How to Build a Wood Pellet Sifter

Wood pellet stoves have become increasingly popular in the U.
S. since the late 1990s. In 2009, approximately 800,000 homes were using wood pellets for heat. Different brands and varieties of pellets can contain various amounts of dust and small broken pellets, which can affect the performance of your stove's auger, or pellet-feeding mechanism. This "scrap" pellet material also can add to the amount of ash that builds up in your stove, increasing how often you have to clean. Although many users never sift their pellets and have no problems, some people find that doing so helps their stoves run more efficiently.

Step 1

Make sure your buckets stack together securely but have a gap of at least 3 or 4 inches between the bottoms. This is where the dust and scrap pieces will settle. Both buckets also should have sturdy metal handles, because wood pellets are heavy. Paint buckets will work well.

Step 2

Turn one bucket over and, using your ruler and marker, draw horizontal lines 3/4 inch apart, then vertical lines 3/4 inch apart on the bottom of the bucket base. This will create an even grid.

Step 3

Drill holes in the base of the bucket at each grid intersection. Leave approximately a 3/4-inch area around the edge of the base with no holes to help the bucket keep its strength. Be sure to remove any plastic scraps left behind from drilling, because you don't want these mixing with your pellets and getting into your stove.

Step 4

Stack your buckets again with the drilled bucket inside the other. Now you have a sifter where the dust and scrap pieces will get trapped in the lower bucket and not create a mess.

Step 5

Sift your pellets by scooping them from the bag into the top bucket, then shake and agitate the bucket gently to separate the dust from usable pellets. Sift only a few pounds at a time to keep from overloading the buckets.

Step 6

After 30 to 60 seconds of shaking, the top bucket of pellets should be ready to go in your stove. Gently pull apart the buckets to prevent any trapped dust from spreading. You can use a shop vacuum to clean out the bottom bucket, or dump the scrap material in your garbage or compost heap.

Things You Will Need

  • 2 heavy-duty plastic buckets, 5 gallons
  • Electric drill with 1/4-inch bit for drilling plastic
  • Permanent marker
  • Ruler or tape measure

Tip

  • Many people who sift their pellets do so only to the last few pounds in each bag, because that is where the dust and scrap material tends to settle.

About the Author

Jennifer Philion has been a professional writer and editor for more than 13 years, with experience in print and online journalism as well as marketing and public relations. She has written for "The Sporting News," the "Boulder Daily Camera" and the "Ogden Standard-Examiner" as well as magazines and online sites. She holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Colorado-Boulder.