Question: I am getting an old open coal fireplace up and running thanks to help I received from your site a while ago. Now I need help learning how to use it. I need to know how to start and tend an open coal fire. I read your page coaltips.html, but it was in reference to coal stoves. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Answer: It is virtually impossible to burn anthracite (hard coal) in an open fireplace. Only certain types of "woody" or soft coal and briquettes will burn in an open fireplace. These grades can be hard to get...I have seen them at Agway. If you are able to find these types, a compact grate with sides, bottom and back will do best (like a basket). The fire should be started with good hardwood, and the coal added after glowing red wood embers are present.