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trip, i would say your coal is a bituminous coal. i found some very much like what you have in an old coal bin at a friends in colorado. i had it analyzed by a friend that started the wyoming analytical laboratories. they do all the testing for the coal comming out of wyoming, china, colorado, they have analyzed coal from all over the U.S. and the world.

my coal has great btu and does coke up. the only problem i have with it is getting it broken up. when i find the lab work on the coal i found i will post it.

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trip, i would say your coal is a bituminous coal. i found some very much like what you have in an old coal bin at a friends in colorado. i had it analyzed by a friend that started the wyoming analytical laboratories. they do all the testing for the coal comming out of wyoming, china, colorado, they have analyzed coal from all over the U.S. and the world.

my coal has great btu and does coke up. the only problem i have with it is getting it broken up. when i find the lab work on the coal i found i will post it.


Hey thanks,

Yeah this coal I got is HARD to break up, so i am putting it (The big chunks) in my side draft forge hood while I work, and let it "cook" in to coke. Seams to work ok, it makes it easier to break up, and is turned in to coke.

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Funny you'd mention this; I have located some hard coal. It is "soft" and works well in the forge, but hard to break up. It is also free. I have sourced two locations for "free" coal right on the bike trail. Ohio has loads of old RR beds turned bike trails I have found two locations where there is a big dump of coal.

I gather all that I can when I ride through, but I don't make a special trip for this stuff. I lay the chunks atop my forge when I'm done with the fire and heat this coal up and it then falls apart.

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Cant wait to find out what that coal is. I have a very similar coal to that shiny stuff you have. There is also a huge coal bin at the farm but it's not shiny and really dirty looking. If the farm wasn't so far away I would go get some to try it.

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Muhlenberg county coal is bituminous. It tends toward the lower btu range of bituminous and is considered high sulfur coal. It has to be mixed with western sub bituminous coal to be used in power generation due to the low btu and high sulfur nature. Not exactly blacksmithing coal but if you can deal with the sulfur, the price is certainly right.

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Well I think it is bituminous, but I HATE it!!!!!! It won't form a clinker, but the it will become a white ash that won't burn, go though the grate, or "blow" out. So if I start using it at 7:00 Am, then at lunch (11:00) I got to put out my whole fire, and rake out all the ash, then after lunch restart my fire.

Thankfully though, I found some better coal, that was free!!!!!! :)

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It might be what's known as :

Sub-bituminous coal - This is a medium soft coal that contains much less moisture than lignite and is not nearly as crumbly. Like lignite, its primary use is in the generation of electricity. The carbon content of sub-bituminous coal runs from 35%-45% and its heat value generally ranges from 8,000-13,000 Btu's per pound.


Personally, I wouldn't care what it was, as long as the price was right, and it worked OK.

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I have used both. I began with the hard stuff. It was clean!! It was very difficult to light and had problems shaping the fire.

The soft coal is VERY dirty! It is easy to light, cokes up quickly and is very easily shaped and very easily lighted. It makes a smoky mess if you burn it. I do my bestest NOT to burn that stuff. I have to be careful and keep it damp and tight around the coke fire and it will coke quickly.

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I've found quite a bit of industrial coke along RR beds in Ohio. Used to save it for special jobs.

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Well I think it is bituminous, but I HATE it!!!!!! It won't form a clinker, but the it will become a white ash that won't burn, go though the grate, or "blow" out. So if I start using it at 7:00 Am, then at lunch (11:00) I got to put out my whole fire, and rake out all the ash, then after lunch restart my fire.

Thankfully though, I found some better coal, that was free!!!!!! :)


My coal has plenty of ash(and not much clinker) and it sounds like you are having the same problem I did. I just installed a "clinker breaker"(Rotating ash dump is a much better phrase) to my forge and never looked back. It is incredible how much it helped and well worth the time installing it.

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My coal has plenty of ash(and not much clinker) and it sounds like you are having the same problem I did. I just installed a "clinker breaker"(Rotating ash dump is a much better phrase) to my forge and never looked back. It is incredible how much it helped and well worth the time installing it.


Could you post a pic. or a drawing of the rotating ash dump? Thanks.

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Could you post a pic. or a drawing of the rotating ash dump? Thanks.


It's pretty much just a rounded squashed cylinder that is raised and rounded on one side. I have welded a piece of rod on both sides so I can turn it. I'll try to post a drawing later,

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I've been using bituminous coal (blacksmith coal) costing $15.00 per 50 pound bag. Burns great, but is very dirty and smoky. 
Just learned tonight that Tractor Supply Company (TSC) carries anthracite (aka Nut Coal) for $4.99 for a 40 pound bag! For that price I think it would be worth trying, even if I mix the two. 

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That's not a bad price for bituminous around here. (hi from the atlanta area!) It really shouldn't be smoking too badly except at the beginning if you're coking it as you go at the edges of the fire. Maybe once in awhile if you push a bunch directly onto the fire while still green.

 

I've tried mixing it and found you get all the disadvantages of both, without the advantages of either. Anthracite needs more air, and burns hot, but kind of oxidizing. It doesn't really make clinker much, but it doesn't coke and ball up either. It's not absolutely terrible when you get used to it, but it's tricky. Oh yes, and sometimes it will break apart and spit little coal splinters out of the fire. Anthracite heating coal also tends to come in big fist size lumps that you have to break up....at least when starting the fire initially. After that you can toss the big chunks on top and they'll break up.......with even more air. And it radiates more heat, painfully if the burning part doesn't stay covered with non-burning coal.

 

Bituminous on the other hand is more smoky and makes more clinker/ash, but easier to light and manipulate, and can be built up or formed into that "cavern". It can run on a lot less air too. Altogether a lot less oxidizing and user friendly. You can also bank the coals and come back in an hour and have the fire up and running again in a minute or so. Very convenient.

 

When you mix the two? You get a dirtier fire that takes too much air and is too oxidizing, is too hot (watch your steel!), goes out when you leave the air off, can't be manipulated easily, and spits coal splinters out occaisionally. Oh yes, and when the clinker from the bituminous eventually forms, it loses heat a lot faster as the anthracite stops burning well. I'd rather use one or the other than both. And for ease of use, probably lump charcoal over the anthracite.

 

I'm not sure how far Jasper, Ga is from Dunlap, but I believe if you bag your own (or do like I do, and put it in a 55 gallon drum), the bituminous at Georgia Farrier Supply is about 10-15 cents less a lb than what you're paying. Might be worth calling.

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Pocahontas Bituminous Blacksmith Coal is what you should be looking for, Thats what I have used in a coal forge for the last 60 years, But you have to know how to work a fire

                         Ironmike

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Thanks for the information! Sounds like great advice. I appreciate your comments, would much rather learn with advice rather than the hard way. 

 

I will check out Jasper GA as well. 

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I just got some bituminous locally for about 14 cents a pound. I haven't tried it yet as I'm still building my forge. I live in northern Indiana if anyone needs to find some bulk coal let me know 

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I assume you'll post a review after you actually try it out?  I know a fellow down here who was given a ton or more of coal free and ended up using it on the driveway as it wasn't worth burning it in the forge.  He was a professional smith and so good coal is a necessity.

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I will give an update soon hopefully. My forge is mostly complete but I'd like to post some pictures to get some feedback on things that I may need to change. I'm new to this site, where should I post them?

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So I received a shipment of coal today. I am not a coal expert and would like to identify what type of coal  I have (pictured). I will give my best "scientific" assessment for aid:

It is hard. It seems brittle but tough to break apart. There are some white-ish deposits that appear in the chunks that I have been able to break apart. Doesn't have an oily look about it, in fact it seems very glassy, almost crystalline. It has structure, you can see sediment lines or striations in it but those also appear crystalline, reminding me of volcanic glass. But that structure does not appear porous. Its very smooth. No smell that I can notice. Leaves a black dusty residue on my hands but feels very dry, not an oily residue. Various sizes in the box I ordered from large chunks to smaller grape and pea sized grains. 

Hopefully this information will aid you guys a little. 

 

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Burn some of it and observe if it is harder, than usual, to light.

And when lit needs a continuous air blast to stay lit. If that is so it is anthracite.

Regards,

SLAG.

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40 minutes ago, 19Branden86 said:

Should I bust those down into smaller pieces?

If it is anthracite, probably, especially if you have a smaller forge (like a rivet forge or a small JABOD).

I burn anthracite from Tractor's Supply Co., and I found the nut coal (about the size of what you have there) really hard to get lit and keep burning. That's why I switched to their rice coal, which is smaller and more evenly sized. Breaking up the nut coal to a more burnable size was a major pain.

Remember: since burning is rapid oxidation of fuel, a greater surface-to-mass ratio (i.e., smaller pieces) means more surface getting oxidized which in turn means more heat per unit of space/time. 

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