How Long Do Pellets Last in Smokers?

wood pellets in hands
The answer to how long wood pellets last in smokers depends on several factors, including the type of wood, the smoking temperature, and the specifications of your pellet grill. On average, a 20 lbs bag of pellets will last between 6 to 20 hours.

How Long Do Pellets Last in a Pellet Smoker?

I’ve had many people ask how long wood pellets last in a Pit Boss or Traeger grill – undoubtedly because these are the two most popular pellet grills on the market.

The answer depends on several factors. These include the size of the container that holds the pellets, the grill temperature, and how frequently the smoker is used.

Generally, a 20 lbs bag of pellets will last between 6 to 20 hours, depending on the smoker’s temperature.

At a low-temperature range of 225°F to 250°F, it would take about 1 hour for 1.5 lbs of pellets to burn. If the smoker is operated at a higher temperature, the pellets may burn out more quickly. For example, when smoking at a high heat of 450°F, the pellet consumption is about 3 lbs of wood pellets per hour.

How Many Pounds of Pellets Does a Smoker Hold?

Most pellet smokers can hold between 15 to 40 pounds of pellets at a time. The number of pellets a smoker can hold will vary depending on the specific model and size of the smoker.

The best way to know how much your specific smoker can hold is to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications or the user manual.

How Long Does it Take for Pellets to Start Burning?

It can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes for pellets to start burning after they are added to the hopper. The time it takes depends on the type of pellet stove you have, the size of the hopper, and the moisture content of the pellets.

The wood you’re using will also affect the burn rate – different wood types will affect the length of time it takes for the pellets to start burning.

What is the Least Amount of Pellets That Can Be Added to a Smoker?

The least amount of pellets you can add to a smoker will depend on the specific model and design of the smoker, as well as the desired cooking temperature. Most pellet smokers usually have a capacity of 15 to 40 pounds.

Adding less than half a pound of pellets to a smoker at a time is not recommended. This is because pellets are typically used to provide a consistent and steady source of heat for smoking, and adding a small number may not be sufficient to maintain the desired cooking temperature.

Additionally, pellets have a size and shape that allows good airflow around them, if you add less, you will compromise the airflow, and the combustion of the pellets will be poor.

What are the Best Pellets to Use?

The best pellets to use depends on the specific application. The best ones for heating are typically hardwood pellets, such as oak or maple, as they burn hot.

For grilling or smoking, food-grade pellets made from wood, such as mesquite, hickory, apple, and cherry, can add unique flavors to the food.

When selecting pellets, it is crucial to choose high-quality pellets made from compressed sawdust that do not contain additives or fillers, as these can negatively impact the burn and flavor of the pellets. Choosing the right size and shape of pellet for your specific appliance or use is also essential.

Other vital standards in choosing suitable pellets include a low ash content, high mechanical durability, and moisture content.

The answer to this question also depends on your personal preferences. People sometimes pick the right pellet that works for the meat they’re grilling or smoking. For example, pork meat might work with sweeter wood like apple and cherry, while veal works with stronger wood like hickory.

How Many Pellets Will a Smoker Use in a Day?

The number of pellets a smoker will use in a day can vary depending on the type of smoker, the smoker’s temperature, and the capacity of the hopper.

Electric smokers typically use fewer pellets than wood pellet smokers. On average, a wood pellet smoker may use around 1 to 2 pounds of pellets per hour of smoking, depending on the temperature setting. A 24-hour smoking session may require 24 to 48 pounds of wood pellets. However, some large commercial wood pellet grills may use even more.

How Long Will a 40lb Bag of Wood Pellets Last in a Smoker?

As an estimate, a 40 lb bag of Traeger pellets lasts anywhere from 12 to 40 hours, depending on the temperature used, the type of smoker, and the type of wood you’re using. All of these factors come into play when calculating the time.

What Can You Do to Extend the Life of Wood Pellets?

Nothing is worse than replacing wood pellets before they’re done. It feels like such a waste, and it’s not sustainable!

Here are ways to extend the life of wood pellets:

  1. Always ensure adequate ventilation where you store your pellets so they don’t get too hot or humid.
  2. Keep them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or high temperatures. The sun can cause the pellets to dry out faster, decreasing their effectiveness.
  3. Keep the pellets covered to protect them from moisture, rain, and snow.
  4. Use a sealed container, such as a plastic or metal bin, to store the pellets. This will help keep out moisture and insects.
  5. Store the pellets off the ground, either on a pallet or in a container with legs. This helps to prevent water damage from a flooded basement or crawlspace.
  6. Rotate the stock, using the oldest pellets first and keeping newer ones in the back. This will ensure that you’re using the pellets while they’re still at their best quality.
  7. Avoid storing the pellets near a chemical or other materials that can emit harmful fumes or odors, affecting their quality.
  8. Use wood pellets regularly once you open the bag.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who loves everything related to food: from buying local produce and sourcing the best ingredients to finding the perfect spice mix and sauce to complement each dish. She loves getting together with friends near a campfire and grilling up some barbecue goodness while having quality conversations - no screens allowed.

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