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I Forge Iron

Fire and charcoal management


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So, I got my first forge built, using Charles "Just a box of dirt" as inspiration.

The "firepot" is 6in deep, 6 inches wide at the top and 2 at the bottom. There's a 3/4inch tuyure about 1inch from the bottom. This should, with coal stacked a few inches above, yield a heart big enough for some beginner stuff.

At the moment I'm getting inspiration from YouTube and I'm seeing a lot of guys with their entire hearth/forge covered in coal. Sure seems a lot easier than constantly shoveling in coal from a bag.

But say I store my coal on the forge, how come the fire doesn't spread to all the coals and burn 'em up?

Lastly, when you're done forging, how do you put out your fire? I usually just let I burn out, but say I have the entire forge covered in coal? Can't just let it burn up then, that would cost way to much coal.

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Fuel does not make the fire hot, air makes the fire hot.

If you over fuel a solid fuel forge, only the fuel getting air burns. The remainder is basically in storage mode, waiting for the fuel to be consumed and new fuel moved into the fire to replace it.

If you rake the coal fire out of the fire pot and spread it out a bit, it will usually go out on it's own. I prefer to shovel the fire into a 5 gallon bucket of water. I sleep well at night knowing that anything that was hot is now under water, no flare ups that way. Ash will sink to the bottom of the bucket and with a gentle stir, the coke and coal will float and be removed. Let it dry and use it in the next fire.

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And your last question is a partial answer to the bury the forge in coal question isn't it? Youtube is filled with folk who have no more qualification for their videos than a camera and internet connection. Sure there's a lot of good information, some great even but it takes a basic level of knowledge to be able to tell the good stuff from the idiot stuff.

If you're using coal as in fossil fuel then simply shovel it out of the forge and dunk it in a bucket of water. If you have a wide table and haven't covered the whole thing in coal you can simply rake the coal back from the fire and spread the burning coals, they'll go out on their own in a while.

If you're using charcoal as in carbonized (pyrolized) wood then it will keep burning till the fuel is gone unless you extinguish it. It's a major good reason for not covering your forge with charcoal, it will ALL burn. You CAN extinguish a charcoal fire with enough water but it takes the fire and a box of dirt(MUD) forge a while to dry out. Keep a charcoal fire small, just a LITTLE larger than you need. Charcoal isn't like coal it will light immediately, doesn't need to coke, etc. it catches and burns.

You want to keep fuel covering your work to keep air off it and insulate the fire to retain heat but having a pile 30cm deep and 100cm wide is just wasting fuel. It's not like you have a 4 man shop to keep busy with hot steel you really only need to heat one thing at a time. Just build the fire for what you're doing that day.

Frosty The Lucky.


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I think frosty about coverd it. Charcoal is very susceptible to fire spread, so do not store extra fuel on the table. Mineral coal is Generaly much less so, but how much depends on the type and grade (sprinkler can may be needed)  

a reminder, I have very high amounts of clay in my soil and clinker sticks to ceramics (vitrified clay) I have more or less destroyd the mark II birth box forge. 

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Thanks guys! As usual, I got great advice here. I guess I'll keep storing my charcoal in the charcoal chest.

Charles, my entire firepot and top 4inches of the table is clay (rest is a dirt mixture and a brick bottom). My firepot is vitrified, but doesn't seem like it's covered in clinker (though I suppose charcoal doesn't leave behind clinkers?)

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No, other than a bit of dirt, and melted steel (oops) you shouldn't get clinker with charcoal, coal is another issue, as it is petrified peat bog it containes sand, iron and other dirt, and that makes clinker. Clinker will stick. As long as you stick to clean charcoal, no problem, if you switch to coal, a bit of a redesign will be in order (basically flip the design, line the bottom and sides with clay or brick (this keeps you from digging to close to the wood or thin steel) and then fill with dirt or ash (sand works but wants to form slag, an irritation till enugh ash forms). 

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