Newbie Asks: How Much Coal to Start a Fire

Modern and vintage hand fired coal stove are similar to a wood stove and in some cases can burn either. They need to be regulated and fed by hand usually every 12 to 24 hours depending on your usage. They require no power to operate making them ideal for rural settings with long power outages.
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chicgurl1974
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Posts: 19
Joined: Tue. Dec. 09, 2008 5:39 am
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: II (not sure haha)
Location: Hallam Pennsylvania
Contact:

Post Tue. Dec. 09, 2008 10:25 am

I'm switching from wood to coal because of all the snow and rain on the wood. I think stacking bags of coal would be easier for me. I have a Harman II stove. I bought my first few tester bags of coal and i'm totally cluless

1) how much coal to use when first starting your fire - 40 lbs? 60 lbs? a few pieces?
2) when to add more coals (every hour? few hours?)
3) when to shake (flame is low?)
4) when to clean that bottom grate - is it safe to open and clean out excess coals while the fire is cooking above? Obviously if I Let the fires die it will be cold in the house when I clean
5) Is anyone using a coal starter gel?
6) what size coal? I bought the stove size huge nuggets
7) how long does it take to get the stove hot after u start it?

I'm having a hard time time because I'm clueless. I started the fire like a normal wood fire. I tossed in about 15 coals - but the temps just didn't rise well. I got to 63. So I added more wood - temps rose - I added more coals - seems like the fire is lasting longer before the next wood piece. Maybe the coal is kicking in? temps dropped a bit when the log was almost completely burned. I figured ok the coal can't be working because coal is supposed to keep burning and keep being hot for awhile. I added more coal. Nothing. Added wood - temps rose. Sighhh. I have no heat back up system and a 2700 square foot house - it gets to be below 46 degrees INSIDE my home haha HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP! Anyone live in the York area want to volunteer their expertise to me?

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Rob R.
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Posts: 11348
Joined: Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 4:26 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Lehigh Rice
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy
Location: Chazy, NY

Post Tue. Dec. 09, 2008 8:19 pm

What kind of coal did you buy? Does it say anything on the bag? I would guess that you purchased anthracite and not bituminous coal, if that is the case you should post in the hand-fired forum. There is a thread over there that discusses how to get a coal fire going: How to Light a Hand Fired Coal Stove

chicgurl1974
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Posts: 19
Joined: Tue. Dec. 09, 2008 5:39 am
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: II (not sure haha)
Location: Hallam Pennsylvania
Contact:

Post Sun. Dec. 21, 2008 1:08 pm

anthracite coal is what I use - i'll check that forum thanks!

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chicgurl1974
New Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue. Dec. 09, 2008 5:39 am
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: II (not sure haha)
Location: Hallam Pennsylvania
Contact:

Post Sun. Dec. 21, 2008 3:31 pm

markviii wrote:There is a thread over there that discusses how to get a coal fire going: How to Light a Hand Fired Coal Stove
Thanks! I didnt know it existed until u told me. I'm reading the posts now and at least I know i'm not alone in this problem hahah - i'm learning lil at a time - it's so exhausting to keep the first coals up - like a new born baby! u can't stop till it feeds on its own!

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Freddy
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Posts: 6604
Joined: Fri. Apr. 11, 2008 2:54 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman Anderson 130 (pea)
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Reading piece o' junk in the barn (rice)
Coal Size/Type: Pea size, Superior, deep mined
Location: Orrington, Maine

Post Sun. Dec. 21, 2008 3:41 pm

Can you show us a photo of your stove?
Orrington, Maine
Fred

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

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Westy
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Posts: 35
Joined: Tue. Sep. 30, 2008 5:47 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Mark 2
Location: Ontario,Canada

Post Sun. Dec. 21, 2008 5:21 pm

I have a Harman Mark 2.

I get a wood fire going, and split up some hardwood nice and fine. and keep adding hardwood till I get three or four inches of wood embers.

I then open the ash pan door and add about ten pounds of coal evenly across the the bed of wood embers, and let that catch fire.

DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE UNATTENDED WHILE YOU HAVE THE ASH DOOR OPEN

You will hear a lot of crackling and popping as the coal heats up, then you should see red blue flames as the combo of wood and coal burns. Once the coal stops popping, I add another ten pounds or so of coal and let it catch fire. When this second charge of coal is burning well, I load another twenty pounds of coal, and shut the ash pan door and dial my draft to one turn open.

During this process, I try to keep the flue temperatures below 500F. I have a barometric damper installed 24 inches above the stove, and monitor the temperature half way between it and the stove.

I use chestnut or pea sized coal in this method, either size works well for me, with slight variances in how and when I load the each layer.

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