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anybody out there burning corn to heat steel or melt metals.....if so please let me know what your doing

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I tried using corn in a brake drum forge, all I got was a lot of flame and a sticky mess. It did burn away but the heart of the fire was not getting metal visibly hot (red). I was probably using too much air, I had to turn it way down when I switched to coal - maybe that was the problem.

Good Luck!

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I've used it, and it works very well, you have to coke it like you do coal, and make sure to get all the smoke burned, it smells a bit funny. There's a lot of smoke, so you'll get a big flame up top. A hood is, if not necessary, then advised.

edit: You don't need as much air as coal, the coke is very light, but you definitely need a deep fire and be careful that the coking corn doesn't stick too much to your metal.
It works good, can get steel to welding heats it you get the air right.
Merry Being,
Archie

Edited by Archie Zietman

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Yeah, the deep fire wasn't happening in the brake drum - it needs some additional side area, maybe a hubcap...

Corn works great in a gasifier (along with wood chips)! :D

Good Luck!

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Charcoal will burn just great in a standard coal forge. I have heard dried corn will work just fine as well but you need to pile it up about 2 more inches. I have never had that much corn available to burn so I haven't tried it. Dung is supposed to be a good forging fuel but it is said to not get hot enough for a welding fire. Wood works fine if your pieces are small enough, about 1''-2'' square but the forge flees are very bad and it smokes badly. You will also need to pile it up enough that the wood is charcoaled by the time it reaches your forge's hot spot.
This is based off of what I have gathered during my search for the same information. I even started off in a WMO forge, only problem with that is the availability of the motor oil in Oklahoma.

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Wood Charcoal requires a deeper fire than coal due to its density. Corn cobs may need a little more, dung a little less. I am just guessing based on my limited use of other than coal fuels.
For an experimental setup as you adjust for the different fuels I would just put a tee into a flat plate and build it up with firebrick to create the pot. depth of fire can be adjusted as you try different things.
A dirt lined box can also be used similarly. Grandpas forge was 2x6's with a pipe up from the bottom and dirt shoveled in on that. Easy to build in an hour or two. he never had a Store bought forge as far as I know unless it was in the oilpatch of the 20's.

Edited by Mills
addition

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Bob's design works verywell for me. I have one in my shop and my portable has one. The only thing I did different was to use wider flat bar so that my firepot is about 4" deep. Everyone that has used it has commented on how efficient it is. I use coal but I've been told it would also work with charcoal.
Travis

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Corn behaves very much like coal in the forge and burns plenty hot enough to weld. It sticks together well enough to form a dome as it pyrolizes.

If you're curious buy a sack at the local feed and seed. If of course you don't mind burning food.

Frosty

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It is here for sure, unless I go dig it myself.

Don't use popcorn, it's too hard to keep a dome.

Frosty

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Corn... hmmmm I might have trouble keeping my cows away from my forge but this is something I want to try. I may have a good source for storage burnt corn (corn that got to hot in a grain bin to be sold at market, already a bit brown and brittle) This sounds like fun...

James

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Covforge, what thickness of plate did you use on the sides? 1/2 inch? It's good to know that it works with charcoal, which all biomass will burn down to.

I've used corn and managed to burn steel with it. It does work exactly like coal, it just has a lot of burnable stuff in the smoke, so the flame above the heart is very large. I don't particularly like burning food though, so generally stick to wood and tree nuts etc.

be merry!
Archie

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I have one on my demo forge out of 1/4 plate and my main forge is 3/8, in 5 years neither is showing any wear. I try not to let the fire get to low to keep from burning the metal wich is more eficient anyway.
Travis

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Has anyone on here tried using those little 'wood pellets'? I've seen 'em in the Northern Tool catalog with alternate energy furnace type deals. I seem to remember a bag of 'em was pretty cheap.
Mickey

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I have tried corn, corn cobs, wood pellets, charcoal brickets, wood blocks, sunflower stalks, real wood charcoal, coal, coke and anthricite in an old forge of mine.

Corn kernels burn hot with a big fire, they would be much better if charred first.

Corn cobs weigh almost nothing and burn up just as fast as you can shove them into the fire. Almost useless as a forge fuel from a steady use issue.

Wood pellets burn much like corn kernels, except that the pellets are made of wood shavings and saw dust that is compressed together. The only thing that holds them together is the lignin placed into a semi plastic state during the high temp and force compression stage. When the pellets begin to burn and you add a blast they fly apart into a fountain of sparks. ANY stiring of the fuel with the air blast going will be like the fourth of July! They DO work and can get hot enough, but I wouldn't suggest them.

Charcoal brickets are very simular to wood pellets in this way. They can burn hot enough but it is almost impossible to keep the fire from spreading and the sparks are intolerable.

Wood blocks(I would split and saw them down to about 2" square or smaller) work but there is a big ol flame and more sparks then with charcoal or coal.

Sunflower stalks have more hydrocarbons then wood and thusly produce a greater flame and more smoke when the blast is off. They will also get hot enough but unchared are a big ol mess, chared they are very light and burn almost instantly.

Real wood charcoal is a brilliant fuel, properly made there is almost no smoke and it gets plenty hot.

Coal of course is coal.

Coke will also work, however one must either have a way of producing a natural draft to keep it going when forging or just keep the blast going all of the time. It sure gets plenty hot, but if you let it cool for a little bit, IT IS OUT.

Anthricite is a lot like coke, except it is much heavier and harder.

All in all my favorite fuel is real wood charcoal, it burns clean(that is no smoke, there can however be a lot of carbon monoxide, keep it ventilated.) hot and is very easy to go from a small compact fire to a massive fire to heat those big ol chunks of steel.

Coal would be my second favorite fuel.

Corn and wood has about 6/10 the energy per pound that coal has(this greatly depends on the btu content of the coal, wood and corn). Take this into account when comparing the cost of various solid fuels.

What we really need to be working on is a coal making machine. . .

Caleb Ramsby

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wood works pretty well. i have a wood burning forge (it works ok). if you light it with some big chinks of wood and leave it without a blower for 20 or 25 min you can come back with a nice bed of coals. that is the only fuel i have. with a hair dryer i can get bright orange in full daylight. good luck with your forge.

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thats what I do to, I use small peices split from old pallets. I cant get it hot enough for welding and forging 9260 is tough but everything else works fine. using pellets seems to work fine as well, I am going to experiment with coke when I have enough cash.

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QUOTE"What we really need to be working on is a coal making machine. . .

Caleb Ramsby " Quote

we live on a coal making machine... :)



My experience with charcoal is the deeper the better. Mine was fashioned after Tim's but I used wood instead of a washtub. It worked great. I also found wetting the charcoal as you do coal (while the fire is burning) kept the fine sparks down.

the Tube type tuyre really works very well I was skeptical at first.

Charcoal Forge


If you go with the biomass, the added depth of the firepot will increase your charcoal conversion,as new uncharred fuel is added to the top, it is preheated and cooked.
I spose a draft hood could induce the cooking gases back into the fire?

Personally I'd prefer charcoaling as aseperate event. Seems to me less loss of heat as the conversion is going on.

I like Daniels idea and used it succesfully to make charcoal of pine scraps and oak pallets.
His use of gasification to fuel the charcoal conversion was very inspireing.
I did not use his Kiln of blocks but instead used more brush that needed some usefull way to be gone.

Making Charcoal

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A home publisher here in Sydney sells a booklet on building your own charcoal oven. From a brief glance at pics its a steel drum (5 gal?) with round downpipe lengths running inside, various chambers and valves to set the cooking just right. Should be way more predictable and convenient than the other method- cooking in a pit!
A friend intends to build it; we wait with baited breath...

personally i'm used to coke, the black variety.
Andrew

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it seems if it burns you can use it to forge. anyone used birch? now that might burn a little hot, with the bark you know.

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