barndor

Question for thoes who use coal.

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Hey everyone i am new to this website and blacksmithing in general .

I have been using charcoal for about a month now and i find its pretty darn expensive and i was wondering how much smoke/smell does coal give off ? 

I live in a normal neighborhood with houses around me with an open forge that i can use charcoal / coal in and i was wondering if i started using coal will it give off a lot of smoke and stink out my household and my neighbors ? (i work in the backyard) , im also working on a small shed to do my work in soon . thank you!

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Welcome aboard Barndor, glad to have it. If you'll put your general location in the header you might be surprised how many Iforge members live within visiting distance.

Coal smoke smells, stink depends on personal opinion. I can pretty well guarantee some neighbors aren't going to like it, nor will they like the sound. Of course that depends on how close your neighbors are.

What kind of forge are you using that burns up so much charcoal?

There is a lot to answering your question that requires more specific information from you. When I was a kid our "normal" neighborhood had house lots between 1 & 2 acres. There were plenty of urban "ranches" on 5-10 acres and yes in subdivisions. We need specific questions to give specific answers.

Frosty The Lucky.

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When your coal fire starts to smoke punch a hole in the top and allow the smoke to catch fire. Less smoke equals less smell. As for me coal smoke smells fantastic!

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It's really not that bad, it will smoke a bit at first but if you got a good wood fire going first then slowly ad green coal you will hardly notice it. Make sure you have some coke left at the end of each session and the paper will smoke the most the next time you light it up, I pondered the same thing not long ago, once I switched I realized it was not a concern for me at all. 

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I know it is not considered correct but using anthracite is an option for you if you are willing to deal with the challenges it poses.  First, it needs loads of constant air.  The air has to be variable because it has to start easy to get the paper, wood, charcoal or whatever going without burning out before the darned anthracite gets started.  If you have the air control covered then you should try it out.  It burns hot and makes minimal smoke or stink. I think it smells sweet when fresh coal is put on the fire and, to be honest, sometimes I shovel new stuff on top of my hot fire just because I love the crackle as it releases water and the awesome smell.  

My forge burns clean and hot and the only way my neighbors know I'm forging is that they hear the ring of my anvil.  If you use bituminous prepare for smoke, confused neighbors and firemen.  I have some bituminous and will warn my neighbors in advance when I use it but I stick with anthracite because it is easier to get and won't attract attention from neighbor's outside of my circle.

 

Because anthracite is cheap I sincerely believe you should buy a bag of it and give it a try (assuming you have a constant source of air) because your neighbor's will not notice it.  Either way, enjoy!  I just had a great day of smashing hot metal so it's all good.

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Since you are in the UK I'd definitely go with coke; or were you in Australia? Chile? Mexico, Canada, France? Germany?  Or should we type out answers for each of the over 100 different countries that participate here...

In Columbus OH, USA in the old city I had one retired neighbor who loved the small of coal smoke---she grew up in Pittsburgh PA, USA, and so the smell reminded her of fond childhood memories on the other hand there was a neighbor that 3 times called the fire department on me; by sheer luck each time I was not forging but using my smoker to cook and the city ordinances had a mandated exception for cooking fires...(I was told that they were threatened with a US$1000+ fine the next time they called in a false alarm.

I've had a student who was shut down because his neighbors didn't like the smoke; he had to move to be able to forge.

Especially starting out you will make a lot more smoke than after you learn good coal fire management.  Can you go to propane?

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Thank you all for the replys and help i really appreciate it , im using a handcrank blower as well for my forge , I live in Newfoundland in Canada and houses where i'm from are right next to each other , i think im gonna try a bag of coke and see how well that goes.

After i gets my small shed built and everything installed inside i'll give coal a whirl after research on coal management and how to keep a steady fire , my charcoal forge isn't really deep at all should it be deep ? because i find with thicker metal its impossible to heat up , thank you everyone !

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IMAG0463 [71781].jpg

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Coke you will probably want an electric blower as it really needs fairly constant air to not go out on you.  Does anyone up there use high efficiency oil or gas forced air furnaces?  If so the "exhaust helper" fans are a good choice and can often be gotten from an HVAC company's bone pile for little money if they know what you plan to use it for.

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The learning curve on coal isn't steep, but it'll take you a little while to get the hang of it.  Buy a bag of coal, start your fire with charcoal and add coal a bit at a time. Keep the outside of the coal wet and keep punching a hole in the top of the pile to get some flame that will burn off the smoke. It won't be long before you have leftover coke, converted from the coal at the end of every fire.   I also started out with charcoal in a suburban neighborhood and did a charcoal/coal mix for a while to both get a feel for the new fuel while working with the old fuel I knew how to use.   Much less firetending with coal. You also use less water wetting down the fire with coal.  Coke is great, but can be hard to light and keep lit. 

My SOP now is to fill half a BBQ chimney with charcoal, get that lit and burning, Dump it in the firepot, add a shovel full of coke, mound coal around that and wet it down. The coke lights off the charcoal and the wet coal around the coke starts converting to the lighter, smokeless coke. Hand crank blower as well.

Working on days when the neighbors have their windows closed helps, as does working mid week when most neighbors are at work.

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Thanks everyone for your help , i think i have summed down what im gonna do , just got out of the forge made my first hold down tool for the pritchel hole! , have a great night everyone and thank you !

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Another possibility, could be to dress up in a clown suit while you're blacksmithing. I mean, " hey, who in their right mind would approach a guy in a clown suit pounding on hot metal with a hammer." Of course I'm just kidding, I now like the smell of burning coal-maybe it's affecting my brain.

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Barndor

Where in Newfounland are you. The distance between the capital St. Johns (in the East). and Corner Brook , (in the West), is about 350 lonely miles, (690 kilometers). That your  neighbor is situated just about in your lap, I would guess St. Johns.

Incidentally Newfoundland is one of the most beautiful & hospitable provinces in Canada, in my experience I have fond, long ago memories of the rock.

Don't worry, anthracite coal, and coke work just fine. Just set up an electric blower.

There is loads of information on this site. Search & read, you'll do fine.

Regards & welcome aboard.

SLAG.

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13 hours ago, SLAG said:

Barndor

Where in Newfounland are you. The distance between the capital St. Johns (in the East). and Corner Brook , (in the West), is about 350 lonely miles, (690 kilometers). That your  neighbor is situated just about in your lap, I would guess St. Johns.

Incidentally Newfoundland is one of the most beautiful & hospitable provinces in Canada, in my experience I have fond, long ago memories of the rock.

Don't worry, anthracite coal, and coke work just fine. Just set up an electric blower.

There is loads of information on this site. Search & read, you'll do fine.

Regards & welcome aboard.

SLAG.

St.johns since 2007 my friend and really ? thats great , i have much pride in this is my home land. Thank you guys for everything i am overwhelmed with the support i wish to contribute 

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