Cozy and charming, wood stoves are a vital source of heat in many homes around the country. As their name suggests, wood-burning stoves do burn wood. There are differences, though, between wood pellets and traditional wood logs. If you have a pellet basket for your wood stove, you can use it to burn pellets in the stove. However, just opening your stove and tossing a few wood pellets into it can cause serious damage to the stove.

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How to Burn Pellet Fuel in a Wood Stove

Why Pellets Are Different

Wood pellets burn at a higher temperature than wood logs, and the heat they produce is more than the bottom of a wood stove can handle. Though some newer stoves can handle the heat, older stoves may warp or crack when improperly exposed to wood pellets. Wood pellets sometimes burn unevenly in a wood stove as well since the air circulation is different inside a wood stove than it is in a pellet stove. You can often overcome this problem by adjusting the vents on your wood stove.

Benefits of Burning Pellets in a Wood Stove

Although burning pellets in a wood stove can cause problems when done improperly, there are several compelling reasons to consider burning them. Wood pellets cost less than traditional firewood, and they're much lighter, making them easy to carry. Because they burn hotter, wood pellets can also produce more heat than logs. Pellets are cleaner than wood, and they produce less CO2 as they burn, making them more environmentally friendly.

How to Use Pellets

It's vitally important to protect surfaces from heat when burning pellets in a fireplace or wood stove. One way to do so is to build a wood fire in the stove first and allow it to create a bed of coals on the bottom of the stove. You can then add pellets to the stove, where they will rest on the coals and ash rather than on the surface of the stove itself. This method is far from foolproof, however, making a pellet basket a much better option.

A pellet basket is a metal insert that you place in your stove or fireplace to hold the pellets away from the stove or fireplace surface. To get one that fits, clean out your stove and then measure its inner dimensions. Purchase an insert that will fit without touching the walls of your stove and that is able to hold at least five to 10 pounds of pellets. Some trays hold up to 30 pounds. You can also make a wood pellet basket for your fireplace if you want something a bit more decorative. Fit your basket into your stove and adjust the stove vents for maximum flow. Make sure your flue is open and then ignite your pellets and enjoy the warmth. Add pellets as needed to keep your stove burning. Your pellets will burn for two to 12 hours depending on the capacity of your pellet tray.