Heating pellets are a no-no.
I assumed so, but have never heard of "food grade pellets".
That would be because there is no such thing as a food grade pellet. It's not a regulated product. Its marketing fluff. If the pellet is all hardwood 'clean' hardwood, you can burn it in your smoker. Talk to the manufacturer.
What you may get from companies that manufacture specifically for the smoker/grilling market is specific blends of hardwoods that are supposed to impart the right flavour.
Some people claim they cannot taste the difference between a quality 'heating' pellet and the 'food grade' pellets out there. Others claim they can. I wonder if it is one of those things where you have to do side by side tastings to tell the difference.
FWIW, most (not sure which) food grade pellets contain something like 70% oak and 30% flavour woods. You can buy pure pellets (ie: 100% hickory, mesquite...) but now you are paying a real premium.
Quality hardwood heating pellets will run you 10 - 12 cents per pound. Blended food grade runs around $1 per pound. Pure flavour woods are more.
I've found a company local to me that produces a hardwood pellet consisting of oak, cherry and walnut that I plan to try out. They state on their website that the pellets are hardwood sawdust only, no binders or other stuff (like MDF??). If I can find a reliable source for pure flavour woods here, I can probably make my own blends at a much lower cost than what is offered by the 'food grade' manufacturers.
Andrew. Think of the "Heating pellets are a no-no" statement as the bbq equivelant of "Aluminum speaker baskets are a must" for the audiopile crowd.
Andrew. I was wondering about pellet availability as well. It looks like Traeger is widely available in Canada (there are 5 places in the KW area) but I don't know the cost. I picked up a bag of mixed fruitwood with my GMG today at the $1 per lb. price. There is a GMG dealer in Barrie and I suspect their pricing is similar.
Your comments about the failing electronics is interesting. I have not seen any similar comments in the pellet grill discussions I've read, and I've done a LOT of reading in the last week. When you look at it, what you have is a simple control board, PID and a couple of thermometers. This is not bleeding edge tech, so it should not be hard to manufacture reliable electronics.
Edit: From the Gildale Farms website
"Can I use Gildale Fuel Pellets in my pellet barbecue?
Gildale Fuel Pellets are very effective in pellet barbecues. Our pellets are additive-free and are completely safe to use to cook your food."