Alternatives for Lighting Coal

This forum is for common products and questions such as chimney installations, CO detectors, coal bin designs and a variety of other general topics that do not fit into the other forums.
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Posts: 143
Joined: Sat. Jun. 28, 2008 2:32 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Pocono BV 90,000 BTU
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Location: Central Maine

Post Fri. Feb. 06, 2009 8:48 pm

Hmmmm....road flares? Reminds me of this night......

Reminds me of a month ago my stove went out while I was cleaning the glass and cleaning some spilled ash form inside. About 9:00 at night. Looking for anything in the cellar to start the stove again. No coal mice left so tried some lamp oil over the top of a pile of coal on the grate. No luck...just burned the oil off the coal. Tried to make my own coal mouse with a little bit (ok a fair amount) of pyrodex from my black powder hunting stuff. Don"t do this. Just barely got the stove door closed when the pyrodex caught full load and blew the coal off the grates and against the window in the door. Close one. Wife wanted to know what all the smell was........close one again.

Tried one of them Duraflame things......didn't work for me. Just gonna buy a few coal mice to have on hand.
Last edited by Cold_Mainer on Fri. Feb. 06, 2009 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Posts: 33
Joined: Fri. Oct. 03, 2008 1:57 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Harman Magnafire
Stove/Furnace Model: Harman I
Location: Bridgton, Maine

Post Fri. Feb. 06, 2009 10:45 pm

I use Matchlight charcoal and put a thick layer on the grates of my Harman Mark I. I lite them with a long match and they lite a piece of newspaper that I put under the grates. What the match doesn't lite the newspaper will! I let the charcoal 'cook' (opening the ash door once in a while to really get it going!) until their ready for 'steak' and then put in a layer of coal and let that catch good and then fill the stove until all the 'blue ladies' are happy!! Works every time!!

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Joined: Thu. Apr. 30, 2009 4:56 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska Stoker

Post Thu. Apr. 30, 2009 5:02 pm

It's hard to get mice, BUT another alternative that I use is to cut a flare into 3-4" pieces put it under the coal with the end exposed and light it with a propane torch. Works just like a mouse, only cheaper and easier to find! :)

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Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker, Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: 90K, Mark III
Location: Elmira, NY

Post Thu. Apr. 30, 2009 9:24 pm

Some of us have tried to make our own starter bags. I have had some success here. Others may have made out better than me. Now I use just straight cowboy coal, hit it with a torch for a min. Let it get burning good and throw on a layer of coal. Starts every time.

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Joined: Thu. Mar. 13, 2008 10:29 am
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: keystoker 160
Hand Fed Coal Stove: hitzer 75 in garage
Stove/Furnace Make: keystoker/hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: koker 160/ hitzer 75
Location: Linesville, Pa.

Post Fri. May. 01, 2009 8:07 am

I`ve used some kindling wood & a lot of that jelled fire starter & got it going, seemed to work pretty well at the time.
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Post Fri. May. 01, 2009 9:00 am

I just go out back and get some tulip poplar. I can usually just pick it up off the ground or fire up the chainsaw for a minute. I have an old 14" Homelite and a big McCulloch "Timber Bear" that I found sticking out of a garbage can a few years ago. I cleaned the carb and that saw starts every time now. Looks like my stove is off for the season ..

I get a little wood fire going, start it with cardboard and twigs, and then toss in coal every few minutes until it's established. Tulip poplar is not the greatest wood for wood fires, but really good for starting coal fires since it burns hot and fast!
Picture 046.jpg

Posts: 208
Joined: Sat. Jan. 31, 2009 12:29 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Alaska Channing III
Other Heating: Gas FA
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Channing III
Location: Western MA

Post Sat. May. 02, 2009 4:20 pm

I tried the road flare thing with my Channing stoker. I tried cutting a 10 minute flare into 3 pieces and tried one at a time, without success. So, I doubled them side by side...still no success. I finally gave up and went back to the store where I bought the stove and they still had mice. It STILL took 2 tries!

A couple of weeks ago, when I shut down, I discovered the down-side of road flares. The hot-stuff that drips out of them succeeded in plugging up a couple of the air holes under the fire. I had to use an awl to bang it out of the 3 holes that were plugged and a couple that were partially plugged. No more flares for me!

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Posts: 2293
Joined: Fri. Jan. 11, 2008 10:49 am
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Keystoker Koker
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vermont Casting Vigilant II 2310
Other Heating: #2 Oil Furnace
Location: Pequest River Valley, Warren Co NJ

Post Sat. May. 02, 2009 5:53 pm

I haven't tied this yet but have thought of adding a good amount of dried corn to the coal before placing it on the starter fire. Corn starts to burn at lower temperatures and burns mighty hot by the time the wood fire starts the coal burning. I've thought that the earlier burning corn will kind of turbo charge the heat level and light the coal sooner. I'd guess it would help light a stoker quicker since corn stoves use induced combustion air just like coal stokers. Kind of like adding mini flairs to the coal with out the drips Bratkinson noticed
Last edited by VigIIPeaBurner on Sat. May. 02, 2009 8:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM 520 HighBoy
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: DVC-500 x 2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice
Location: Warrenton, NC

Post Sat. May. 02, 2009 6:01 pm

VigIIPeaBurner wrote:I haven't tied this yet but have thought of adding a good amount of dried corn to the coal before placing it on the starter fire.
Corn should work good. I use wood pellets. Next year I just might try mixing in some dried corn.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

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Rice Burner
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun. Apr. 19, 2009 7:24 am
Coal Size/Type: rice
Stove/Furnace Make: harman
Stove/Furnace Model: dvc-500
Location: Cortlandt Manor, NY

Post Thu. May. 07, 2009 10:56 am

I restarted my stove last week by getting a pile of kindling going and slowly adding coal on top.

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Stove/Furnace Make: Countryside/ corn/pellet
Stove/Furnace Model: Vogelsang pot-bellied
Location: Moline, Il

Post Thu. May. 14, 2009 7:55 pm

Hedge makes a good starter also...


Jack Magnum
Posts: 188
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Stove/Furnace Make: Harman
Stove/Furnace Model: TLC-2000
Location: Cossayuna lake in N.Y.

Post Fri. May. 15, 2009 12:23 pm

ceccil wrote:Some of us have tried to make our own starter bags. I have had some success here. Others may have made out better than me. Now I use just straight cowboy coal, hit it with a torch for a min. Let it get burning good and throw on a layer of coal. Starts every time.

The match light and a little kindling worked well for me BUT I don't care for the charcoal smell. I bought the cowboy coal at the end of the season for next year.

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Posts: 2
Joined: Wed. Dec. 02, 2009 11:20 am
Stove/Furnace Model: Alaska model 140

Post Wed. Dec. 02, 2009 11:41 am

For lighting the inclined stokers in my Alaska 140 furnace I use the following method when my supplier is short on the box-bombs or mice: Obtain wooden shims such as are used to center a window or door casing in a frame structure.
If you have access to a bandsaw it is best. But you can use a pair of wire cutters or tin snips to split up the shims into slivers between three-eighths and half an inch in width.
Place the slivers in a large (commercial-size) coffee can. Drench the slivers with mineral spirits. (Same sort of thing as charcoal starter.)
After the've soaked for a few minutes in the accelerant arrange one slender stick crosswise at the bottom edge of the stoker. Either cut it to size with a pair of snips or wire cutters. Or lay it diagonally so it fits between the sides of the stoker ramp. Lay full length slivers loosely so that they lay along the length of the sloping part of the stoker--6 or so should do the trick.
Lay another crosspiece over the lower ends of these. Place another layer of 6 or so as before across the second crosspiece.
Repeat until you have a stack of about 4 or 5 layers made up.
Ignite with lighter or torch.
Wait about a minute until you have a good roaring flame going once you've activated the forced draft. Then gently sprinkle on the rice-coal--not too much; about 3 tablespoons worth should do it--and have it more on the upper end of the kindling pile created. There should be a jet of hot flame shooting out from the sticks under the sprinkled-on coal. And the coal should be snap-crackle-popping like Rice Crispies.If not you may have to re-do the procedure. This works for me most of the time.
They're having a shortage of the box-bombs at present, so that's how I'm having to start the thing.

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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
Coal Size/Type: nut/pea
Location: Springfield, VA

Post Wed. Dec. 02, 2009 12:24 pm

The best thing I've found to start a fire and keep it going is Match Lite and McDonald drink trays - really, McDonald drink trays. Previously, I used straight Match Lite but the fire kept going out before it was hot enough to add coal. I didn't want to use rolled newspaper because of the flying embers and smoke so I tore up a couple of drink trays that I had in the recycle bin and put them in the Harman first; then the Match Lite. Whatever the drink tray is made of and it's weight burned perfectly with no smoke while the Match Lite got going. Then I added layers on layers of coal. Seriously, the easiest fire I ever lit. Lisa
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Stoker Coal Boiler: Axeman-Anderson Anthratube 130-M
Location: North Norwich, NY

Post Fri. Dec. 04, 2009 2:52 pm


are they the ones that are cardboard or the ones that are like gray paper mache?
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