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I Forge Iron

pine bark for fuel?

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I often use pine bark to start fires though never tried it in a forge...the sap is too useful for other things... I would say though the reason people don't burn pine in their fireplace in the house is that it leaves a lot of creosote in the chimney which can cause a fire...but that doesn't look like it would be a problem in your case


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"Fatwood" makes a very hot fire. it is usually made of pine, bark that has underlying resin that has been subject to an environmental insult. For example a lightning strike, severe insect  or fungus infestation, or serious mechanical damage. The tree develops copious resin deposits to kill the bug or to prevent "bugs" from invading the plant. The wood is loaded with resin and burns fiercely, and very hot. It serves as a super fire starter, and one can buy it for that purpose. I would not put the resultant smoke up a flue, as creosote will quickly be deposited and a creosote fire is Hades on Earth. The smithy or home will go up like an express train. I imagine that smithing with the stuff would give great heat, little ash, and negligible clinker (probably none). It would be cool if you can get a tree that had a great amount of such resin.


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Anything you can pyrolize, (remove the volatiles producing relatively pure carbon, EG charcoal or coke) will perform well in a forge. Have you tried dry corn? It performs surprisingly like coal even sticks in a self supporting dome, I just have a little problem using food for fuel. This instance was feed corn that molded so I burned it.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When I was younger, I was active as a volunteer fireman.

Here, in southern Pennsylvania, many of the old German style "bank barns" incorporate corn cribs within the structure, ... and the few farmers who are still feeding livestock, still store ear corn in that fashion.

Once-upon-a-time, barn fires were fairly rare occurrences, ... but as electricity became available in those structures, and machinery driven by fossil fuels were stored inside those barns, ... catastrophic fires became more and more common.

Once a timber framed, wood sided barn becomes "totally involved" in fire, there's just no saving that structure.

So, in the case of a barn that was a "total loss", often times the decision was made to allow the debris contained within the barns foundation to burn up, completely.

Thus, saving on cleanup costs.

What that means to the volunteer firemen, is that somebody is going to have to "babysit" that fire, for perhaps as long as ten or twelve hours, before snuffing out any hot-spots, and calling an end to a long, sad day.

Being young, enthusiastic, single and self-employed, ... those all-night fire watch vigils, often fell to me.

Which is essentially a long-winded way of saying, ... that I've seen a lot of ear corn burned up in barn fires.

Long after the hay and straw are gone, ... after the 18 inch square Chestnut beams, and the 4 inch thick floorboards are all completely gone, ... there will still be a pile of coals, ... glowing like the highway to hell, ... where the corn crib used to be.

To the thoughtful observer, there could be no better comparison of charcoal versus corn, as fuel.


Keep in mind that "shelled corn" is an even more densely concentrated form of carbon, than ear corn.


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