Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Link to Information Regarding Firing Coal

In reviewing where recent viewers of this blog have come from, I saw that several readers had arrived via a site called  After investigation, I found out that this website is a HUMONGOUS discussion forum about home heating (and cooking) with coal.  I could spend an entire day reading and learning there.

While my blog is devoted to cooking with wood--a fact which appears to cause them to shake their heads a little--I do know that some people who burn wood during the day keep their fires going at night with coal because of its longer burn time.

I have only had two experiences with burning coal, both of which were in the Qualified Range because it was equipped to do so.  The first experience was after I had gone to visit Lehman Hardware in Kidron, Ohio, for the first time.  While in Amish country there, I purchased a small sack of coal at a lumber yard.  I brought it home and tried it out.  I suspicion that it was bituminous (soft) coal because it was a mess to burn.  The whole inside of the stove was quickly coated with feather-like appendages of soot that caused the stove to draw very poorly.  It was quite smoky, and the smoke smelled horrible.

The second time that I had a chance to burn coal in the Qualified was very different.  Nancy's grandparents broke up housekeeping in 2010, and in the cob bin in their summer kitchen, a few lumps of coal remained from the days some sixty years earlier when they were still heating with a combination of wood, cobs, and coal.  I picked through the decaying cobs and hauled home all of the coal that could be found.

I am quite sure that this coal was anthracite (hard) coal.  It burned with little odor and little smoke, and I would have to admit that I liked it--a lot.  I can definitely see the appeal: long burn time, no creosote worries, a more easily controlled fire, etc.  But alas, one has to burn what one has available, and even after a great deal of research, I know of no place where one could purchase nut or lump coal around here.  The other problem is that one little word which gets in the way: "purchase."  At this point, we burn wood not only because it is what we have available right here on our farm, but also because it doesn't cost us anything but chainsaw supplies and maintenance, exercise, and time.  Furthermore, we did not purchase the coal grates available for the Margin Gem, so burning coal in it right now is not really an option anyway.

At any rate, the people at NEPACrossroads said some very nice things about my blog and linked to it, so I want to return the favor.  Many of their discussion points are applicable to cooking on a wood fire, too, and the pictures of their vintage stoves are fun to look at.

That said, take a look if you feel like it, and should you decide to burn coal, be sure that your stove is properly equipped to do so.

You can visit the thread about cooking with coal at NEPACrossroads by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jim,
    Interesting site. I remember as a kid my family burned coal, well most everyone did in MA. who lived in the older homes. I remember the coal truck pulling in opening the cellar window and inserting the shoot and all the coal piling into the coal bins. And shoveling coal ...I think the only time we weren't able to keep our home warm and the wood stove burning all night, was when we first started burning wood.
    Now like most folks who burn, we start our fire when it gets cold and keep it going until spring a constant burn. We may if we get a nice day, let it go out to clean it and the stove pipe, but that is it.
    Like you we burn wood because we have it, and it is cost effective for us in this big farmhouse.
    Maybe the "new" coal is different, but I don't care if I ever see another piece again.
    Thanks for sharing the site.