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ErictheRed1990

Types of Charcoal

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Ive decided im going to build a charcoal or coal forge now im just curious about the quality of the charcoal required, is this something i can buy from my local grocery store or do i need a specific type? even for just practice is the stuff from a grocery store....workable lol thanks for any answers

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i would stick with the natural lump i hear the briquettes put impurities in the metal because of the bonding agent used to keep their form, plus despite what i heard i did use briquettes once and they didnt burn right in my forge. i use royal oak natural hardwood lump or cowboy brand natural lump and these burn nicely and are available at your grocery store

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The pressed formed charcola does not work, you need lump charcoal and some grocery stores sell it, If they do not have it and there is a steak house that serves mesquite grilled meat they may sell you small quantities.

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I use matchlight currently, for lack of resources. It does work, barely. But the amount of ashes it creates quickly surrounds the top of my air source and restricts flow. I am changing fuel types as soon as money allows. I can't use coal because of close proximity to neighbors, I may give the Cowboy brand a try or eventually may be forced to switch to propane.

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Historically the type of charcoal you used was whatever was handy and cheap. So the japanese tended to use softwood charcoal for smelting and forgewelding of katana and western europe hardwood from coppiced trees.

Most of charcoal briquettes is *not* charcoal, as they contain clay, starch, anthracite, etc and just a touch of charcoal. They are engineered to be just right for cooking hamburgers on a grill. In extremis you can use them in the forge but the amazing amount of ash they produce and their large size works against you.

I would advise *against* mesquite charcoal as it is often poorly charred as they *want* the smell and taste of mesquite in the food. If totally charred there would be no hint of mesquite. As mesquite tends to have resinous inclusions that increase the forge fleas immensely and you don't want smoke I would advise against it *unless* your only other choice is briquettes.

When we were bloomery smelting we used to go to a charcoal producer and buy lump charcoal by the 40 pound sack at a very good price; but you can generally find lump charcoal at walmart---though folks in the cold region of the USA may have problems as they get rid of their "summer stuff" (some people have managed to buy a pallet load at closeout prices by talking to a manager at the end of the summer!)

I often make my own by having a fire in a raised firepit near the forge and I constructed a shovel from rock shaker screen that I can use to transfer coals from the fire to my forge without transferring any ash.

I have used charcoal sifted from the ashes of old bonfires and I also sift the ashes from our wood stove that burns only softwood out here.

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I make my own charcoal.
I have a fire pit about a foot and a half deep that I build a good fire in and when it has been burning good for about an hour I fill the pit with chunks of wood and cover it with tin. Seal around the edges with dirt or mud until there is almost no smoke excaping. Open up in about 2 days and you should have a bunch of charcoal.
Don't get in a hurry to open it up, one time I uncovered the pit the next day and was going to bag up the charcoal later, when I came back about 20 lb's of fuel for my forge had burned up.The top was cool but there was enough heat in the middle to burn when the air got to it.:-(

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I live kinda close to a national forest that was strip mined for coal about 20 years or so ago and there is still a good amount of coal just laying here and there off the road. Would this type of coal work and if so should i break it up more? it is found in sizes ranging from pebble to the size of footballs.

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Yes; no, maybe: depending on the coal. There is an almost infinite variety of coal, some is great for forging some is horrible for forging. Nothing you said tells us anything about that coal.

Best bet is to collect a 5 gallon bucket full and try it out! Helps if you have used good coal before so you can compare how much clinker and how much ash and how much smoke it produces. Also if it cokes well.

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