Wood Pellet Alternatives
Pellet stoves offer the ambiance of wood heat without the work of splitting firewood. More convenient to operate and more efficient than wood stoves, pellet stoves burn fuel that is either mechanically shaped into pellets, or is about the size of pellets. Wood pellets, the most common fuel for pellet stoves, are sold by the sack or by the ton, often by pellet stove dealers. But depending on the area of the country, other fuels may be cheaper and more readily available.
Wheat pellets are made from the waste byproduct of processing grain. Wheat pellets burn at about 7800 BTU per pound and produce about 6% ash, compared to 8000 BTUs and less than 1% ash for wood pellets.
Dried, shelled corn produces about 8000 - 8500 BTU per pound. Corn is plentiful and relatively inexpensive, but corn produces more ash than other types of pellets, so the ash drawer must be cleaned more often. There are special stoves designed to burn corn, as well as stoves designed for a mixture of corn and wood pellets.
Cherry pits produce about 9500 BTU per pound and produce about the same amount of ash as corn. Like wheat pellets, cherry pits are a waste product. In areas of the country where cherries are grown commercially, cherry pits can be an economical fuel choice.
Dried soybeans produce approximately 10,000 BTU per pound and produce ash comparable to corn. The same pellets used for animal feed can be burned in a pellet stove.
Sugar Beet Pulp Pellets
The byproduct of sugar production can be formed into pellets that are used as animal feed or fuel. Sugar Beet Pulp Pellets produce about 7000 BTU per pound and produce more ash than other biomass pellets.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.
- Photo by John Hritz http://www.flickr.com/photos/jhritz/5762855/