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will do. Im also going to use it in my homemade slow cooker nicknamed "the chicken box". its quite hard to explain but ill post pictures of it, sometimes. Simple to make and can feed a party of 30 people easy

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Mr. Lukerec,

You scooped me!

Popcorn is a special variety of corn. (with a high moisture content). That produces steam when it's heated and it explodes.

Eating corn is a different variety. And 'dent corn" is the variety used for cattle.


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Said and, I quote. 

"Don't mess with an Iowa boy when it comes down to corn".

Perish the thought good sir!

Then again I might be very tempted to mess with an Iowa girl! (corn fed?)

Hey wait a minute Marg (the Marvelous) would kill me.

Cancel that order.

Regards to all,


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You can use almost anything that will melt near welding temps as some sort of a flux---the japanese use rice straw ashes and some of the Neo-Tribals used wood ashes.

HOWEVER they are not very active fluxes and take a lot more skill to use and are not as good for high carbon as they need higher temps to work better. When You can buy a 4 pound box of 20 Mule Team borax for a dollar at Dollar General or a 76 oz box for US$4:47 one would ask WHY you would make it harder on yourself?  I suggest learning the easy cheap way (you will be throwing away a lot more ruined projects thus spending time and fuel) and then working towards harder methods.

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6 hours ago, lukerec said:

I have grown popcorn in our garden. They are two completely different things

I have worked in a grain elevator for 40+ years and have seen field corn actually "pop" several times over the years coming out of dryers !!  so it can " pop " !!

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  • 10 months later...

Okay so what is a good moisture in the corn for a good burn?  Dryers are used to reduce moisture levels and the elevators around here normally won't take corn with 18% to 20% moisture.   Does 12 to 15% sound about right to burn?  Or does it need to be more dry than that?

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Man that is awesome!  I mean if it is a good source, (which it seems to be in theory) I dont have to worry about fuel costs at all!  My day job is 99% corn.  

How deep a firepot do you need to burn corn?  I can see a side blast being a good choice considering the "coals" size, but...?  What would your thoughts be?

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Corn is around 390,000 btu per bushel. A bushel is 56 pound which is around 7,000 btu per pound. It wouldn’t be too hard to figure out the cost per btu for different fuels. On the commodity market corn is around $3.50/bushel right now. 

Rule of thumb on moisture is usually 14% or less, the dryer the better though. Guy who runs corn burners for heat usually use that 14% moisture. If it’s much over that they will start to mix in pellets to make it burn right and reduce the clinkers. 

Years ago I ended up with a wagon load of damaged ear corn that I ended up burning in my indoor wood/coal burner. It burned fairly similar to coal in that situation, but almost a quicker heat that didnt last quite as long. Mind you though this was ear corn and not shelled corn. Just like coal you had to get a decent fire going before switching to corn, if not it would just smolder. 

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I have used corn as forging fuel many, many times in several different forge set-ups.

For one event at a historical site's harvest show I started Saturday morning by cleaning all coal and coke from the hearth and then forged all that day and the following day on nothing but corn. It was certainly a crowd gatherer.

Good points...

it burns hot and clean, no clinker from the fuel itself.

it needs very little air so it's more energy efficient and easier on the smith.

around here it is cheaper than coal and gives me the same heat.

the smell of a big corn roast will let you forge places where the smell of coal will get complaints and possibly shut down.

Bad points...

fire management is a little different than with coal/coke but is easy to get used to (and I think is a good thing to practice).

vermin will eat your fuel supply if you don't secure it well. (I once watched a groundhog push the lid off of a galvanized trash can and then help himself to many helpings of my corn, not a problem encountered with coal)

Some of my experience with corn...

First let me say that I have only used corn in bottom blast forges (clinker breaker type, raised cap type, and flat plate type) with crank blowers or bellows. if you use an electric blower you will need to be able to throttle it down a lot.

I have found that shallower boxes (3 inches deep) work better than deeper ones (5 inches deep or more).

I use feed corn from the local feed store. I have never worried about the moisture content and have not noticed any difference in the burning of the corn.

Start you fire with paper and wood.

Slowly add corn around the edges, too much too soon will give you massive amounts of smoke/steam that will drive you out of your shop.

It will "coke" and cap over just as a soft coal fire does.

work as usual but keep an eye on your workpiece as the fire is much hotter than you think.

you will find that the fire requires very little air as apposed to coal.

too much air will fling your kernels out of the firepot.

as you work you will need to bring fuel into the fire more often than coal.

as you bring more in add more fresh corn around the sides and back of the fire (I add a soup can full of fresh corn at a time).

this will "coke" and be ready when you need it.

you may find yourself managing your fire more often than you would with coal but I find this good practice especially for new smiths.

when done for the day, rake the fire out of the pot and let it go out. The corn coke will be ready for your next fire just as coal coke would.

don't leave the corn piled up in the box and think you'll have fuel the next day, it will burn completely.

That's all that I can think of at the time.

I"ll try to help with any questions,


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