A pellet stove is a modern method of home heating. It resembles a wood-burning stove but is more energy-efficient and is easier to install and use. A pellet stove burns wood pellets that you can buy at feed stores and hardware stores. However, with a pellet mill, you can make your own pellets from biomass such as lawn clippings. In this way you can recycle things that might normally end up in a landfill and save yourself money on heating bills in the process.
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Things you need
- Pellet mill
- Spray bottle
Rake up lawn clippings after you mow. Arrange them in a thin layer to dry in the sun before gathering them into a large pile. Dry them under a covering, such as a car port, if the weather is rainy.
Start the pellet mill and give it time to heat up. This step is important because it is the heat of the metal die inside the mill that creates steam out of the small amount of moisture in the grass. The steam helps the natural lignin found in grass to become the glue that holds the pellets together.
Place a pail at the chute of the mill. Begin feeding the grass into the hopper of the mill by handfuls. In a few seconds, the mill will compress the grass into pellets and eject them into the pail.
Adjust the moisture content of the grass if necessary. If the pellets are mushy and dull, there is too much moisture. Let the grass dry longer in this case. If the pellets are crumbly, the grass is too dry. Spray water onto the grass and mix well with your hands before feeding it into the mill. After a few tries you should get a sense of how much moisture is required.
Allow the pellets to cool in the pail before handling. They will be quite warm. After cooling they are ready for burning in your pellet stove.
Put the cooled pellets in a bag if you want to store them. Store the bag in a dry location so the pellets do not absorb too much moisture.
Tips and warnings
- Pellets with the correct amount of moisture will exit the pellet mill shiny and hard.
- You can make pellets in the pellet mill from any form of clean biomass, such as leaves, crop waste, junk mail or cardboard. The biomass must be shredded very finely before feeding it into the pellet mill. A hammer mill is often used for this.
- Use the pellet mill outside. It generates dust and exhaust.
- Always wear protective clothing and eyewear when using a pellet mill.
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