Adding Water to Coal

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coldNY
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 9:00 am

As new coal furnace users, we have been told by others to add water to our coal and that it will burn better.
Is this true, and if so, how much water should you add?


bigchunk
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 9:07 am

sounds like you got your balls busted.

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Matthaus
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 9:16 am

A slight misting with a spray bottle will keep the dust down, but that is about the extent of it. :)
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Dallas
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 9:18 am

I've heard that, as well. I don't believe it hurts the burn, but I haven't researched "why it might help". I've never heard of anyone "drying" their coal before burning it.

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LsFarm
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 9:37 am

Most, but not all coal breakers use water to wash the fine coal from the coal as it gets broken and sorted by size. Then it is washed again when loaded for delivery. Some breakers will spray on a very little light oil instead of water to keep the dust down. Obviously water causes problems in delivery trucks in freezing weather.

Some people do have problems with the coal being too wet, and store the coal inside near the stove in a bucket or barrel with holes drilled in the bottom to let the coal drain and partially dry before use. This usually is for stoker stoves with hoppers.

So I certainly wouldn't add water to your coal unless you are trying to reduce the dust when loading the coal into your stove.

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av8r
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 9:39 am

I was thinking that a water/alcohol injection system might work well....once!!

How about maybe the water boiling off releases oxygen into the combustion chamber increasing the burn? :P Happens with very hot house/structure fires when the firemen start putting water on them....

Hrmmmmmm
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coaledsweat
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 10:49 am

WARNING! When watering coal only use deionized water! You don't want to plug the chimney with ions!
Nothing is impossible for people who don't have to do it themselves.

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Richard S.
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 11:29 am

I have a old placard here from Van Wert, they reccommend that it be damp. I really have no idea why or if it it does anything other than keep the dust down. See #3 .

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av8r
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 11:44 am

Found this...scroll down to the "wet coal" section

**Broken Link(s) Removed**
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Richard S.
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 12:02 pm

That's in reference to soft coal which is going to hold the water, anthracite is not as porous so it's not going to soak it up as much. While on the topic I've hear old timers recommend this too but again I really have no idea if it makes any difference.
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e.alleg
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 4:52 pm

I have a hose bib above my 55 gallon drum hopper/coal bin, some bags are drier than others so I just open the top of the bag and give a shot of H2O in there and then when I fill the hopper there is no dust. I'm talking less than a 1/2 pint per 50 lbs of coal, it doesn't take much.
Burning coal is definitely worth the extra work involved.
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CoalHeat
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 8:55 pm

I wet the coal a little when chuting it into the bin, I did it once without water and was vacuuming up the dust in the cellar for quite a while. I use a watering can. I used the hose once and had water flowing out from the bottom of the bin for days.

When shoveling into the scuttle I use a spray bottle to wet it every 2 shovels or so.
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ken
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 10:01 pm

the bag coal I have is wet. kinda messy when your scooping the last bit out. :( guess thats why theres soap and water :D
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CoalHeat
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Post Tue. Dec. 11, 2007 10:17 pm

ken wrote:the bag coal I have is wet. kinda messy when your scooping the last bit out. :( guess thats why theres soap and water :D


A lot less dust from it though!

The coal I've bought that's bagged at the processor (Blaschak, Reading, etc.) is wet when I open the plastic heat sealed bags. The coal that is bagged by the retail dealer usually isn't, it's the reinforced plastic mesh bags.
Heating a circa 1832 farmhouse with a Harman Magnafire Mark I & a 1959 EFM 350 (heating DHW).
100% Oil Free!
"It's what we learn after we think we know it all that counts."

Patch
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Post Thu. Dec. 13, 2007 9:20 pm

Back in the bad-old-days, before wide spread use of electricity, many towns had gas manufacturing plants which produced illuminating gas or town gas. The gas was produced by heating coal to generate carbon monoxide. Then steam was injected into the hot coals to break the water molecule, and yield hydrogen gas. This is the water gas shift reaction:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_gas_shift_reaction

I'm guessing, that old-timers recalled water was added to coal, but knew not why. The chemistry of the water gas shift reaction would not have been commonly known.

Off topic a:
The Otto cycle engines were invented about the time of town gas. Some of the engines using slide valve, flame ignition rely upon the flame characteristics of a hydrogen rich gas, and will only run on hydrogen. If you look behind the buildings at an engine museum, there will be a manifold of compressed hydrogen gas cylinders.

Off topic b:
Town gas was a real improvement in the home, when used for cooking, compared to a solid fuel cook stove. This is the origin of the phrase, "Now you're cooking with gas!"

Off topic c:
The down side of town gas was its high concentration of carbon monoxide. A good way to commit suicide was to put your head in the oven and breath the gas. With today's natural gas, suicide by oven is pretty uncommon.
Attachments
Dcp04280.jpg
Crossley slide valve engine at Rough and Tumble. Flywheel in upper left is Otto - Langen engine.
Dcp04323.jpg
Hydrogen manifold, outside Rough and Tumble Museum


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