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That fire looks alright Mark, not great but usable for sure. Not having burned corn I can't give you any specifics other than to say experiment take notes and let us know what you learn.

I'd say you had enough heat on the iron at least until you develop better control. Once you have everything under good enough control you can use higher heat (more maleable iron) which not only allows more movement faster but bigger faster disasters. Voice of experience there.

Frosty

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Thanks Frosty. I'm attending a blacksmith class next weekend, so hopefully I will learn some fire management skills for coal. Yes, my first disaster was making a draw knife out of a file a few weeks back. It got so hot that it bent into a U. If the weather would cooperate, I'd get some more time wrecking metal so I can learn some hammer control heheh. Never the less, I'm having a blast.

Mark

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Got around to the second part of my test today. I bought a bag of Cowboy brand lump hardwood charcoal for $7 at Home Depot. I forged for 4.5 hours and used the entire bag. That works out to about $1.50 per hour. The bagged corn at retail cost $6 and seemed on course to last 6 hours. So that works out to $1.00 per hour. Someone noted that a bit more moisture and the corn would have burned better and lasted longer. Also, you can buy corn cheaper in bulk, cutting the cost almost in half.

Anyway, just a bit of data for anyone interested in the comparison.

Mark

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I at first was amused

now don't get me confused

is it really hot enough in a forge to be used?

If it welds two pieces they would be "corn fused'

the race to be the first to cornfuse their iron is on--history could be in the making.
hoodathunkit :-)
Anvillain

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This is very interesting guys. I will try this corn burning soon. I wonder what would happen if I burn cob and all? We will see! I'll get some pics and stories when I do it.

Wampus

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I sure do hope I am wrong Thomas but we may see a day when the green meanies succeed in putting out our fires because coal is of course so very evil. Did you know that for every pound of pocahontas burned five baby harp seals drop dead?

. . .




Which are promptly eaten by spotted owls. There's always a trade-off.

Bill

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did you notice that he said Pocahontas not coal. Pocahontas died hundreds of years ago. so that means that Pocahontas is evil not coal.

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here in uk im buying coke which if im right is 9pounds 80pence a bag basicly a tenner for 25 kilos i dont know my conversions from kilos to lbs but im pretty sure that is a lot of money,, im using a side blast and am well up for some of this experimentation with thic corn so ill let you know if i can first get any and second how she goes ,, if not ill just wipe out the old atlantic grey spotted seal,,though coke is quite clean ,,, but,,, someone had to have made the coke from the coal ? :o

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here in uk im buying coke which if im right is 9pounds 80pence a bag basicly a tenner for 25 kilos i dont know my conversions from kilos to lbs but im pretty sure that is a lot of money,

25 kilos are about 55 pounds. A tenner is about fifteen US dollars. You're paying about 25% more for coke than Thomas Powers is for coal. What does feed corn go for in the UK?

Not sure what the math is for declining seal population, but I'd love to know how seal blubber burns in a forge. B)

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Hicks,

You get your coke in bags? ours comes in plastic bottles! And the bottles burn better than the coke! :D

Seriously though I have seen forges where they use compressed baggase(sugar cane residue) and it seemed to work? but a lot of hasle, I supose we should all be looking for alternatives to coal and its deratives and lpg etc. These alternatives need to be clean burning though in order to do our share to help preserve the planet for future generations.

Ian

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Hicks,

You get your coke in bags? ours comes in plastic bottles! And the bottles burn better than the coke! :D

Seriously though I have seen forges where they use compressed baggase(sugar cane residue) and it seemed to work? but a lot of hasle, I supose we should all be looking for alternatives to coal and its deratives and lpg etc. These alternatives need to be clean burning though in order to do our share to help preserve the planet for future generations.

Ian

yeh blacksmiths breeze its good stuff ,, we use it at college too although that gets delivered by a tipping lorry small mountain of the stuff who knows what it costs the college tho,, its good stuff nice greeny blue flames no smoke ,, not the best to inhale the fumes i prefer air or nicotine personally but its not too bad,, i often have a go at the charcoal in the summer when its barby time but its pretty steep on the wallet and them little charcoal fleas!!
i have no idea whether i can get this so called corn you speak of but if i can ill give it a bash and a cash lowdown here in the uk,, snowed in pretty bad at the mo so have to wait guys , im 7miles from town and ive only got my veedub grettel and im not walking in snow for corn!!

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ok seal poison but that seal poison needs to be injected into the Carotid artery to work so coal once again is. so all y'all seal fans rest easy.

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here in uk im buying coke which if im right is 9pounds 80pence a bag basicly a tenner for 25 kilos i dont know my conversions from kilos to lbs but im pretty sure that is a lot of money,, im using a side blast and am well up for some of this experimentation with thic corn so ill let you know if i can first get any and second how she goes ,, if not ill just wipe out the old atlantic grey spotted seal,,though coke is quite clean ,,, but,,, someone had to have made the coke from the coal ? :o


Currently we are paying £10.50 per 20kg bag so that is above 25% more than what you are paying, all the more important to have good fire management to make the best of it.

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I just found this post looking for information on charcoal forges and flue size.

I really like the idea of corn. I live smack in the middle of town so I need something besides coal. I was planning on lump charcoal, but the corn idea is interesting.

If I put my forge inside I will have to stick with the 6" woodstove flue, which everyone says will not work for coal. Do you think I could get away with the 6" if I used charcoal or corn?

Rob

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I made a fire dog using corn as my fuel..........................I sure love corn dogs!

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I am using a bottom draft forge. I have used lump charcoal from a bag, a couple different brands including Cowboy. I have since redone my forge to be deeper, so I don't have an well formed opinion, but using bricks to deepen the fire did help. Welding is possible in charcoal, the blast required is light.

I have used feed corn (shell I think it is called, not cracked but whole kernels) It "cokes" up into a black sticky mass and burns hot. It has about 1/2 the heat value of coal per pound (based on published information) and seems to perform decently well. Corn is much less dense than coal, so you will be shoveling it in readily. The smoke is not noxious so if you do not have a flue to pull the smoke away it is more pleasant than coal. Welding is possible in corn More blast than charcoal, but less than coal is required.

I have used coal. Other than the smell it is a treat to use. With a proper flue and chimney the smell problem would be eliminated. The coal I have used gets hot easily, and burns for a long time. The coal I have used cokes to a hard mass. Welding is possible in coal.

I tried cherry pits, and they are the pits. They light easily, burn hot, but do not form a mass, but instead stay loose. A light blast blows the small pieces out of the firepot. They may be usable if there is no other fuel available. I will not explore cherry pits much further since it is unsatisfactory in my forge. A side blast forge may get better performance.

Phil

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HAHA, i just found this topic and it has given me a very good laugh i find it very interesting the idea of using corn as i have to travel 2 hours to get coal and i will probably look into the affordability of corn. although i may just find the value of coals easiness.

Tim

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I just tried out corn today. It was neat, but there were a few drawbacks. I think most would be overcome by someone who had more experience managing the fire. As corn burns so much faster than the coal that I am used to, I spent almost all of my time managing the fire. It was hard to actually keep a layer of hot corn, and i went through most of a 40# bag today with only two or three hours forge time. Another thing is that corn requires an almost constant supply of air to keep burning red. After each heat, I would turn around to black embers which would take a long time to start glowing again. Forge welding was hard, and I never actually got a weld to stick. Heat wasn't the problem, the fire got plenty hot. However, I couldn't keep enough hot corn in the fire to get the steel to welding temperature. After a few seconds, I would have a cavern all around the steel, and would have to pack down corn that wasn't hot enough, and cover that over with uncoked corn. Another drawback was the smoke. Corn constantly smokes, unlike coal, and it is a heavy smoke too. I found it was impossible to keep enough coked corn around to be able to avoid placing fresh corn on the fire. After a while in each heat, the flames would get hot and high enough to consume most of it though. The smell was not unpleasant, and the smoke wasn't noxious like coal smoke is. I expected it to smell like burnt popcorn, but it was entirely different.
I'll try again tomorrow to use up the rest of it, then go by my coke dealer to pick up a bag.

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I intend to try, for an experiment , acorns and pecans. The pecans are the small native nuts, sharp on both ends ,difficult to crack, and not collected for food . They literally can be raked up, so many are dropped, Ditto about the acorns. I have never heard about anyone using corn or nuts as forge fuel, till I got on this site. I expect one will have to be very carefull about spilling FUEL around the forge , I have never noticed mice attracted to coal, clinker, or ash.

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... I expect one will have to be very carefull about spilling FUEL around the forge , I have never noticed mice attracted to coal, clinker, or ash.


I have destructive squirrels (little red ones), and they "visit" more when I use corn. I shovel the fire into a steel lidded bucket when done to limit this problem. The big gray city squirrels only hang out when the walnuts are falling then they go back to the city.

I do get enough black walnuts to try as fuel, and at least one person I have known burned them in their wood stove. I think it was the scrap from cleaning the walnuts to sell the meat though.

Phil

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