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I Forge Iron

How best to conserve charcoal


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I am using some lump charcoal I got in the grocery store for forging. At the end of a session, I can't just spread it around like coal because it will continue to burn and leave me with nothing but ash. I tried sprinkling a little water on it, but the next time I used it it sounded like the Fourth of July inside the fire pot. My most recent test was to put the hot coals into an old popcorn tin I have and put the lid on it. When it cooled, there was charcoal in there, but a bit of ash too. Is there a better way of conserving charcoal? I do have a smaller tin which should have less air for the coals to use. Is there a better way?


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If I've got a decent amount burning when I'm done forging, I'll shovel it into a bucket of water to put it out, then drain the water onto the grass, using the shovel blade to keep the now extinguished charcoal from floating out with the water. then I spread the charcoal out on the forge table to dry. Its usually dry by the time I get out to forge again.

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I think your tin can idea is probably best. When I put out a bonfire after a party I shovel the ember bed into a metal trash can with a well fitting lid and MAKE a lot of nice charcoal. I get 1/3 to 1/2 ash in the end, but some is ash when I shovel it in. I feel it is better than letting the ember bed burn out and be wasted, and I sleep better knowing the fire is out, even though the fire pit is over 50 feet from anything else.

A full can (about 5 gallons) may take more than 24 hours to cool to a safe handling temperature. When I get that solid fuel forge built (this summer maybe?) I have enough fuel for the first few days.

The bucket of water I give a close second. Immediately cooling the hot material is desirable, especially if you have to move your setup or have no safe place to let a hot can cool.

Dave, your idea is also tops, but I suspect requires some experience and a well planned day to get good results.


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When I'm done with my brake drum forge for the day; I put a salvaged wok lid over the fire pot. When the oxygen under the lid is used up; the charcoal stops burning. Works well for me. I think that just about any metal cover that seals decently would work. Best regards. Steeler. :)

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