/ smokeless coal and stoves

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Ben Sharp - on 06 Dec 2012
When I moved into this house about 11 years ago the previous owner said that you had to burn welsh anthracite or other smokeless fuel on the stove. It's a multi-fuel stove which runs a backboiler for the heating and the water. I tend to burn mostly wood but I've burned "normal" (cheap) coal and it's burned much better and cheaper. I wondered if this was doing any damage or what the reason was behind using only smokeless fuel. I don't live in a built up area and sweep the chimney twice a year.

thegreatape on 06 Dec 2012 - host86-137-86-184.range86-137.btcentralplus.com
In reply to Ben Sharp: This is simply cut and pasted from the website of the folk who I'm getting my stove from...

I burn a mixture of coal and wood in an open fire. If I buy a stove can I continue to burn these two fuels together?
Many people do, and seem to be happy with the results. There are one or two points to consider though.The most important is that mixing fuels can significantly shorten the life of the boiler if your stove is equipped with one. Much of the coal now imported into the country has a high sulphur content. Burning wood inevitably produces water vapour. Mix these two things together and you get sulphurous acid which will condense onto the nearest cold object it reaches - typically the boiler.

There may be other reasons
johncook - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp: Ordinary coal can produce a very dense smoke when first lit or refuelled. This smoke will go of with a considerable bang when the air smoke mixture reaches a critical point and then flames ignite it. I have steel stoves 'bellied out' and the cowl blown off the top of the chimney a good few yards down the road. It does make a nice large smoke ring, being the only good point. Also sulphur content of many coals is high and could cause corrosion of the boiler. Smoke that condenses in the chimney becomes tar and creosote, which may seep through the walls of the chimney (look at the ends of some of the stone cottages in the Peak), and the result is hard to remove with a brush, until one day the flue gets hot enough to ignite the mixture. Then you will have a huge blowlamp out of the top of your chimney and a call from the firebrigade, which, I believe is now chargeable, and often uninsured. There are several other problems with burning ordinary coal on a wood/smokeless burner.
Ben Sharp - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp: Cheers for the info guys, if I start burning coal again I guess I'd better go back to the good old anthracite.
Timmd on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to johncook:How interesting, UKC is amazing, seems to be somebody who knows something about anything. Will look more closely at Peak cottages.
Steph-in-the-West on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:
I have just had a new multi fuel stove with clip on boiler fitted. The advice from the supplier and the fitters is to burn a mix of wood and ordinary house coal mixed with thermalite or other mad-made coal. Works a treat.....
Ben Sharp - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Steph-in-the-West:
>...or other mad-made coal.

I've thought about that stuff but it costs quite a bit to get it shipped up from the west country. (sorry)

Yeah ukc really is a treat with these kinds of things, plumbing, random building questions, physics etc. It all comes crashing down with politics but it does redeem itself sometimes!
Steph-in-the-West on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:
> (In reply to Steph-in-the-West)
> >...or other mad-made coal.
> I've thought about that stuff but it costs quite a bit to get it shipped up from the west country. (sorry)
> Oops - it was late when I posted that and didn't proof read!! We're not all mad down here but it sure helps if you are!!!!! (from one who knows!)
Rigid Raider - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

A late-comer to this thread but here's a warning: my neighbour has a Dovre 250 stove (we have two of the same) and she came round to ask if I could have a look at it. She said that the night before it had been roaring and very hot and she couldn't turn it down. I found the cast-iron baffle plate melted like chocolate and collapsed into the grate and two liner bricks broken and the whole stove choked with reddish dust. I asked her when she had last had the chimney swept and what fuesl she was burning and the ansers were "Errrrr...." and "Coal". Worked out that she had had a chimmney fire, which had generated so much updraft that the intense heat of the coal had melted the baffle plate and the red dust was soot dust. It took me an hour to get the baffle plate out and then all the dust and it cost her 170 for new parts.

Moral of the story: sweep at least twice a year and don't burn coal alone; it burns too hot.
Ben Sharp - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Rigid Raider:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
Cheers for the advice, it kind of vindicates the amount of money I'm spending on wood this year. Coal (anthracite) used to be burned on it all the time and I remember it used to run incredibly hot and heated the house and water well and for cheap. Wood is so much more expensive and doesn't fire out as much heat but since I've gone to using just wood it's so much nice, if a little colder.

I remember going through a few throat plates and grilles when there was more coal burned.
ebygomm - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Are you in a smoke control area? The whole district where we live is covered by smoke control areas whether urban or rural
Radioactiveman - on 08 Dec 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:


Cannot recommend the above site enough . Excellent for information on woodburners,open fires etc. Lots of registered installers will lots of good advice and experience also use the site for help with more technical questions

In short burning the correct dry fuel will make the appliance and flue liner(if fitted) last longer. It will also reduce risk of chimney blockage(wet wood)

Best source of good very dry wood is pallets,not as dense as hardwood so burns faster but free if you have a source

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