We want to displace the myth that a hardwood pellet is better than a softwood pellet, or vice-versa. Stating quality comparisons in terms of hardwood vs. softwood is too general, as quality is more relative to specific species. Furthermore, quality is also relative to the cleanliness of the wood fiber being used and the quality of the manufacturer’s process, no matter what the quality of species.
Points to address:
- Many people base their thoughts on their experience with cordwood. In cordwood form, most hardwoods are denser than softwoods; therefore, a person may believe that hardwood pellets are denser and will burn longer than softwood pellets. However, it should be realized that in the process of manufacturing pellets, extreme heat and pressure completely change the structure of the wood fiber and a density of approximately 40 pounds per cubic foot is achieved, using either hardwoods or softwoods. Therefore, if the relative densities of hardwood and softwood pellets are comparable, they will experience equal burn time.
- Density is weight per volume. If density is comparable between hardwood and softwood pellets, weight will be comparable as well; eg: a pound of cheese weighs as much as a pound of crackers; a pound of hardwood pellets weighs the same as a pound of softwood pellets. Some hardwoods contain more heat (BTU) value per pound than some softwoods; likewise, some softwoods contain more heat value per pound than some hardwoods. So, it truly is species specific.
- Again relative to weight, some hardwoods have a higher ash content per pound than some softwoods, and vice-versa. So, it truly is species specific.
- Quality of the manufacturing process is highly relative to the quality of the fuel, whether hardwood or softwood. If density isn’t achieved; if moisture isn’t removed; if fines aren’t removed, then the fuel quality will suffer…..it doesn’t matter if it’s hardwood or softwood. Many a time, some of the highest quality raw materials have been manufactured into the lowest quality pellet (if you could even call it a pellet!).
- Contamination in the form of rock/dirt/sand/grit/silica will greatly affect the quality no matter what the species, whether hard or softwood.
We believe there is wide-spread misconception in regards to this subject and feel consumers are often misled. Hopefully, the content of this page will help to shed some light and help consumers of pellets make more informed decisions when sourcing pellets.