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I Forge Iron

coal cunsumption

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Hello again, I am using 100% natural wood charcoal that I found at my local hardware store. It burns great, but I was wondering how fast it should be burning up. I used about 2-3 pounds of it in 1.5-2 hours. I'll admit that my efforts to control the fire to one centralized area were not as good as they could have been, but I just wanted to know what your coal usage per hour is. Thank You all in advance

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The question you are asking is the same as how long is a piece of string? There are many different formulas for calculating BTU's et. al.; but to get in a dither over it is of no use.
Charcoal will burn quicker and provide less BTU/# than quality coal, and even less than quality coke. My suggestion is to beg, buy or steal about 5# of good smithing coal and make identical items using coal then charcoal, then compare the price per item, include you time.
As far as containing your fire to conserve charcoal DO NOT EVER USE WATER FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN WETTING IT ENOUGH TO KEEP FROM FLYING EVERYWHERE! If you feel you must make mud puddles, do it outside the shop. Water does not aid combustion, it acts as a cooling agent to lower the temperature below the point of combustion - otherwise, everyone who has put out a fire with water must have got it wrong. If you wish to conserve charcoal, then cut two pieces of heavy angle iron about 14 to 18 inches long, and place them on either side of the fire to crop it in. When you wish a larger fire, simply move them farther apart, or remove them altogether.
If it is available, I suggest good quality coke (obviuosly not the illegal kind), you will find the fire is much cleaner and hotter, so much so that a regular sacrifice of iron to the Fire Gods will occur all on its own.

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I burn about 3/4 of a 5 gallon bucketfull in a LONG afternoon of forging.
I find I am burning less and less charcoal to a forging session just by being well prepared. Here is a few things that help me

I have my projects all prepared in advance so I don't have to go rooting in the scrap pile looking for a piece of metal while precious fuel is burning.

I try to have as much metal cut to length in advance with a cutting wheel so that it won't have to be done while precious fuel is burning.

If I can, I will work on 2 projects at the same time, for example I will put a piece of coil spring in the fire for annealling while I am working on forging something else.

Since I just do hobby smithing making items for myself, I can wait until I have 3 or 4 or more projects to do before I start. That way when I want to quit for the day and there's still some precious charcoal left in the forge I can find something to do until it's all burnt up, even if it's only putting a bend in a hook.

That being said, I burn/waste most of my charcoal practicing my forge welding. :mrgreen:

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  • 4 weeks later...

My forge is a wash tub with a pipe for an air supply, which is the butt end of a hand held shop vac, which works quite well. So far, I have only tinkered with little projects. I made a decent pair of tongs that I use regularly, replacing the vice grips. Today, I finished making, handling, and grinding a knife; which turned out great for my first one, but still needs work. Pictures of the forge, tongs, and knife will come ASAP, no earlier than sunday night.

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Personally, I like charcoal over coal. It may burn faster than coke or coal, and you need more to get the same amount of heat, but it is less of a hastle to clean, doesn't smoke as much at first, and is a renewable energy source, as opposed to coal. (yes, you can tell I'm from Massachusetts can't you :roll: ) you can make it easily yourself, you can't get forge rash from it, and you can add fuel to the fire without having to wait for it to purify, if you're doing welding, or projects which need an especially clean fire.

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Whats forge rash? Never heard of it before. Anyway if you plan on becoming a production smith I would find it impracticle to make your own charcoal and use it, being as it takes a few hours to make it and you have to wait till the next day till you can use it.

And well since the inevtible battle over which is the better fuel has started I will cast the first stone for coal.

I prefer coal over charcoal for quite a few reasons

1. It burns clean if tended properly
2. it forms a "coke cave" which can be worked in similar to a gas forge.
3. If your forging in one of these "coke caves" you can find smaller items with out having to rip apart the whole fire.
4. It burns long, I can work all day using little fuel and go do something else for a while with out being to very concerened about wasting fuel.
5. Coal doesnt produce as much ash or hot embers that fly out when exposed to air, and these can start fires easily
6. people just seem to expect to see a blacksmith working with coal and not charcoal.

Thats just what I have to say as far as wat I think the benifits fo coal are.

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