website.

    Clearly they are charging more for a very similar product. The process to produce a heating pellet is more or less the same as a BBQ pellet. There are not any higher standards to meet nor any regulating body overseeing the production of BBQ pellets.

    Based on what I’ve found I’m certainly not going to pay a lot more for a bag of competition blend. I’m still willing to spend more to get a 100% hickory pellet even though I can’t really know for sure it’s 100% hickory. ;)
  19. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    When we burn pellets in a home heating Pellet Stove, the Smoke goes up & out the chimney, and if it's a good stove it only smokes for about 15 seconds when starting.
    So we aren't breathing any of the foul smoke from $225 per ton heating pellets.

    I'll continue to get my Pellets & Dust from Todd, at "Amazing Smokers".

    But like others, all I do is put the warning out there, and let the individual Smoker do what he thinks is right & safe.

    NU2SMOKE likes this.
  20. tjohnson

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

    The debate over "Food Grade Pellets" comes up over and over. There currently is no regulation to qualify bbq pellets as "Food Grade". Pellet producers use "Food Grade Grease" in there machines. What's in the pellets does not designate whether the pellet is "Food Grade" or not. It's up to the plant to produce pellets that will be safe for use around food.

    Yes, some plants do use the same machines for both heating pellets and bbq pellets. Depending on the operation, the plant can choose the exact species of wood fiber for the pellet, or choose a blended pile that may contain some unknown species of wood. For example, some pellet producers use sawdust from a sawmill for the fiber in their pellets. It would be up to the sawmill to separate oak, maple, cherry, pine and other species of woods. Since sawdust is not the primary profit center for the sawmill, they may or may not have the ability to separate into different species. Some sawmills have conveyors and silos, similar to a feed mill, and can collect & separate the different wood species. There's a cost associated to this.

    We buy semi loads of bbq pellets from various reputable pellet producers. Yes, I can purchase heating pellets for less $$$, but just can't take a chance on not knowing exactly what's in the bag.
    daveomak likes this.