Lately, we have been hearing a lot about an efficient alternative biomass fuel. Wood pellets are by-products of sawmilling that are compacted and manufactured to become wood fuel. These solidified, low moisture and uniform goods are proven to be a competitive burnable material. Recently, lots of homes have been using wood pellets for their heating systems. With the increased demand for wood pellets among consumers, it cannot be avoided that some wood pellets distributed are not good enough in terms of their quality. Consumers need to be aware of the essential properties of high-quality wood pellets. Some home-based tests can now be done without the need for complicated laboratory gadgets. They are simple and easy to do.
Test 1: Using the sense of smell
With just the use of the nose, you can check if the wood pellets are purely wood pellets and not mixed.
• Grab a handful of wood pellets.
• Place them in a plastic container.
• Position the container close to your face.
• Smell the odor of the wood pellets.
Note: Expect that it should smell like fresh-cut softwood. If not, then it might be mixed.
Test 2: Using the sense of sight
By simply using the eyes, you can determine what is good and what is not.
• Grab a small number of wood pellets.
• Look at these wood pellets closely and carefully.
Note: You must observe light brown colored wood pellets if they are made from clean compacted sawdust. However, if they are dark, then it might indicate that they were derived from bark which emits more ashes. Furthermore, some pellets are darker on the outside but once broken, they are still colored light brown this would not be a problem.
Test 3: Using both the sense of smell and a fire.
• Choose one longer pellet.
• Ignite the tip of the pellet.
• Smell the smoke produced.
Note: A good quality of wood pellets should smell like burning wood. Otherwise, the quality is questionable.
Test 4: Using a glass of water
• Get a small number of wood pellets.
• Place them into glassful water.
Note Just a few minutes, they should be dissolved into sawdust. Otherwise, a chemical might have been added to bind them together.
• Then, observe the settlement of particles inside the glass after swirling it.
Note: Heavy particles will lie down at the bottom. If there are numerous particles that settled, another feedstock might have been mixed. This would likely result in an increased amount of emissions and risk for precipitation.
These are some of the simple ways to check the quality of wood pellets being used. Most are just common sense, thus, these tests can be easily performed anytime at home. In this way, problems can be avoided. Likewise, good quality wood pellets provide lots of benefits.
Consumers should watch out for those wood pellets that are sold cheaply in the market. A more costly wood pellet may be a pain in the pocket, but you can ensure that what you are buying is cleaner, safer, and more efficient.