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HI all

Iam new to blacksmithing an dhave been using charcoal. I found a supply of coal and coke in 50 # bags from centuar forge. the coke is only slightly more expensive. It is my understanding that coke is formed from coal therefore I think that one would need more coal to make coke. example say 60 pounds of coal to make 50 pounds of coke. So would it not be more economical for me to just purchase coke fromt he get go. I have limited knowledge so if I make a mistake please let me know. It is my understanding that one needs coal to get upt o welding temps ? would coke not do the same ? I will be forging small to medium sized blades so I assume that coke is all that I need.

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Charcoal, coal or coke will all get you to welding heat (and beyond), coke requires a constant airflow to keep it in.

Coal will naturally coke as you use it.

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I've used both, but can only really claim knowledge in the field of coke. Suitability for forgework is most immediately dictated, in the case of coke, by the size of the pieces. In the UK they are apparently graded using various quaint terms; beans, peas, nuts, singles, bingles, bananas, coconuts, or whatever. The terms may have meant something in our industrial heyday. If they mean anything now the person on the phone that you are ordering from will almost certainly not know what it is.
So anyway, when it comes to forging coke, size matters. Avoid anything over 20mm if you can. Anything bigger you will be fighting to keep the heat up and the oxidation down. If you aren't using your forge for welding, it will obviously matter a great deal less.
Ultimately, it will come down to what is available, suitable and expedient to your set up.
-Dan

PS you may already have read elsewhere that coke requires a stout blast, which needs to be bourne in mind.

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To some extent your forge and blower will dictate whether coal or coke is more suitable. I've never used coke, but have read it needs constant air flow and maybe more air. So if you have a hand crank blower you may be struggling to keep the fire going. Likewise if your blower is on the small side.
Yes coke is made from coal. It is like charcoal and wood. Coke is what you get once you burn the volatiles out of the coal. I've heard 60 to 70 lbs of coal will make about 50 lbs of coke.
You forge with the coke, by the way, not coal. You burn the coal around the outside (or off to one side) of your fire and rake it into the fire as it becomes coke. The coal will stay lit with ambient air for longer than the coke, (due to the volatiles) thus the greater need for air for coke (did I word that to make sense?).
I have used charcoal (prefer it actually). You'll find, if you aren't used to coal, that the coal needs more air than the charcoal. You will be feeding the fire less with coal than charcoal and the fire doesn't need to be as deep (doesn't hurt that I can tell).


ron

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I got the opertunity to use some comercial coke I did not like that much. It got very hot and worked well I have an electric blower so air supply was not a problem. I just did not care for it. I like building a fire and having some green coal on the side.

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Don't forget to add C.F.'s shipping charges when you calculate price. You might be better off burning diamonds.

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I've finished restoring my little forge and am getting ready to fire it up for my first "at home" project.
I found I can buy either coal or coke online, but I'm not sure which to get, since I'll be working outside my garage in a residential area and want to try and keep the smoke to a minimum so my habit/hobby doesn't get shut down just as it's getting started.
Do you think I should just buy the coke already made, or make my own with fresh coal?
Maybe a little of both, some coke for the fire and coal on the side?

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coke is the cleanest but you need a lot of air, if you come to the northeast blacksmiths hammer-in at Ashoken I'll bring you a bag or two of good clean coke, I've heard some coke out there isn't that clean.

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Whether you buy coal or coke, what you use when the fire is going is coke. You are burning off the volatiles in green coal to produce coke as you feed it from the edge into the center.

Coal can be smoky, and have that oily sulfur stink that many find objectionable. Do many folks still heat with coal in your area? If they do, it would be more likely to be acceptable locally.

Coke smokes less, but is harder to start, and harder to keep lit unless you have an electric fan blower. Two minutes without turning the crank and it goes out.

Hardwood charcoal is always 'traditional', plus it just smells like you are grilling to the neighbors. That is what I use when I demo in public with my own rig.

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I love the smell of high grade coal burning i the morning. Learning how to maintain a good fire is an essential skill. John Mcpherson is correct - carbon is our fuel. I live in a suberban place where "industrial" kinds of activities are proscribed so I generally use Walmart ROYAL OAK, charcoal. It is cleaner than coal or coke but has fewer BTU's than coke.

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Start with chunk---not briquette charcoal. Easy to light, no out of the ordinary fumes. As a beginner with a hand crank blower IIRC you will not find coke easy/fun to use.

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What I'd the difference between coal and coke? Are they the same thing? Is one better for your lungs?

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Coke is Coal that has had the lighter fuels burned our of it, leaving essentially pure carbon. A smith manages his coal fire to make coke (often referred to as breeze) while working. Coal produces smoke and volitile gases when being burned that coke deos not. Breathing the combusion by products from either is not good for you, although coal produces significantly more.

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BP0051 Good Coal

 

The time frame is the Carboniferous Period, which spans the period from 360 million years ago to 286 million years ago, about 70 million years before the dinosaurs. The bottom half of this period is known in the U.S. as the Mississippian Period, the top half as the Pennsylvanian Period, and coal formed as the Mississippian Period ended and the Pennsylvanian Period started.

Coal seams are fossilized accumulations of plants which lived and died in swamps that were so devoid of oxygen that few microbes or other critters could survive to feed on their remains. The first phase of coal known as "peat" thus developed. These swamps were interwoven with intricate, meandering river channels which eventually covered things with mud and silt. Subsequent deep burial by more sediments in succeeding geologic ages resulted in heat and pressure which transformed the peat into coal. Generally speaking, every 12 inches of coal thickness represents approximately 10,000 years of continuous peat accumulation. Coal seams in West Virginia average 3 feet in thickness, although they occasionally can be as thick as 25 feet.

When the swamp stretches across 2, 3, or more states, one part of the swamp can easily be different from the other, and form coal that, although in the same seam, is different in composition. That is why Poca 3 in Ky, Wv and Va may give 3 different analysis results.

 

 

Coke: A solid fuel made by heating coal in the absence of air so that the volatile components are driven off.

Coke is coal with the volatiles burned off. Think of it as similar to wood and when the volatiles are burned off it becomes charcoal.

 

The body is set up to breathe air. If you can see it, smell it, or taste it, then it is not air. 

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So should I buy coal or coke and how do I make the coal into coke. (what should I do to make it) also which one burns hotter? Sorry for all the questions I just want to learn.

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Start your initial fire, and let the volatiles burn off, (you'll see plenty of smoke), then around the edge of the fire pile up some fresh coal and dampen with a waterer. (can with some holes poked in the bottom works well, on the end of some wire, even better).  This keeps the smoke down while it cokes.

 

Gradually push the coke into the fire and replace with fresh coal. Coke is .......fluffy? More porous, lighter than the coal. Different feel when you push it around. Also, you have to use bitumous coal to make coke. Heating coal/anthracite won't work, and is hard to keep lit and controlled.

 

Coking also removes contaminates found in coal, such as phosphorus, which can weaken steel, although this was more important historically than it is now with blacksmith grade coal.

 

Avoid breathing the smoke much unless you like black snot and coughing. A hood with a vent will work wonders, as well as dampening the coal while coking.

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One last question how do you light it?

And I have found a website that sells coal and coke which one doi want to buy ( money doesn't matter)

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Greetings Kyotie,

 

The best thing you can do as a new blacksmith is complete your profile so that you can get some area help.... Most guys in your area will be more than willing to show you where to get coal ...  Be smart and find a local smith....

 

Just an old boy with good advice...

 

Jim

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the coke you buy is not the same coke that comes from the forge when  the coal turns to coke. Coke burns hotter, its cleaner and has less  clinker. I only say this because i used coal during my years as a Farrier, then coke as a union blacksmith ( for 28 years ). that is how I have come to this opinion.

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 If you add your location to your profile, we may be able to hook you up with coal or with a blacksmith that can help you directly.

 

Have you looked under the *solid fuel forges* section of forges? 

Forges and fires will answer many of your questions. The rest of the posts in that section will answer many more of your questions that you have not thought of yet.

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How to light? Wad up some paper and put in bottom of forge. Light paper. Wait for it to take, then start blower and add a couple of handfuls of coal. Wait til that takes, add more coal. Takes some practice.

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Coke is to coal as Charcoal is to wood.

 

Either one works well in a forge that is tweaked for it.  Either one may work less well in a forge that is tweaked for the other.

 

Coke is harder to light and needs a more constant air flow and so works better with an electric blower.

 

You do realize that spending 1 Saturday afternoon with a decent smith will save you around 6 months trying to learn the basics off the internet, right?

 

If you are totally isolated; go with propane as the easiest fuel to learn on.

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The way I light my coal/coke is to wad up a piece of newspaper, place a few wood chips/slivers (kindling) on paper wad a small squirt of charcoal lighter fluid,,, Let burn a few minutes  turn on air and introduce coal/coke...

 

Dale

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