Do wood pellets go bad? (Expert’s Take)

Wood pellets are biofuels that are made by compressing wood fiber. This wood fiber is wood chips or sawdust, and the heat produced during compression melts the natural lignin of the wood. This natural lignin is like a glue that keeps the compressed wood chips in the shape of a pellet.

Proper storage is very important for the pellets to stay in good condition. Keeping them in a cool, dry place devoid of moisture and humidity is essential. If they are in contact with water, their quality will deteriorate and eventually fall apart. 

Do wood pellets go bad? what you should know

Do Wood Pellets Go Bad?

Yes wood pellets may go bad, if it is not stored properly. The factors that make wood pellets bad are moisture, humidity, and rough handling. Moisture is required only when the wood pellets are made, and once they are made, you strictly need to keep away from moisture.

Since they are made in a highly compressed state, their moisture content is very low (below 10%). So they are always looking forward to absorbing moisture. So it is mandatory to keep wood pellets completely moisture-free and in a non-humid environment so that it doesn’t expand moisture and expand.

And if the wood pellets are expanded, they are simply nothing but sawdust which cannot be used for pellet stoves, boilers, and grills/smokers. 

Wood pellets would last a considerable time if handled properly and with care. If you handle them roughly, they will break apart and produce huge fines and dust. This dust can even block pellet stoves, boilers, and grills. 


How Long do Wood Pellets Last Stored?

Generically, if you store the wood pellets properly, they will last a long time; to be specific, they will stay in good condition for several years. It would be wrong to say that they have a proper shelf life. It all depends upon the wood pellets’ quality and how they are stored. If the wood pellets are of bad quality and low grade, they won’t last long, no matter how properly you store them.

How Long do Wood Pellets Last Stored
How Long do Wood Pellets Last Stored?

However, they are not made with too much ash. So it is always advisable to purchase expensive high-grade wood pellets, as they would last quite a long time if stored properly and ultimately will save a lot of money without repurchasing them often. 


Tips for Storing Wood Pellets Properly

It is very important to store wood pellets properly, or else they won’t last long. 

Tips for Storing Wood Pellets Properly
Tips for Storing Wood Pellets Properly
  • The best way to keep wood pellets is to store them in airtight containers devoid of moisture. You can also use reusable cable zip ties to store them without any contact with moisture. The multi-gallon airtight plastic containers, also FDA-approved, are the best. 
  • After moisture, humidity is another enemy of wood pellets to turn bad. Hence apart from keeping them in airtight containers, you should also store them in a low or non-humid environment. A cool, dry place is the ideal location to store them. 
  • While handling the wood pellet bags, be careful, so they don’t break apart. If not handled properly, it would turn into sawdust, which is useless. 
  • You should never store the wood pellets outdoors or in an open shed. 
  • It is always advised to buy high-grade wood pellets so that they should last a long time. Or else, no matter how carefully you store them, they won’t last at all if the quality is bad. 
  • Do not stack the wood pellet bag one over the other. This way, undue stress is created on wood pellets that are prone to the risk of warping. Hence, the best way to store the bags is in a criss-cross pattern that will avoid pressure on them and ensure proper airflow between them. 

Do Pellets have a Shelf Life?

No wood pellets do not have a shelf life in that sense. However, if they are kept in good condition, they will last several years with proper quality. Still, humidity is a big factor linked to wood pellets’ shelf life. If you store the wood pellets in an environment with 10% humidity, it will last up to 6 months. Similarly, storing them in an environment with a humidity of more than 10% will last between 1-3 months maximum. 

Do Pellets have a Shelf Life
Do Pellets have a Shelf Life?

Apart from that, the quality of the wood pellets is pivotal for their shelf life. If you purchase low-grade wood pellets, they won’t last a long time, no matter how carefully you store them. On the other hand, if you purchase expensive high-grade ones, they will last a long time, saving a lot of money. 


How do I Know if My Wood Pellets are Bad?

There are several ways to know whether the wood pellets are in good condition. You can also know through several tests whether they are still good to use. 

  • Once you open a bag of wood pellets, when you grab them on your hands, if there is too much sawdust or they tend to crumble easily, they are definitely in not good condition. 
  • Since good-conditioned wood pellets contain residual moisture, if you fill a bowl with and drop a few harmful pellets in it, the good-quality ones will sink, whereas the bad ones will float. 
  • Not all wood pellets are good for your stove, so you need to check different varieties with the help of adjustment features in your stove. 
  • The snap test is another way to check the wood pellets. Pick any wood pellet and put horizontal force on it. If it breaks into exactly two pieces with a snap sound, you know that it is in good condition. At the same time, a bad pellet would crumble into pieces. 
  • If the wood pellet has a shiny surface without cracks, you know it is of good quality. At the same time, a dull pellet with several cracks is a sign of a bad pellet. 
  • If the wood pellets have a bad musty odor, mold, or mildew, they are not in good condition. 

Causes of Wood Pellets Spoilage

Causes of Wood Pellets Spoilage
Causes of Wood Pellets Spoilage

Factors that lead to bad wood pellets

Three important factors lead to the spoilage of wood pellets. If the wood pellets come in contact with moisture, they will completely spoil the pellets as they absorb all the moisture and crumble and break down into pieces.

Moreover, while storing the wood pellets, you need to keep them in a place completely devoid of humidity or low humidity. Hence, keeping it in a cool, dry place is always advised. Another reason to turn bad is rough handling; if you don’t move the bags carefully, they will crumble to dust. 

Prevent Wood Pellets from turning bad

To prevent wood pellets from turning bad is to store them in airtight containers. The best is to use multi-gallon FDA-approved airtight plastic containers. When not in use, you can also store them in reseal or tie open bags that doesn’t allow moisture to enter. Need to keep in low humid locations such as garage or basement. When you are moving the wood pellet bags, move them very carefully.


Reusing Spoiled Wood Pellets

Now that we know do wood pellets go bad or not, let’s look at some ways to reuse spoiled wood pellets. The wood pellets that have been spoiled or have broken down to sawdust should not be thrown away. They can always be put to good use. They are a great fertilizer for plants and tend to thrive the growth, especially for hydrangea plants and blueberry plants. These plants grow best in acidic soil with tons of moisture which the sawdust does.

Moreover, the burnt wood pellet ashes are best during the summer, forming a barrier against slugs and snails. The natural wood pellet fibers are great as fire starters. All you need is to completely dry the sawdust and use them as fire starters. 

Reusing Spoiled Wood Pellets
Reusing Spoiled Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are also a great alternative to animal bedding. The super absorbent nature of wood pellets is immensely used to clean up oil, gas, solvent spills, and sludge for both large commercial and small residential scales. Wood pellets are great as natural kitty litter that is not as expensive as the traditional ones. Moreover, they don’t have silica particles, toxins, and less dust in them. 


Bagged vs. Bulk Pellets

Wood pellets are available in two versions, bagged and bulk wood pellets. 

  • Pellet boilers mostly use bulk wood pellets, and bagged pellets are mostly used by pellet stove users. 
  • Bulk wood pellets are less expensive as compared to bagged wood pellets.
  • Bulk pellets would require a proper container or storage bin to store, whereas bagged pellets do not require any infrastructure for storage. 
  • Bagged pellets come in plastic bags, which are not good for the environment, whereas, in the case of bulk pellets, you can always reuse the containers for storage. 
  • Bagged wood pellets can be used on wood pellet boilers and stoves, whereas bulk pellets are used on only wood pellet boilers. 
  • Bagged wood pellets are ideal to use at homes, whereas the bulk ones are ideal to use both at homes and commercial and industrial places. 

You May Also Find Useful: Are Pellet Grills Safe?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you keep wood pellets fresh?

The best way to keep wood pellets fresh is to store them in airtight containers completely devoid of moisture. Also, it is important to store them in a place with no humidity or low humidity. The best is to store them in a cool, dry place to remain fresh.

Can you store pellets over the summer?

Yes, you can store wood pellets over the summer. You need to store them in airtight containers in a cool, dry place, and the best is to store them in the garage or basement. And at the time of summer barbecues, make sure to keep them away from smokers or grills and any water sources.

Moreover, do not put it beside lawn sprinklers, pools, or any place where water gathers.

How to tell if Traeger pellets are bad?

When you try to break the Traeger pellets in half, if they crumble very easily to dust or break apart into tiny pieces, you know the pellets have gone bad. They have been in contact with moisture. Moreover, the color of the Traeger pellets would be light, without any sheen, and look dull if they become of bad quality.

Is it safe to store wood pellets inside?

Yes, you can store the wood pellets inside, and the best place to store them is in the garage or basement, where there is no moisture and humidity. However, you need to ensure that this place is not susceptible to flooding. So it’s best to store them inside, off the floor.


Conclusion:

Wood pellets are biofuels that are made by compressing wood fibers. They are used to burn pellet stoves, boilers, grillers, and power plants instead of charcoal, firewood, etc. Wood pellets would indeed turn bad over time. However, it would last quite a lot of time if taken care of properly.

They would turn bad if exposed to moisture and humidity and crumble into pieces if they are roughly handled. Hence it is very important to store wood pellets properly to retain their quality. also, make sure you always use high-grade wood pellets. I hope now you have a complete idea about do wood pellets go bad or not.

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