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ThomasABoucher

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Posts: 119
http://Boucherillustrations.com
Location: United States Alpharetta
Occupation: Illustrator
Age: 35
#1   2014-07-06 18:20          
Anyone here burn only charcoal or have a lot of experience with it? I'm contemplating using it, but I have 0 experience with it.

I have a coal forge, but I live in a subdivision. I'm guessing billows of coal smoke won't go over well with the neighborhood. I understand charcoal burns cleaner, effectively like a grill would, so I'm guessing there should be no issue there. I'm worried about flying embers though. Is that a problem? How bad? Is there a way to contain that? I don't need to start the great Alpharetta fire of 2014.

I'm also concerned with the rate at which it burns. I understand it burns faster than coal, but how much so? Are we talking one 50lbs bag of coal to two 50lbs bags of charcoal? More? Less?

Another thing is availability and cost. I'm guessing the availability is better since I can get it at the grocery store, but what about a reasonable bulk supply? My guess is charcoal is more expensive to burn than coal because of the speed you go through it, but how much greater is cost? I've read it's not very cost effective unless you make your own. I would, only it's probably not a great idea for the same reasons I'm looking to burn charcoal and not coal.

Lastly, how does it compare to forging in coal? Is there any appreciable difference? Or are the only main factors cost and rate of burn?

As to not direct this off topic, I'm not ready to look into gas. As stated, I have a coal forge. Ideally I want to work with coal, but due to where I live I think it would be a bad idea. If charcoal could work for me, I could effectively buy a bag tomorrow and be forging in minutes. Thanks for the input.
"Get 'em while they're hot!"

jguy

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Posts: 79

Location: United States Conyers, Georgia
Occupation: computer programmer
Age: 64
#2   2014-07-07 16:42          
There is another thread where I posted this (see 'Buying Bulk Coal' thread). Basically I switched to coke for that reason. It's hard to light, goes out if you turn off the air for too long. BUT it's smokeless and lasts longer than coal.

I tried a bucket of charcoal that Tony Bivens made and my blower could empty a fire pot full of charcoal on a full blast. And I didn't like how the charcoal sent sparks out. But that was homemade charcoal (I've got a lot of hardwood firewood and was contemplating all that free charcoal!). Store bought charcoal is of course heavier, generates little, if any, sparks.

John Ziegler burns a lot of charcoal and he may be able to provide good experienced feed back.


Note: I get coke from L-Brand coke <click here>. They ship from Cumming, I believe.

This post was edited by jguy (2014-07-07 16:48, ago)
Jim Guy

ThomasABoucher

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Posts: 119
http://Boucherillustrations.com
Location: United States Alpharetta
Occupation: Illustrator
Age: 35
#3   2014-07-07 18:47          
Yea, I'm worried about the flying sparks. I may try out coke as well. That sounds like it could be a better option than charcoal. I'll have to work outside. One thing with charcoal was not really being able to work on a windy day because of the flying sparks. I'm guessing that wouldn't be an issue with coke?

What exactly do you mean by its hard to light? Are we talking 30 mins? I wonder if I could mix charcoal in with it to get it initially lit and then switch back to just coke once it is going.

Thanks for the input Jim!

Added 2 days later:

Well I should be picking up a bag of coke on Saturday. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before I can try it. I need to do a few things to my forge before it's fully operational. Thanks again for the tip Jim!

This post was edited by ThomasABoucher (2014-07-10 15:49, ago)
"Get 'em while they're hot!"

Mike LaMarre

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Posts: 27

Location: United States
Occupation: Metal Fabricator/Weldah
Age: 64
#4   2014-07-12 18:34          
Hello Thomas, Your best bet is like Jim said, get ahold of John Ziegler. He has been making and burning charcoal for some time now. The other people that always burn charcoal is Elmer Rousch and his wife Linda, they all have something in common though... they all have access to an unlimited supply of drops of hardwood (from cabinet shops) to make the charcoal from. Call John, he is great for helping out and getting out information to those that ask. Propane might be an option for some forging and select the time to use coal and still keep the peace with the neighbors! Some simple "gifts" to the locals might make things OK too. Cheers, Mike L.

Dietrich Hoecht

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Posts: 51

Location: United States Clayton, GA
Occupation: piddles in metal, roams the woods
Age: 78
#5   2014-07-13 04:17          
I knew a smith up in Sky Valley, GA, who had worked on his method of lighting coal, without annoying anyone in the densly crowded town of nature lovers. I can't ask him any more, since cancer did him in. But, I would try two things, one, always prepare a big enough batch of coked coal before you shut down and two, use starter fluid to light a spread-out ball of newspaper. You'd need to use the paper to prevent the fluid from running down the tuyere. Experiment a bit.
Another thing. I had revisited Georgia Coal in Blairsville, since I needed a new batch. The fella buys it in 50 lbs bags by the truckload and heats his cabinet shop with coal. He sells it for $12 per 50 lbs and for $11 if you buy a ton. I have not used the coal and will not recommend it until I find how it 'klinkers' etc. So, give me three weeks to find out.

Dietrich

ThomasABoucher

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Posts: 119
http://Boucherillustrations.com
Location: United States Alpharetta
Occupation: Illustrator
Age: 35
#6   2014-07-13 12:37          
$12 bucks is a good price. I hope it works out well. Please do let us know.

I did pick up some of that Lbrand coke that Jim recommended. It was $18 for a 50# bag. I burned some for a few hours today. Boy was it a hot day. I maybe burned about a coal bucket full. Smoked just the tiniest bit getting it lit, but that may not have been the coke. I usually light coal with a wad of newspaper, but since I heard coke was hard to light I surrounded the newspaper with charcoal. That was all the charcoal I used. It lit real fast and I never had trouble keeping the coke lit. I only had a small bit of clinker. Maybe a half cup of small pieces.
"Get 'em while they're hot!"
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