What Are Wood Pellets & what are their benefits?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 31, 2022

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Wood pellets are basically a compressed form of wood and sawdust and they’re created through a process of exposing certain binding agents to heat. The most common use of wood pellets is to fuel cooking grills and they’re known for bringing a unique smoked wood flavor to meat that you cannot get any other way.

What Are Wood Pellets?

The most common kind of pellets that most people are familiar with are the ones that are used as stove fuel. However, the types of wood pellets that are used to fuel a grill are derived from food grade hardwood pellets that are a by-product of sawdust and wood. As such, they don’t have any chemicals that might be harmful to your health and they produce enough smoke to help flavor your meat.

Food grade pellets are different from industrial grade pellets in that they’re 100% natural and energy-efficient.  They’re good for the environment as well because they burn clean and don’t leave behind a lot of ash when they’re done. A pellet smoker grill is designed to work with wood pellets as its primary source of fuel, which is why it’s considered to be one of the most energy-efficient ways of smoking and grilling meat.

There are generally two types of wood pellets available to choose from:

  • Barbecue Pellets: As the name implies, these wood pellets are specifically created as fuel for BBQ grills and smokers. Using them gives you a real wood-fired meat flavor, similar to the flavor that charcoal imparts on meat.
  • Heating Pellets: On the other hand, heating pellets are designed to fuel up home heaters. As such, they have certain ingredients like paint residue and other chemicals that may be harmful to health. That’s why you should never use them to fuel a cooking grill or smoker.

Wood Pellet Benefits

Most people are familiar with using charcoal as a source of fuel for their BBQ grills and they know what they’re going to get from it. However, using wood pellets comes with its own benefits that most people haven’t explored yet.

The following are just a few of the benefits that you can derive from using wood pellets as a source of fuel for your charcoal grill:

  • Wood pellets are eco-friendly because they’re made from renewable materials. Their production encourages the repurposing of materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
  • Wood pellets are far more efficient when compared to other fuels like fossil oil and gas. That’s because wood pellets are able to use 90% of their contained energy and turn it into heat.
  • Wood pellets are available in different types and each offers a different wood-fired flavor. This includes alder, cherry, apple, oak, maple, hickory and mesquite wood pellets.
  • Wood pellets impart an undeniable smoky flavor to meat that you’ll enjoy. It’s similar to charcoal but the difference is that wood pellets won’t get your hands dirty.
  • Wood pellets produce a nice, even burn and they don’t leave a lot of ash residue. That’s why they make it easier to clean your grill after you’re done cooking.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.