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Does anyone have any experience with coal gathered from the beach?  I heard something about it having a high salt content and I don't know how/if it would affect my projects. (usually some kind of blade)  In case it matters it is gathered in Stamford , CT. and looks to be of anthracite or higher bituminous grade and pea size.

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Dear MMM,

It could depend on the source of the coal before it washed up on the beach.  I don't think that there are any submarine outcrops of coal in the CT area.  IIRC most of coastal CT is made up of glacial deposits.  I would suspect that the origin might be a 19th or early 20th century ship wreck which has dumped its coal bunkers into the environment.  And who knows what the origin of that might be.  Fast NY-Boston packet ships would have burned high quality anthracite from PA while some scummy old tramp steamer could have been burning anything they could get cheap.  

I suggest you gather a bucket or so, let it dry out well, and see how it works.  If you are concerned about the salt content wash it with fresh water before drying.  The price is certainly right.

I believe that "sea coal" is a British term for coal that was shipped to London by ship from Newcastle.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."   

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Thanks, I went back to the beach and now have about 8 pounds of the stuff.  During low tide, the clay deposits were exposed and I found one that was full of coal.  I wonder if that means that it formed there or it just got deposited there by a shipwreck.  Going by your information, it was probably deposited there by a shipwreck.  I will wash the coal according to your instructions and burn it at the next chance I get. That probably won't be for a while because it is difficult to work outside at a JABOD forge in 90 degree heat and I will be going away to Russia for the next few weeks. I appreciate your reply and found it helpful.

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