Sitting on the coal/wood fence

Sitting on the coal/wood fence

PostBy: tote On: Sat Mar 04, 2006 2:08 pm

Hi, After burning wood for most of this winter ,I picked up a few bags of anthracite(nut) after depleting my wood supply. Now i'm a little disillusioned with the results. Here's why: coal is hard to start : I seem to be spending a lot more time in the cellar coaxing a coal fire to burn than I do with the wood. Heat: wood gets the stove hotter /faster . Unburned fuel: Virtually none with wood, and when I went to take out the ash bin which has the unburned chunks and spent chunks it weighs a ton . Any tips /encouragement is welcome. p.s I like the thought of handling coal vs. wood especially if the cost is comparable. Thanks :|
tote
 

PostBy: Mac On: Sat Mar 04, 2006 2:23 pm

Hi Tote, Not quite sure what you are using as far as stove. One important factor you might want to know is that coal fires must get the draft from below which is different from a wood fire which recieves it draft from the top. It might be that you had the draft setting set for a wood fire and not a coal fire. I hope this helps.

Mac
Mac
 

Re: Sitting on the coal/wood fence

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:07 pm

tote wrote:Hi, After burning wood for most of this winter ,I picked up a few bags of anthracite(nut) after depleting my wood supply. Now i'm a little disillusioned with the results.


Hopefully it's a coal/wood burner, you have to burn it in a stove designed to burn coal. If it's wood only you're going to experience trouble and most likely will damage the stove shortly.


Here's why: coal is hard to start : I seem to be spending a lot more time in the cellar coaxing a coal fire to burn than I do with the wood. Heat: wood gets the stove hotter /faster .


The wood may light faster, it may burn hotter initailly but it is no comparison to coal once it's lit. The key to starting a coal fire is patience, first build a wood fire, get it good and hot. Make sure you have the bottom draft fully open. Add some coal, about an inch, it should begin to crackle immediately, if it doesn't your fire is not hot enough. Wait a minute or two Slowly keep adding more until you have filled the stove completely. That doesn't mean until you have filled every nook and cranny but whatever the stove is capable holding in the firebox. At this point you should have blue wisps coming up through the coal that hasn't lit yet. Once you have sufficient fire going put the draft back to almost nothing....

Keep in mind what you do now takes a while to take affect... Closing the draft off after you have a huge fire going isn't going to slow it down for quite a long time.

Once it's lit, don't poke it, don't shake it, don't even look at it funny. Leave it alone until your ready to shake and add more coal. One of the benefits of coal is the long burn time, you should easily get 12 hours out of it on single loading and shaking. Therefore most people keep their fires going for the entire season so you should only have to light it once.

Unburned fuel: Virtually none with wood, and when I went to take out the ash bin which has the unburned chunks and spent chunks it weighs a ton .



A) Your probably not giving it suffient time to burn and/or shaking it out before it burns. Again you have to have patience

B) Could be the product is not that great, but most hand fired units usually burn even sub standard product up to almost nothing. Unless it's all rock you should at the very least get it burnt to a semi ash for lack of a better term.

Most people who switch from woo to coal experience the same problems as you, they have there habits for burning wood which work great for wood but do not apply to coal. It's a whole different ballgame.


Any tips /encouragement is welcome. p.s I like the thought of handling coal vs. wood especially if the cost is comparable. Thanks :|


Cost comparison depends... In most cases in the end coal is cheaper, I even have a few customers who sell wood that burn coal to heat there homes if that tells you anything.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite


Re: Sitting on the coal/wood fence

PostBy: Oo-v-oO On: Sat Mar 04, 2006 9:37 pm

NEPAForum Admin wrote:Most people who switch from woo to coal experience the same problems as you, they have there habits for burning wood which work great for wood but do not apply to coal. It's a whole different ballgame.


I'd agree with that for sure.

Now that I have stuck with it and got to know how coal behaves in my stove as compared to wood, it's not bad.
It DOES require patience. While I only have to tend to the stove twice a day, I need to budget more time in the morning to get it shook and loaded before I leave for work, where with wood it is a much quicker process.

The amount of heat you get out of coal though - wow. That reminds me, I have to go cut back the air some - it's almost 80 degrees upstairs here! :)
Oo-v-oO
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Ashley

PostBy: tote On: Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:35 am

Thank you all for the replies. This is what i've learned 1. The draft from the bottom thing. I've always used that for just getting things (coal and wood )going. 2. have patience . I suspected that might be part of my problem. More questions. Do i need to wait til each "layer" of coal ignites?
and I 've read twice that I need to fill the stove . This baby will hold somewhere between 50- 80 lbs . I'm a little leary to do that.. Will post some pics when I figure out how :?
tote
 

PostBy: Richard S. On: Sun Mar 05, 2006 10:14 am

tote wrote: More questions. Do i need to wait til each "layer" of coal ignites?



Not necessarily, once you have it going you can fill it up. The patience part comes in at the beggining when you are initially trying to start it, as I mentioned a good hot wood fire is essential. Basically you want to put just enough to cover the wood.Once you see blue wisps coming up through the coal it's lit. From there you can add more, keep in mind it may appear that it's not burning if you add a lot but give it some time.

and I 've read twice that I need to fill the stove . This baby will hold somewhere between 50- 80 lbs . I'm a little leary to do that.. Will post some pics when I figure out how :?


Most stove can't fit mre than 40lb or so but as long as you can control the fire filling it up won't be an issue. It may even be desirable if you want to heat a large space. Make sure to turn the damper back well before it gets ripping. With that much though I wouldn't go quite that far, start out with about 40 lb.s and work your way from there. You don't "have" to fill it up all the way but that usually works the best with most stoves and situations. What you are going to want is about 4 or 5 inches of coal.

With a little experimintation you'll figure it out and hopefully will be quite pleased.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

PostBy: SMITTY On: Sun Mar 05, 2006 7:22 pm

My handfired Harman Mark I burns better if I load it until I can't fit another piece in.

Pile it on, and let her burn. Just control heat output with the damper.

When I first started using coal, I had the damper open as if I were burning wood.....TOO HOT!!

My damper is a dial type, and I have it out only 1 TURN from fully shut and it burns nice and hot for over 12 hrs. Coal barley needs any air (compared to a wood stove) to keep a nice hot fire.
SMITTY
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Patriot Coal - custom built by Jim Dorsey
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III (not currently in use)
Coal Size/Type: Rice / Blaschak anthracite
Other Heating: Oil fired Burnham boiler

PostBy: blue83camaro On: Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:25 am

I have burned both wood and coal. Right now I am burning wood because I have it. I get it for free, it mostly costs me time. The coal is nice if you want to mess with the fire less and keep the house a more constant temp. When burning wood the house is usually cool in the morning but only takes a half hour to warm up. If you screw up and let coal go out it is more of a pain to restart and catch up, but that rarely happens once you have it figured out. Coal does have a lot more ash than wood. When I burn coal I get three cans of ash a week vs one with wood. If I had to pay for wood I would burn coal.

A note on filling your stove. When you fill it make sure to leave some of the old fire uncovered so there are still flames. If you don't gases will build up and ignite causing a small explosion. It is not dangerous just exciting. Also make sure to use screws to hold flue sections together so they don't blow apart if it happens.
blue83camaro
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Us Stove
Stove/Furnace Model: 1600G

PostBy: kirk On: Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:30 am

I burned wood for 20 years and the old saying is true. Heat with wood, get warm twice. I have cut, split, stacked and moved more wood than I care to remember. Coal is so much easier. As far as lightling it, it just takes alittle patience and experience. Buy a stoker and you'll only have to light it once in the fall. My boiler has been burning constantly since November. Also no shaking required and no guessing about when and how much coal to add to the fire. It feeds rice coal as needed and burns perfectly. The one slight down side with coal is all the ash. I use it in a wooded pathway as a base material. If I didn't have a place to put it, I could see it being a bit of a problem. I guess the trash man would take it. Also, it seems no mater when I buy my coal, it is soaking wet. I don't know about the larger sizes of coal but rice coal packs so tightly together that it never really dries out. I am getting to the bottom of my supply in the coal bin and the coal is still wet there. It burns fine but it can cause corrosion in the coal hopper. Does everyone else using rice coal find the same to be true?

The topic was going off into the direction of answering your question about wet coal so I started a new.
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kirk