How are wood pellets made?

Wood pellets are ecological and profitable fuels produced from sawdust, tree bark or branches. Classified among the most economical heating solutions before, they have been sold at an outrageous price since 2022. Fortunately, it is quite possible to manufacture them yourself to reduce costs, if however you have the necessary equipment, i.e. a pellet press or a wood chipper, and whether you have the means to obtain the essential raw materials.

What do you need to make wood pellets?

Above all, you need pure wood, that is, one that does not contain plastic or other waste. It can be sawdust, bark, grass, bamboo, branches or even corn stalks. There is only one rule to follow: avoid resinous woods, as they increase the risk of fire and clog up your pellet stove fairly quickly. Also, you absolutely must invest in a pellet press or a plant grinder, ideally with hammers, to obtain very small pieces. Although expensive, these machines can really represent a profitable investment in the long term. Finally, it is strongly recommended to have a moisture meter.

What are the steps to follow to manufacture wood pellets?

Making wood pellets is relatively simple. Here are the steps to follow.

1. Grind the wood

To start, you must grind the wood using the pellet press or the hammer mill in order to obtain pieces of about 5 mm in diameter. These are pellets. It should be noted that you will sometimes have to run them twice, or even more, through the machine to arrive at the correct size.

2. Dry the wood

After grinding, you must then let the granules dry in order to bring their moisture content to less than 10%, which you will measure using the moisture meter. To do this, you have 2 options, depending on the quantity to be produced:

  • Air dry for at least 24 hours
  • Drying in an industrial dryer or in a drum heater

We also recall that sawdust generally does not need to go through drying. The pellets are ready to use after this step.

How to store wood pellets?

Once they have cooled, the wood pellets should be stored in airtight paper or plastic bags placed in a dry, cool place protected from direct sunlight. You absolutely must respect these conditions to benefit from an optimal performance of the heating solution.

In conclusion

Making and using wood pellets can be very economical if you follow the conditions and steps presented below. You will also make an eco-responsible gesture by recycling wood waste. For example, you need about 1.5 tons of sawdust to get 1 ton of pellets, with moisture loss being the main cause of the weight difference.