When wood pellets are made, the moisture content is CRITICAL to how well they’re going to heat and smoke in your grill later. So, you buy quality to get a good burn. Then, how do you store the things so that excess moisture from the air doesn’t ruin your good batch?
When keeping the moisture out is the goal, you’ve got 4 simple options.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to store wood pellets for smoking. You’ll find our favorites when it comes to the best wood pellet storage containers. And, the answers to commonly asked questions.
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Table of Contents
In The Bag They Came In...
This is not the best option on this list!
But, if you want cheap, minimal work, and, already store your pellets somewhere that’s pretty dry anyway, you could go for a plain old bag clip.
Bag Buddy make one that’s the right size for 20 lb bags of pellets.
It’ll seal them and give you an easy way to carry them.
Just check there’s no small tears in your bag anywhere else and you’re good to go. No need for labelling and you can stack different varieties on top of each other without taking up too much space.
The Best Bag Clips for BBQ Pellets
Pellet Storage Bucket
Purpose built to keep the moisture out, storing your barbecue pellets in a hard-sided bucket also helps to prevent breakage.
Stack them on top of one another or side by side for easy access to different flavors.
Just keep in mind that if you’re hoping to buy a generic container instead, look for something that’s airtight to make sure it’s got a great seal.
The Best Pellet Storage Buckets
Oklahoma Joe's Pellet Bucket Kit
Traeger Staydry Pellet Bin and Lid
Kingsford Wood Pellet Dispenser
Pellet Storage Bag
If you like the idea of storing bbq pellets in a bag but want something that works better, seals without a clip, and, doesn’t tear, you can get purpose-built pellet storage bags.
Also known as dry bags that come in handy for camping, they’re at a minimum water-resistant, if not rated as fully waterproof for submersion. Your pellets should even be okay if you accidentally leave them in the rain even.
Stack them, grab them, pellet storage bags are our favorite for taking camping.
Our Storage Bags for BBQ Pellets
NUUK Pellet Storage Bag
Weber Fuel Storage Bag
The 5 Gallon Bucket
There’s nothing wrong with the good old 5 gallon bucket for storing wood pellets for smoking.
Look for something that’s food grade.
You can use the standard lid that comes with them. But, they’re hard to get on and off and don’t give the best seal. Instead, there’s a few options for a better seal and easier access.
Here’s our favorites for pellets.
Best 5 Gallon Buckets and Lids for Pellet Storage
Gamma2 Gamma Seal Lid
Traeger Bucket Lid Filter Kit
FAQs About How To Store Wood Pellets
What Happens If BBQ Pellets Aren't Stored Properly?
Wood pellets are tiny bits of wood that’s been dried and ‘glued’ back together with the natural lignin in the wood when it’s pressurised and heated.
So, the biggest risk is that stored wood pellets start absorbing excess water from the atmosphere which will cause them to expand and eventally crumble apart.
Do Wood Pellets Go Bad?
Yes, wood pellets can go bad if they’re not stored properly. Over time, they will slowly absorb moisture from the air and that moisture content will cause them to soften and/or break apart.
Even when they’re stored correctly in a cool, dry place, some manufacturers do claim that wood pellets have a shelf life. But, with proper storage you should be able to store them successfully for years without any issues.
How Do You Know If Your Wood Pellets Are Bad?
Start by having a look. A good wood pellet looks shiny and smooth. A bad wood pellet will start to lose that nice surface, look enlarged or be breaking apart.
Really bad pellets will start to fall apart into fine, wet looking sawdust.
If you’re not sure if your pellets are bad by looking at them alone, take a few and drop them into a cup of water. If they sink straight away, they’re still good. If they float, they’ve got high moisture content and have gone bad.
What Happens If You Use Bad Wood Pellets?
Really bad but still intact pellets might not light at all, just like you’d struggle to light wet wood.
But, if they’re just a little damp and will still ignite, bad wood pellets produce more smoke (thick white, not good for smoking stuff), more creosote and more ash. They might also clog your auger.
What To Do With Bad Wood Pellets?
If your pellets are still intact and only a little bad, you can try drying them out by giving them time in a dry environment, preferably laid in a thin layer on a large surface so any excess moisture can evaporate easily.
If they’ve partially turned to sawdust or mush, use a strainer to separate the whole pellets from the dust. And, leave the whole pellets somewhere dry to let any extra moisture evaporate out before using them.
Once your wood pellets have turned to sawdust, you won’t be able to put them in your smoker. But, don’t throw it out! Wood pellet sawdust can be used to make natural firestarters, balance out compost bins, be used as top soil or mulch for plants that like acidic soil, or, put it straight in your cat’s litter tray for a natural alternative.
How Long Can I Store Wood Pellets?
Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place wood pellets should be able to be stored for years without going bad.
Can I Store Wood Pellets In The Hopper?
It’s best practice to empty any unused pellets out of your hopper after you’ve finished barbecueing.
No hopper provides an airtight seal. So, if you live somewhere with very low humidity, your pellets should be fine for a few weeks in there.
But, if humidity is high, your pellets can take on too much water in even a few days.
Where Should Wood Pellets Be Stored?
Wood pellets should be stored in a cool, dry place.
As dry as possible is ideal.
So, in your house is better than in the garage, a shed, or under your smoker. But, if your garage is fairly dry and you’ve got good storage containers, you can store pellets successfully there.
Kate Brown, the founder and voice behind Burning Brisket, is not your typical pitmaster or restaurateur. Her expertise in barbecue grew from a humble desire to cook exceptional meals for her family. From overcoming burnt brisket mishaps to establishing her boutique cattle ranch, Kate shares her passion to help 'ordinary' individuals cook extraordinary barbecue, believing that simplicity often yields the best flavors. Kate is commited to making great barbecue accessible to all with the right resources and some tasty practice.