coal fireplace to wood conversion

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
It's difficult to cite any data on this because all of the data is related to soft coal. Anthracite is niche market so it's largely been ignored. Anthracite has carbon content of 85 to 95 percent whereas the soft coal is typically much lower. If you are concerned about your personal health I wold suggest the wood is bigger issue because of the particulate issues. If your concerns are for the environment in general then wood is better than coal.

Even in close urban environment your neighbors wouldn't even know you were using coal. You might get a whiff of sulfur on warm and humid mornings when the wind is blowing right.
That isn't even close to true. I can smell coal stoves extremely easily. And yes we are from central pa it is all anthracite here. Go walk down the street in shamokin kulpmont or somewhere deep in coal country during the winter and the smell of sulfur is really strong. I can only imagine when everyone was burning coal.
 

Hoytman

Feeling the Heat
Jan 6, 2020
297
Ohio
1. I don’t worry about mixing fuels because I know to burn dry wood in the first place when I burn it. This should be done even when only burning wood as well.

2. I know to check my chimney often, even when I am burning good dry wood. Check once a month minimum when burning wood.

3. Coal does dry out creosote, but if you have to worry about creosote falling down in and blocking the chimney after you start burning coal, then it is highly likely that you’re not paying enough attention to the first two points...that you should also be doing even when burning wood.

As far as smell...
No worse than living in this valley being choked out by my neighbors wood stoves and wood boilers. I do smell my chimney every now and then when the thermals are right for it, but I also smell the wood stoves and wood boilers in this valley.

You will smell wood burning inside my home, but you’ll never know what I am burning when I light the coal and you come inside.

Without coal...any kind...this nation would not have heat or power. Period! So pee on coal burning or wood burning all you want. When the SHTF in winter time people need heat and power. When that happens and you need heat, you’re welcome here because it will be warm...and I bet you never again go without some kind of stove to heat with.

People whine about heating exhaust, then fly all over the world, drive all over the world, and buy products that require burning of some type of fuel for production or transport...all over the world.

Heck, they’re telling me the PNW is outlawing diesel in the next decade or too. Damn! I guess the truckers and train engineers won’t be delivering anything to these folks. They must be planning on using wood for everything to fuel to clothing or o food.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
1. I don’t worry about mixing fuels because I know to burn dry wood in the first place when I burn it. This should be done even when only burning wood as well.

2. I know to check my chimney often, even when I am burning good dry wood. Check once a month minimum when burning wood.

3. Coal does dry out creosote, but if you have to worry about creosote falling down in and blocking the chimney after you start burning coal, then it is highly likely that you’re not paying enough attention to the first two points...that you should also be doing even when burning wood.

As far as smell...
No worse than living in this valley being choked out by my neighbors wood stoves and wood boilers. I do smell my chimney every now and then when the thermals are right for it, but I also smell the wood stoves and wood boilers in this valley.

You will smell wood burning inside my home, but you’ll never know what I am burning when I light the coal and you come inside.

Without coal...any kind...this nation would not have heat or power. Period! So pee on coal burning or wood burning all you want. When the SHTF in winter time people need heat and power. When that happens and you need heat, you’re welcome here because it will be warm...and I bet you never again go without some kind of stove to heat with.

People whine about heating exhaust, then fly all over the world, drive all over the world, and buy products that require burning of some type of fuel for production or transport...all over the world.

Heck, they’re telling me the PNW is outlawing diesel in the next decade or too. Damn! I guess the truckers and train engineers won’t be delivering anything to these folks. They must be planning on using wood for everything to fuel to clothing or o food.
No one here is saying you shouldn't burn wood or coal. I just take issue when people claim burning anthracite is perfectly clean because it isn't. And I think I am more sensitive to the smell of coal than many others but even to me in most cases it is bearable. Btw if you are smelling wood smoke in your house your setup needs work. You shouldn't smell it when burning. Sometimes if the fire isn't going you will get a reverse draft and there isn't allot that can be done about that but that is a different issue
 

nortcan

Burning Hunk
Sep 9, 2016
226
Quebec
Comparing anthracite to wood burning is not that important , both have pro and con. About air pollution, many wood stoves from past years are a lot worst than anthracite burning stoves, and many old wood stoves are still used today. Very old/antique anthracite stoves ( the photo here is a 1874 anthracite heater) were and still burning cleaner than some early wood stoves. The work involves for burning anthracite is much less than with wood burning. An anthracite stove can be loaded full and can be controlled as wanted : 200* F on top of the stove or 500*F all days and nights long without changing from one degre, wanting more heat, just get more air in and the stove will reach what you exactly want to get, never a cold house in the morning, the stove can burn many days without problem...and the list can be much longer. So if someone has never used an anthracite stove for some years, impossible to know how it works and can be compared to burning wood. Also better to sweep the chimney when the heating season is ended and the anthracite stove is extinguished, that way you don't inhale the wood or anthracite gasses.
 

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
Comparing anthracite to wood burning is not that important , both have pro and con. About air pollution, many wood stoves from past years are a lot worst than anthracite burning stoves, and many old wood stoves are still used today. Very old/antique anthracite stoves ( the photo here is a 1874 anthracite heater) were and still burning cleaner than some early wood stoves. The work involves for burning anthracite is much less than with wood burning. An anthracite stove can be loaded full and can be controlled as wanted : 200* F on top of the stove or 500*F all days and nights long without changing from one degre, wanting more heat, just get more air in and the stove will reach what you exactly want to get, never a cold house in the morning, the stove can burn many days without problem...and the list can be much longer. So if someone has never used an anthracite stove for some years, impossible to know how it works and can be compared to burning wood. Also better to sweep the chimney when the heating season is ended and the anthracite stove is extinguished, that way you don't inhale the wood or anthracite gasses.
I did burn coal for 7 or 8 years. And I really prefer wood. I also never wake to a cold house. And my wood stoves burn the entire winter constantly with no problems.

You are correct most old woodstoves burnt much dirtier than coal especially anthracite. But that also depends on your definition of dirty. Coal still put out more toxic gasses but old wood stove exhaust is nasty no arguments there.
 
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thecoalman

Member
Jul 18, 2008
36
Coal Country
coalpail.com
Perhpas your nose is more sensitive than others. :) I had a neighbor two houses down lived there for 5 years and didn't know we burned coal until we had a pretty bad ice storm the one year that left about an inch or two of ice everywhere. I offered him some ashes for his driveway and sidewalks. He is asking me where I got the coal ash..... Humorous part was this was one of those guys that would wear out a blower every year, office type guy always doing yard work presumably to relax. I could see the gears going in his head as he is looking at the ash tub and calculating the mess it was going to make vs putting down salt on his quite new sidewalks. He decided on the mess as it wasn't getting warm any time soon.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,759
Downeast Maine
No one here is saying you shouldn't burn wood or coal. I just take issue when people claim burning anthracite is perfectly clean because it isn't. And I think I am more sensitive to the smell of coal than many others but even to me in most cases it is bearable. Btw if you are smelling wood smoke in your house your setup needs work. You shouldn't smell it when burning. Sometimes if the fire isn't going you will get a reverse draft and there isn't allot that can be done about that but that is a different issue
Indeed, I only ever smell smoke in the house if I was sloppy starting a fire. On the other hand if I walk outside after starting the stove I'll know it!
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
Perhpas your nose is more sensitive than others. :) I had a neighbor two houses down lived there for 5 years and didn't know we burned coal until we had a pretty bad ice storm the one year that left about an inch or two of ice everywhere. I offered him some ashes for his driveway and sidewalks. He is asking me where I got the coal ash..... Humorous part was this was one of those guys that would wear out a blower every year, office type guy always doing yard work presumably to relax. I could see the gears going in his head as he is looking at the ash tub and calculating the mess it was going to make vs putting down salt on his quite new sidewalks. He decided on the mess as it wasn't getting warm any time soon.
I do think I am more sensitive to coal smell yes. But to be fair many people may smell it but not have any idea what the smell is.
 

nortcan

Burning Hunk
Sep 9, 2016
226
Quebec
Anyway, nothing compare to the long and STEADY anthracite burning. Wood stove manufacturers can write : burn times up to 25, and more but for most peoples, the severe conditions appliy to get long burn times like : kind of wood (the amount and weight of wood contained per cubic foot of firebox volume can vary from 10 to 25 lbs. per cubic foot depending of type of wood, packing density...) wood humidity, temperature in the house, temperature on top of the stove after 5, 6 10, 12 ....25 hours with the same load, time and work involved from starting with coal after a long burn time to the back to coal ...and owner's manuals advise that long time burning tend to promote the accumulation of creosote... .
If someone is honest, has burned anthracte corectly he can't deny all the advantages of anthracite burning. I don't say anthracite is perfect but very different from wood burning.
When I stopped burning anthracite, I went to a pellet stove to have the same less job as anthracite : one hour to enter the full heating season bags, no wood chores...steady heat and all but even the pellet stove can't compare to the anthracite burning.
Just my opinion from experiences and believe me I made a lot...just go to Coal Pail forum to Nortcan and see. What I say I do it.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
Anyway, nothing compare to the long and STEADY anthracite burning. Wood stove manufacturers can write : burn times up to 25, and more but for most peoples, the severe conditions appliy to get long burn times like : kind of wood (the amount and weight of wood contained per cubic foot of firebox volume can vary from 10 to 25 lbs. per cubic foot depending of type of wood, packing density...) wood humidity, temperature in the house, temperature on top of the stove after 5, 6 10, 12 ....25 hours with the same load, time and work involved from starting with coal after a long burn time to the back to coal ...and owner's manuals advise that long time burning tend to promote the accumulation of creosote... .
If someone is honest, has burned anthracte corectly he can't deny all the advantages of anthracite burning. I don't say anthracite is perfect but very different from wood burning.
When I stopped burning anthracite, I went to a pellet stove to have the same less job as anthracite : one hour to enter the full heating season bags, no wood chores...steady heat and all but even the pellet stove can't compare to the anthracite burning.
Just my opinion from experiences and believe me I made a lot...just go to Coal Pail forum to Nortcan and see. What I say I do it.
Yes there are advantages. But to me it is to dirty and I didn't like the smell. I think you need to do some more research if you think those burn times are unattainable without lots of creosote buildup. That simply isn't true. I typically load either on 8 or 12 hour cycles depending upon outside temps. If it is very mild out I can run 24 hours. And no there is no issue reloading. It is usually 10 mins or so from when I load the stove untill it is set and I don't touch it again.
 
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nortcan

Burning Hunk
Sep 9, 2016
226
Quebec
Yes there are advantages. But to me it is to dirty and I didn't like the smell. I think you need to do some more research if you think those burn times are unattainable without lots of creosote buildup. That simply isn't true. I typically load either on 8 or 12 hour cycles depending upon outside temps. If it is very mild out I can run 24 hours. And no there is no issue reloading. It is usually 10 mins or so from when I load the stove untill it is set and I don't touch it again.
About creosote buildup, I read it in my Heritage Truhybrid owner's manual and I saw that in many stove owner's manual. Plus, maybe You can do long and clean burn times but 8 to 12 hrs as you said are very short burn times for anthracite. On very cold days 8 hrs is far from the high heat output and steady anthracite burns.
But I'm just a poor Québecois lost in the Canadian forests, oh, we have electricity now ....LOL
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
About creosote buildup, I read it in my Heritage Truhybrid owner's manual and I saw that in many stove owner's manual. Plus, maybe You can do long and clean burn times but 8 to 12 hrs as you said are very short burn times for anthracite. On very cold days 8 hrs is far from the high heat output and steady anthracite burns.
But I'm just a poor Québecois lost in the Canadian forests, oh, we have electricity now ....LOL
Yes they are short burn times compared to anthracite. But my house doesn't smell like sulfur. To me that is more important. Yes there are benifits to coal and many people love it. That's great other people prefer wood. And others pellet etc. I just wanted to give my opinion on it. And correct some misinformation.
 

nortcan

Burning Hunk
Sep 9, 2016
226
Quebec
Yes they are short burn times compared to anthracite. But my house doesn't smell like sulfur. To me that is more important. Yes there are benifits to coal and many people love it. That's great other people prefer wood. And others pellet etc. I just wanted to give my opinion on it. And correct some misinformation.
Are you talking about my misinformations or yours ?
 

Hoytman

Feeling the Heat
Jan 6, 2020
297
Ohio
That isn't even close to true. I can smell coal stoves extremely easily. And yes we are from central pa it is all anthracite here. Go walk down the street in shamokin kulpmont or somewhere deep in coal country during the winter and the smell of sulfur is really strong. I can only imagine when everyone was burning coal.
Same can be said of wood burning in this valley, near manufacturing plants in the city, or standing on the sidewalks smelling car and truck exhaust.

Fact: Burning anything has a drawback. Usually the drawback is in the form of some sort of stench.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
Same can be said of wood burning in this valley, near manufacturing plants in the city, or standing on the sidewalks smelling car and truck exhaust.

Fact: Burning anything has a drawback. Usually the drawback is in the form of some sort of stench.
I absolutely agree. There are upsides and downsides to everything. I personally choose wood it works well for me. That doesn't make it right for everyone
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
So you were talking about mine, what are they?
Your claim that you can't get long burn times without heavy creosote buildup.

The claim you can't get even heat.

That is is difficult and time consuming to restart from coals.

If you don't like burning wood that is perfectly fine. But you can't apply your limited experience to everyone else
 

Hoytman

Feeling the Heat
Jan 6, 2020
297
Ohio
I’m not here to talk down burning wood or coal. I like being here and other forums because I happen to like stoves and fires for warmth. That’s it in a nutshell.

However, I can mention my experience with both.

If my home smelled like sulfur I can say that I would not burn any type of coal. I’m not a fanboy or salesman for anthracite coal companies or their stoves. I could care less about either. I burn coal to save money, get even heat, tend a stove less, and it allows me time to properly season my wood pile.

However, the fact that I would not tolerate sulfur smell in my home speaks volumes to my own time spent...well spent I might add...going to stove shops, listening to people who burn wood or burned wood and now burn clean coal...anthracite...going to Amish homes to see the stoves working and to see if their homes smell of sulfur, going to Amish stores burning anthracite stoves and NOT smelling their stoves.

Heck, we’re discussing Anthracite clean coal, but I will mention that even eastern Kentucky lump bituminous is in my blood, but I hate the smell of sulfur. Absolutely despise it and most certainly would not tolerate it in my home. I rarely smell it outside my home. That said, get far away enough from any home, regardless of what they’re burning and under the right conditions either can likely be smelled. Same for factory exhaust, car exhaust, boat exhaust, etc., etc.

Yep...I read about all the hype. Then I did what a man does. I tried to vilify or verify the hype. I found out it was not hype. So if you smell sulfur in someone’s home or your own, either the stove has an issue, the chimney, someone is doing something wrong, or all three.

Can I forget to open a damper, or let the stove burn too cool where good draft isn’t present and then smell sulfur if I don’t first ramp up the stove? Absolutely I can cause it to happen! It is my fault too, when it happens, which is rare after the initial learning curve. Little different than that of burning a wood stove.

If I do my part though, there is zero smell. None!! That’s me talking as well as over two dozen people who have visited my home that could hardly believe they couldn’t smell it...couldn’t smell anything inside my home. Most didn’t even know the stove was burning because it was idling along so low that they had to ask if the stove was on, or walk up to it to find out and we’re pleasantly amazed they didn’t feel that blast of heat coming from a wood stove.

That explanation is not me sensationalizing it, it’s me telling it just like it is.

This same stove burning wood is going to make my home smell of burning wood. That’s not a bad thing, rather a good thing. I like the smell. However, there may be times I won’t want to smell it and I won’t be able to escape it. It won’t wreak, and it probably won’t linger just from opening a door.

Now that I’ve experienced what clean coal is and how it doesn’t stink and now that I known precisely how well it performs over wood burning, with far less work, I will never stop burning it.

However, I am also not going to stop burning wood, be it in an old stove, a modern stove, or a fireplace. There is something about burning wood...even cutting and splitting wood that makes a man feel good.

To me...it’s about the stove or fireplace and the heat when it is wanted and needed. Not so much about which fuel. It can, however, be about saving money and labor at times.

For me it also about knowing what it is to live in and around ones family in mountain country and the love of those places, not wanting to leave home, but not having much work. So I like to support those mountain folks with my money and help keep their way of life and living alive. So with that I am also not opposed to supporting bituminous and lignite miners either. People need to live and to live they have to work and to work and live they need jobs. I can support them as well as loggers and foresters.
 
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nortcan

Burning Hunk
Sep 9, 2016
226
Quebec
Your claim that you can't get long burn times without heavy creosote buildup.

The claim you can't get even heat.

That is is difficult and time consuming to restart from coals.

If you don't like burning wood that is perfectly fine. But you can't apply your limited experience to everyone else
OK, I see, you are the best one who is able know the poor level of my own experience and you can write all the opposite of what I did, I don't have any more time to loose with someone like you, having preconcieved opinions of other member. Now you can relax.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
I’m not here to talk down burning wood or coal. I like being here and other forums because I happen to like stoves and fires for warmth. That’s it in a nutshell.

However, I can mention my experience with both.

If my home smelled like sulfur I can say that I would not burn any type of coal. I’m not a fanboy or salesman for anthracite coal companies or their stoves. I could care less about either. I burn coal to save money, get even heat, tend a stove less, and it allows me time to properly season my wood pile.

However, the fact that I would not tolerate sulfur smell in my home speaks volumes to my own time spent...well spent I might add...going to stove shops, listening to people who burn wood or burned wood and now burn clean coal...anthracite...going to Amish homes to see the stoves working and to see if their homes smell of sulfur, going to Amish stores burning anthracite stoves and NOT smelling their stoves. Heck, eastern Kentucky lump bituminous is in my blood, but I hate the smell of sulfur. Absolutely despise it and most certainly would not tolerate it in my home. I rarely smell it outside my home. That said, get far away enough from any home, regardless of what they’re burning and under the right conditions either can likely be smelled. Same for factory exhaust, car exhaust, boat exhaust, etc., etc.

Yep...I read about all the hype. Then I did what a man does. I tried to vilify or verify the hype. I found out it was not hype. So if you smell sulfur in someone’s home or your own, either the stove has an issue, the chimney, someone is doing something wrong, or all three.

Can I forget to open a damper, or let the stove burn too cool where good draft isn’t present and then smell sulfur if I don’t first ramp up the stove? Absolutely I can cause it to happen! It is my fault too, when it happens, which is rare after the initial learning curve. Little different than that of burning a wood stove.

If I do my part though, there is zero smell. None!! That’s me talking as well as over two dozen people who have visited my home that could hardly believe they couldn’t smell it...couldn’t smell anything inside my home. Most didn’t even know the stove was burning because it was idling along so low that they had to ask if the stove was on, or walk up to it to find out and we’re pleasantly amazed they didn’t feel that blast of heat coming from a wood stove.

That explanation is not me sensationalizing it, it’s me telling it just like it is.

This same stove burning wood is going to make my home smell of burning wood. That’s not a bad thing, rather a good thing. I like the smell. However, there may be times I won’t want to smell it and I won’t be able to escape it. It won’t wreak, and it probably won’t linger just from opening a door.

Now that I’ve experienced what clean coal is and how it doesn’t stink and now that I known precisely how well it performs over wood burning, with far less work, I will never stop burning it.

However, I am also not going to stop burning wood, be it in an old stove, a modern stove, or a fireplace. There is something about burning wood...even cutting and splitting wood that makes a man feel good.

To me...it’s about the stove or fireplace and the heat when it is wanted and needed. Not so much about which fuel. It can, however, be about saving money and labor at times.

For me it also about knowing what it is to live in and around ones family in mountain country and the love of those places, not wanting to leave home, but not having much work. So I like to support those mountain folks with my money and help keep their way of life and living alive. So with that I am also not opposed to supporting bituminous and lignite miners either. People need to live and to live they have to work and to work and live they need jobs. I can support them as well as loggers and foresters.
Very well said.

I am sensitive to the smell hell I can smell the sulfur from unburnt coal.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
OK, I see, you are the best one who is able know the poor level of my own experience and you can write all the opposite of what I did, I don't have any more time to loose with someone like you, having preconcieved opinions of other member. Now you can relax.
Try paying attention to others instead of bashing everyone's opinions because they don't match yours. And read about others experiences. There are lots of stoves out there with lots of different strong points and weak points. Some give long slow clean burns. Others high heat over shorter times etc.
 

nortcan

Burning Hunk
Sep 9, 2016
226
Quebec
Someone here seems to have bad opinion of me, so I just send a burning coal fire photo I did few yrs ago, OOPS sorry I don't have any experience, it's an anthracite fire.
 

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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
24,000
central pa
Someone here seems to have bad opinion of me, so I just send a burning coal fire photo I did few yrs ago, OOPS sorry I don't have any experience, it's an anthracite fire.
I know you have experience with coal. But by your comments about woodburning I can tell you have limited experience there.
 

Hoytman

Feeling the Heat
Jan 6, 2020
297
Ohio
Very well said.

I am sensitive to the smell hell I can smell the sulfur from unburnt coal.
I totally understand sensitivity to anything. I am overly sensitive to too much wood smoke smell around bonfires, also to air fresheners and cleaning supplies, aerosols or atomized chemicals of any kind.

Quite honestly, I figured I would have more issues than I have with dust from wood burning or coal burning, but paying attention to fine tuning my loading and cleaning process has helped tremendously. Not to mention when I tend the stoves, of either fuel, I always turn on and leave on my furnace fan that has a HEPA filter in it and I keep them clean by replacing them often. With this process I have really helped with dust in the house.

If I were to be honest I think having a clothes dryer in the home contributes more to dust in the home than either of my stoves.

If I ever rebuild it remodel the clothes dryer will be on an outside wall for less exhaust resistance and will not be inside my living space, but in its own space detached from the main house. Like across the breezeway in a heated room off from the garage.

I happen to believe that carpet and a clothes dryer are the two biggest contributors to dust in the home..:far worse than any stove of you’re clean about how you load and tend any stove.
 
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