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Since bituminous coal is not readily available in my area, I have been using anthracite coal as my main fuel as my primary fuel (charcoal as a secondary) since beginning blacksmithing.

I am now sharing some things I've learned so that those who try burning anthracite will not have to go through as much trial and error as I have.

Pros of anthracite: Anthracite burns almost as cleanly as coke. Anthracite coal has a very low volatile content and gives of little to no smoke. Fresh anthracite can be added directly on top of the existing fire without any fear. Anthracite is excellent for those with neighbors around since there will be almost no smoke to complain about.

Cons of anthracite: Anthracite coal is very hard and dense and does not ignite easily. To overcome this problem, begin lighting the forge with charcoal, then slowly add your anthracite coal. The heat from the burning charcoal will light the anthracite and once it is going, it will burn at well above a welding heat. Anthracite must receive a strong air blast. An electric blower is recommended here but it is possible to use a hand-cranked blower. Lastly, anthracite leaves behind a fair amount of clinker. Clinker must be removed about every two hours.

I hope this information helps.

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They use hard coal at the Green Family Forge in Trinity, Newfoundland, using a bellows and a side blast forge. In teaching a week long class in that shop the biggest problem that we had is that if you leave it for 15 minutes it wants to go out. So when leaving for lunch we would put a piece of firewood in the center and blow some air on it to get it burning. Then when we got back we'd add some more air to make sure the coal was burning and go on from there. This was a tool making class and we did everything I usually do with soft coal including forge welding.

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Local Amish sell anthricite ( and the stoves to burn it). My experience has been that it don't smith well ( no coke, period and like Frank sez, bottom falls out but some soft coal reacts in the same fashion and DOES coke ). My kingdom for a local ton or 3 of Sewell Seam.

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Thanks for the replies. When I first started using anthracite I was disappointed to find that it did not form coke because everyone had been telling me that you need to let the coal coke over first. It does not from coke, but does not need to; anthracite is already almost pure carbon and burns hot and clean.

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I was under the impression that anthracite was one of the hottest burning coals there is, if you google btu x kg etc I believe it is. I started with anthracite when I started smithing (only been going about a year), I recently bought 50 kg of blacksmiths breeze, I wanted to see how it compared as I was getting some clinker with the anthracite and it was sticking to my castable refractory forge and when chipping the clinker off it took some of the refractory with it. I was very surprised when I used the coke that it created almost as much clinker as the anthracite.
Anthracite does need a constant breeze on it or it will go out pretty quick, but it is pretty good stuff, well it is in the UK. everywhere is different I guess. I paid £12.80 for 25kg bags of breeze/coke or about £8 for 25kg of anthracite, I did find the coke burned quicker than the anthracite too, although the bag of coke is bigger as coke is lighter. I am not 100% sure if I will continue with coke or stick with the cheaper anthracite, the coke smells slightly less than anthracite, but I have a couple of older neighbours that still have coal fires and with the colder weather coming its not an issue for the next 5 or 6 months, woo hoo.
That is my experience with coke and anthracite. HTH.
Steve.

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