About 15 years ago my Dad starting selling for a company that had finally broken the pellet stove fire starter code. The stuff was magical. It was one of the first ethanol products to be used in the U.S. mass market. To use it you just sprayed it on the pellet and lit them and turned on the stove. That was it! And that was what everyone wanted.
Then the inevitable happened. Someone couldn’t resist testing the warning label which said, “DO NOT PUT DIRECTLY ON FLAME.” Fortunately no one got hurt but the bottle of pellet stove fire starter exploded. The end result was everyone from the company the made the product to the store that sold it were sued and they all went under.
Now we are left with a rainbow assortment of pellet stove fire starters that all work about as bad as the other. There are gels, liquids, and any number of fiber boards soaked in accelerant on the market. There are even several home made pellet stove fire starters out there.
Because I have been a pellet stove repair technician for over 14 years I have seen the full run of pellet stove fire starters and have had a few favorites over the years. What I have seen is that the process of starting a fire in a pellet stove has been hugely overcomplicated while simpler solutions have been overlooked. I have found the perfect method for lighting a stove that is extremely simple, cheap, and works every time. I believe that the pellet stove fire starter companies will probably put a contract on my head for this because if everyone knew about it, they would go out of business.
There are a variety of methods that have been tried and are still in use today. One of the original ideas was to put a handful of pellets into a cup and soak them with lighter fluid and let them sit for a few minutes. The only trouble was what to do with the cup once you were finished and most people do not want to wait a few minutes for the pellets to soak.
The current variety of pellet stove fire starter is usually in the form of an alcohol based gel. I’m still not sure exactly how this is supposed to be used. I’ve tried mixing it in with the pellets or pouring it in the burn pot and put some pellets on top of it to no avail. I’ve also tried putting a handful of pellets in the burn pot and put the gel on top of it. Usually after fighting with it for five or ten minutes I’ll have figured out how to get it to light. Perhaps you have had similar experiences.
Here is the simplest and most effective way to light a pellet stove. This is so simple you may not believe me but please try it out. Start with two or three crumpled up pieces of newspaper or junk mail and put them in the burn pot. Then put a handful of pellets on top of that. Finally, squirt a little lighter fluid on the pellets and the paper. Light it off with a match or lighter, close the doors and turn on the stove. You will be amazed at how well this works and how fast it works. It beats any pellet stove fire starter out there and works every time. Besides that it is a great way to recycle your newspaper or those pesky notices from the IRS.
Give it a shot and I know you’ll be very pleased.
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