When it comes to the best wood pellets for heating your house, the Pacific Northwest has us New Englander’s beat! Douglas Fir wood pellets (softwood pellets) are sourced from the opposite side of our country. British Columbia and Washington state are 2 of the areas these trees grow, and when taken down, the best wood pellets are then produced. This is also the reason for us New Englander’s having to pay WAY more for these wood pellets. Freight alone makes up about 1/2 of the cost and in fact, your local dealers really don’t make a lot of money on pellets. Even these pellets that are shipped clear across the entire country, your local dealer is lucky to make $40-$50 / ton on these or any pellet they sell. I got my Doug Fir pellets from woodpellets.com and you can read about them here or on their website here.
One factor in a great Douglas Fir wood pellet that is not mentioned often is the age of the trees that were sourced when making your pellets. The old-growth Doug Fir trees are massive! These trees are like giant redwoods and I have seen some up close. Some with a girth the size of my living room! These older trees have fewer minerals in them compared to younger trees. Ever hear of “clinkers”? Yup,, you got it. The old growth Doug Fir trees (and this goes for all sourced trees for pellets) have fewer minerals which also produce much less ash which have the result of less ash, less cleaning your stove, and fewer clinkers mucking up your burn pot, and this all pans out to less maintenance. When I say less ash, I really mean it. I burned a brand of Doug Fir pellets a few years back called Pacific Pellets (I think) and after 6 bags of these bad boys, there was only about a 1/4 cup of the finest “talcum power” like ash at the bottom of my stove. I burned a whole 2 tons of these pellets before I even thought of emptying my ash bin. Are all Douglas Fir pellets this low on ash? No. I have burned some that my stove needed emptying after 1 ton. But again, that beats a cleaning after 25 bags or so.
Doug fir pellets have a much higher BTU. This means that when you pair a quality pellet stove, such as a Harman which is able to adjust its feed rate based on room temperature, then 40lbs of Doug Fir wood pellets go a lot further and last longer than a bag of oak pellets. I know what you old-school New Englanders are thinking. “But Rob, those are softwood and I love my hardwood”. Maybe so when it comes to a cordwood-burning stove. We are old school over here and it takes a lot to talk a former cordwood burner into burning softwood pellets. But that is fine, burn what you want. The point of this little pellet post is to tell you that you don’t know what you are missing.
Here is a checklist and how one should rationalize spending $100-$150 more / ton on Douglas Fir wood pellets.
Happy burning everyone!