Pellets are a form of biomass material (usually wood), dried and processed into easily combustible pellet form. They are clean to handle and their ‘free flowing’ characteristics make them ideal for automatic heating systems.
Pellet stoves are a solid fuel burning stove that burn Wood Pellets as fuel. Pellet stoves are generally much cheaper to run than fossil fuel based heating systems, but have been slightly more expensive than corn. Though there are sometimes problems with a consistent supply of wood pellets. It is advisable to buy a stock of wood pellets in the fall, before the heating season really kicks in. January can be a tough month to find pellets for sale.
Many pellet stoves can also burn corn, though burning 100% corn is generally not recommended in pellet stoves because of a couple of problems. First, auto ignition systems don't work; and, second, corn tends to produce a hard glassy slag in the burning chamber. Some pellet stoves have agitators in the burning chamber and can therefore handle burning higher percentages of corn.
It is also important to note the moisture content of corn versus wood pellets with corn at about 15% or higher and wood pellets at 10% or less. The higher moisture content of corn is also the reason that corn has a lower net energy content (7,000 BTU/lb at 15% moisture) than wood pellets (about 8,000 BTU/lb) since the extra moisture has to be boiled off during combustion.
Before burning any mix of corn greater than 25% corn, 75% wood pellets, it is advisable to contact your manufacturer to see if your stove is rated to handle alternate forms of biomass fuels. Failing to do so could cause, at the very least, damage to your stove and at the worst burn-through and house fire!