Salting a Wood Fire (in Fireplace) With Coal

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gcantwell
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Post Fri. Oct. 03, 2008 10:48 am

Hi,

newbie, living in Mass.

Tell me if I am crazy or point me to a topic discussion I may have missed.

I would like to buy a coal insert but finances dictate I will have to save up and maybe install next summer. Also, supply is tight and limiting selection.

Can I get any benefit by salting a wood fire with coal with the goal of extending the burn time through the day/night? As I think about it, I would need to have some sort of grate to keep the coal in place while burning. And I will need to be creative on how I build the fire and where I place the coal to not lose the small pieces (pea is available here),

Am I nuts or do I have an idea that might work?

Please advise!

Gary

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Devil505
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Post Fri. Oct. 03, 2008 10:58 am

Wouldn't cost much to try it Gary, to satisfy your curiosity if nothing else. I can pretty much guarantee that it wont extend your fire's burn time though as coal needs to get all its air coming through a deep bed, from underneath. (wood burns fine from the top, but coal doesn't)
I've never tried it though so.....give it a shot & post your results!
War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can't smile, grin. If you can't grin, keep out of the way till you can.
Winston Churchill
Shaking & Poking The TLC2000 Video

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Dallas
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Post Fri. Oct. 03, 2008 11:25 am

If you want to try it in your fireplace, they used to use grates for Canal coal. It was a "grated basket" on legs. I was trying to find a picture by Googling "Canal coal grate". I did come up with some forums referring to such. Also, Google "fireplace coal grate".


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Mike Wilson
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Post Sat. Oct. 04, 2008 9:35 am

Its unfortunate, but a standard woodburning fireplace in a house creates minimal, if any, heat gain to the home itself, unless it is a very small house. An open fireplace uses most of its heat to maintain draft, so while the room you are in may seem warm from the radiant heat, outlying rooms in the house are actually getting colder, as cold air is sucked in from outside to feed the air requirement for the fireplace draft. That said, you may be able to get by burning bituminous in a grate in a small fireplace, but certainly not anthracite.
I have burned anthracite and bituminous in my Jotul Kennebec fireplace insert, but very small amounts. My method was to pile 5-6 large pieces of stove coal immediately in front of the air inlet for the stove, with the remainder of the firebox burning wood. The intention was to increase the length of time that I had hot coals in the stove to restart a fire. I can tell you from trying this numerous times over several years, while interesting to watch, it made absolutely no appreciable difference in the heat from my fire, or the length of time I had coals. It's just not designed for it.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

-- MW
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

gcantwell
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Post Sat. Oct. 04, 2008 10:46 pm

I have a enclosed fireplace with heat exchanger powered by 2 speed fan. I can get a steady stream of heat that will flow upwards through the house.

I will try a sheet of expanded metal sitting on top of the grate and see what happens.

How would I build the fire. Coal down first, kindling, and then the larger pieces of wood?

Ideas?

Gary

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Steve.N
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Post Sun. Oct. 05, 2008 11:48 am

I experimented with coal in a fireplace a bit on an old house that I owned. The fireplace had a glass door with vents at the bottom so most of the air was directed at the bottom of the fire. The biggest problem was shaking the ash, the coal would burn hot for a few hours then steadly decline until it went out burning less than half of the coal to ash. No amount of poking and stiring made a difference and I eventually quit trying.
Life without oil heat is sweet !


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Dallas
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Post Sun. Oct. 05, 2008 11:56 am

The "grate" is part of the secret.

From http://paonthego.wordpress.com/2008/04/11/the-bir ... n-america/
The use of anthracite for domestic purposes appears to have been discovered by Judge Jesse Fell, of Wilkes-Barre. Fell wrote on February 11, 1808 that he had “made the experiment of burning the common stone coal of the valley in a grate, in a common fireplace in my house, and found it will answer the purpose of fuel, making a clearer and better fire, at less expense, than burning wood in the common way.”

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Devil505
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Post Sun. Oct. 05, 2008 11:58 am

gcantwell wrote:I have a enclosed fireplace with heat exchanger powered by 2 speed fan. I can get a steady stream of heat that will flow upwards through the house.
Sounds like a perfect setup for a coal stove sitting in/in front of your fireplace. I would look for a used one if you can find any.I don't think "salting" a wood fire with coal will be worth the aggravation.
War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can't smile, grin. If you can't grin, keep out of the way till you can.
Winston Churchill
Shaking & Poking The TLC2000 Video

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coalkirk
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Post Sun. Oct. 05, 2008 7:17 pm

Pardon the intrusion but adding coal to a wood fireplace seems more like peppering that salting. :lol:
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." —General George S. Patton

Burning rice coal in a 1981 EFM DF520, nut coal in a hand fired Jotul 507.

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coaledsweat
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Post Sun. Oct. 05, 2008 9:00 pm

It may work with bituminous, I would think you would be wasting your time with anthracite.
Anthracite burns well when you make it happy, it will only make you miserable if it's not.
Nothing is impossible for people who don't have to do it themselves.

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