In loving memory of Kenis D. Keathley 6/4/81 - 3/27/22 Loving father, husband, brother, friend and firewood hoarder Rest in peace, Dexterday

pellets vs corn

Discussion in 'The Pellet Bag' started by Old Fart from Eganville, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. Old Fart from Eganville

    Old Fart from Eganville

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    Has anybody tested both to determine what is best. As in length of burn time, heat output. etc.
    If both fuels were the same cost per ton what would be the best to burn. Any info at all is appreciated.
    I have been told that corn produces more heat.
    Thanks Old Fart :whistle::whistle::whistle::whistle:
     
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  2. will711

    will711

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  3. 343amc

    343amc

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    I haven't ever burned corn, but have tinkered with cherry pits. I believe last season there was a member here (forgot his name, but believe he was in the Dakota's) who has a furnace and was burning wheat.

    If cost were the same, I'd stick with pellets. From what I understand, corn leaves a clinker that needs to be dealt with (probably handled by your furnace self clean). Another thing to consider with corn is bulk storage, assuming you don't have a source available with it in bags, and rodents. I have enough trouble keeping mice at bay in my garage and barn without having bags of corn around.

    I priced out corn a couple years ago at the local grain elevator. The price would have been around $140/ton at the time. I didn't (and still don't) have an effective way to transport and store tons of bulk corn that justifies the savings.
     
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  4. TurboDiesel

    TurboDiesel

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    Friend of ours is a farmer. He plants, harvests and drys his own corn. He got rid of the corn stove after one year.
    Too many clinkers
     
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  5. jtakeman

    jtakeman Moderator

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    I've burned both and I'll try to answer.

    Thats an easy one. Pellets burn cleaner. You'll get approx .6% ash from pellets and 1.2% with corn. I would only consider corn if it offered a fair amount in savings. If the price is equal, I'd just stay with pellets.

    BTU's are hampered by moisture. So thats not an easy one. Pellets are generally drier(aprox 6% moisture content), Where corn on average is 12%. Pellets burn hotter faster(you get more heat quicker) But corn burns longer. I found I get more BTU's in less time so the house warms quicker than corn would. Only time its noticed is right after cleanings.


    One more consideration is cleanings. Personally without a stove that cleans itself, Even if you save some with corn. You'll need to clean far more. At least 2x more than pellets. And thats compared to the average middle of the road stuff. With a really clean softwood getting less than .3% as comparison, You'll be cleaning 4x more with corn.
     
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  6. Chickenman

    Chickenman

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    Mr.Takeman is spot on.
    We have over 600 stoves in the field and only around 10 are running on pellets.
    Why?
    Coz pellets are stupid expensive; double the price of most available grains or woody wastes here.
    But I tell everyone that pellets are the fuel of choice at the right price.
    It is easy to work out where the break point for not using pellets is; monetize how much you dislike the effort of keeping your stove running clean and subtract that from the price of the pellets. Which ever is cheapest wins. This works on the assumption that your stove is multi-fuel capable. If not it is all moot.
    Also you need better quality flue pipe to burn grain as the exhaust is far more corrosive.
     
  7. Old Fart from Eganville

    Old Fart from Eganville

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    Thanks all for the quick answers. That about sums it up. The stove I have is multi-fuel does clean itself of ash and clinkers. I also have the DT-M Selkirk pipe made for the bio fuels. I paid $ 300.00 ton plus 13% tax for premium hardwood pellets. Right now I am talking to a corn producer and should know in a day or so on a price. I will keep all posted.
    Old Fart
     
  8. Chickenman

    Chickenman

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    Sounds like you are set to go.
    Even if the price is line ball I would give it a go to just see the difference and what your stove is capable of. Just buy a small amount and have a play, you have nothing to lose.
     
  9. jtakeman

    jtakeman Moderator

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    I too would at least try some corn. Get a feel for it yourself. Stove will require some tweaks to get all you can out of it.

    Always good to have options if the pellet bottom falls out! ;)
     
  10. Rona

    Rona

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    I've been burning corn since 2006 other then two years when corn was high priced. A lot depends on if your stove is a multi fuel stove and what style it is. Generally speaking the corn has to be 15% or less in moisture. Stoves with a agitator can tend to build a clinker but if you blend a small amount of pellets with the corn that seems to eliminate that problem. Some stoves use a pot to burn corn in and eventually the pot becomes full so has to be dumped. Most stoves have to be shut down to do this but some are designed to shave off the fire on top and drop the clinker into the ash bucket. This is done automatically on some stoves and others the owner does it as needed.
    Corn in my area is worth about 2.25 a bushel which is 56 lbs. Pellets range from 4.49 to 5.70 for a 40 lb bag. Looking at those figures I can save a lot burning corn.
    Corn being smaller then pellets usually means less air and more fuel in a given volume which results in a hotter fire for me.
    Cleaning - well it dumps the clinker as needed by itself and keeps on running. During cold weather I dump the clinker box once in 5 days and fill the 106 lb hopper as needed. I will stop and clean once every three weeks. this three week cleaning takes me 20 minutes.
    I probably have a advantage over a low of owners as I have farmed and raised corn for many years. As such I often get corn that goes through the combine and into my wagon dry enough to burn. This eliminates lots of fines and cracked corn resulting in a better burning fuel. Compare that to corn that is combined dumped into a truck, dumped into a pit augured into a dryer ran through the dryer and dumped into a bin. Then it is augured into a place where it is bagged. Notice how many more times that corn is handled and it is being cracked each time it gets handled.
     
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  11. JRSDWS

    JRSDWS

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    I LOVE burning corn......when it's cheap enough to offset the above mentioned tradeoffs. Also take into account storage of corn versus pellets....critters, etc.. Corn here is ballpark $3.50ish a bushel. I would have to be able to purchase pellets at about $152/ton for those to wash each other out....roughly. Here's a neat calculator I reference...you might have to copy and paste that then you can download the spreadsheet calculator.

    www.extension.org/sites/default/files/Fuel-value-calculator.xls

    I almost always burn a mix of the two fuels as the pellet ash helps keep the corn klinker loose....and I can extend my times between cleanouts, etc and it's easier to remove. I don't have any self cleaning stoves.

    I'm all for burning what's cheapest....but my time and labor certainly has a price too.

    P.S....buy as dry of corn as you can buy. Check your stove manufacturers recommendation...but I'll bet it says under 12%. Lot's of air (big combustion blower) can help overcome this...but it's just like burning unseasoned wood.
     
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  12. swags

    swags Moderator

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    I use my corn stove as supplemental heat. Only burn it when outside temps are 20 or below. I have burned both corn and pellets, even mixed them. But with corn prices being cheap I just burn corn now. I do have to pull out a clinker but that takes just a minute and doesn't bother me at all. The stove I have puts a lot of heat out and I never run it above low. Really like the ease of use and not having to feed the fire twice a day compared to my wood stove. But I still like the wood stove a lot and use it more often.
     
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  13. Chickenman

    Chickenman

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    I disagree with this bit Jr. It will hold true when you are running a mix (as you are) but where corn is burn exclusively it is very important to maintain the heat in the clinker for the corn to keep burning. It is like an oxy torch with too much oxy. It pushes the fire up from the tip, or clinker, and it will go out.
    Experience from the IBC forum, and our own testing show that stirrer stoves are a pain on straight grain. The amount of waste and mucking around is much greater than a stove where you just tip out the clinker once or twice every 24 hours. WE have sold both and don't bother with the stirrers any more.

    Have a look at this video I did a while back showing changing a clinker. We have extended the burn time out to 18-27 hours since then but it does give you a good idea of what to do.
     
  14. Chickenman

    Chickenman

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    I think the Bixby that you have is possibly the Rolls Royce of stoves. THe performance you get is probably the pinnacle. THe problem is they are gone and no further development. They never made it out here which is a pity, I would have loved to pull one to bits and see how it ticks.....
     
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  15. jtakeman

    jtakeman Moderator

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    Most of the stoves stirrers or agitators I've seen have their tines parallel. I prefer the tines staggered to break up the clinker in smaller pieces.

    One trick is a slow down in the heat cycle. Where the stove goes in to low burn for 5 minutes(or so) and while mixing the stirrer. Then go back to normal. Works pretty well with straight corn and many of the sticky/starchy grains. Slow down is once in an hour cycle.

    Not a neat as the bixby's biscuit cutter or the bulldozer burners. But they do help. I've gone weeks without opening the door on my Omega with straight corn. Over a month on 50/50 mix.
     
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  16. Old Fart from Eganville

    Old Fart from Eganville

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    Wow what a response. I think I am picking up a lot here. Gonna have to read it all again tomorrow. Don't know the price of corn yet but am hopeing it will come in cheaper than pellets. Sounds like if the stove likes corn it would be better than burning pellets.
    If I am reading this right hotter fire and longer burn. I will have to go threw it all again tomorrow.
    Thanks all keep it coming Old Fart:yes::yes::yes:
     
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  17. JRSDWS

    JRSDWS

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    My statement that more combustion air helps accommodate for higher moisture corn is factual. My large biomass furnace is capable of efficiently producing 200,000 btu burning 18lbs of 15% corn per hour. The combustion blower output is 326cfm. Your typical 80-110cfm combustion blower would never come close to burning that kind of volume of any moisture level corn.

    I have, however, witnessed your oxy torch theory with other stoves....one of mine in fact. It produces far less heat and it will go out...or won't make the proof of fire switch thus halting the auger feed. Corn can take a lot of adjustments for a good burn, but ultimately it's still all about the correct amount of air for the fuel....as with any fire.
     
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  18. Chickenman

    Chickenman

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    Yep. You are right.
    Totally different situation with the furnace. We are fighting these issues in trying to tame our Bertha stove which operates with a suck and blow balanced (to a point) system. You need heaps more air because the volume of fuel to burn is so much higher.


    Dont rely on that. If they were the same price I would burn pellets every time. THe only thing that counts is that the corn needs to be cheaper.
    Ya still gotta try it though regardless.
     
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  19. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe

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    I would do a mix to start off with, it can do no harm of trying to adjust ratios down the road. Me, I'm mixing when it gets real cold and my ratio is mostly pellets but I'm new at it too so I will try to increase corn down the road. Right now my corn is in bags but I want to transfer into some plastic 50 gallon drums with the removable lid. Hard to find for a reasonable price. If I could get a ton of bulk corn, I would sift/vacuum clean transfer to the plastic barrels and bring one at a time in the house. In search of at least 4-5 barrels continues....
     
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  20. Old Fart from Eganville

    Old Fart from Eganville

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    Ivanhoe if you don't mind me asking where do you get your corn.
    TSC or local feed dealers. Both places here want way more than premium pellets.
    I should know more about my supplier shortly.
    Thanks Old Fart
     
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