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I Forge Iron

Coal 101 or coal for dummies

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Could someone explain to this new student why exactly there are folks who will only use "pocahontas" or "elkhorn" coal. I thought the purest form of coal was anthricite. I know soft or heating coal is out because of the high percentage of sulfur and clinker. Any information would be appreciated.


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In the old days blacksmiths didn't have the luxury of being selective about the coal they used. They either used what was available or fired the forge with charcoal.

For quite a while till other coal became available to me, I forged with the supposed useless coal that comes from Wyoming mixed with some stove coal (anthricite). I made about 6 pattern welded blades with it till someone told me it was no good for forging.

For blacksmith purposes ideally you want a high BTU low sulfur coal. Pocohantas is just that and many smiths think it is the best coal available. It is exceptional coal and once you have forged with good coal you will know the difference. With some of the less desirable grades of coal it just takes more of the stuff to do the job. If you can get the best, use it, if not get the best of what is available and use that.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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