Hard or Softwood ?

There seems to be a lot of confusion over which is better. Most people use the experience they have with burning cord wood and “know” that you have to have a hard wood to prevent creosote and to have longer burn time.

Wood pellets, both hard and softwood go through the same process.
1) raw material for example, [logs, hardwood flooring mill , furniture makers etc] ending up as sawdust.
2) sawdust is then dried to lower the moisture content,
3) sent to a hammer mill to provide a consistent density and size
4) extruded with high pressure creating a high temperature that softens the wood and the pellets are formed, held together by the natural lignin in the wood. (There are no additives or glues used.)
5) sifted to remove fines and cooled.
6) Put into 40 pound bags.

The important difference between wood pellets is the species [oak, cedar, maple, spruce, pine…] used and the quality of the manufacturing process. If the manufacturer does not adhere to quality standards and lets the raw logs with some bark still attached go into the making of pellets, from the start you will have an ashy pellet. If other foreign material is inadvertently added [ie:dirt, sand, nails or branches] you will have a poor ashy pellet. Some species of wood tend to be more ashy than others.

So what are the best wood pellets?
I can recommend a pellet that works great in my stove but may not work well in yours. Do some homework and get the heat value, ash content, moisture percentage and amount of fines. Test 5 bags of each brand and find what works for you. If you buy by price more than likely you will get a lower grade pellet.