Burning bit and anthracite together...

Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: Ky Speedracer On: Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:26 am

I found out yesterday that our local TSC stores (there are 3 close to where I live just outside of Louisville) are going to start carrying anthracite coal this year. Kimmels nut and rice. $5.99 for a 40lb bag. That's $300 a ton. I haven't checked to see if I can get a discount for buying by the skid yet. That's something I will check on.
I can still buy eastern Ky lump bit coal for $175 a ton.
I have a Hotblast 1557. I know there are a lot of people on here that are not fans of the type of stove/furnace. My experience with it burning bit has been very positive. Essentially I burn it just like wood. I have tried some of the modifications to my stove that others have made in this type of stove that burn anthracite only to undo them. I've found that this stove burns bit very well just the way it was designed. I've not had any of the issues that other folks have had with broken grates etc.

(let me just say that my intent of this post is not to debate this stove. Or, to debate whether bit is better than anthracite or anthracite is better than bit)

I say all the above to get feedback on the pros and cons of maybe burning anthracite and bit together sometimes.
I’ll always have bit because I have a fireplace in my house that burns bit and a potbelly in my shop that burns it (And, I’m in KY. Gotta burn bit…).
Geographically here we are in an area with wild temp swings in late fall/early winter and again in late winter/early spring. It can be 21 here at night and 50 during the day. So my brain went to work on the “what ifs??”.
What if I make the stove modifications to burn anthracite with the goal to keep a small steady fire going all winter and then just add the bit to it when I need to warm it up?
Anyone ever experiment with mixing the two? Is it possible? Are there any potential dangers?
I know I am probably way over thinking this but what the hell. My wife tells me from time to time that I act like a curious little boy…I guess my brain thinks like one to cause that…

As I understand them here are some pros and cons of the two fuels…
Bit Pros
-It's cheaper.
-Very easy to burn.
-Burns hot.
-Easy to start.
-No dust. (it comes in big chunks with no fines/dust)
-Less ash. (bit ash is very fine & powdery and seems to be about half that of anthracite)

Bit Cons
-It can have a distinct odor that some find unpleasant.
-It smokes a lot for the first 30 minutes after you add fuel (due to the volitale gases baking out)
-Difficult to burn during the shoulder months without the house staying in the upper 80s.
-Tending times of only 10 hours or so in cold months (20s or below). Even shorter than that when it's warmer (less fuel, much shorter burn times)
-It's not easy to regulate a steady temp. Bit likes to burn very hot for the first couple of hours (*550 - *700 depending outside temps and draft) which is okay when it's really cold out.

Ant Pros
No smell.
No smoke.
More stable and easier to regulate temps.

Ant Cons
Cost.
Stove modifications. (Easily made. Not a big deal)
Maybe a little dust.

Feel free to add pros & cons. I have no real practical experience burning anthracite in my stove. Just what I’ve read and conversations I’ve had.

Any thoughts??
Ky Speedracer
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Florence HotBlast NO.68 & Potbelly
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: HotBlast 1557M
Coal Size/Type: Ky Lump & Anthracite Nut
Other Heating: Oil


Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: NJJoe On: Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:15 pm

Id say burn anthracite in the shoulder months where it is easier to throttle down and not be smoky like bit.

Burn bit in the colder months where you will need more of it due to the cold temps and dont mind the wide open roaring fire.

IMO, mixing bit and ant together will still give you the "undesireable" characteristics of bit since there are still volatiles baking out of the bit.

You could try loading smaller amounts of bit, more frequently, to minimize the amount of volatiles baking out of the coal all at once. Smaller recharge loads will minimize this.

From what I know about bit, once the volatiles burn off and the coal is in the "charcoal" stage, it is burning much like anthracite
Last edited by NJJoe on Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
NJJoe
 

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: warminmn On: Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:24 pm

I did switch back and forth some and it did work, but is not ideal. My soft coal was real small in size and that did not help. One big advantage of bit is that it mixes well with wood, anthracite doesnt do that real well. If your bit is high quality for 175/ton I'd probably stick with that, but thats just me. Buy a couple bags of ant and try it if you want too, after doing some mods of course.
warminmn
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Chubby Junior, Efel Nestor Martin, Frankenstove
Coal Size/Type: nut and stove anthracite. Soft coal
Other Heating: wood

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: Lightning On: Tue Oct 06, 2015 2:48 pm

Another option might be to cover half the grate while it's not cold yet.
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Overmodified/Bored out Clayton 1537
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Awesome Size

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: davidmcbeth3 On: Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:14 pm

I wish I could get bit in CT but its nowhere to be found.
davidmcbeth3
 
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea/anthra
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: windyhill4.2 On: Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:20 pm

If bit burns much like wood i would say you will not like mixing ant & bit. I tried mixing ant & wood in our OWB (we no longer have the OWB),the 2 fuels are so different,it just did not work well.
windyhill4.2
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1960 EFM520 installed in truck box
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404 with variable blower
Coal Size/Type: 404-nut, 520 rice ,anthracite for both

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: hotblast1357 On: Wed Oct 07, 2015 5:29 am

i would say one or the other, you will not have any luck mixing them, maybe anthracite in the shoulder months, i could run my hot blast at 180 degree load door temp for 24 hours no problem, and you can run bit in the thick of it especially if its that much cheaper, but if you burn anthracite in the shoulder months youd be lucky to burn a ton, but i think what you will find out is once you burn anthracite for a little while you will be burning it 24/7 as it is cleaner, way easier too tend too, and lasts a lot longer.
hotblast1357
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1984 Eshland S260
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: 1990 New Yorker WC 90
Coal Size/Type: anthracite pea
Other Heating: oil furnace

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Wed Oct 07, 2015 7:57 am

You mentioned 'dangers' of mixing. I can't envision any dangers other than 'out fires'. I also can't see a positive experience coming from mixing the two coals because of the different burn characteristics.

But you are in the unique position where you could attempt this and let us all know what happens :up: :clap: . I personally will never do it as the Bituminous coal I use is $85 a ton. I can't justify the $300 per ton cost of Anthracite. But, with that said, I am curious of the outcome.
SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous
Other Heating: Oil furnace


Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: Ky Speedracer On: Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:16 am

I had some idle time yesterday at work. That's not usually a good thing for me because my brain tends to wander (Attention deficit disorder is a bitch!). They say "curiosity killed the cat"... good thing I'm not a cat.
Anyway, since I have no experience with anthracite in this type of stove I went back and read Lightning's entire thread "Chronicles of a Clayton" (by the way, great stuff in there Lightning). Believe it or not it consumed several hours. What happened was I would read everyone's posts and responses to what he would write and that would lead me to checkout their threads and/or posts. This forum is remarkable in the accumulation of knowledge. I took notes and compared everything I read to what I have learned about burning bit and I think I agree with Don -
SWPaDon wrote: you are in the unique position where you could attempt this and let us all know what happens :up: :clap: .

Especially with this style of stove. I have easy access to what is probably considered the best bituminous coal in the country and now have easy access to anthracite as well.
As you all have suggested, I think I'll buy a couple of skids of nut anthracite from TSC and a ton of Ky lump. Begin burning the anthracite this fall to see how it works and hopefully achieve some lower steadier temps. Then when outdoor temps start to really dip at night time, maybe throw a couple of big lumps of bit on there and see what happens. My guess is that the bit will tend to smother the anthracite as it turns to ash. I'm curious though, if I only place a couple of big chunks on the back end of the fire or on one side or the other, how the anthracite will respond. Will it go out entirely? Will it continue to burn in the areas where its not covered by the bit ash? Then when I shake the coals down in the morning to clear ash and reload, will the anthracite come back to life? Another thought was to try and maybe "bank" the anthracite by pulling it forward...leaving just enough to cover the grates...then throw some bit in the back to let it burn so as to not smother the anthracite fire. (keep in mind that my Hotblast has a huge firebox. Something like 80lbs so there is plenty of room). As the bit burns down it truns to a very powdery ash...I would think effectively covering most of rear the fire box which would, at least theoretically, keep the primary air flowing through the front of the firebox and feeding the anthracite fire.
I guess the goal of all this would be to benefit from the positive characteristics of both types of fuel (i know, wishful thinking right?). A nice steady fire during the day that doesn't need tending and the outside temps are moderate - Then at night when outside temps cool off, throw the hot stuff in when you get home from work to warm up the house. What's the worst thing that could happen...The fire goes out??? So what...I'll start another!
In case anyone is interested I'll try and document my tinkering around. My analysis skill set is nowhere close to that of Lightning's but I'll give it a whirl. Not sure how much use it will be to anyone but it maybe something for you all to find entertaining... lol
Ky Speedracer
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Florence HotBlast NO.68 & Potbelly
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: HotBlast 1557M
Coal Size/Type: Ky Lump & Anthracite Nut
Other Heating: Oil

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: scalabro On: Wed Oct 07, 2015 10:28 am

KYS....it will be great info and field testing is ALWAYS superior to going geek in a laboratory :D
scalabro
 
Baseburners & Antiques: 2 Crawford 40's, PP Stewart No. 14, Abendroth Bros "Record 40"
Coal Size/Type: Stove / Anthracite.
Other Heating: Oil fired, forced hot air.

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:15 am

I will be watching your trials with this. It will be entertaining for sure. :D
SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
Coal Size/Type: Bituminous
Other Heating: Oil furnace

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: windyhill4.2 On: Wed Oct 07, 2015 12:51 pm

Wood & bit both like lots of over the fire air,anthracite wants lots of air from below, that is where the problem lies with trying to burn the 2 kinds of fuel together.
windyhill4.2
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1960 EFM520 installed in truck box
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404 with variable blower
Coal Size/Type: 404-nut, 520 rice ,anthracite for both

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: Lightning On: Wed Oct 07, 2015 1:51 pm

Ky Speedracer wrote:As you all have suggested, I think I'll buy a couple of skids of nut anthracite from TSC and a ton of Ky lump. Begin burning the anthracite this fall to see how it works and hopefully achieve some lower steadier temps. Then when outdoor temps start to really dip at night time, maybe throw a couple of big lumps of bit on there and see what happens. My guess is that the bit will tend to smother the anthracite as it turns to ash. I'm curious though, if I only place a couple of big chunks on the back end of the fire or on one side or the other, how the anthracite will respond. Will it go out entirely? Will it continue to burn in the areas where its not covered by the bit ash? Then when I shake the coals down in the morning to clear ash and reload, will the anthracite come back to life? Another thought was to try and maybe "bank" the anthracite by pulling it forward...leaving just enough to cover the grates...then throw some bit in the back to let it burn so as to not smother the anthracite fire. (keep in mind that my Hotblast has a huge firebox. Something like 80lbs so there is plenty of room). As the bit burns down it truns to a very powdery ash...I would think effectively covering most of rear the fire box which would, at least theoretically, keep the primary air flowing through the front of the firebox and feeding the anthracite fire.


Firstly, thanks for the kind words... :) I don't think the bit will smother the fire since primary combustion air is coming in underneath it. Just do at least a partial shake down of the anthracite fire before putting some bit on top. While I was tinkering with bit, I would go back and forth between the two, just not on a daily basis. I found that just giving the new bit coal plenty of secondary air was all it needed. Some primary air will need to be allowed to keep the anthracite underneath it burning.

I think with some experimentation and observation you'll have good results with what your goals are. I would be inclined to shake down before adding coal (whether its bit OR ant) , always.

I would also try using layers instead of banking (at first anyways)..
I've never been a fan of banking. :)
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Overmodified/Bored out Clayton 1537
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Awesome Size

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: gweedow On: Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:13 am

Hello all,
I have the newmac hand fed furnace. It's a combination oil/coal. Maker says should use Anthracite in it. I got it in 2012. First 2 years I had it I used Bit coal. Here in South western Pa., I paid 90 dollars a ton. But, I noticed after far into the heating season, I saw a lot of soot particles on my white vinyl porch banisters. So I checked outside and could see soot falling as I looked out the basement door. Probably when I just shoveled in some bit. The thing is, neighbors are very close to my house, and I live in a duplex. Neighbor on other side. Hah. Didn't want complaints, so I went to Anthracite last couple years. Yesterday got 1 ton. 265.00 a Ton. 23 miles away from me to get it. The Bit is only 5 miles away. I may try a little Bit this year all so. Good thing oil is down some, but for how long. One thing or more, Anthracite is sure much cleaner. No matter how I would try, bit dust around the furnace room. Tracking it in to the basement. I have about 30 feet to carry 5 gallon buckets of coal from garage to basement. Garage is not attached. I put up a big sheet to cover the door going up in to the first floor, to try and stop dust from getting into rest of house. Yes, I hate the Idea of paying so much for anthracite, but It's easier to keep the place clean with it. Seems to me it burns longer per load. I even let it be with red coals for a while. Then just open the bottom ash door for a good few minutes. Later on put a thin layer of coals on it again. But, like i said it is hard with the price of anthracite. I guess I'll run the oil part more this year. I'm trying more and more how to use less anthracite in the furnace. I'll be like old schrooge. (Mr. Cratchit , one lump of coal again, uhump).
gweedow
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Newmac
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite, nut all so Bit.
Other Heating: Oil

Re: Burning bit and anthracite together...

PostBy: oros35 On: Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:51 am

I have mixed the 2. Difference is my stove is designed for Ant or wood. Doesn't do Bit coal. But if I get the right mix I can make it work. 75% ant 25% bit is about the max bit I can add.

Now what else I've found out is I think it decreases overall efficiency. I think a lot of the BTU's in the volatiles emitted from the Bit coal go up the chimney. It's pretty much impossible to get the correct over fire to under fire air mixture to make both of them happy.

I love the smell of Bit. And I can get it about 1/2 the price I get Ant for. So mixing it I come out relatively even, and it's fun to experiment.

I would love to have an old parlor stove designed for Bit, that would be my best route, but haven't found one that's meets my budget. I'd need to re-do my chimney to. (and my Hub Heater works so well and Ant is so nice to burn, the few extra dollars a year isn't a big deal)
oros35
 
Baseburners & Antiques: 1912 Smith & Anthony Hub Heater #215
Stove/Furnace Make: Smith & Anthony Co.
Stove/Furnace Model: #215 Hub Heater