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Pellet Primer: The Difference Between Burning with Pellets and Cordwood


Welcome to Part 2 in our series on pellet stoves. Click here to read Part 1, which features the Heritage Pellet Stove from Hearthstone.

Let’s talk pellets!

Breckwell Pellet …After all, they’re the essential ingredient in pellet stoves.

Think of a pellet as a condensed version of wood. Pellets are made out of sawdust, bark, and chips from milling operations. In their raw form, these materials are inconsistent in size and moisture content. But the “pelletizing” process – which dries the sawdust and compresses it into a pellet – ensures a consistent, reliable product.

Green heat

Because pellets are made from recycled wood products, you can feel good about doing your part to heat your home using a biomass (renewable) energy source.

If you’re wavering between purchasing a wood-burning stove or a pellet stove, you need to know that wood does not produce an even heat. Unlike pellets, which burn steadily, a handful at a time, wood-burning stoves have high highs and low lows.


Burning cordwood is labor intensive, as anyone who has ever split, chopped, and stacked wood knows. Wood is big. It’s bulky. It’s dirty. And it needs to be seasoned for close to a year before you can burn it.

Pellets, on the other hand, come in 40-pound plastic bags. You store them off the ground in a cool, dry place such as a shed or garage.

A ton of pellets will fit in a 5’ high x 5’ wide x 5’ long area. A cord of firewood measures 4’ high x 4’ wide x 8’ long.


Pellets are less messy than wood from start to finish. You periodically load them into the stove’s fuel hopper and the pellet stove does the rest of the work.

Ash produced by a pellet stove is much finer than ash from a wood-burning stove. To maintain your pellet stove, empty the ashes according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and check to make sure no debris clogs the air inlets.

Pellet Grades

Pellets come in different grades and some brands may result in greater creosote buildup and less efficient heating.

Be sure to ask a sales associate at Rich’s which pellets they recommend – you’ll want to buy pellets that light easily, leave a minimal amount of ash, and heat as efficiently as possible.

Stop by any of Rich’s five Puget Sound showrooms in Lynnwood, Bellevue, Southcenter, Tacoma, or Silverdale to browse our full line of pellet stoves and accessories.

Lopi Logo Be sure to check out our limited-time offer: purchase any Lopi gas stove, insert, or fireplace and get your choice of a free blower or a Tempest Table Top Torch – up to a $299 value! 

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