Water and wood don’t work well if the goal is to create fire and heat. Water, from a physics perspective, is an incredible heat sink. That means it will absorb heat and energy in a tremendous amount compared to how much water is present.
That also means moisture makes it hard to burn something soaked with it. Damp Traeger pellets are a bit of a problem and trying to get them fully dry again can be a bit of a challenge.
Traeger Pellets Damp
Grills fueled by wood pellets only work best when the wood pellets are completely dry.
This is because the pellets have to be a specific size and shape to work the way the grill was designed to function. When wood pellets of any kind get exposed to moisture, particularly sitting dampness, they begin to absorb the water into the pellet itself.
In essence, damp pellets have become a sponge, pulling the moisture into their contents. That creates two problems.
First, the pellets get bigger. Wood pellets involve compressed wood material packed into a very tight form.
As the moisture invades the wood, it has nowhere to go, but the wood fibers bring the moisture into themselves.
So, the fibers themselves get bigger. The overall pellet grows in size and becomes softer and more pliant. Those are not good qualities for a pellet to have to move through a Traeger easily.
Second, the moisture itself in the pellet makes it harder to light. As heat is applied, the moisture has to be drawn out from the pellet for it to ignite and catch fire.
As long as moisture is present, the pellet won’t ignite because it can’t reach the conversion temperature to turn into a gaseous state (more physics here).
So, damp pellets are bad for grilling because they don’t burn.
What to do if Your Traeger Pellets are Damp
If the pellets have not absorbed too much moisture, they could still be used. The goal is to get the moisture out of them as quickly as possible.
They should be pulled out of the bag that has dampness and spread out on a table so the moisture on them can evaporate.
Once dry, they should be put into a new container that is completely dry so the moisture doesn’t carry over. Any pellets that have already swollen should be removed.
They are going to be useless in the Traeger and could plug up the flow of pellets moving through the grill system to the firepot.
Can you Still Use Traeger Pellets if they are Damp?
It depends. The amount of moisture that the pellets have absorbed makes the difference in whether anything can be recovered or if it’s a loss.
On the other hand, if the pellets can be used for other purposes, there’s no sense throwing them away.
Inflated pellets make for good animal litter if one has pets such as hamsters or similar.
How to Get Wet Pellets Out of Traeger
Removing wet pellets can be a bit of a chore if they have been really soaked.
Essentially, one might have to use some tools to remove everything, especially if the pellets started sticking to each other. Most will come free, but it might take some elbow grease to remove all the bits, especially if they fall apart during the cleaning.
How to keep Traeger Pellets Dry
Ideally, fuel pellets should be kept in a dry bag or container that is water-tight, so external moisture can’t get in. While paper bags might seem like a better idea, they absorb moisture and then transfer inside with dampness.
Plastic is better, as long as the moisture doesn’t get inside the bag and becomes trapped. Alternatively, pellets can be packed in a water-tight plastic box or tube container instead, like a large Tupperware box.
That helps keep the contents dry and avoids exposure to humidity changes outside.
Remember, the goal is to keep pellets dry in the first place so that they can be used on demand without issue.
Wet or damp pellets won’t burn well, make a lot of smoke, and generally become a big mess. Avoid that headache in the first place by keeping your fuel pellets completely dry at all times.