Sunday, March 13, 2016

Home Heating with Coal Burning Stoves

Buck Stove Link:

Is coal a smart replacement compared to purchased wood fuel? If you live in a long cold winter part of your country then coal, may be your preferred fuel to burn.

Why? Because it burns clean, hot and consistently long. So an evening load of coal in the stove will burn evenly (temperature wise) all night long. If you have a properly insulated house, how nice that would be not getting up every 3-4 hours to add wood to the stove to keep from freezing!

Coal stoves are similar to their wood burning cousins. Most use natural draft and have the similar chimney requirements as wood stoves. In the past, many stoves were designed to burn both coal and wood. Be sure to verify your wood stove is safe to use and burn coal.

‘Anthracite Coal’ is most efficient when burned in freestanding stoves. Coal fires are difficult to start, but once alight a fire can last for weeks or even months by just adding more coal and using the shaker grill to remove the spent clinkers and ash. For this reason, coal is best suited to those who use their stoves on a full-time basis, not just for a quick warm-up of the house but to maintain a comfortable home all day and all night long. I grew up using coal for heat and all the benefits mentioned are true.

Coal vs. Wood Cost:
One ton of coal is about equivalent to a one cord of wood in pound for pound BTU output.

Tractor Supply sells and if need be ships coal in 40 lb. bags $5.00 each or $250 per ton:

Coal stoves produce no creosote or tar, and the chimney and smoke pipe will usually only contain a white or brown fine ash coating. It is important to clean the coal stove, smoke pipe and chimney immediately following the burning season as this ash can be quite corrosive when combined with the heat and humidity of the spring/summer.

Coal produces 10 times as much ash per pound as wood does, so a large ash pan is a good feature. Shaking should be done at least twice a day and as many as six times if the stove is being run at high outputs.

How long will they last?
A quality coal stove could easily last ten years or more. Coal burns much hotter than wood, so it should be common to replace coal grates and liners as time passes.

Chimney Concerns:
Coal burns very efficiently, so the temperature going up the chimney is not as great as it is with wood. However, coal contains sulfur and other compounds which can cause corrosion, especially in stainless steel chimneys. Be sure to select a quality brand of Chimney and confirm that the warranty covers use with coal. Also be sure to clean the chimney every spring (some sweeps pour baking soda down to neutralize the acids), as most corrosion occurs over the humid summer months.

Types of Coal:

Anthracite, the type used for home heating:
Anthracite, also known as hard coal, is very clean burning and produces no visible smoke or creosote. Anthracite is coal with the highest carbon content, between 86 and 98 percent, and a heat value of nearly 15,000 BTUs-per-pound and is most frequently associated with home heating. There are 7.3 billion tons of anthracite reserves in the United States, found mostly in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This hard coal is packed with an enormous amount of energy

The most plentiful form of coal in the United States and is used primarily to generate electricity and make coke for the steel industry. The fastest growing market for coal, though still a small one, is supplying heat for industrial processes. Bituminous coal has a carbon content ranging from 45 to 86 percent carbon and a heat value of 10,500 to 15,500 BTUs-per-pound.

Below bituminous is sub-bituminous coal with 35-45 percent carbon content and a heat value between 8,300 and 13,000 BTUs-per-pound. Reserves are located mainly in a half-dozen Western states and Alaska. Although its heat value is lower, this coal generally has a lower sulfur content than other types, which makes it attractive for use because it is cleaner burning.

Lignite, sometimes called brown coal, is a geologically young coal which has the lowest carbon content, 25-35 percent, and a heat value ranging between 4,000 and 8,300 BTUs-per-pound. It is mainly used for electric power generation.

Link to another source to purchase coal:


  1. Where I grew up, on the east coast, most people burned coal. Here, out in the west, I have not heard of anyone burning coal, only wood. I still remember the coal bins and coal chutes and the sound of coal being delivered to the cellar.

  2. Coal was king around here till the 70s . The main drawback is the ash. A stove that is drafty or almost burnt out is dangerous with coal due to temps it can reach. Stoker furnaces weren't that different than an oil furnace just the fuel burnt. Coal is great for a kitchen stove's oven long constant temp