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How to make wood pellets from sawdust

You can save money on heating by burning wood pellets in a pellet stove or pellet insert. Pellet stoves are a modern version of the old-fashioned wood-burning stove. However, these stoves are more energy efficient and easier to install and run than the wood-burning models. A pellet insert is a metal basket that can be used for burning pellets in a wood stove or fireplace. Wood pellets are made from compressed biomass materials such as crop waste, cardboard, recycled paper, leaves, lawn clippings or sawdust. By using these renewable resources as raw material, pellets are an excellent "green" solution for home heating.

Start the pellet mill in which you will make your pellets and wait a few minutes for the metal die inside to heat up. The heat will turn the small amount of moisture in the sawdust to steam. The steam in turn melts the lignin in the wood fibres and it becomes the bonding agent for the pellets.

Place a large box under the chute of the pellet mill to catch the pellets as they are formed. Feed the sawdust by handfuls or small shovelfuls into the hopper of the pellet mill. In a few seconds, pellets will begin to fall out of the chute into the box.

Allow the pellets to cool in the box before you handle them. When they are cool they are ready for you to burn in a pellet stove or a pellet insert. Store any unused pellets in bags in a dry place.

Tip

The pellets should come out of the mill hard and shiny. If they are mushy there is too much moisture in the sawdust. Allow it to dry out and try again. If the pellets are crumbly there is not enough moisture in the sawdust. Add water with a spray bottle to a small amount of sawdust and mix well before feeding it into the mill. It should take only one or two tries for you to get a sense of the correct amount of moisture required. You can ask local timber merchants for sawdust but make sure the sawdust is clean and is not from chemically treated wood.

Warning

Use a mask and safety glasses during the pellet-making process.

Things You'll Need

  • Sawdust
  • Pellet mill
  • Large boxes
  • Small shovel
  • Bag
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About the Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.