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Good morning! New guy here. I have been making knives for about a year, using a propane forge and stock removal... I want to pound on some steel now.....I am going to construct a brake drum, or similar, forge. Being in Florida, mail order coal is pretty much my only option.....but, along a rail line near me, I have picked up a bunch of coal. The train that carries it, feeds a coal fired electrical plant nearby. So the question is, is this coal acceptable for starting out? if so, are there any special considerations or things to know, before I fire this thing up?

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Not sure where that coal comes from. But I am in Illinois and tried some Illinois coal, because I could get it cheaper. WOW!! After I fired the forge up with that stuff, I could barely see the forge for all the smoke. It had way toooooooo much sulfur in it. I use West Virginia coal and have good results, including forge welding with it. Try some of your coal and see how well it burns. It is going to smoke until you start getting some of it coked. But after it starts to coke, the smoke should drop off a bunch. Hope this helps. :)

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Power co. coal is usually anthracite I use it for basic forgeing.
It puts out alot of heat,but is not very clean
For blades and forge welding I use charcoal.
Hope this helps.

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Power co. coal is usually low grade bituminous used in ground up form. There is some pressure to use lower sulfur coal in power plants but not anthracite here in the USA. (China does use anthracite for power generation IIRC)

"Bituminous coal is mined in the Appalachian region, primarily for power generation" Wikipedia

"anthracite coal is more expensive than other forms of coal due to its high quality. This is the primary reason that anthracite coal is not used in power plants" tech faq

So try it if it works for you; good; if it doesn't you are not out much.

What I used to hunt for along the tracks was industrial coke; had a bucket of it for special projects.

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The plant manager at the power plant said it was anthracite ,but he could have been wrong .
Thanks for the info.

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most all power plants in the u.s.a. use liganite (boiler coal) which has high sulfur, ash, and moisture another name is brown coal. as thomas stated a lot of plants are trying to go to a low sulfer sub-bituminous or bituminous coal which is a lot cleaner. most all blacksmiths coal is a bituminous coal with very low sulfur, ash and moisture. best thing you can do is ask the plant coal buyer where it is from and if they have an analysis of it. or just try some. worst case it will be very dirty, smoke, sparky, stinky coal. matt o

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High BTUs (heat), low sulfur (contaminates) and low ash content (stuff that is not coal) is good.

Moisture level in coal can be caused by it being shipped or stored outside in the rain, snow, and weather. To get technical, the moisture will rob some of the heat from the fire as it is vaporized, and turned into steam. But why worry about the moisture level when you are going to sprinkle the fire with water anyway?

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Welcome aboard whatever your name is, glad to have you.

Why not use your propane forge? It sure saves time and effort hunting up good metallurgical coal or you could call a farrier or two and see where they get their coal. Not all farriers use coal but you'll find out who to call if you're not lucky first call, from whoever you do call.

Frosty The Lucky.

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