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I have a note out to the fire department to make sure I can burn coal, but I'm considering using hardwood charcoal. I've heard it is more expensive, but burns cleaner.

The only hardwood charcoal I've seen around is this cowboy brand stuff, at various outdoor centers and supermarkets. Is that any good, or am I looking for something more specific, and if so, where can I get it?

Thanks,

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I have a note out to the fire department to make sure I can burn coal, but I'm considering using hardwood charcoal. I've heard it is more expensive, but burns cleaner.

The only hardwood charcoal I've seen around is this cowboy brand stuff, at various outdoor centers and supermarkets. Is that any good, or am I looking for something more specific, and if so, where can I get it?

Thanks,


Lump charcoal works just fine. Avoid briquetes, while they WILL do the job they don't perform nearly as well as lump. The downside to charcoal as I see it is the sparks, it can send sparks up the flue doing bad things to local flamables.

Hardwood vs. softwood charcoal makes some difference. softwood charcoal is hotter but doesn't last as long making it better for welds but less economical for general forging.

Frosty the Lucky.

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Jonathon, I agree with Frosty on the sparks. Those little "fire fleas" are why I don't use charcoal unless I am forging out of doors. If you use good forge coal, you should only have a fairly small amount of smoke when you pull in green coal to get it coked. DON'T use Illinois coal!!!!:o Stan and I tried that. It's a wonder we didn't have fire departments from about four different surounding areas coming to us. On the up side, we didn't have any problem with skeeters that day.B)

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If you're interested in making your own charcoal here is a very good tutorial. http://www.twinoaksforge.com/BLADSMITHING/MAKING%20CHARCOAL.htm I did something similar last winter and it worked well.

As others said, Cowboy works. Making your own is cheapest in terms of dollars, but you'll pay in labor. If you're interested, the retort method at the Twin Oaks link works, but there are simpler (but somewhat less efficient) ways.

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Cowboy brand is great to work with... as long as someone else is paying for it.

Now if you're doing small stuff, like 1/4" S hooks and smaller knife blades, you can get a lot done with a $7.00 bag of charcoal. But if you're forging 1/2" stock all day, you're gonna go through a lot of fuel.

Making your own is by far the cheapest. However, if you could get some inside information from a local restaurant or steak house that uses real charcoal, you might be able to contact their supplier and get a whole pallet at a discount. The park I volunteer for used to do this.

Don

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I am currently in the process of making my own charcoal and have mainly wondered the difference between softwood and hardwood (good to know.)  I buy Hardwood lump charcoal by the bag currently and pay about $6 for an 8lbs. bag where I live.  It's not bad, but we use it at a rate of about 1+lb every 30min? which means it costs us about $1.50-1.75 an hour.  so each bag lasts us about 3 1/2 - 4 hours (with the kind of forge we use and the heat we have it at).  Works extremely well though, we have gotten to temperatures around 1500 degrees at the very least and our metal comes out clean.  

When starting your charcoal initially though, be aware that sparks will fly.

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