Wood pellets are used for many different purposes, but most of us use them to heat fuel in boilers and stoves. If this is your first time using them, you’re probably wondering, “How long do wood pellets last?”.
How Long do Wood Pellets Last?
Well, there are many factors that determine the answer to your question. Typically, the shelflife of wood pellets depends on the humidity in the environment. For instance, if they’re stored in an environment with 10% humidity, they can last up to 6-months. However, if the humidity is any higher than 10%, their preservation time will fall to anywhere between 1- to 3-months.
For those of you who came looking for a more detailed answer, we’re going to dedicate this post to discuss how you can stop them from going bad and test their quality.
Why Do Wood Pellets Go Bad?
Commonly, there are 2 main reasons why wood pellets go bad. These include:
1. Rough Handling
Most wood pellets are durable, but they will begin to break apart and start shedding dust if you handle them roughly. This dust is the reason why so many grills, boilers, and stoves get blocked-up. For this reason, we’d also recommend that you sieve your wood pellets before placing them into your choice of BBQ appliances.
You’d think they would withstand moisture because it is used to manufacture them, but moisture is the biggest enemy of wood pellets. You see, because of their highly compressed nature, wood pellets naturally absorb a lot of moisture, which is why they also double-up as a great bedding material for horses.
For this reason, if you are unable to keep your wood pellets dry, they will quickly absorb moisture from their surroundings and expand. Even though it may seem like it, wood pellets expanding is definitely not a good thing because they then turn into sawdust. In other words, they can never be used in grills, boilers, or stoves.
How Can You Stop Then From Going Bad?
If you want to maintain the shelf life of wood pellets, you need to first address the moisture problem. Commonly, wood pellets are sold in plastic bags to help protect them from the environment.
With that being said, the real source of the problem is when you don’t use the entire bag in a single sitting. You may even find that some stove brands also clearly state to never use previously used bags on a stove.
1. Reseal An Open Bag
After receiving many consumer complaints about the low shelf life of wood pellets, brands such as Pit Boss started selling them in resealable bags. However, if you prefer a brand that doesn’t prefer this packaging, then you can always use wire ties or a cable tie to seal the bag effectively. Also, if you notice any tears on the bag, make sure to cover them up with adhesive tape.
2. Keep Them in a Low Humidity Environment
Resealing pellet bags is a good strategy. However, if you store them in a very humid environment, the moisture will still affect the wood pellets by going through small gaps. For this reason, it is a good idea not to store your wood pellets in a shed or a garage, even if you sealed them properly.
3. Be Gentle
Typically, the best quality wood pellets don’t break apart when you move them around. However, it is still recommended that you be gentle with their bag. If you are rough on them, you will unknowingly increase the percentage of dust inside the bag. Another reason you should be gentle is that you have to avoid tearing the bag, which could result in moisture penetration.
How to Test If Your Wood Pellets Have Gone Bad?
We have a few easy tests to help you confirm whether your wood pellets have gone bad. These include:
This test can be done by taking out a single wood pellet from the bag and putting some horizontal force on its surface. The surefire sign of a quality pellet is that it will break into 2-pieces with a sharp snap sound, whereas a poor quality pellet will simply crumble into several small pieces and produce a lot of dust.
The shine test is perhaps not the most conclusive of tests, but we still recommend that you try it to judge the quality of wood pellets or to compare several products. Typically, the best wood pellets have a shiny surface and will appear to have the least amount of cracks. In comparison, a poor quality pellet will have a dull surface and should be considered a bad batch or expired.
Place Them In a Glass of Water
Perhaps, the easiest test of all three is to drop a couple of wood pellets in a glass of water. Now if your pellets sink all the way to the boot, they have high density. This, therefore, means that your wood pellets are good for use with respect to compression.
Make sure you are quick with this test though, because leaving the pellets in a glass of water will cause them to expand.
Our Final Thoughts
For those who were asking, “How long do wood pellets last”, we’re confident this post has more than answered your question. However, if you’re planning on taking your BBQ game to a whole new level, we would also recommend researching how to store your wood pellets effectively.
With that said, it is now time for us to sign-off. If you have any further questions or comments regarding wood pellets, be sure to leave a comment below.