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I Forge Iron

Pocahontas coal-LARGE Lumps

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Hi, I am wondering if anybody else has experience with this type of coal.
I bought it from a reputable establishment, on recommendation from someone from this site. I was a little bit taken aback by the appearance of the coal when I got to the place-these were very large lumps, which I have never seen before. The owner explained to me about the Pocahontas seam, which has evidently been lost and found a number of times.
I was not provided with any info about the coal, but decided to purchase a fair amount which I tried using today. It seems to work very well! However I am needing to adapt to the large lumps, they seem to break apart fairly easily once they are warmed up by the fire. Any wisdom about this? I at first was afraid I would have to break it up with a hammer.

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Pocahontas Coal is broken down into 10 seams of Pocahontas coals, numbered #1 - #9 and Poca #3 rider. Pocahontas #3,#5,#6,#9, and #3 Rider are the seams that have listed coal production. 


Coal seams in West Virginia average 3 feet in thickness, although they occasionally can be as thick as 25 feet. A continuous miner is used to break the coal so it can be loaded on conveyor belts and moved to the surface of the mine. It is them put through a washer to remove rocks etc, and through a crusher to reduce the coal to a specific size. You seem to have lump coal which can be from the size of your fist to the size of a cinder block or larger.


If this is surfaces mined coal, the dirt, rocks, etc above the coal layer is removed and the coal is then blasted and scooped up and loaded onto trucks. It is then sized, or left in lumps.


For the bituminous coal we have available here, just whack it with a hammer to break up the lump and reduce the size of the coal for your forge. If you put a brick size piece of coal on the fire and get it warm, you can whack it with a shovel, hammer, or tongs and it should break apart easily. The coal has a layered structure and you can split it into sheets if that makes it easier to process.

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A factor that doesn't always appear self-evident is that any solid fuel can only burn on its exterior so breaking up coal or charcoal effectively raises the short term heat value.  Total BTU's are the same for any given quantity of identical fuel but what's immediately available is higher because that big lump can now burn over a larger surface area.


I usually swat big lumps with the side of a poker, which tends to fracture rather than smashing like a hammer.

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