Can I Use Wood Pellets for Composting?

by Tom
(United States)

I would like to know if it is okay to use wood pellets for composting. My fear is that there is Walnut in the mix. There is no glue. Looking forward to your answer. Thank You.

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Can I Use Wood Pellets for Composting?

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Feb 09, 2012
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Nothing to Fear
by: Compost Junkie Dave

Yes, by all means compost your wood pellets.

Regarding the walnut fear, I wouldn't worry about it unless the label for the pellets reads "Made from 100% Walnut". I think it's more likely that your pellets are made from a blend of many different types of wood. Woodn't you agree? Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I don't think a little walnut wood in your compost is going to do any noticeable harm.

Note - If you're wondering why Tom is asking about Walnut in particular, it's because walnut trees (especially Black Walnut) release a substance known as Juglone. Juglone is toxic to some plants. I assume Tom is concerned that these toxins may evade his composting efforts and eventually harm his plants.

composting wood pellets

Green Walnuts



Tom, a couple additional questions come to mind...

1. Wood pellets are a very dense carbon source, so make sure you have enough nitrogen in your pile to balance that out. What are you using as your nitrogen source?

2. What happens when you put these pellets in water? I don't have much experience with pellets, my stove only takes logs. If they act like a sponge and soak up water, you may consider soaking them prior to composting. This would reduce the density of the pellets as well as contribute to the moisture content in your pile.

Does anyone else have anything to add?


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Feb 10, 2012
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Composting Wood Pellets
by: Tom

In your reply you asked what happens to wood pellets in water. They break down into sawdust really fast. If your don't use a new batch within a couple of years they swell up and get soft. They then plug up the stove if you try to burn them. This is why I wanted to use my old pellets for compost. I don't like to waste anything.

Re the nitrogen - Would grass clippings, old hay and cow manure work? I have a friend that raises cattle and I get several pick up loads of manure each year. What I was planning on doing was putting the grass clippings, wood pellets and manure together and allow them to compost. Would that work and should I mix them in any special ratio?

Thanks.
Tom

Feb 10, 2012
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Wood Pellets in Compost
by: Compost Junkie Dave

I assumed that was the case with the water absorption. That's good news for your compost pile.

Re the nitrogen and your specific blend of composting ingredients. The most simple advice I can give you is this...use a 3 to 1 ratio when building the layers in your compost pile. That is, for every 3 parts of carbon material (soaked wood pellets) add 1 part of nitrogen (grass clippings and manure). Every couple layers, throw in some topsoil to inoculate the pile. Once built, monitor the heat of your pile and turn at the appropriate temperatures.

Depending on your exact ingredients, you may have to play around a little with this ratio. You may actually find that a ratio of 2 to 1 works best for you. It all depends on your conditions and specific materials.

Jul 07, 2013
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Wet Pellets & compost NEW
by: GHenne

Great to hear that you're recommending pellets but the bag I used stated on it "not for human consumption". I guess humans must read whether or not they can eat wood pellets? My concern was the possibility of oil contamination in the sawdust. I know that blades have to stay cool when cutting wood such as a sawmill blade. What about the blades that chip wood for pellets?
Anyway, I will conduct a little more research. My batch hopefully is being acted on by the bacteria and getting warmed up for the garden. I used wet pellets (like sawdust), sprinkled over with fresh green grass, a trowel of rock phosphate and a trowel greensand (C,N,K, P). Its been so wet that leaf mulch would not have worked in New England (2013). Thanks and happy gardening.

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