5 Best Wood Pellets for Heating

Written by: Paul Cathro

Updated on: May 22, 2023

Looking for the best pellets for pellet stoves? We recommend the most energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and the best value for money products available.

top rated wood stove pellets

Although pellet burning stoves offer a host of different advantages for homeowners, they are only as effective as the fuel that you feed them with.

You need to choose the best wood pellets to produce maximum heat efficiency with minimum ash and waste.

There are so many different types of pellets available that it can be difficult to determine which is the best brand of wood pellets to select for your own needs.

We have done all the hard work for you, researching the best-rated wood pellets available for sale today and which ones represent the best value for money so you can avoid making an expensive mistake.

You can depend on our wood pellet brand comparison to help you make an informed choice.

If you’re questioning whether hardwood pellets or softwood ones are the right choice to keep your home warm, or if you’re even asking what wood pellets are in the first place, our helpful buying guide will explain all.

You’ll be well placed to find the best pellets for a pellet stove

The Top Rated Pellets for Stoves

So, what are the best wood pellets for heating?

Check out the pellets that make the cut in our list of the best.

Okanagan Douglas Fir Pellets

If you’re looking for one of the best rated wood pellets on the market today, you won’t be disappointed by Okanagan Douglas Fir Pellets.

These high-quality pellets for a pellet stove have been highly praised by buyers for the last few years thanks to their impressive performance.

Okanagan wood pellets

Made entirely of sawdust from softwoods, these are rated among the most clean-burning options available for sale today.

When choosing a pellet burning stove, reducing your carbon footprint is often high on your agenda. That means that a clean-burning fuel is one of your top priorities.

When you choose the Okanagan Douglas Fir pellets, you’ll rest assured that you’ve picked an option that will keep you warm without damaging the environment.

wood pellets

Another benefit of being so clean-burning is that there is a lot less ash to clean up after finishing the bag.

The output of ash can be as low as just three tablespoons per bag, meaning that maintenance and cleaning your stove is an absolute breeze.

This is great news for anyone who loves the idea of a pellet burning stove but doesn’t relish the idea of having to scrub out their stove after every use.

Although the Okanagan Douglas Fir pellets are quite expensive, this cost is offset by their premium quality.

They will save you both energy and time in the long run since these pellets will burn effectively and evenly for a continuous source of heat in your room.

Vermont Wood Pellet Company

If you’re searching for softwood pellets, Vermont pellets could be the ones for you.

They have a cult following among pellet stove owners because of their very low ash production which saves them hours of time on maintenance and cleaning.

Vermont wood pellets

Not only are they very clean burning, but they also have one of the highest BTUs (heat output) of all pellet fuels and this means that you’re getting some serious bang for your buck.

Your rooms will never have been cozier or warmer than when using these pellets as your main source of heat.

The manufacturer has spent a considerable amount of time working on their engineering and manufacturing process, and as a result, they have developed a trademarked Heatright process.

This has enabled them to create wood pellets that have not only been created to burn more cleanly but also at a higher temperature for optimal value for money.

Wood-pellet heater

For those of you who are wondering what are the best wood pellets to help protect the environment, Vermont pellets also tick all the boxes since they are entirely made from softwood which has been sustainably harvested.

It also holds true that employees of the company burn these pellets in their own homes, actively endorsing the high quality of their product.

If you buy Vermont pellets, you’ll be benefiting from some seriously impressive heat and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re doing your bit for the environment.

Check out the Vermont Pellets website.

Recommended Reading: Make sure your stove is working as efficiently as possible by using a wood stove fan.

Kirtland Premium Pellets

As you can guess from the name, these wood pellets are premium quality, and so you can expect some pretty impressive performance when you make this choice.

Kirtland wood pellets

Made in Michigan in the USA, you can depend on the quality of these pellet stove pellets. They are made from a blend of soft and hardwoods and since there is virtually no bark at all in the mix, you can rely on the ash content being extremely low.

This is great news for anyone looking for a very clean-burning fuel and even better news for anyone who really wants to reduce the amount of cleaning and maintenance that goes into caring for their pellet burning stove.

wood pellets for stoves

One stand-out feature of these pellets is that they are put through two separate rigorous screening processes, so you can be confident that when you open the bag and pour the pellets into your stove’s hopper, none of the pellets will be broken or damaged.

These pellets are very easy to buy online and discounts are often available giving you even better value for money from your purchase.

Visit the Kirtland website.

Bear Mountain Pellets

Bear Mountain pellets are also made from Douglas Fir, and as you might expect from pellet stove pellets that are made from this high-quality recycled wood, you can expect a much more intense source of heat as well as a longer burn time.

This ensures that you’re getting great value for money when you buy this superior product.

Bear mountain pellets

When you open the bag of Bear Mountain pellets you won’t find a lot of debris or sawdust. This means that you’ll be able to burn everything in the bag.

In fact, the Bear Mountain brand is known to rank very highly in terms of the consistency of the quality of its products, and even the most demanding homeowner is likely to be satisfied by their purchase when they opt for this premium brand.

The Bear Mountain website can be found here.

Cleanfire Pellets

If you’re looking for the ultimate in convenience, Cleanfire pellets are among the simplest pellets to order over the internet.

They also come in at a very affordable price bringing them well within reach of most homeowners who want to enjoy the benefits that come with a pellet burning stove.

Cleanfire pellets

Burning very intensely, Cleanfire pellets promise you an impressive amount of heat output so you can rest assured that your rooms will stay incredibly warm and comfortable on even the coldest days of the year.

On the downside, there is more dust in these pellet bags than in those of many of their rivals, and the ash content is somewhat higher. This means that more stove maintenance will be required in order to keep your stove operating at optimal performance levels.

It also means that you’ll need to clean it more frequently in between uses to ensure that the pipes don’t become clogged.

Our Recommendation

So, what can we take away from this? Which of these are the best wood pellets for pellet stoves?

We recommend all of these pellets, however, if we had to choose just one, we would suggest that you try Vermont Pellets.

If you’re looking for the best hardwood pellet on the market, these may not be for you since they are made from recycled softwoods, however, they have a lot to offer in terms of value and heat production.

Since Vermont Pellets produce very little ash, they minimize the amount of cleaning and maintenance you need to do to keep your stove running at its peak performance.

Their clean-burning nature means that you are helping to protect the environment, and since they are also made from sustainable materials, the benefits for the planet are twofold.

As Vermont pellets also have some of the highest BTUs of any pellet fuel on the market, you can be confident that your home will stay wonderfully warm throughout the winter.

When this is paired with the trademarked Heatright manufacturing and engineering process, you won’t get better performance and value than that provided by Vermont Pellets. In our eyes, these are the best pellets for pellet stoves.

pellet stoves for sale

Buyer’s Guide

Do you still have questions that need addressing and information that you need in order to make an informed purchasing decision?

Don’t worry, as our helpful buyer’s guide will tell you everything you need to know to make the right choice for your needs.

Whether you’re still unsure about wood pellets actually are, or if you’re uncertain about what to look for when buying your first bag of stove pellets, we answer all your queries and point you in the right direction.

Identifying Good Wood Stove Pellets - Checklist

This isn't an exact science but you can quickly judge the quality of wood pellets just by looking at them.

Here's our 3 point checklist to separating the good from the bad.

1. Check the Appearance

You're looking for a smooth surface without many cracks. 

A smooth surface means the pellets have been compressed well. Good compression is important because it means the pellets essentially have more mass and will burn longer and hotter.

A smooth surface also indicates that the pellets have been dried properly and the moisture level is low.

Just know, that if the pellets are smooth and uniform on the outside, that the manufacturer did a good job with the compression process.

If the pellets are cracked and crumbly then they likely contained too much moisture when they were compressed. This will cause a less efficient burn and cost you more money.

2. Check the Burn

Monitoring the burn process can yield a few secrets about the quality of your wood pellets.

For starters, the flame color should be just like that of a regular wood fire. If you see any unusual color streaks then this can indicate additives have been used.

Additives are not needed and they are likely there to increase profitability. They can cause a less efficient burn and also increase emissions. 

An unusual odor can also indicate pellets that are less pure.

Afterward, check the ash.

Impurities can show up as irregular looking waste left over by the fire.

The purer your pellets are the more uniform looking the ash will be.

3. Did it Make the List?

The Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) is an independent organization that enables consumers to identify quality pellets from trustworthy manufacturers.

They test pellet quality under strict laboratory conditions so that you can be assured of their efficiency.

Check their website to see a list of recommended manufacturers in your area that produce wood stove pellets that meet their strict criteria.

Recommended Reading: Looking for a small pellet stove for your cabin or tiny house? See which model we recommend over all others.

pellet stove and dog

What Goes into Making Wood Pellets?

The first question asked by many homeowners who are new to the concept of pellet burning stoves is what goes into making wood pellets?

The answer is that the contents often vary, however usually they are made out of compressed sawdust which is occasionally mixed with a range of other substances like bark, cardboard, glue, and paper.

Some pellets are biomass varieties that are made using organic material.

The sawdust which goes into making wood pellets for stoves is recycled and produced as a by-product from lumbar processing - this means that when you buy wood pellets you’re helping to use every single part of a tree.

This fits in well with today’s ethos and drive towards eco-friendly products and sustainability.

The kind of tree which the pellets have been made from, together with any additives and its moisture content will influence how high quality each type of pellet will be when it comes to heat production.

Osburn 2500 small pellet stove

Hardwood or Softwood Pellets – Which are Best?

One ongoing question that homeowners often ask is whether hardwood or softwood stove pellets are the best option for heating their homes.

The confusion often arises because there is plenty of misinformation on the internet regarding the subject.

Hardwood trees include oak and beech and these types of woods are frequently used in making high-quality furniture.

This means that people tend to associate hardwoods with impressive burning and high heat production. Interestingly, this isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, softwoods such as spruce, pine, and cedar may not be used so frequently in quality furniture making, but they have the edge when it comes to heat production.

Evidence has shown that softwood can output up to 20% more heat-per-pound when compared to hardwoods.

This means that if you’re looking to maximize your heat output (and who isn’t?) softwood pellets are definitely the way to go.

Recommended Reading: Learn all about the installation of a pellet stove in our guide.

Key Things to Look For

At the present time, there isn’t much regulation out there when it comes to the labeling of pellets for pellet stoves.

That means that there is a certain amount of trial and error involved in testing which brands of pellets offer the best heat output paired with the lowest ash content.

Luckily, we’ve taken a lot of the hard work out of making the choice by giving you helpful reviews so you can make more informed decisions.

When looking for high-quality stove pellets here are some of the major considerations to keep in mind:

  • Heat output – heat output is measured in terms of BTUs. This means that you’re searching for pellets that have a higher BTU rating to make sure you’re getting maximum heat for your money. The top-performing pellets have a BTU rating of around 8000 – 8500. If you see “moisture free” written on the label, this refers to the BTU rating if every drop of water had been removed from the pellets. Don’t pay too much attention to this rating since your pellets won’t be stored in a fully moisture-free environment. If you can’t find a BTU rating without the moisture-free label, you should look for a BTU rating of around 8200 – 8800.
  • Low moisture content – if you see this on the packaging this is good news when it comes to lighting your stove. Low moisture stove pellets take less time to set alight so you should look for pellets with a moisture content of under 6.5%.
  • Low ash content – if your pellets produce lots of ash, your stove won’t run as efficiently. Therefore, look for brands which advertise themselves as having a low ash content.
  • No bark or additives – if you buy pellets that have no glue, cardboard or bark in them, you’ll have less ash production and a hotter burning heat, for better value for money.

How Much Does a Bag of Pellets Cost?

A typical bag of wood pellets will cost you around $4 - $6 for a 40lb bag.

Pricing is competitive, however, if you can buy from a local supplier you will be helping your local community and may be able to get a lower price.

Lots of homeowners choose to purchase pellets by the ton and you’ll probably use around 7-tons per year.

Are the Pellets High Quality?

If you follow the buying guide outlined here, you should find that the wood pellets you choose will be good quality and value for money.

If you are buying your pellets in person, try sniffing the pellets. If you detect a chemical smell from the bag, avoid them.

High-quality pellets will be made only from wood and will, therefore, smell of wood.

Are You Bulk-Buying?

If you’re purchasing a large number of pellets for the entire year, you’ll need a special delivery to unload the pellets.

You may only be able to get this service from a local supplier. If you aren’t buying in bulk, you can easily buy online from a number of companies.

If you’re buying online always check to make sure that the pellets are good quality.

How Far do you Live From the Pellet Supplier?

If you live a long distance from the pellet supplier, you need to bear in mind that there will be additional shipping costs relating to delivering a large order of pellets.

This means that although the initial price may look cheaper, you may actually be able to get a better deal overall from a supplier closer to home.

Now you have all the information you need to choose the right wood pellets to suit your needs.

Once you’ve found the right brand for you, you won’t have any problems in keeping your home comfortable and warm throughout the year while also saving yourself money on your energy bills and doing your bit to protect our natural environment.

We hope that our brand reviews and comparisons have been helpful and have made all the difference in getting you great value for money when it comes to choosing pellets for your new stove.

Image source: H. Raab (User:Vesta) Wikimedia Commons

About the Author Paul Cathro

Paul is an ex-HVAC engineer with 5 years 'in the trade'.

He acquired tinyhousehugeideas.com in 2022 and aims to make it the internet's most comprehensive HVAC resource for small homes in the next few years.

You can learn more about Paul's story here.

Browse his published work on the website here.

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