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I Forge Iron

Coal vs Coke

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Hi texassmith. It all depends. A 30 minute longer drive is not all that much when it comes to buying the right fuel. It is a lot further for me, but I just buy more when I go, and I make sure not to run out. There are lots of different kinds of coke. I have heard that TX has a lot of L-brand forge coke. This is supposed to work well, but might have some popping if you don't know how to warm it up. I tried using some Buckwheat coke in Southern California, and I really did not like it. Huge clinkers, couldn't weld, and if you turned the air blast up too high, it spit molten rock. Got one of my worst burns that way. But others swear by it, and I saw someone do a fluxless weld, so it must be the smith. But, I have been able to get welds with mesquite charcoal, oak charcoal, homemade charcoal, Utah Elkhorn coal and propane. For this reason, I wouldn't drive out of my way for coke, but if I scored a bunch cheap, I'd run off to somebody who could teach me what I'm doing wrong. Try a bit of both, and if it doesn't work, just forge with it or give it away. One sack isn't a tragedy to get stuck with.

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Coke smokes a lot less. I really like it. Although a very talented smith out here recently talked about one advantage he thinks coal has over coke, and I would have to agree. He has found that coal maintains a good 'edge' of the hot spot. In otherwards it goes from hot spot to out of the fire in a very small distance. Where as coke tends to gradually cool the farther you get from the fire. So if he only wants to take a heat on a certain section and he really doesn't want it to get hot beyond that, he prefers coal. Hope that makes sense...

Anyway, I wish I had a source for good metallurgical coke out here. It's all coal for miles and miles.

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In my uses of coke v.s. coal I have made these observations.
can't walk away from a coke fire, needs a lot of air
can't form a dome with coke and pops like crazy when wet
l-forge brand clinkered up nicely
coal forms a dome well
I can bank up a fire and walk away for half an hour come back crack some air and I'm back to work quickly.
coal is very quality dependent
coal seems to have a higher usage rate pound for pound, coke already having the impurities cooked off. that makes sense to me
in conclusion I like to have both in my smithy

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Heck, I don't know. You burn a lot more gallons of charcoal, than coke, but then if you start weighing it, maybe it's pretty close. Why do you ask? I use charcoal, but I can't tell you there's a good logical reason for it. Charcoal is more expensive for me, since my time is valuable, and good coal is nearby. I guess I just like charcoal.

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