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Pellet Fuel Starter - ok to use charcoal lighter fluid?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by sestivers, Apr 3, 2008.

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  1. sestivers

    sestivers New Member

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    Hi,

    I used to use the "proper" jelly stuff for starting up my wood pellet stove. Then I found that charcoal lighter fluid costs much less, lasts much longer, and is available in many more places than just the fireplace shop. Am I hurting anything in my stove by using the charcoal lighter fluid to light the pellets?

    Thanks,
    Steve

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  2. nailed_nailer

    nailed_nailer Minister of Fire

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    I don't think using a flammable liquid as thin as charcoal starter is a real good idea in the house.

    Seems like it could run out of the stove and reach combustibles.

    What I use is is a propane torch with a push button starter. It's cheap, fast, and safe.

    Just my $.02
    ---Nailer---
  3. Arnold

    Arnold Member

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    Ohio
    Alcohol based hand cleaner gel works just fine.............it's cheap & available most anywhere.
  4. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    Read your owners manual and follow their direction. Please remember that fire used incorrectly just might hurt you, your family, and at the least your property. Do not give the insurance companies more reason to raise our rates. Do you think the inspectors know what to look for in a house fire with a pellet stove?
  5. steamguy

    steamguy Member

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    Gotta chime in on using the torch with a thumbs up. I tried a lot of different stuff in our old Austroflamm, and the torch was by far the best/safest way. Started it that way every cold morning for about ten years. Even my wife could handle it with no problem. The local feed store was charging usurious prices for the gel starter; I think they were remodeling their shop or something... :smirk:

    We did it like this:
    Handful of pellets in the firepot
    Stove ON, count to ten, stove OFF; this starts the combustion blower
    Blast away at the pellets with the blowtorch for about 30 seconds
    Gently close the door so you don't snuff the fire
    Watch for a minute until you see the fire is good and started
    Stove ON and you're done.
  6. IIFAST4U

    IIFAST4U Member

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    I am assuming these stoves did or do not have a self ignitor in them? I am still a newbie and my stove is new so it has the ignitor in it.

    Shawn
  7. steamguy

    steamguy Member

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    You are correct. Our old Austroflamm did not have a self-ignitor. Self-ignitors in those days were expensive and unreliable. The optional one for that stove was an extra $300 and the dealer told me at the time that they typically didn't last more than six months or so if you have the stove on a thermostat so it's cycling on and off all the time.

    But that was then, and the technology has changed dramatically. Ignitors then were a glorified electric barbecue starter - nowadays they're like a glow plug in a diesel and they last WAY longer.

    We love our new Enviro Empress. My wife especially loves how she can shut it off when she heads out for a while then just turn it on when she gets home. No more drama of having to knock out the firepot and washing the soot off your hands afterwards for her.
  8. kilarney

    kilarney New Member

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    We just bought a Harman Accentra. How long are people seeing the automatic starters last on the Harmans?

    The Enviro salesperson told us that Enivro starters were averaging 2-3 years.
  9. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    If you don't already have one go and get a propane turbotorch from Lowes HD or Wallyworld. The one with the piezo button starter. I tried all the foolish jells and even some home made recipes using fuel oil, old motor oil and alcohol. They all work but its sooooo much easier to just grab the torch and blast a hand full of pellets for 15 - 25 seconds and shut the door. No full no muss and works well every time especially if you open the draft to full for a half a minute. The turbo torches are more expensive but burn a lot hotter and once you used one with the piezo ignitor you won't ever go back to the old scratch light type again believe me. A single bottle lasts me at least all season and I lite mine a lot since I have no igniter in mine. Since you do common sense would dictate not directing the flame onto the lighter element if you can help it. I got both my torches on Ebay as the price minus the taxes was a lot cheaper. Try it you won't go back to expensive jellys.
  10. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    What!? You mean all these years I've been washing up before supper, with Fire Starter? No wonder I can't remember anything anymore.
  11. sestivers

    sestivers New Member

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    p.s. I don't have a "self igniter" or anything like that. Nor do I have the operator's manual. This is a stove in which you put a couple handfulls of pellets into the basket, put "starting fluid" on the dry pellets, light manually with a match or lighter, then turn on the stove fan and press a button to initiate the pellet feeder.

    I was really surprised to see people freaking out thinking I'm going to burn my house down... I'm not using gasoline! Charcoal lighter fluid is no more explosive than the gel stuff. And if air/smoke doesn't leak out of the stove into my house, how would a liquid do so?

    I was wondering more along the lines of deposits or damage to my stove. I can get my stove started just as safely as someone using a propane torch indoors, thank you very much. But I will keep the torch in mind if I run out of charcoal lighter fluid or alcohol.
  12. ronlat

    ronlat New Member

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    As a Fire Fighter I would say you should never use a product as flamable as lighter fluid in an environment such as a pellet stove, or anywhere inside of your house!! Stick with the jellies, at least your house will still be there after you light the stove.
  13. freebird77

    freebird77 Feeling the Heat

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    The torch sounds like the way to go. Ive bought several bottles of the gel and it is expensive. But the only time Ive had to use it is when I shut down the stove to clean it thougholy which is every ton of pellets used. I think Ill still look into the torch though. What is a piezo lighter though?
  14. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    this is what I used freebird
    I never liked to wait for the ignitor after the cleaning either (the house was already cold by then)

    http://www.bernzomatic.com/bernzomatic/consumer/jhtml/detail.jhtml?prodId=BernzoProd100012

    A little vegetable oil mixed with pellets works too, but should be mixed outside of the stove to prevent it from getting on the wrong side of the burnpot.
    I've heard a small glob of vaseline may be put in the stove since it's not a liquid.
    all that aside I like the torch the best....
  15. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    That bernzpmatic is exactly what I have. Shop around they are highly discounted. The reason to watch the fuel oil and alcohols is that they can burn out and smoke. Then you open the door and light that steam they are making and get a mini explosion. Nothing too horrendous in my experience but if you have enough in there it might blow the door open. Thats why te torch, much faster even and no poofeys. Hell, I once ran out of propane and didn't have anything to light my straight corn so dragged the oxy propane rig to the door. #6 rosebud lit it super quick but is a bit cumbersome. That little burnzomatic torch really rocks and is all you need.
  16. steamguy

    steamguy Member

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    Well, this was before this forum, but I did try all kinds of stuff in our old Austroflamm, including, yes, kerosene, and diesel fuel. ONCE. Picture me using just a teaspoon's worth and then standing right by with an extinguisher handy in case it got out of hand. Most of them, including barbecue starter fluid had very high flameups and sooted the glass up pretty badly. I even tried a little bit of newspaper at one point, but that didn't work well at all. I did NOT try something REALLY stupid like gasoline. :bug:

    But I did try Isopropyl alcohol. It worked, well, okay. I found it worked better if I took a sealed container and actually soaked the pellets in it. One thing I did use for a long time was little 2" square chunks of firestarter sticks. Those were cheap and easy to find. The gel stuff (like I said before) was only sold in one place and it was really expensive.

    Speaking specifically to barbecue lighter fluid, it didn't work well because it ran all over inside the stove, and was gone in next to no time. By comparison, the alcohol starter stuff is more persistent.

    But I'll still stick to what proved out best for us - the propane torch. We'd get about a year's worth of use out of a cylinder.
  17. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    I`ve experimented with pellets mixed in a small amount of charcoal lighter fluid in a small (tuna fish) can with holes in the bottom and side placed inside the double doors of my garage stove and it burned for 20 minutes. The pellets burned quite evenly.

    The fluid was not explosive or the least bit volatile with regards to a cold start and actually required a match held to the pellets momentarily to ignite however spraying the fluid onto a hot fire would obviously not be the prudent thing to do.

    It produced only a slight amount of smoke that could possibly create some degree of sooting on the viewing glass , I`m not sure though as I`ve not tested it in the stove but so far it appears to work as good or better than all other methods I`ve tried.

    Stove manufacturers probably choose to include it in their user instructions along with kerosense and other volatile liquids but that might be more to protect themselves from misuse and lawsuits. They must leave room to protect the industry from acquiring a bad name and more regulations.

    I`d like to hear more from others who might use it and from those who adamantly oppose it.
    John
  18. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    big thing to be careful with when using starting fluids even the gel stuff.

    if you have a failed attempt at starting and need to re try starting , be aware that the metal inside the stove will have been heated , adding fluids to that warmer metal can cause even the gel to gassify and when you reach in with the flame it can go off if enough is built up. i have seen this in our lab and have duplicated it for demonstrations many times. just be careful if you ever have to relight a stove after heating the pot up with a failed attempt.
  19. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    Yeah , I`d be a bit paranoid myself in that situation. With a warm stove it`s too dangerous to think that even a smoldering pellet isn`t hot enough to cause a flash when adding fluids.
    John
  20. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    actually turning on the stove or activating the exhaust fan will clear the vapors, a vapor barrier may not help, the steel itself is heated this hot metal evaporates the alcohol and though it likely wont go boom from the heat , when you reach in there with a lit flame , it very easily can ignite these vapors to the detriment of your arm hair, trust me , its been tested personally <chuckle>
  21. Malak

    Malak New Member

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    I have tried the propane torch and it works, but it takes a lot longer than 30 seconds.

    What I have found is the best so far is torch fuel! It does not "flash" so it's much
    safer and all it takes is 1-2 shot glasses(not orally LOL). It burns for qute awhile
    slow and steady. :) I make sure I put it on the pellets around the fringes - not
    over the "grate" part. I think it's one of the cheapest methods other than screwing
    around with paper and wood splinters.
  22. mgambuzza

    mgambuzza Member

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    Starter jel worked well, but when you got to the bottom of the bottle, where it would spatter everywhere, and light, it would cause a good sized "whoosh" and if you weren't in the know, would likely lose some arm hair. Another method I used with my Thelin was Trioxane bars from the local Army Navy store. They sold locally for about $.50 a box (which contained three bars - each individually wrapped), each bar was scored into thirds, and it only took a third of the bar in the burn pot to ignite the pellets and the stove. They were inexpensive, clean to use, and readily available.
  23. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    What is torch fuel?
  24. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

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    The stuff used for Tiki Torches. It's either Citronella oil or Paraffin oil. The Paraffin is less smoky (if it's 100% - some are only 90-95% and the additives make them a bit smoky).
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