You can save a great deal of money using a pellet stove, or a pellet basket fireplace insert, to heat your home. Additionally, you can make your own pellet fuel for the stove, using wood chips and other recycled biomass. While this method requires an initial investment of equipment, making your own pellets from wood chips reduces waste and helps green the planet.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Wood chips
- Hammer mill
- Pellet mill
Collect wood chips from landscaping companies or approach lumber yards to see if they will give or sell some to you. It doesn't matter if the wood chips are made from bark or other parts of the tree.
Start your hammer mill and place a bucket at the exit chute. Slowly feed all the wood chips into the mill's hopper. The hammer mill chops the wood chips into sawdust. Replace the bucket if it fills up.
Turn on your pellet mill and put an empty bucket below the exit chute. Let the pellet mill heat up for a few minutes so the metal die inside becomes hot enough to turn any moisture in the sawdust into steam.
Pour the sawdust slowly into the hopper of the pellet mill. In a few seconds it will begin to compress the sawdust into pellets. Continue feeding all the sawdust into the pellet mill. Replace the bucket at the exit chute if it becomes full.
Let the pellets cool before they're ready to use as fuel in your pellet stove or pellet basket fireplace insert. Store pellets you won't use for some time in sealed bags in a dry place.
Tips and warnings
- In addition to wood chips you can shred recycled junk mail and newspapers in the hammer mill, then turn them into pellets using the same process.
- Pellets should be hard and shiny. If the first pellets are mushy, they have too much moisture. Let the sawdust dry out before continuing. If they're crumbly, mix water into the sawdust and try again. It will take only a few tries to get a sense of how much moisture the sawdust needs.
- Use hammer mills and pellet mills in a well-ventilated area or outside.
- Wear safety glasses, gloves and protective ear phones when operating the mills.
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